Wordless Wednesday – Just Because

Cherokee Bill – An Outlaw’s Story

It has been a while since I last posted anything, and people have began to ask what’s going on. Well, here is my pet project right now. I am working on a book about outlaws in the twin territories and I just finished my chapter on Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby. I find his story very interesting as most of the places in this chapter I have visited. I live only 30 minutes from Fort Gibson and just visited Coweta last week. I call Tahlequah my hometown, but in truth I live out in the country. It’s amazing to think that the land I walk on, he also once walked on and so did the brave lawmen that died trying to keep Indian Territory safe. I hope you enjoy the life of Cherokee Bill.

Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby

Crawford Goldsby was born February 8th, 1876 in Fort Concho, Texas, to George Goldsby and  Ellen Beck Goldsby. He was the second born and oldest son of 4 children by this couple. His father George was a mixed-race male his mother was a mulatto and his father was a white man. Ellen Beck was half African-American 1/4 white 1/4 Cherokee who lived in Fort Gibson Indian Territory. George and Ellen met when he was stationed at Fort Gibson and later was transferred to Fort Concho Texas where he became a first sergeant and Company D Buffalo Soldiers.

The civilian community of Santa Angela that bordered Fort Concho was where the soldiers went on their days off at the fort. It was in this town that change not only the life of George Goldsby but that of his wife and children as well. It was on a fateful day in February of 1878 when George was having a drink at Morris Saloon when a group of cowboys and buffalo hunters decided to approach him. The racial divide was large in Santa Angela and it came to a head as a man assaulted George, cutting his chevrons from his uniform and then making him leave the saloon.

Angry for being assaulted, George went back to Fort Concho and gathered some men and rifles. Together they went back to more Saloon and engaged in a gunfight with the men. Three civilians and one soldier were killed in the melee.  G.W. Arrington,  captain of the Texas Rangers, March through Fort Concho and stormed into Colonel Grierson’s office and demanded that goes to be arrested for murder. Grierson informed him he had no Authority on federal lands and had him removed from the fort.

Goldsby knew there would be a trial and knew he would be tried and convicted of murder, so on May 23rd, 1879, he went AWOL.  The other nine men that were a part of the Morris Saloon incident were indicted for murder, so in truth, George was not wrong of the outcome. Goldsby left Ellen and their four kids to face the aftermath of his desertion. She continued working as a laundress for Company D for a while before moving her kids back home to Fort Gibson.  Once they returned to Fort Gibson Ellen took her four kids and put them in homes of relatives. Crawford was given into the care of “Auntie” Amanda Foster, where he stayed until he was sent to an Indian school in Kansas.  After going to school in Kansas he was sent to a Catholic Indian School in Pennsylvania, school life wasn’t for him and he soon returned to Fort Gibson.

While Crawford was gone to school, and unbeknownst to him, his mother had remarried. Alan Beck Goldsby married William Lynch in 1889 and they settled in Fort Gibson, Indian Territory where Lynch became a barber.  The problem with this marriage was that Ellen was still legally married to Crawford’s father. At one point George Goldsby approached Ellen for a divorce but she denied him. At the same time George Goldsby, who by this time was known as William Scott also married.

George married a white woman by the name of Effie in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Not only was George not free to marry, but it was also an illegal marriage due to the fact that George was a mulatto and Effie was white which was illegal in Arkansas at the time. Though she later claimed that they went to Kansas and remarried again where it was legal for mixed races to marry, that marriage was also illegal in the fact that George was still married to Ellen at the time.

It is not known whether Crawford or any of his siblings had anything else to do with their father once he deserve them at Fort Concho, but what we do know is when Crawford returned home to find his mother married to William Lynch it wasn’t to be a happy family. Crawford and his stepfather did not get along and Crawford began hanging out with the wrong sort of people, but it wasn’t until he was 18 that he began his life of crime.

