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The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 6

Eunice Beatrice Graham – born March 10, 1920 — died February 17, 1934.

Such a sad day in the Graham household.  We called her Beatrice.  She was the quiet, studious, obedient, mother’s helper kind of child.  She was the second child born to Andrew and Bess Graham.  Marguerite was the first child and a born leader.  Beatrice seemed to thrive in Marguerite’s shadow.

I was three and almost four years old when Beatrice died.  I remember getting scolded pretty severely because I was playing close to her sick bed and bumped into the bed making Beatrice wince.  My mother escorted me (and likely Bob and Janie) out of the room.  We were living in this house about 5 miles or so out of Morton.  The sandstorms were terrible that year.  Beatrice had developed a bad cough and my parents had concluded that she had dust pneumonia.  She was too sick to go to school and had gotten dizzy two days before she confined herself to bed.

Mother became concerned and ask Dad to call the doctor.  Dr. Logan came to the house and confirmed that it was pneumonia and caused by a bacteria and not just the dust.  He suggested hospitalization so she could be observed and kept hydrated.  Dad said we did not have any money and couldn’t afford that.

A day or two later, Beatrice stopped taking fluids and had a high fever.  During the night mother, who sleeping at her bedside, was awakened due to the shaking of Beatrice’s bed.  Beatrice was having a seizure.  When morning came, Mother insisted that Andrew take her to the hospital.  He relented partially and took her to Levelland where his parents were living at the time.  By the time they arrived in Levelland she was having seizures pretty often.  The local doctor came and examined her and told the family that she was too far gone and there was nothing he could do.

I was not old enough to understand all of what was happening.  Marguerite describes this time of mourning very well in her book, “Growing Up With Eight Siblings During The Depression”.  She describes the family waiting at Sam and Belle Graham’s house while the undertaker did the embalming.

Marguerite describes the trip home to Morton and the cemetery as follows:  “About noon that day a huge dirt cloud appeared in the west.  Before we could get on the road to Morton it hit with a vengeance.  It got dark in the house and sticks and rocks were hitting the windows.  Daddy said he was glad he’d had the grave diggers dig the grave that morning.

The hearse came by our grandparents’ house about 1:15 PM and we got in our car and followed them to Morton.  When we got to our little church building the hearse driver asked if he needed to bring the casket in the building.  Daddy said “No, we may not make it in there ourselves.”  The wind seemed to be harder than it was when we left Levelland.  We got into the building and dirt was piled in rivulets on the seats.  The preacher was already there and suggested we go to the cemetery and he would speak and pray out there.  We got back in the car and drove ahead of the hearse to show the driver the way out there.  When we got there a crowd of our friends were sitting in their cars waiting for us.  The funeral attendants positioned the casket on the large straps which would later take the casket into the grave.  The preacher began his sermonette but the wind kept us from neither hearing one word he said nor his prayer.  Then they lowered her casket into the grave without we children seeing her.  But none of us wanted it opened because of the dirt that would have blown in on her.  It was so sad to hear the rocks hitting the casket as they lowered it into the grave.”

Before Beatrice got sick she had washed and ironed her only school dress.  She hung it on the wall in her room on.  This is the first thing that mother saw when we got home.  She folded the dress neatly and put it in her trunk where it remained.  I do not know who inherited that trunk.  They probably did not remember or know the significance of the dress to our mother.

I plan to go to my 70th class reunion at Morton High September 23, 2017 and also plan to visit Beatrice’s grave and take some flowers.  Our Beautiful Beatrice!


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The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 5

During the stay on this farm near Morton, I started remembering things.  I was about 1 year old and at age 2 or 3 there were things that happened to me that cause a vague recollection.  Some of this no doubt is hand me down retelling of the story by others but some of it is real.  The vague stuff is about me falling into a wash pot out in the yard.  Mother (Bessie) would wash clothes in wash pot in the yard.  She would build a fire under the first two and put the lye soap in the first one and use heated rinse water in the second one.  Two more were usually set up to do cold rinsing.

