- Category: History
- Published on Saturday, 26 November 2011 05:48
- Written by James W. Clark,
Mountain View Pioneers
Harry and Mary Wanzor
This is the story of Harry Trobridge Wanzor (1871 - September 27, 1934) and Mary Esther Anderson Wanzor (August 7, 1870 - March 5, 1963) as written by their first-born, Sarah Eva Wanzor Stone. Sarah was nearing her 80th birthday in 1977 when she wrote this story . Sarah wanted the descendants of Mary and Harry Wanzor to know about the life of their Oklahoma Pioneer ancestors. Sarah distributed this story to all the Wanzor relatives for whom she had an address and requested that copies be made and distributed to future generations of Wanzor descendants.
In June 1896, Harry and Mary (Anderson) Wanzor came to the (Oklahoma) Territory from Western Kansas. Harry had been raised in Brooklyn, New York and knew little about country life. Mary had been in the country quite a bit, as she was born in Red Oak, Iowa and came with her family to Western Kansas. Harry got his first western experience carrying the mail by buckboard from one town to another. Harry and Mary were married on June 15, 1896 (Harry was 25 and Mary was 26 years old) and left for the (Oklahoma) territory a few days later. Mary had a brother, John Anderson, who had (gone) to the territory a couple of years back. He was an old bachelor and was working for some people he had met.
It took Harry and Mary four weeks to make two hundred and fifty miles. Their means of transportation was a covered wagon with five light ponies to pull it. One day, two of the ponies would pull and the next day, the other two would do this job. Sometimes, they would rest a day or so because (the horses got) lame feet or sore shoulders. I remember them telling me about some good people helping them cross the Canadian Rivers, both North and South; since these rivers had lots of quicksand, you had to move faster than Harry's team could make it.
When they finally got to where Uncle John was, he helped them to find a half-dugout to live in. A half -dugout is more or less a cellar, dug in the ground. Of course, they would lay logs on the top of the ground about two feet high, then build a roof on top of that. The floor was earth. The place was furnished with a small cook stove, table and chairs, and a bed. On the floor, Mary had her home-made carpet. All of these things were brought from Kansas in the wagon, along with eight hens and a rooster. They also brought canned fruit, which was fine as long as it lasted. After this, the diet consisted of cornbread and sassafras tea with no sugar for sweetening.
Harry got a job teaching school. The school house was another one of those dirt dugouts with split logs for seats. In the meantime, he filed a claim on one hundred (and) sixty acres of land (in Washita County), but to keep it you had to improve it and be living on it within a certain length of time. By this time, they were expecting their first baby, which came on Christmas day 1897, just three weeks before the deadline for moving in on the homesteaded land. There were still no improvements and the neighbors got busy and helped to dig the dugout and cut the logs, and Harry and Mary were able to move in right on time.
There were no fences anywhere, so anyone who had cattle let them run the range. If anyone needed milk, they could put a calf in a pen and when the cow would come to the calf to feed, you could milk. You could milk her just so you left enough for the calf. When the calf got older, you would turn it out and get another one. Crops were planted by hand. Someone would make a row with a hoe and then drop seeds by hand. We were 45 or 50 miles from town. There was a country store and a post office about twelve miles from us. The mail came once a week. We lived a lot better after the first four or five years.
When Mary's baby was two years old, she went back to Kansas by train to visit her parents. She brought back plants and seeds for the farm. One thing in particular was a gallon of peach seeds. She brought back an extra trunk full of things to plant. Well, the peach seeds were planted and grew very well and produced each year. We lived in that dugout for four or five years and things were looking up some and the railroad had been extended to our little town, Mountain View, that had been formed since we had been there. It was known as Mountain View because you could look to the south and see the Wichita Mountains. With a railroad, we could get lumber so we built a big one room house.
The holidays were always a happy time, as Harry's mother and six sisters (from Brooklyn, NY) would send a barrel of things. It would contain such things as candy, nuts, fruit cake, plum pudding, tea, coffee, all kinds of clothes and always a toy for the children.