In an Indian Pioneer paper interview of Alex Matheson lies the story of when Crawford Goldsby shot Jake Lewis multiple times. When Crawford was 18 he worked in the shop of Alex Matheson.  Matheson had no complaint of Crawford saying that he was a good boy and that he swept and kept the store clean for him.  At this time Crawford Goldsby was not known as Cherokee Bill but Matheson describes him like that as he relates his story:

 “One night he went to a dance and had a fight with a negro boy by the name of Bill Lewis. A negro deputy sheriff was there and held his gun on Cherokee Bill while Lewis beat him up. Lewis worked for Mr. Bowden at Garrison Hill. Early the next morning Cherokee Bill went to the Bowden Barn and hid in a manger and waited until Lewis showed up. When Lewis was inside the barn, Cherokee Bill stepped out of the manger and shot Lewis 3 or 4 times but did not kill him. Although he was shot up pretty bad, as Cherokee Bill was using a 45 six shooter, I lived about what would be termed 2 blocks from the Bowden home. After the shooting, Cherokee Bill went from the Bowden home to Frenchy Miller’s, a distance of about a quarter of a mile, as none of them were up he went to the barn and saddled up one of Miller’s horses and rode to where the Cook Gang was holed up on 14 Mile Creek; about where the town of Hulbert is now located and joined the gang. That was the beginning of his Outlaw career.”

According to Alex Matheson, Crawford Goldsby assumed he had killed Jake Lewis, but Lewis survived. He stated that Goldsby met up with the brothers on Fourteen Mile Creek while others say he met them in the Creek and Seminole Nation. Jim and Bill Cook were bad brothers but it wasn’t until Goldsby joined them that they became known as the Cook Gang, and though it was named after the brothers it has long been believed that Goldsby was the head of this gang.

Crawford Goldsby was not yet known as Cherokee Bill, but his name was whispered throughout the territories. It wasn’t until 1894 that he became known as “Cherokee Bill”. The U.S. Government had agreed to lease the land known as the Cherokee Strip from the Cherokees. All Cherokee citizens were entitled to payment from this land lease, including Crawford Goldsby and the Cook Brothers. The only problem was they couldn’t just ride into Tahlequah to receive their payments. They were well-known outlaws with prices on their heads. The only way to get the money due to them was to send someone they knew and trusted to collect it for them.

With that thought in mind, they headed to Fourteen Mile Creek to the home of Effie Critenden, known as the Halfway House. Her house was located halfway between Wagoner and Tahlequah, and the perfect location for the gang to wait while Effie went into Tahlequah to collect their money. When Effie returned with their money without any trouble they thought they were safe and decided to stay another day. 

It was that afternoon, while they were lounging under a shade tree that the U.S. Marshal and his posse arrived to arrest them. A gunfight ensued and the outlaws managed to kill one of the men in the posse, Sequoyah Houston.

Sequoyah Houston was a sheriff’s deputy out of Tahlequah. He was married to Mary Ann Wyrick. From their marriage, they had three boys, Mack, Alexander, and George. 

Sequoyah was killed on June 17th, 1894, by Crawford Goldsby, leaving his widow and three boys alone in the world.

When Houston went down they called a retreat and left the halfway house. Goldsby and the Cook brothers took to the hills and weren’t seen around for a long while. The next day, the lawmen returned and asked Effie if one of the outlaws had been Crawford Goldsby, she replied, “No it was not Crawford Goldsby, but it was Cherokee Bill.” From then on he was known only as Cherokee Bill.” 

In researching through stories and books for information on Cherokee Bill, a number of interesting stories were found in the interviews of the Indian Pioneer Papers. One such story was told by Burl Taylor in 1937. He recalled of the time when his horse had wandered and he was out looking for it. He ran across a man by the name of Bob Elliott, who asked him to accompany him while he went to warn Cherokee Bill and Bill Cook were. He had learned a man by the name of Bill Stout was headed to find a U.S. Marshal and tell them of the outlaws’ whereabouts. They were hid out behind some bushes where the Muskogee School for the Blind is now located.

Cherokee and Bill Cook rode down toward the crib, a man in the crib fired at Cherokee and killed his horse. Cherokee grabbed his Winchester and stood up where his horse was shot, firing at the officers. Cook kept telling him to come on and they would get him another horse; Cherokee answered, that he would go soon as he finished the round of shells in the Winchester. After he finished firing and he got on the horse behind Cook, they started south at a fast gait and Cherokee lost his hat in the strong wind. He jumped off the horse and start back after it. He had his Winchester gripped in both hands, raised over his head. He was running as fast as he could, letting out a loud whoopie and curses each step.The posse thought he was coming back after the, they all jumped on their horses and run for it. Cherokee had a good laugh over it,”

Posse’s went after Cherokee Bill numerous times, but the results were always the same. Cherokee and his friend’s would always manage to escape. One time a posse was waiting for them at a ferry and decided to wait for the gang at Rabbit Ford. The outlaws, being told of this plan, road on ahead and waited for the posse to arrive. 