I was playing near one of the pots and dropped a toy of some type in the water.  In bending over to retrieve this toy I toppled into the pot and started making bubbling sounds.  One of my alert siblings heard this sound and rushed over and pulled me out.  What I remember about this incident is the embarrassment I felt when they put me in a dress and put me in one of the school buses that Dad drove.  I sure got a lot of attention that day because I guess they were not willing for me to depart this earth so early.

Something that I heard a lot about was an incident when I was a baby, my mother was changing my diaper and I started crying violently.  She noted that I had a tender abdomen that was swollen.  She had no vehicle available so she got me ready to hitch hike to Leveland to the doctor.  She instructed the older kids to take care of the younger ones and let Andrew know where she had gone.  She got a ride with some nice people and they took us to the doctor in Leveland.  He noted that I had a bowel movement that looked like currant jelly.  This was a textbook case of intussusception.  That condition occurs when the large intestines starts to swallow up the small intestines.  Sometimes it requires surgery to correct but fortunately my large intestines decided it was not hungry enough for that meal and allowed things to return to normal.  The glob of purple jelly was the diagnostic sign that stuff was starting to return to normal.  We left the doctors office and went to stay with Sam and Belle Graham, Dad’s mother and dad until he could come and pick us up.  Sam and Belle had moved to Leveland from Monroe (New Deal) when he stopped farming.

Let me tell you this, I sure do remember the time the doctor came to the house when I got to where I couldn’t pee.  I was developing a phimosis.  That is where the urine is supposed to exit the body and it gets stopped up.  This requires and emergency circumcision.  I guess the doctor used a little deadening on the area but it did not feel like it too me.  I do not want to go through that again.  I was about 4 years old then.

Janie was our youngest then and mother had a little trouble in weaning her.  I can remember mother’s technique to wean us and she used it on Janie.  Mother would take some of the soot from the stove chimney and blacken her breast and then offer it to the unsuspecting child.  We siblings were the audience and Janie was the victim.  One look at her feeding spot and Janie was convinced that she was through with that area.  I don’t recall if we applauded or not but mother shooed the observers away so it would not embarrass Janie.

There was a depression going on and there was a glut of cattle.  Roosevelt gave the orders to thin the herd.  The government would give the farmer penny’s on the dollar and come in a shoot the cattle and bury them on a big hole.  Did not make sense then and does not make sense to me now.  We were left with a few.  Marguerite in her book indicates that she did not have to milk so many cows any more before catching the bus to school.

Andrew got into politics and decided to run for County Judge.  This was 1934.  He won the election and took office in 1935.  We moved from the Morton Farm to the outskirts of Morton.  George had to get on the old grey mare and drive the cows to the new place.  He came down with rheumatic fever which affected him the rest of his life.



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The Grahams’ of Cochran County- Chapter 4

It was after Katie’s birth that the family moved to Cochran County. They were fairly near Bledsoe but actually lived in Precient 4. Andrew had leased the Session’s Place. Bob Graham was born on that place. The date of his birth was December 20, 1928.

About 18 months after Bob was born a census was taken. This 1930 census showed that another son had arrived. His name was Charles and his age was listed as 1/12 th of a year. Charles recalls that he was born on the Kennebrew Place. I will note here that Marguerite, in her book spelled the name as “Kennebrough”. Years later when I requested my birth certificate in order to get a passport, the only thing the State of Texas had for that date was one that said “no name” Graham. Fortunately Andrew was still alive in 1974 and certified my name as Charles Eugene Graham.

We kept moving closer to Morton. In 1931 Andrew found a farm about 5 miles southeast of Morton. The older children were enrolled in the Morton Schools. Marguerite was in the fifth grade, Beatrice in the fourth, George in the third, Leola in the second and Mary in the first.

Elsie Jane rounded out the family. She was born on the Morton Farm on May 10, 1932. We. called her Janie. With this full complement of children we could officially become “The Grahams’ of Cochran County”!