Mary picked ripe sand plums which grew wild. We would pick bushel after bushel of plums to swap for the merchandise that the Indians had received from the government. They were too lazy to pick plums for themselves. They got green bean coffee and never roasted it so they could make coffee of it. They also got sugar. Lots of their pretty blankets, of which she got an ample supply, were traded to Mary for her plums. Most of the Indians were of the Kiowa Tribe. They were very lazy; they lived in bunches of teepees. The men would hunt wild animals for food, but the women did the major part of the work. If we went for a while without rain, one of these little Indian villages would have a rain dance and beat the tom-tom all night. They would keep this up until it rained. When the Indians killed an animal, they would cut it into strips, hang it on wire, and build a fire under it, smoke it and let it dry; then it was ready to eat.
In 1907, Mary and Harry had a family of four children and the Indian (and Oklahoma) Territory had become the State of Oklahoma. By this time, Harry had managed to build what they called a "shed kitchen" onto the large (one) room house. We were enjoying life a lot more. There wasn't much to do; only sing songs at night, roast a big pan of peanuts, pop corn or make taffy candy out of sorghum molasses. On Sunday, we went to church at the school; for there were no churches. One Sunday it would be Baptist and the next, Methodist. In the summer time, each organization would have a revival meeting for two or three weeks each. All of the men of both churches would cut poles and brush and build what was known as a brush arbor. They would also get lumber to make benches to sit on and a platform for the pulpit. People came every morning and at night. Harry and Mary would take a couple of quilts along for the children to sleep on while the grown-ups worshiped. Harry sang with the choir. Some people would camp there. They would cook their meals over a campfire.
There would be a Community Picnic each year. The men would barbecue a beef all night. We had a favorite place on the Washita River. In the morning after the men had cooked the beef all night, families would arrive with large containers like tubs, dish pans and baskets filled with home-cooked food including all kinds of cakes, pies, fancy potato salad and fried chicken. Mary's favorite was a large home-cured ham weighing about twenty-five pounds. She would go to the smoke-house, dust the salt off, wash it clean, and put it in the old black wash-pot and start it cooking, which would take most of the day. While the ham was cooking, she would bake about twelve loaves of bread. These loaves were about eighteen inches long. Mary was the prize bread baker of the neighborhood. She made her bread with everlasting yeast, keeping a starter (a reserve of dough enriched with sugar) after each baking. Well, when we all got to the picnic, swings were put in the trees for the children's entertainment. Somebody would make about twenty gallons of lemonade. In later years we had ice for it, at first it was just cool water. After a day of visiting and feasting, everyone went home until a year later.
The first school Harry's and Mary's children went to was almost two miles away. It was one big room with one teacher who taught eight grades. In about 1910, we had a two room schoolhouse; and then, there were two teachers.
Well, as the children grew older, there were six Wanzor children. We needed some kind of entertainment, so Harry got on a rural telephone line; not much service but a lot of fun! That was not enough and we wanted an organ. To get one, we had to order it to be shipped in by freight from Oklahoma City. Harry set aside a small piece of land and said we would plant it in cotton, and whatever we made on that land would go for an organ. We got the organ that year and it meant a lot to everyone.
The Wanzors were a working family. Cotton was our main money-maker; but for extra money for the family, we planted a truck garden which contained all kinds of vegetables such as potatoes, watermelons and cantaloupes. Mary always had eggs and home-made butter also. Mountain View was almost 800 in population. We lived four and a half miles from it, and Harry with his sons put a cover on the big farm wagon and each evening the family would pack a load of the produce. In the morning, we would arise about four-thirty, cook breakfast; Harry and the boys would feed the horses and milk the cows and Mary got herself dressed to start for town. The oldest son would go along. They would be in town by the time the people had breakfast; they would go up one street and down the other selling to the residents. By ten-thirty or eleven, they would be finished in town. If they had any watermelons left, they would go to one of the two Indian camps about one-half mile from town.
They knew they could not sell them anything because they never had any money after the first of the month; that was when they got their government allotment. When they got their checks, they bought all kinds of dishes, complete sets, cookware and trinkets; none of this they used. At this time, the government was building them houses and furnishing them, but they still lived in the teepees and under arbors, which they built with a hard board bunk to sleep on. They would look at the watermelons and say, "You swap?" meaning "will you trade?" Then they would go in under the bed and bring out the cups and saucers of a set. Before the summer was over, Mary had maybe two sets of dishes with glassware to go with it.
