Elsie Jarvis James

Letter To My Grandchildren
by Elsie Jarvis James

    Some part of the below takes place on the Helliker & Jarvis Seminole Ranch west of present day Shawnee Oklahoma where Elsie grew up. Elsie's father was William Jackson Jarvis. He was one of Theodore Horsley's ranch hands in the days of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association. Hemarried Nettie Horsley, Theodores daughter.

For my grandchildren - Bob, Rebecca and Mickie

    Ike Club came to see Dad in Shawnee. It was soon after Mother's death and he came (as was the custom) to pay his respects to the family. I was nine and Russell thirteen. After all these years, I can still see Ike Club setting on the piano bench in our green plush and mahogany parlor. Ike was a short man and wore a "ten gallon" white Stetson hat and the most beutiful cowboy boots. To say the least, Russell and I were awed by Ike Club. Such stories that he and Dad exchanged about the Cherokee Strip in the 1880's. One that Ike told that day went like this:
    "I want to tell you children about your Grandfather, Theodore Horsley. There was a square dance that night. There were farmers and cattlemen with their families. Always was bad blood between the farmers, who wanted statehood for Oklahoma, and the cowmen who didn't. Well, there was a pretty farmers daughter. I guess my brother and I got a little to smart with her. The farmers were going to hang us. Your Grandfather saved our lives. He pulled his gun on all those people and said, " These are a couple of boys and no serious harm has come to the girl. The first one that lays a hand on them, I will kill you. Boys get on those horses and ride." Ride we did. So you you children see, that I owe my life to your Grandfather."
    I asked Russell years later if he remembered this as I did. He did and he told me that he, his wife and some friends had dinner in Ike's hotel in Kaw City, Ok. He saw Ike there and told him who he was. When he went to pay his bill, the girl said " Mr. Club said this was to be on the house. No bill!" Ike was gone by then and Russel couldn't thank him.
   Mrs Club's full length portrait hung in the Oklahoma Historical Society Building in Oklahoma City. May still be there on an upper floor. She had a very valuable collection of paintings in the hotel at Kaw City. (Kaw City is no more, taken for a man made lake.) Ike Club worked for the 101 Ranch when he was young. This story took place on a Border town of Kansas and the Strip.
    Dad took Ike upstairs to see the view of the farm from the upstairs porch. I knew what the view was, it was to give Ike a drink of whiskey. Dad never knew that I knew what the "view was". Russell tried on the white stetson while they were away. He certainly took it off in a hurry when he heard them coming down.
    The Miller (101 Ranch), Ike Club, dad and many others formed an organization of the cattlemen in the 1920's that had been in the Cherokee Strip or Outlet (someplace) of the Osage Nation in the 1870's and 1880's. I have Dads certificate, "Old Time Cherokee Strip Cow Punchers Association" signed by one of the Millers. Dated 10-7,1924. Their names were burned on a Buffalo skin that hung in the Historical Building in Oklahoma City for many years, but its not there now. It is in the Cherokee Strip Museum in Enid Oklahoma, so I've been told.
    There is a wonderful booklet, which I have, on the original "Cherokee Strip Livestock Association" of which Grandpa Horsley was a member. It was the men that had leased from the Cherokee's land and ranged their cattle there in the 1870's and 1880's. Much has been written about these men that is untrue. They were a breed of men strong enough to govern their organization. Most of them bought land from the Indians fairly for market value at that time after statehood. It is true that a scandal came out that the Millers had told the Indians they were leasing the land when they were buying. If this is true or proven true, I don't know.
    When I grew up on the farm near Shawnee, the colored people ate at second or third table, rode in the back seats and referred to us as Miss this or that, whichever one it was. I am glad all this has changed. This is one way that the world is better. On the ranch, the girls were white and their parents were people that needed the extra money. When mother was buried there were many colored ( Blacks ) people at the cemetery at Little. They asked to look at mother after the whites went by. Later Mr. Sid Clark of Shawnee told dad that he had never been to a funeral where there were so many different classes of people. The poor, the rich, the black, the white, they all loved her that knew her.
    Dad had two partners, Mr Hollis and Mr Helliker, Bankers from McCloud, Oklahoma Territory. Later he bought them out. They leased land in Seminole Nation from the Seminoles and bought the land after statehood. Dad was to manage the ranch and mother was to have househelp at all times. I have been told that there was always someone at the table eating. One of the girls, as an old woman, told Ethel how good mother was to them. She said she remembered the ranch and the fun they had. At night mother would play on the old pump organ and they would sing. The people that worked for dad and mother were "help". And thats what they were to mother and dad, equal in every way. The ranch was incorporated under the laws of Arkansas as applied to Indian Territory. It was under the name Heliker & Jarvis Seminole Co. - Capital stock $100,000 in 1906. I'm sure that would be equal to a million or so in value in 1983. There was a cook house, bunk house etc.
    I remember one day, as we drove out onto Highland ( Shawnee Farm ) in a new Buick, there was an old covered wagon coming. mother said "Stop! Thats Mrs._______." She went over to the wagon and insisted that the lady and her husband come to our house and spend the night with us. They had lived on the ranch. She told mother that they were not going to stop although she knew we lived there. But they had gone downhill and dad had gone uphill. Mother put her arms around the woman and told her to never feel that way again.
    The woman told how mother had saved her life in the flu epidemic of 1916-17. Dad later told me how mother worked so hard during this time. They couldn't get a doctor. Mother would put fruit jars of warm water around them when they had the chills and force liquids down them. When there was a death or a birth on the ranch mother was there. Both dad and mother helped so many people. I remember a girl at OU telling me that dad gave her father the first money he had to go to school. I remember a letter dad got one Christmas. The letter said that he probably would not remember her, he didn't, but she wanted to thank him again. As a small child, she was standing by her house on the ranch crying. Dad, on his horse, stopped and asked why she was crying. She replied that she didn't have shoes to go to school. He gave her the money for shoes.
    I could write forever on these stories. I want you, my grandchildren, Bobby, Rebecca and Mickie to know the kind of people that lived before you. I was born on the ranch and grew up on the farm at Shawnee. Someday I will write about the farm. One more story and I will close this.
   Another story about mother from Ethel. ( Ethel is 89 and lives alone. She is still alert. ) A minister, a Rev Williams, came to the ranch to call on mother. He told her how the ladies in the town of Seminole were sewing and doing for the Red Cross during World War I, 1917. He asked mother what she was doing to help the war effort. Mother said, "Come with me to the porch." She pointed to a field of wheat and said, "Do you see that field of 1000 acres of wheat? I am feeding the men that are harvesting that wheat, that will feed our soldier. Thats what I'm doing for the war effort." She was slow to anger, but the day was hot and she was tired.
Elsie Jarvis James       
    P.S. I am sure that Grandpa Horsley would have chosen a much better stone, had one been available. Their babie's grave, who died the fall before Sophies death, may have been the first grave in this old cemetery. From the location and Sophie's the second grave.Mother's ( Nettie's ) brother Frank is buried there. He was killed by lightening. It says that on the stone.
    Another story that I want to write before it is forgotten. My mother, Nettie Horsley, was born in the Cherokee Outlet of the Osage Nation January 1872. She believed she was the first white race child born there. When she was two years old, Grandpa Horsley was grazing his cattle in the Outlet. They had a cabin there. One Indian man they had befriended warned them that their cabin would be burned. They hid in the tall grass. Their cabin was burned by the indians. They rounded up their cattle after the indians left and drove them over the border to Kansas. It was the last uprising of two tribes of indians.
Elsie Jarvis James       
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