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Big favor needed from someone that lives near Birds Illinois. My Gosnell ancestors lived in the Birds Illinois, Lawrenceville Illinois area as early as 1860. My oldest known and verified ancestor is buried in Otterbein Cemetery Birds, IL.Row 19. She has a tombstone I am told and died 1866 Sarah Gosnell Jenkins. I need a digital photo of her tombstone. If someone needs a project someday in their spare time and they live very near Birds IL I would very much appreciate a snapshot of the tombstone. Would be very grateful for the generous help. I live in Texas.....big problem.
Please enjoy the story of my Grandmother. I think it demonstrates very well the hardships our ancestors went through and how easy most of us have had it, because of our loved ones.
Mary Elizabeth Peterson Gosnell gives a human element to our ancestoral statistics by writing her life story when she was 90 years of age. When she would awaken in the early morning hours,unable to fall back asleep,she would bring out her blue composition spiral notebook and handwrite,very carefully,the story of her life and many stories of her beloved family members.........I was born in the Dogwood Hills of Chelsea, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) April 28, 1897. My father was James Peterson from Copenhagen, Denmark. He came to this country when he was a young man. He could not speak a word of English and said he learned his first English words from children on the streets of New York City. My mother was Martha Elizabeth Tate Foster, a young widow with two small children from Marlton, Arkansas. Mother and Father met at a friend's house and were married soon after that. My Father was a Carpenter and a Stonemason. He also liked to farm and owned a pair of big black mares. He was known about the country as the man with the big black horses by people who did not know his name. He was a good farmer and a good man. Mother used to talk to me about my Father for I was so young when we lost him. I still remember things he said and did. Mother said he was good to his family, good to his neighbors and everybody liked him. He and Mother had only about twelve years together. He was a big strong man who had never been sick in his life, but pneumonia took him in nine short days. A few days before Father got sick, he and Mother had gathered up some chickens to take to town to sell and, someway, one of them scratched Mother on the inside of a finger, but she didn't pay much attention to it but in two or three days it got sore and swelled up and a red streak run up her arm and then they knew something bad was wrong. She had a high fever and they called the doctor. Father's fever was going higher and higher and he was talking out of his head, talking to his horses. Our neighbors were there doing everything they could, but Father passed away on Thanksgiving Day and they all thought Mother was going to die too. We had one neighbor man who sat by
Mother's bedside day and night dripping medicine on her arm. I guess that was what saved her life. After Father passed away and in a little while, a man put two chairs at the foot of mother's bed and I wondered what they were for. I soon found out. They brought that long black box with Father in it and placed it on the chairs, then two men raised Mother up so she could see Father for the last time. I just thought Mother couldn't stand it, but she did. We children didn't know what to do. We just stood around Mother's bed. Then they took Father outside and put him in the hack and he was carried to the cemetery by his big black horses and he was laid to rest by the side of Grandfather TATE (Mother's father) at the Ward's Grove Cemetery near what is now Foile, Oklahoma. Mother was sick what seemed like a long time with her hand, but when she got better, she began to think about finding a place to move. We couldn't live on that big farm for we had no one to work it. Lewis, my brother, was only fifteen years old, not old enough to take care of the stock or farm. Mother and Lewis started out to find a place to live. They found a neighbor who had a 20 acre patch with a two-room house on it. He said to just move in and if you want to plant anything, just plant. No one had lived on the place for a long time so the house wasn't much but it was a place to live. Mother got busy selling what she could, like hogs and two milk cows and other things we had. We took a few chickens with us. Mother was just planning to stay there until Spring, then she planned to move to town where she might find work. We were all feeling a little better now that we were settled in a house. Now, maybe we could make it to Spring so Spring passed into Summer. Mother went out one night to shut the chicken coops. I was sitting in the kitchen door watching her. When she