Early in the summer, after we were through with the field work, the whole family helped with the canning. As I mentioned earlier, the peach trees did well and besides the thirty gallons of peach butter, every year we had canned peaches, pickled spiced peaches, and peach preserves. We also put up lots of plum jelly and plum butter. Then there were the dried peaches - always good for fried peach pies. The children did not like to dry the peaches, as you would have to climb up on the roof of a steep porch and you did not dare let it rain on them or they were spoiled. Every time we got that roof covered with peaches, it seemed to rain! Down came the peaches and into the house, spread on bed sheets on the floor until the shower was over. We always got them dried!
The Wanzors had enlarged their house, made a two-story affair out of it. They had also added a windmill to pump water, a milk-house with cream separator. Mary would raise chickens; we ate at least two fryers a day from about Easter until time to butcher hogs, which was the first or second good freeze. At first it was a difficult job to kill hogs on account of the way they scalded them to get the hair off of them. They would heat the water in a wash tub and pour it in a wooden barrel, which they had sunk in the ground on an angle. They would stick the front half of the hog in the barrel, take it out, add more boiling water and insert the back half.
This was a slow and awkward process, but since Harry was a reader, he read in some magazine how to build a scalding vat. It was very simple, and Harry had one made you could heat up the water in and with a couple of harness chains two men could scald the hog, regardless of size, in a few minutes. After the hog was scalded, they would scrape all the hair off it (with sharpened butcher kinves); it was ready to hang and prepare for curing. About noon time on hog killing day, the men had gotten far enough along to send the liver to the house. We would have a platter full of fried liver for dinner. Harry would kill six or eight big hogs and then the work really began; getting the meat ready to salt down, making sausage, souse (hog head cheese), pickled pigs feet and tongue. We also rendered lard and put it in stone crock jars for the year. The meat was about all gone by summer time and that was when the fried chicken began.
One thing I almost forgot to mention that is very important was Mary's home-made (lye) soap after the butchering was over. The lard rendered (melted into pure lard), then she would take the cracklings (the crispy skin portion left when the fat or lard was melted away) with lye and water and we had plenty of laundry soap.
When I think of grocery lists that we had when we went to town - if we got everything, we bought sugar, coffee, baking power, baking soda, salt and flour. We would buy toilet (body) soap and lye to make laundry soap. On almost every Saturday, Harry would buy a beef soup bone, never cost more than 15 or 20 cents, and on Sundays Mary would get the big black iron pot going for a feast of beef vegetable soup. We were all fond of it and this was every Sunday. Mary was a good cook and always had a variety of food to pick from. Most all of the food was raised on the farm. We all worked in the field in planting, raising, and harvesting the crops, so it was to bed at 8:00 P.M. and up by 4:00 A.M. Each of the family had certain chores to do. Saturday was a busy day. Mary's fresh butter and eggs must go to town; Harry had to get the soup bone for Sunday dinner and the yard had to be swept clean, the house mopped and probably cakes and pies baked for Sunday. Our Sunday clothes were put in order for Sunday School and Church.
School was never more than five months a year, as the children had to help with the crops. Much of the winter months was spent getting ready for spring planting of gardens and crops. Way before time to set out the garden, Harry and Mary would make what was known as "hot beds", made of fresh barn yard manure, which makes the ground very warm when mixed with soil and dampened with water. Seeds would start to grow early, (such as tomato, cabbage, pepper plants, etc.) and had a good start by the time the garden (soil) was warm enough to plant. The plants would then be transplanted from the hot bed into the garden. Sweet potato plants were also raised this way.
One of the prize vegetables was asparagus. Mary brought some roots of it from Kansas and finally managed to raise enough roots to set two rows of it almost 100 feet long. Every spring, the asparagus is the first green vegetable. It is very prolific; it you don't cut the spears early they will go to seed and make a fern-like plant; but as long as you get the spears every day, you have a tender, edible plant. When you finally have all you want and it goes to seed, it is a pretty plant the rest of the season. In the fall, it is cut even with the ground and a little dirt bedded over the top and left until spring. There were lots of wild greens that were very tasty, such as lamb's quarter, sour dock and yellow dock, wild lettuce and dandelion. These could be cooked together like turnip greens or any other greens, and you could get these before the garden was ready.