When the posse arrived they rode their horses into the river for a drink before starting across. As soon as the outlaws saw the posse was in a vulnerable position they began firing. The posse didn’t raise a gun but turned tail and ran. Some time later, at the home of Frank Daniels, who lived near Ramonia on the Caney River, sixteen men led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Beck Thomas arrived saying that the outlaws were headed that way and for the family to take cover so they didn’t get hurt in the crossfire.

A gunfight ensued and the outlaws ran for the woods while bullets rained down on them. The posse wouldn’t follow them into the woods and finally gave up and left. One begins to wonder how the outlaws got their ammunition and other supplies, but in the Indian Pioneer Paper Interview with Clarence Warren, he solves this mystery. He informed the fieldworker taking the interview that he had an uncle by the name of Jim Egan, that owned a store in Sapulpa, the manager, another uncle of his by the name of Bert Gray was the manager. 

“They would come in usually when my uncle was alone, present their six guns, muzzles toward my uncle and tell him what they wanted and how much. So, of course, they got it, and on short order, for he was anxious to get rid of them as soon as possible. But they always asked how much the bill was, and for my uncle to keep account of it for they would return later and pay it; an the unusual thing about it, they always slipped in when they had money and paid their bill.”

During Cherokee Bill’s time as an outlaw he had done a number of crimes, including killing his brother-in-law for mistreating his sister to holding up a train at Red Fork. Other crimes laid at his door was a store hold up in Wetumpka and Okmulgee, a train in Coweta, the Express Office in Choteau, and the most famous, or infamous, of all, Schufelt’s store in Lenapah.

This last robbery was the beginning of the end for the outlaw known as Cherokee Bill. Mrs. E.H. Whitmire relates the story in her Indian Pioneer Paper interview of April 14th, 1937.

“The day that Cherokee Bill robbed Schufelt’s store, he and Jim French or ‘Verdigres Kid’ rode into town from the south and stopped in front of the store. They were dressed about like all other cowboys, who came there to trade so no one suspicioned them. They dismounted, dashed into the store, Winchesters in their hands, and said, ‘Everybody stick em up’. Cherokee Bill told his partner to keep watch on the outside while he made Schufelt open the safe for him. The safe was opened and the money and as many other articles as they thought they needed were taken. As he backed out of the store his pal whispered something to him and he returned into the store and took some cartridges from the shelf and as he came out, this time he looked across the street and saw Ernest Melton looking out the window to see what was going on and without any cause or reason, he raised his gun and shot Melton through the head. They left in haste, evading the officers for a time.”

The life of Ernest Melton was ended on November 8th, 1894, by his curiosity to see what was happening in the store across the road, but his death would be vindicated. Cherokee Bill may have escaped the law in Lenepah, but they would soon catch up to him.

Cherokee Bill had a special lady friend that he kept company with. Maggie Glass was a Cherokee girl who was the cousin of Isaac “Ike” Rogers. Ike was a lawman under Deputy Marshal W.C. Smith. Smith approached Ike with a plan to capture Cherokee Bill. Using his infatuation of Maggie, Ike encouraged Cherokee to come to his home and visit her, promising him a safe haven. His friend Clint Scales was there as well, to help Rogers capture Cherokee Bill.

Cherokee Bill was suspicious and on alert while there and even slept with his guns. Several attempts to capture him failed. Finally, the next morning Cherokee Bill was looking for a match, but not finding any he bent over the fireplace to light his cigarette. Rogers took his chance and clubbed him over the head. They had finally captured Cherokee Bill on January 30th, 1895.

The outlaw offered money and horses if they would let him go, but it was all to no avail. Cherokee Bill was taken to Fort Smith to stand trial for the murder of Ernest Melton.

This image of Crawford Goldsby was taken right before an attempted escape. In this picture, it looks more like a group of friends instead of an outlaw and his escorts.

