The Grahams of Cochran County – Chapter 3

Now this chapter is going to be all about Katie.  When Marguerite told this story, she got very emotional.  Johnnie tells the story about a trip she, Marguerite and Dorcas were taking to Lawton, Oklahoma.  It seems that Marguerite started giving the account of the occasion of Katie’s birth.  She got so emotional that during the telling of this story they missed their turn to Lawton and had to backtrack about 50 miles.  If you have Marguerite’s book available you can read about all the details.  If you don’t have her book then I will try to give you some of the details here.

Andrew moved his family to the claim in New Mexico.  They basically were living in a shack without running water.  There was no or very little insulation in this two room shack.  Bessie was 6 to 7 months pregnant with a child.  Andrew was out working the place, removing all the scrub oak that grew on the place.  Bessie was going in and out of the little shack with chores such as washing the clothes in boilers and pans she had set up in the yard.  She made a miss step and fell rather hard on her knees and large abdomen.  She was stunned.  She was able to get up but hurting pretty badly.  She told Marguerite to get the kids some lunch because she had to go lay down.

After Marguerite, who was 8 or 9 at the time, had finished lunch for the kids she heard Bessie moaning and asking for water.  The only water they had was a barrel sitting by the side of the shack that had a dipper.  Marguerite took the dipper and gave Bessie a drink which she spit out.  Bessie told Marguerite to go get her a cold drink from the well.  That is when it was obvious to Marguerite that Bessie was talking out of her head.  Andrew had told the kids not to stray from the house because of rattlesnakes.  What to do?  She knew that Dad was at least a mile from the house.  She got her mother a wet cloth and helped her as much as she could and waited until Andrew returned.

It was close to dark when Andrew did get back to the shack.  He assessed the situation and told Marguerite to get the kids some supper and put them to bed.  She was supposed to take the baby, Mary and sleep with her.  Andrew unharnessed the horses and took the one he usually rode and went to Bledsoe where they had a phone.

Marguerite did all that her Dad had asked her to do and went to bed fully expecting to stay awake.  She woke up during the night hearing hushed tones.  Marguerite’s quote from her book “I opened my eyes and saw this tiny being held across doctor’s hand — her head slightly hanging face down from the thumb side of his hand, and doll-like legs and feet not far past his little finger.”

Dr. Logan did not give this child much chance of surviving.  His practice was in Littlefield and taking the child to an incubator was not feasible.  The scales they used to weigh cotton sacks indicated that this premature baby weighed two and three-quarters pounds.

There was a great support system for Flora Katherine Graham.  Vernettie Wood came to help her daughter for about a week.  There were a bunch of sisters and one brother who were eager to feed the child with and eye dropper at first and later with a bottle.  Bessie would collect the milk from her breast and feed the child until she got large enough to take the breast on her own.  Flora Katherine (Katie) (Graham) Vanlandingham died on April 3, 2017 at age 90 plus 3 days.

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