Bob Hembree            11819 Maple st.Whittier, ca. 90601-2746


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A Family Newsletter


11th Edition                                                         May 1992




          Last edition I mentioned they would soon be celebrating the anniversary of the Oregon Trail. While I do not intend to turn this into a form of announcements of future celebrations, I cannot let one which effects my direct line go by without comment. It will also be celebrated in 1993, and I’m sure there will be many celebrations. One official party will be held at Ponca City, Oklahoma. Saturday, September 16, 1893, the 100th anniversary of the Opening of the CHEROKEE STRIP.

          Land was the motivator of most of the movement into the frontier and it was no exception to the settlement of Okalahoma. While there were other runs for land in Oklahoma, the large rush was the Cherokee Strip opening along the southern border of Kansas. The progress of growth by gradually moving into the interior over a period of time, which was common to the development of this country since the Colonial period, was not to be followed in Oklahoma. In fact, just about the reverse occurred in that the Army cleared it of those living in the area before opening it to settlement, known as Boomers (because of the loud protests they made about being removed). Some known as Sooner's, hid in the area or sneaked back into the area. Thus “Boomer Sooner” became a motto set to music. (What foresight those pioneers had to provide the basis for music to celebrate touchdowns scored by the Univ. of Oklahoma).

          Imagine, an area larger than some states, approximately 58 miles wide, 180 miles long, and some 10,000 sq. miles. Bordered on the north by Kansas, east by Osage Indian Reservation, west Panhandle of Texas and No Man’s Land of Oklahoma. Legally without a single person at noon on Saturday 16 September 1893, but the following morning, at least 4 people of families on every square mile, (1/4 quarter claims) pitching tents, building homes, and towns bursting with business. In all over 40,000 people in an area that was vacant the previous day.

          The government had purchased most of the land from the Cherokee Indians for $8,300.000. and smaller parcels from the Tonkawa’s and Pawnee Indians for $110,000. about $1.25 per acre overall. A good price by today’s rates, but who wouldn’t like to buy at yesterday’s prices. The Ponca Indians refused to sell their land, thus the eastern border. I wonder if they knew that oil would be discovered there within a few years, and pay them royalties for years yet to come.

          Today’s miles of straight roads in the area, are the result of surveying the land into 160-acre parcels, and town plots. Excepting one quarter (160 acres) in each township to be used for school support, the government basically said “Line up at noon and go for it” one quarter, or one town plot to the first one to stake a claim on it. It was estimated between fifty and two hundred thousand people lined up to make the run, some on swift horses, some on foot, wagons, and everything else imaginable, but not all staked claims.

          Among those who made the run were my g-father and family, and members of my g-mothers family. This followed much the same pattern discussed in previous newsletter, i.e. not an individual family but a group of families that moved together. In the same neighborhood where I grew up were the families, Snodgrass, Rowe, Brown, Hubb’s, Moss, etc. who made the run and settled on nearby properties in the new area. A little research and you find the same families together in the previous area.

While the men rushed onward to stake their claim, the women and children trailed in wagons, etc. Among them, was my g-mother Emily Hubb’s Hembree in a wagon with the young members of her family, my father Mayward Gurnie Hembree, age 2 being the youngest. My g-father,

Hugh Lawson Hembree, probably could be classified as a Boomer, because it is known that he and his elder sons grazed cattle in the area before the opening of the run, close to the quarter where he staked his claim, (NE ¼ Sec 19, T26N, R1W, Indian Meridian, Kay County, Oklahoma). Homestead Certificate #855. Thus, the family earned the right to the title “Pioneers”. That land is today owned by my youngest brother, Edward Dale Hembree and his wife Wilma Miller Hembree, one of the few parcels of land that only one family ever resided upon. That information and $1.00 will buy a cup of coffee.

          Being one of the younger members of my family, I never knew my g-father, and remember little about my g-mother, but my brother Warren related the following story which g-mother told him about the Cherokee Strip run. By pre-agreement, grandmother Emily and the smaller children followed behind in a wagon, accompanied by several other women and their families and camped that evening on the river just north of present day Blackwell, Oklahoma to await the return of the men fold, would take them to the land they had claimed. Having made camp and prepared the evening meal, they were finishing the cleanup, when several armed men on horseback rode into camp, and advised them they were the James boys, (Jessee James Gang) but not to be concerned as they would not be harmed if they made no trouble. They ate some food and relieved them of their horses, and simply rode away.

          Although the land was reportedly free, like most government programs you had better look for the fine print. Actually, you were required to reside upon the property, clear of till a certain amount of the land and pay a sum of cash ($4.50 per acre, if memory is correct) within 5 years. All of which was known as perfecting the claim. Since previous settlements had been made without charge, the settlers raised so much noise about charging for the land, that the government later rescinded the per acre charge. My g-parents used the funds saved to pay for the acreage, some $700.+, and built one of the first permanent houses in the area. Like others, their first home in the new land was a sod house, but that was before my time. I’m sure the government still prints a pamphlet on building a sod house if anyone needs it. Enclosed are pictures of the house (where I was born and raised) and my g-parents on both sides of my family.

          HAPPY to report that I have now answered most of my delinquent correspondence and thanks for your patience.

          HELP! Can you identify the men in this picture, if so please advise.



          Since this issue concerns my family relatives, this seems the appropriate time to include a poem written by my sister in law, which she titled “Continuity” and since continuity is what genealogy is all about, I received her consent to use the poem for this purpose. (Wish I had a talent).




I use to think a baby, was a lot of toil and care,

And needing much attention, With you always being there.


I thought they all were wrinkled, And more or less a fright.

Now I know they’re beautiful, and full of pure delight.


As I look into those eyes, With wonder I can see.

Here and there a bit of you, A telltale sign of me.


For now I can appreciate, All that had to be,

And picture there my father, As he must have gazed at me.


I am so truly grateful, For this child that came from me,

As through his generations, I will never cease to be.


Wilma Miller Hembree

Rt. 1, Box 179,

Tonkawa, Oklahoma  74653


ALTHOUGH the next newsletter will probably be too late to publish a notice, I still would like to know about any family reunions being planned this year. I’ll try to get a report from Phyllis for the next newsletter, on what the committee has done to plan a national reunion.


GREAT DISCOVERY:  Later issues will give the details, but I asked Alvin Hembree for assistance in locating a Roane County, Tennessee deed, thought to have been lost. The deed was referred to in the administration of Joel’s estate, but no one was able to locate it. Proving to be a great detective, Alvin found the box of deeds, not indexed, and made a major contribution to our family research. It may not sound like much but many people, including myself, have searched those records without success. We now know the location of the residence of Joel Hembree, Sr. in Roane County, Tennessee and I believe it is a major step in answering the problem with the Joel’s of Tennessee, which I previously discussed. THANK YOU ALVIN