Cherokee Bill’s trial would be handled by Judge Isaac Parker, better known as the “Hanging Judge”. Knowing who he was up against, his mother hired J. Warren Reed as his lawyer. Reed was not a favored lawyer of the judge, who termed him a “Scoundrel’s scoundrel.” Reed did not like Judge Parker’s “Log Cabin” ways. Reed was known for appeal the Judge’s rulings and getting the judgments overthrown, and that was exactly his plan for Cherokee Bill. 

The trial for Cherokee Bill lasted days, and they brought forth many witnesses for and against Cherokee Bill. According to the Cherokee Advocate on March 6th, 1895, they interviewed several persons on the stand. The first being the brother of the deceased, W.S. Melton. He was not a witness to the murder but brought forth evidence to be considered. He presented to the court the shell and ball that was removed from the scene of the crime.

Another witness that was brought forth was a man by the name of Ben Vann. Vann testified that he had been present at a dance at Ike Rogers’s house and that Cherokee Bill had been in attendance. While there the outlaw informed Vann that he had not intended to kill Melton. He had only shot to scare the man. 

Deputy Marshal W.C. Smith was one of the men who brought Cherokee Bill to Fort Smith after his capture, and in his testimony, he stated that Cherokee Bill argued on the way that he didn’t see how he could be charged with murder when he wasn’t the only one shooting. They had no proof that it was him that killed the man.

Next, they brought forth a man by the name of Charles Patton. Several deputies had stayed at his house in the hopes that Cherokee Bill would show up. They made him go to a place called Turners to look for the outlaw. He went through the hills until he found Cherokee Bill and the Verdigris Kid. He stayed at their camp for hours talking. While there Cherokee Bill said he got $164 in a hold-up in Lenepah and that he had to shoot a man. Vann then produced a locket he said “the Kid” gave him, which was stolen from Schufeldt’s store.

Cherokee Bill was convicted on April 13th, 1895, with the hanging to be conducted on June 25,th 1895, but with the help of his lawyer, they appealed the conviction and received a stay of execution. While sitting in jail under the sentence of death he planned a daring escape. While the night guardsmen made their evening rounds on July 25th, 1895, Cherokee Bill sat in wait. When they arrived at his cell to lock him in for the night he shoved the door at them and produced a pistol. It is not known who gave him the pistol and ammunition but according to the August 7th, 1895 Cherokee Advocate, he secured it from a man by the name of Ben Howell, a trusty that disappeared.

Cherokee Bill fired on the officers, striking Lawrence Keating in the side, from which he died minutes later. Guards began firing shots at Cherokee Bill and, seeing as his escape had failed, ran back to his cell. With some effort the deputies managed to get Cherokee Bill to hand over his revolver with the promise that they would not shoot him.

  

Lawrence Keating, born July 8th, 1849, in Wexford, Ireland. Married Adeline Miller. Died July 26th, 1895, Ft. smith, Arkansas.

Cherokee Bill was hanged for murder at 2:13 PM, on March 17th, 1896, as his mother stood by. When asked if he had any last words he spoke: “No, I came here to die; not to talk.” After he kissed his mother he walked up to his place on the gallows. His mother stood with bravery, not flinching or shedding a tear. Once the deed was done, she calmly collected his body to return home to Fort Gibson, to bury her oldest son.

Crawford Goldsby was buried in the Citizen’s Cemetery in Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. A troubled life gone from this world. His younger brother Clarence told Ike Rogers if he ever set foot in Fort Gibson that he would kill him for his part in the capture of his brother. In April 1897, Rogers disembarked from the train in Fort Gibson with little care in the world. Little to know that his world was fixing to end. Clarence Goldsby walked up behind him and shot him through the neck and after he fell, shot him multiple more times. 

Clarence was never arrested for the death of Rogers and it was said that he led the life of a model citizen except for that one day that he avenged his brother.

Mystery Monday – Mineral Creek Chapter Seven

“Dorcus is married to the son of the man that killed Elsie?”

“Yes, they married last year but you mustn’t say that Doctor Henderson killed Elsie. After all, he was cleared by the courts.”

“I’m convinced that was a cover up. He knew something that people didn’t want to get out so they arranged for the charges against him to be dropped. What ever happened to Doctor Henderson anyway?”

“He died two years ago. They say it was heart failure. They found him lying on the floor in his operating room. The entire room was destroyed. They say it was because he staggered around before he fell but I’m not entirely convinced.”

“Well, I think its time to pay my dear old friend a visit. Can you tell me where they live?”

