Thursday, October 20, 2011

Diane Davis White: A Log Cabin History (Part 2)

by Diane Davis White

This article was first published in the Payne County Historical Society Booklet and reprinted in the Oklahoma State Historical Society. Because of length, the article has been published at Romancing The West in two parts. Read Part 1 here.
This log cabin was originally located on the corner of Hwy 51 & Hwy 18 and was built by a man named Pawnee Rice, who is no relation to our family as far as we know.
I would like to take a moment here to describe the cabin itself, which was in vast disrepair at the time it was acquired by the family. Mrs. Myatt described the dwelling in the following list of items, as though she were preparing them for an interview with the press, which she may well have been doing because the family was very prominent in the area and known for great works, good deeds and all manner of community service.
  1. When cabin was built: Approximately 1876 by Pawnee Rice
  2. Original location: On Hwy 51 at Hwy 18.
  3. Listing of the occupants, [which we have already gone over in Part 1]
  4. What did cabin look like on inside [furnishings]: The walls were white washed and sometimes covered with newspapers, also with building paper. Furnishings were what ever tenants brought with them.
  5. What heating facility was used: Wood was used for heating, oil stove for cooking.
  6. Roof: Clapboard roof put on with hand made nails.
  7. Loft: A ladder to the loft was nailed to wall, or otherwise stair steps nailed to wall.
  8. Did people sleep in loft: Yes
The cabin was a ruin by the time Sherman decided to fix it up and he put shingle siding on it, closed off the loft – which had most likely become a dangerous place full of rotting timbers – and tore down the dilapidated lean-to shed on the west side of the building that had served as a kitchen. Since his mother-in-law was too feeble to climb stairs to the loft, there was no need for it and keeping it heated in the winter would be a waste of fuel, therefore no repairs were attempted. The aforementioned kitchen was probably riddled with termites and dry rot and too far gone to repair, and since there was just one occupant for the cabin, there was no need to build another room.
Mary Jane Rice Davis lived in the cabin until a few months before her death in 1944 at the age of 103. During her tenancy, many of her grandchildren came to visit for extended periods, including Jim Doty, a favorite grandchild who came to stay quite often. Another favored grandchild, Willa Cleveland, stayed with Mary Jane for a time. Gus Rice, who lived in the Duncan Bridge area, would come to stay with her as well. Since the only bed in the cabin was a trundle, with a roll out bed beneath it, it was a cozy little space for Mary and one or two grandchildren. She loved the company and was seldom left to her own devices with such a large family. At her death, it was reported that Mary Jane and James Washington Davis had eleven children, fifty-five grandchildren and over 100 great-grandchildren, and ‘numerous’ great-great-grandchildren.
Mary Jane and James Washington Davis are buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Cushing, Oklahoma. A Civil War marker is placed next the James, denoting his veteran status. These two hearty pioneers were typical of the proud, courageous people who founded this great state of Oklahoma.
Sherman and Nancy Kerby are also buried in Cushing in the Zion section of the same cemetery. Many of the Kerby, Davis and Rice families are buried there as well. Although Minnie Icy Kerby—eldest child of Sherman and Nancy—was buried at Ingalls. She came in the covered wagon with her sister Macie and her parents to the Indian Territory. It took them 49 days to come from Putnam County Missouri. They camped on Boomer Creek shortly after moving to the original site of Falls City, located south of Ingalls. There they took up their occupation of farming and raising stock.
While living in this community they were thrown in contact with a group of supposed cowboys, who later proved to be infamous Doolin-Dalton gang. Mr. Kerby was plowing in a field very close to Ingalls when he heard the fight between the outlaws and the US Marshals. Unhitching a mule from the plow, he rushed toward Ingalls, meeting three of the outlaws before he arrived there.
Sherman Kerby further stated in his interview this regarding that incident:
“On September 1st, 1893, Bill Vickory and I were finished threshing on my place and were riding back to his dad’s place toward Ingalls. On the way we began hearing Winchesters popping like firecrackers and we supposed some of the boys were shooting just for fun. When we got to the Vickory farm, we met Bittercreek coming on his horse, leaning over in his saddle with a bullet wound in his thigh. I noticed the magazine was shot off his gun and that he was bleeding profusely.
He told us that they had a hell of a fight and that he didn’t know how many got killed. The Vickory’s began to pour buckets of cold water on the wound while Bittercreek was still on horseback and Bill and I mounted our horses again and stared off full-speed for Ingalls. Bittercreek was kept in hiding in the vicinity of the Vickery place and other nearby farms for several days. One time it was in a hay-stack and I recall smelling antiseptic along the trail through there later after he was treated by Dr. Selph of Ingalls.”
Mr. Kerby went on to describe the scene at Ingalls and stated that he saw Shadley’s woods—so close together that you could cover them with a tea saucer—and that he watched them load the wounded marshalls into wagons for the trip back to Stillwater. His recollections of the times are rich with history first hand and invaluable as such.
Many of the descendents of the Kerby, Davis and Rice families are still living in and around this area, practicing many professions and enjoying widely varied lifestyles. Still, we are a family and as such, some of us are present here today to help commemorate the history of this old building that has seen so many years of service and is hopefully destined to be a ‘teaching’ museum and workshop to aid the young in keeping alive the rich heritage of the pioneers.
Read Part 1 about this intriguing log cabin that chronicles the history of its inhabitants previously published at Romancing The West!
When Lakota warrior Thunder Heart, who is destined to be a leader of his people, saves the lives of two white women during Red Cloud's War, he places his family and his village at risk.
Can he keep these women safe? Will his act of compassion cause the death of his people?
Will his people demand he abandon or kill these women in order to avoid the wrath of the Bluecoats or even Red Cloud?
Uncertain of the outcome, he knows only one thing: He desires the pale-haired beauty, Victoria Abernathy, and will do anything to insure her safety.
Read an excerpt

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  1. This reminds me of a document I have from an aunt by marriage and it describes her relatives move in 1899 from Hill County TX to Harmon County OK with great detail, then the relative's marriage at age 14 and the homesteading of her and her husband. Also of a couple of log cabins in my area of TX, one of which is made of cedar and is from 1854. Thankfully, our recent grass fires msised it--barely. I love reading this type post and enjoyed them both immensely.

  2. Caroline, what a close call with the cedar cabin! I'm so glad it was preserved. Also fascinating is your family story. We have so much material right in our own families that we can use in our books. My grandmother was 13 when she married my grandfather (28), and her first of 9 living children was born when she was 14. That seems so foreign to us now, but very common then.


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