shut the last coop, I saw her kneel down and then I heard her praying. She was talking to the Lord and I thought now everything is going to be all right-but I was wrong. Just a few days later our house burned to the ground and everything we had went with it. Our neighbors were there but we had no water to fight fire with, so we had to stand and watch everything burn. Mother had put some meat skins in a pan in the oven to cook the fat off of them and crisp them up the way we all liked them and the grease caught fire. One man did pull our old trunk out, but it didn't have much in it. We spent the night with a neighbor and the next morning Lewis loaded up the plow and some other things and we went to Uncle Bob Tate's, Mother's brother. We stayed there a few months. Uncle Bob wanted to use our horses to haul pipe in the oil fields and did. One of them died and Mother sold the other one to a farmer. That deep mud and heavy loads just pulled them to death. >From Uncle Bob's we went to Chelsea where Mother and Lewis found work right away. Mother found a job cooking at the Clayton Hotel. Mother was a good cook and stayed about two years and Lewis found work driving for Dr. Caldwell on his house calls. It wasn't an easy job for a l5 year old boy for he had to get up all hours at night and drive the doctor on his calls. All this time, I was living with a family in Claremore, Oklahoma who wanted me to live with them. I don't know why, for I wasn't a very pretty little girl and with no home, but I was big enough to wash dishes. They had two little boys, one was about my age and he didn't like to help me with the dishes. His father was Mr. Ben Hester, Principal of the Claremore School. He always said that he was going to make a teacher out of me. I have often wondered what my life might have been like if I had lived with them. I am sure I would have been raised just right and I would have been able to spell all of these words that I can't spell now, but I might not have met that big boy with the knee pants and big feet and I'm sure it would not have been worth that. My little sister, Viola, was not in school yet, so she had to spend the day at the Hotel and go home with Mother at night, then get up early and go with Mother to go back to the Hotel. After she stopped working at the hotel and just cleaned homes for people. Then, one day a thin man came to our house. He had on a blue shirt that had not been ironed. Mother met him at the door and shook hands with him. We had never seen her shake hands with a man so we wondered who he was. Well, this was the day the Lord had sent CHARLEY GOSNELL our way. He came in the house and they talked a long time. He came back a few times and then they told us they were going to get married. The first thing I thought about when I heard that, was that I would get to come and stay home all the time. They were married at Claremore and I packed my little bag and went home with them. Mr. and Mrs.Hester tried to talk Mother into leaving me with them, but whe wouldn't leave me unless I wanted to stay. Well, we all went home to HIS house that evening. There were HIS children, Elmer and Ada and HER children, Mary and Viola. We just sat down and looked at each other. We didn't say a word. After a while, Elmer went out and soon came back with a friend with him and he didn't say anything either, and it took us about two days to be able to talk. In a few days we had put our furniture together and moved into one house. Dad was working on the railroad at that time. One day a train came through and had a wreck at the edge of town; just a small wreck, but it wrecked a car that was loaded with fresh fruit. That evening Dad brought home a big stalk of ripe bananas. We thought that was the best thing in the world he could have brought to us. We had never seen so many bananas in one bunch. We had bananas for several days. When Spring arrived, Dad bought an old team of horses and rented a small farm about four miles out of town. They planted a big garden and a melon patch and corn. That was when Elmer and I got a taste of chopping weeds out of the cornfield. The weather was hot and the corn was a lot taller than we were so if there was a breeze, the corn got it, but we didn't. Mother tried to make it easy on us. Every day she would bring us that good fried bread with sugar on it and fresh water to drink. We would sit under a shade tree and eat our snack and talk to Mother. It took a few days to clean the weeds out of that field, but there was always another field ready. Two years after Mother and Charley Gosnell were married they had a little boy. We all loved him very much. We named him Earl Henry, the Henry part was after his father. He was a happy little boy. He grew up to be a good man and he married a good girl and they had seven children. They were a happy family. Then