Harry was Justice of the Peace; it was an elected office for the district we lived in. He made lots of friends as well as some enemies. as he had to prosecute people who violated the law. He believed in law abiding citizens and acted as such. He also had authority to perform marriage ceremonies. Sometimes a couple would show up and he would be in the field plowing but he would stop, go to the house, change clothes and have a wedding. On one occasion, Mary stirred up quick lunch for the wedding couple, as it was noon-time. Harry was a joiner; he joined the Odd Fellows, masons, farmers Union, and a number of Social organizations.
While the family all worked together at home, if we could get finished with work, like picking cotton in the fall, we would help some of the neighbors get their cotton picked. Lots of time, we would earn enough money to buy our school clothes. Our life was not all work and no play. When the children were in their teens, on Sunday after church, a wagon full of youngsters would go home with one family. Of course (the Wanzor's expected) them to come and have dinner of good country food that had been prepared mostly on Saturday. After eating came the afternoon of entertainment, when everyone gathered in the parlor around the organ and sang songs, love songs as well as spirituals. When it got near sundown, everyone would go home.
Unless school was in session, you did not see anyone other than the family except once a week. Sometimes someone would come down the farm road which cut our hundred and sixty (acres) right in (half), and since the house was about one hundred feet from the road, they would stop and talk. Harry liked to read, and being crowded for time he would consume the time reading at the dining table, which meant not much conversation while eating. If the children got loud or made too much noise, we could expect a peck on the head with his folded paper!
The Saturday Evening Post was a favorite with him; he bought a copy of it once a week. He often spoke of it as a luxury and I think the cost was five or ten cents an issue. He kept himself informed with all the reading matter available and the Kansas City Star, weekly paper, was a must with him. His mother in Brooklyn saw to it that he had plenty of good reading as long as she lived. Harry's people all lived in the east and there was no visiting. Harry returned (to New York) after he had been away for twenty-one years, but by that time his parents had passed away. He still had six sisters (living). Mary's family, father and mother, lived in Andover, Kansas and they visited us every few years. Mary's only sister moved to Oklahoma and lived about thirty-five miles from us. We visited a day or so in the summer.
Well, I have not identified the writer of this story. I have used "we, us, I," I being:
Sarah Eva Wanzor Stone, born December 25, 1897
(Died; October 28, 1979, San Antonio, TX).
The following are my brothers' and sisters' names and their birthdays (and death dates):
William Dorsey Wanzor, October 12, 1900
(Died; November 1, 1985)
Julia (Margaret) Wanzor Clark, November 30, 1901
(Died; December 13, 1974)
Mabery Paul Wanzor, April 2, 1903
(Died; November 18, 1983)
Russell Westfield Wanzor, January 26, 1908
(Died; April 15th 1959)
Alma Francis Wanzor Turner, November 30, 1910
(Died; April 25, 1966)
It was a big family and we had our ups and downs, but it is interesting to think of later. We didn't have a lot, but learned to appreciate what we had.
Many years have passed since the beginning of this story; the time consumed about seventeen years of the Wanzor's family life. It would be impossible to write it all, as your author has lived another sixty-three years, being eighty years old at the time of this writing. This story ends about the time World War I began. It is written for the benefit of (present and future descendants) of Harry and Mary Wanzor.
SARAH EVA WANZOR STONE
The town site of Mountain View was originally located in Washita County about one and one half mile north of its present location in Kiowa County. A flood occurred in 1903 which devastated the small town. The town fathers decided that Mountain View must be moved to a higher elevation to avoid a future flood disaster. The new Kiowa County location was secured and the entire town moved there in August of 1903.
The Wanzor farm was located in Washita County having been obtained as a homestead in 1887 under Oklahoma Territory land claim law. Their farm was close to the original Mountain View town site in Washita County so the Wanzor family became closely entwined in Mountain View town life.
Mountain View became home for Harry and Mary Wanzor in the 1920's when they leased out their farm and bought a house in Mountain View. Harry began working on cotton gin machinery and became quite proficient at his trade. Harry suffered a heart attack and died on September 27, 1934. Mary continued to live in her Mountain View home until the late 1940's when she became unable to care for herself. Mary's oldest daughter and author of this story, Sarah Eva Stone, took Mary to her home in San Antonio, TX to live with her. Sarah provided home care for her mother until Mary died March 5, 1963. Mary and Harry Wanzor are both buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.
Updated: Thursday, 18-Sep-2008 12:04 PM
Copyright © 1996-2008 for OKGenWeb
Katy Hestand, Kiowa County Coordinator