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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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The Grahams of Cochran County – Chapter 2

This chapter will introduce to the Graham family members who arrived in Cochran County.  Bob was mentioned as the first one of the family to be born there.  This was on the Sessions Place.  The following things took place before Bob was born.

Andrew left for Cordell, Oklahoma as fast as he could after his discharge from the Army.  His wife, Bessie and first child, Marguerite Wood were there living with Bessie’s mother, Vernettie Wood.  Vernettie had been widowed in 1904 when her husband James Samuel Wood had died suddenly of the bloody flux.  She was left with several kids to raise and had done a reasonably good job.  She managed boarding houses close to the campus of Christian colleges.  The first one was Thorp Spring Christian College.  Bessie had gone to Cordell to live with her mother during the later stages of her pregnancy.  Marguerite Wood was the first and only child born in Oklahoma to this union.

Andrew packed up the family as fast as he could and took them to Monroe, Texas where his parents where farming.  The reader of this narrative can refer to a booklet that Marguerite wrote many years later about the move to Texas.  This book is titled “Growing Up with Eight Siblings during the Depression.”  When we quote her book we will try to put her words in italics.

According to Marguerite’s book, there was a vicious snow storm in the Lubbock area on their arrival at the train station.  Samuel Graham, Andrew’s dad had a terrible time getting his team to the train station and back.  “Grandpa said it took him one hour to get the horses to pull the buggy five miles with snow up to their thighs”.  Marguerite was only three months at the time and these facts were told to her later by her grandfather Graham.

Marguerite had been born in Cordell on August 14, 1918.  In the winter of 1918-1919 she had to adapt to being a Texan.  Samuel Graham had a migrant workers’ shack on his property that became the abode of this new family.  Andrew was basically a hired hand to begin with but later became more involved in the farming.  This house was called the “Little Red House” because of the new paint job.

While on this farm in Monroe, Texas there appeared on the scene three more children in fairly fast succession.  Beatrice was born March 20, 1920; George Andrew Jr. June 10, 1921 and Leola November 19, 1923.  Mary was the next in line but technically she was not born on the farm.  Andrew had become excited about a land offer from New Mexico to homestead some land just west of Bledsoe, Texas.  The farm that Samuel was taking care of became to small for the growing family.  Andrew filed on the claim and proceeded to build a small house on the property getting ready to move his family.

The family moved out of the little red house and on to an apartment in Lubbock awaiting the birth of another child.  This child turned out to be Mary Aline Graham, born January 30, 1925.  About 8 weeks after Mary’s birth, the family moved to New Mexico.


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Ray and Zelma Lawyer

Recently I have been researching my aunt Zelma and her husband Ray Lawyer.  My cousin Kathy Wyler is their remaining surviving daughter at age 90.  Their story has been told in several books.  Zelma wrote a book after her return from Africa in about 1928.  The title of this book is “I Married a Missionary” and is likely out of print but may be available in some of the Christian University library’s.

Jeannie was their first child and she was born in the United States and was about 3 when they traveled to Northern Rhodesia to work in the mission field.  Northern Rhodesia has in recent years changed its name to Zambia.  Before Jeannie’s death a few years ago she completed a book with the title “I Dream of Jeanne”.

After arriving in Africa they proceeded to Northern Rhodesia and the community of Kalomo.  They and another missionary family, Dow and Alice Merritt were selected by the group to continue up to Kabanga to establish a mission clinic.  The road stopped at Kalomo and the vehicle had to go over grassy meadows and rough terrain to reach the village.  No road signs of course but the estimated distance was forty miles.

Their first child born in Africa was a son.  His name was George but he unfortunately died at age two of dysentery.  Mary Katherine Lawyer was born shortly after Georges’ death.

Another unfortunate incident was a fire in their grass hut that burned their belongs and also the car that they had purchased after arriving in Africa.  They were able to build another grass hut in a few days and later a brick house using home made brick from the baked clay that was prominent in that area.

One day Ray and one of the mission employees were going out to hunt.  Ray had a gun and the employee had a spear.  The natives were not allowed to carry guns.  They waved to Dow Merritt as they were leaving the settlement area and it was not long until the native employee came running back telling Dow to come quickly.