Mother & Charley had a little girl named Dorothy. They were so special to us and they were both taken away from us. We lost Dorotha first, at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. When she was about sixteen she was thrown from a horse hitting her head on a rock, crushing the back of her head in.Our family never got over that. Earl died from prostate cancer in Andrews, Texas at age 62.....To go on with the story of my life...While we lived on that farm, we went to school at the Condry School about a mile through the woods. We made some good friends and we were friends after we left that school. I still write to one of the girls, Mary Yochum. Of course, she is 89 years old now and so am I, but we still write about playing ball and Black Man. We always had a good garden and Mother always saved garden seed for the next year so she had the seed all put away, but I found the pumpkin seed and I liked pumpkin seed. I would crack the seed and get the goody out and eat it. But this time, something went wrong and I wasn't expecting it.We children always got along so good as a family and never fought among ourselves, but once, and this was that time. Elmer found me eating the pumpkin seed and he tried to take them away from me and he couldn't, so he threw me down on the bed and held my arms and legs down so I couldn't move. All this time he was yelling for Mamma and I was trying to move, so I couldn't hit him, pull his hair, so I just had one thing that I could do to move him-so I did it. I spit right in his face. At that, he yelled louder and here came Mamma. Well, we got that settled after a while and I got the worst end of it. Of course, Elmer was always Mother's Pet, anyway and after that I let the old pumpkin seed alone. They weren't very good anyway.....The Fourth of July was always a big day for us. Dad always had time to take us all to the Fourth of July Picnic at Chelsea. We would see the races and get an ice cream cone. They made the cones right there at the ice cream stand and an orangeade made in a big wash tub with a man selling and singing,"Orangeade made in the shade, stirred with a spade, just good enough for any old maid" and he was selling as fast as he could fill the glasses for five cents a big glass, and the ride on the Merry-Go-Round, I thought, was the most beautiful music I had ever heard, and I still like to hear it....Well, Dad tried farming for a few years but it was no big success so he went looking for something else to do. Our neighbor was loading up to go to Missouri. He owned a little farm and had left it and came to Oklahoma to get rich. Well, he didn't find what he came after so now he was homesick for the hills again and told Dad what a wonderful country it was. He said there were empty houses on small farms that you could just move into and go to farming and that DID sound good so Dad loaded us all up and we went with the man. It was like the man said-there were a lot of empty houses where people had starved out and left so we moved into one of the empty houses. It had a big fireplace and a pretty good house about a half mile from that man's place and a short distance from Pineville, Missouri. Now, everyone knows what beautiful country that is around Pineville, beautiful water and beautiful hills. Everyway you look there is beauty, but there comes a time that you can't live on beauty alone. Well, when that happened to us, Dad went out and traded something for a molasses mill and made molasses on the half. Then he had molasses to sell and molasses to eat so we got along pretty well. After the molasses season was over, Dad always saved part of the last batch of molasses to make taffy. The whole community was invited to the Taffy Pull and party and just about everyone in the community came. Dad was an expert at making molasses and taffy. His taffy wasn't just taffy-it was taffy Candy. After everybody got tired of pulling taffy, then the party started. Those Hill People knew more party games than I ever heard of, such as: "OL DAN TUCKER WAS A FINE OLD MAN, HE WASHED HIS FACE IN A FRYING PAN, COMBED HIS HAIR WITH THE WAGON WHEEL, AND DIED WITH THE TOOTHACHE IN HIS HEEL. LOOK OUT, LOOK OUT FOR OL DAN TUCKER, HE'S TOO LATE TO GET HIS SUPPER. SUPPER'S OVER AND BREAKFASTS COOKIN, OLE DAN TUCKER JUST STANDS THERE LOOKIN'-- The boys got to hold hands with the girls a lot and that the best kind of games. Everybody had a good time and were sorry the molasses season was over...Before another molasses season, we were back in Oklahoma and Dad was working in the oil fields and he never went back to farming.....Elmer and I were 17 years old. Elmer was hauling pipe in the oil fields and I was working some, too, helping where there was somebody sick in a home or where they had a new baby. Well, I guess we thought now we were old enough to go with somebody besides each other like we always had done. I went wherever he went and he went wherever I went when we were going to parties. This girl he was going with was as ugly as a mud fence but she had an apricot tree in her yard and Elmer liked apricots so he just kept going back and when we walked to church, about one mile away, they walked together and I walked with her brother. I wouldn't call him handsom, but he was nice. It wasn't long before Elmer was going with one of those girls that lived in the big white house and Elsea was heart-broken so she wrote Elmer a long letter but she didn't dare let her mother know about it, so she folded it up and put it in her shoe, so the letter was in pretty bad shape by the time Elmer got it. He left it on the dresser in his room and Jessie and I read it. Jessie was Lewis's wife. We thought he would have a fit about it-he knew we had read it and he said, "What would her mom do about it if she knew about it?" Well, I knew what that old woman would do, she would just about have killed her, that's what. Well, for a few years there we just went with the boys and girls of our community, then Elmer began to drift farther away from home. Sometimes he would be gone two weeks at a time working, then the oil company put him on a pumping job and he was away most of the time and I wondered why I was missing him so much. I had never missed him like that before and when he would come home I was so glad to see him. One Saturday he cam home and we decided this must be love and we began to think about when and where.Of course, we were at War with Germany and everybody was going to camp, but Elmer had been rejected because of a heart murmur thought to be caused from him having meningitis as a child and, no way would they take him. So we rode the train from Belin into Muskogee and got married. Then in a short time Elmer was drafted into the Army and sent to Camp Pike, Arkansas. At that time, the flu epidemic had taken over the Camp, so he and a few other men who had not taken the flu kept busy carrying out the dead soldiers and training the few who were left. But, Thank the Lord, in just four months the War was over and my loved one came home on Christmas Day. Etna, Uncle Bob's wife, and I had spent Christmas Day with Emma, Pat and Robert and when Mother called us that Elmer was home, we lost no time in getting home. Our little pony just couldn't go fast enough, and when Elmer saw us coming, he ran and jumped every rod line on the way to get to us. That was just the best Christmas I ever had.....We stayed at Mother and Dad's until after our first child was born, which was about three months. A beautiful little blue-eyed girl. She is still a beautiful blue-eyed girl although she is about 70 years old and not little, but she is so good, everybody loves Verna. We were soon in our own home again. The oil company put Elmer back to work where he left off when he went to Camp, and in about two years we had another little girl, a pretty little blue-eyed girl to be a happy little girl, kind of a special little girl. We called her our little Peace-Maker. When there were things for the other children to do and they didn't want to go right on and do them, she would always say, "I will do it". And she would. Well, we were having our now family but we needed a boy, so the very next one was a big long blond boy. He was a handsom little boy, smart and a good worker. Well, he was our pride and joy, and always will be...the Lord took our special little girl to Heaven when she was l3 years old. That was the first big sorrow of our life--Little Vera Mae.......When Paul was twenty years old he married a dear little girl who lived in our community and we have loved her like a daughter and always will. They had three wonderful boys. Well, if I start bragging on my grandchildren, I am going to run out of notebook, so I will just tell you how many I have and, of course, they are all the best grandchildren in the world. We have five grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren and eight great-great granchildren, and I know I will have one more great because he is on the way.
Larry, if you're not in a big hurry I'd be happy to take care of it for you. My wife and I recently bought a home in the Birds area but the escrow doesn't close until May 30th. Once we get settled I'd be happy to go over to Otterbein for you. My family (the Clark side) came to the area in 1840 other relatives as early as 1818. I'm retired and am looking forward to being able to do family research in person rather than long distance via the web. My email is; beardhd(a)yahoo.com if you'd like to contact me directly.
The Marines cannot forgive the enemies of our country, only the diety can do that. The Marine's job is to arrange the meeting!
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