Dow found Ray lying in the trail bleeding badly from his abdomen.  He had his shirt covering his abdomen and when Dow arrived he took the shirt away.  He found some intestines on the top of Ray’s abdomen.  Ray told him he was using the blunt end of the spear to shoo a dog back to the settlement.  Ray slipped on the wet grass and fell on the spear.  Ray told Dow that he made a mistake by pulling the spear out of the wound before Dow arrived on the scene.

Ray was transported first by teams of litter bearers for twenty miles and then forty miles by vehicle to a train station.  A freight train carried him in to Livingstone where he was hospitalized.  He died two days after the injury.

I will tell more of this story later but with this article I want to tell my readers that I an establishing an endowed scholarship at Harding University  called The Ray and Zelma Missionary Scholarship.  For more information call Ken Bissell at 501-322-9893






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James Samuel Wood

James Samuel Wood was born on January 8, 1863.  His parents were Edna Jane (Payne) Wood and James Henry Wood.  His father was in the Confederate Army at the time and away fighting in Tennessee.  James (Sammie) Wood and his mother and older brother Henry Wood were living in Fayette, Fayette County, Alabama at the time of his birth.

Sammie’s father died of wounds received in the battle at Tullahoma, Tennessee.  The date of his death is February 7, 1863.  Sammie was less than a month old.  More to say about his father James Henry Wood in a future blog.

Sammie’s mother, who was a confederate widow, married another confederate veteran in 1865.  His name was Joseph Pinkney Whitehead.  Sammie would have been about two years of age when his step-father came on the scene.  Edna Jane and Joseph Whitehead then had two daughters together.  The first daughter Martha Whitehead was born in 1866 and the second daughter, Flora Whitehead was born in 1869.

Sammie stayed with this family unit until he married Vernettie Jane (Anthony) Wood on July 8, 1883.  Sammie was a farmer and itinerant preacher for the Church of Christ.  He was not in good health.  He and his wife and family decided to move to a better climate because of his ill health.  They had several children before moving to Texas.

The names and years of birth of their children are as follows:

Flora Belle Wood – August 3, 1884

Olen Payne Wood – October 22, 1886

Fletcher Pinkney Wood – August 1889

Bessie Beatrice Wood – December 28, 1891

Zelma Ozema Wood – August 1894

William Henry Wood – January 1897

James Oscar Wood – August 1899

Mayma Vernette and Mary Wood – March 6, 1902

Unfortunately the move to Texas did not help Jimmie in the health issue.  He died of the bloody flux after working the the field all day.  He died on November 11, 1904 at Golden, Texas and was buried at the Sand Springs Cemetery which is a few miles north of Mineola, Texas.

My suspicion is that Jimmie died of the complications of diabetes.  I say this because several of his siblings and grandchildren have developed adult onset diabetes.  There was very little ways to check for diabetes during his lifetime.  The physicians would sometimes drink a little of the patients urine to do a taste test for sugar.  How gross is that!!!





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Working on Ancestry Issues

In this blog we have a picture of my mother, Bessie Beatrice (Wood) Graham and her family.  Her sister Flora and her brothers Olen Payne and Fletcher Pinckney were not in the picture for reasons unknown to me.  Standing in the back is my mother, Bessie.  Her father James Samuel Wood died about a year (1904) after this picture was taken.  Her mother, Vernettie Jane (Anthony) Wood raised the family after his death with the bloody flux (whatever that was).  She is holding Mayma Wood (in the white dress)  Mayma had a twin Mary who died shortly after birth.  James Oscar Wood is on your left and he received his PhD and taught for years at San Jose University in the Shakespeare Department.  William Henry Wood is sitting in the front row.

James Samuel Wood was an itinerant preacher and they moved to Texas from Alabama because his health was not very good.  His death came about after he was out in the pasture grubbing stumps out of the pasture.  He is buried at Sand Springs Cemetery in Wood Count north of Mineola, Texas.