“That’s easy enough. She’s your neighbor. She lives two doors down from you on your side of the street. It’s a white house with green trim.”

“Thanks Miss Patty, I’ll let you know how it goes.” Ella quickly left the library and headed towards her friends home. She wasn’t sure how Dorcus will act towards her, after all, it has been ten years, not to mention she will be questioning her about her husband’s father. She would be lucky not to get herself kicked out but she had to ask these hard questions to find the answers she sought.

When she stood on the doorstep she suddenly had misgivings. Was she doing the right thing? How do you go about bringing up the subject. You can’t just go in saying ‘Hey Dorcus how have you been these last ten years? By the way, tell me how your father-in-law managed to get his name cleared from murder?’ She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that when the door swung open and a pretty young woman walked out Ella jumped and backed away.

“Ella Mattox, is that you?”

“Dorcus, it’s been years. How have you been?” Ella asked, giving her old friend a hug.

“Wonderful. Come on in, we have years of catching up to do. How did you find out where I lived?”

“Miss Patty mentioned it. I only moved back a few days ago and I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to look up old friends yet. When she learned that I hadn’t had a chance to visit anyone, she told me you were just two doors down from me. I couldn’t pass up the chance to come and say hi.”

“Well, I’m glad you did. How have you been? You know I didn’t even know you were moving until you were already gone.”

“I didn’t know we were moving until after the funeral. Then all we did was gather what we could carry and leave.”

“That seems strange. Why did your parents just up and leave like that?”

“I’m not sure but it’s something I’m looking into. Anyway, my father passed away last week and I found out he left me the house so I decided to move back here. After all, Mineral Creek is my hometown and I really hated Tulsa.”

“Oh, you lived in Tulsa? I would love to visit there. It has to be so different from here. There’s nothing to do here other than sit on the front porch with your family and neighbors. In Tulsa, there must be a lot of different things to do every night.”

“Tulsa did have a lot to do but the friendliness of a small town is much better. Miss Patty tells me you got married.”

“Yes, my Nathan is wonderful. I wish you could meet him right now but he’s at his office.”

“Oh my, he has an office? He must be someone important then.”

“He’s the town doctor now that his father is gone. He took over the family practice.”

“Oh that’s right, I remember Dr. Henderson. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.”

Dorcus nodded her thanks. “He never really liked me and honestly I would always get a strange feeling from him whenever he was around.”

“What kind of ‘strange’ feeling?”

“It’s hard to explain. I would catch him looking at me when he didn’t know I could see him. He would look me up and down and he would make a face like he was judging me and found me lacking.”

“Dorcus, can I ask you a question without offending you?”

“I will try my best not to be offended.”

“Ten years ago, when Anna died and we left suddenly I didn’t realize what we did was strange but the older I got the more it didn’t make any sense. Why would we leave the cemetery, come straight home and grab only the things we could carry and leave town? I now have so many questions and Mama and Papa are gone so I have no one to answer them. That’s one reason I came home, to get those questions answered and some of those answers leads me to your father-in-law.”

Dorcus studied her friend for a minute. “You are talking about what happened to Elsie Potter. You think there is a connection between what happened to Elsie and Anna’s death.”

“I went to visit Anna’s grave when I got home. Do you know what is inscribed on her headstone?”

“No, I don’t think I’ve ever paid any attention.”

“It says, ‘Killed by Human Wolves’.”

“That seems scary. What could they have meant and who could have had that inscribed?”

“It had to be my father that had that inscribed. As for the saying to me it means she was murdered. Now I have further reason to believe that Elsie and Anna’s deaths are related.”

“How so?”

“I found Anna’s diary. Elsie was like another sister to Anna and I know she tried her best to protect her. Anna learned things before Elsie’s death that has brought some answers but a lot more questions. One of the most pressing question is how did Dr. Henderson get cleared of all wrong doing when he was clearly guilty?”

“I remember my parents talking about it when it was big news in town. They always thought he was guilty of killing her. After all, he did the surgery that she died from so he should have paid for that. As a matter of fact, my parents were not happy about the man I chose for a husband because of his father. They only finally approved the match when the old doctor was no longer in the picture.”

“So if your parents believed he was guilty then there must have been others in the town that felt the same way.”

“Almost everyone in town did yet the court decided he was innocent so there was nothing anyone could do.”

“What does your husband think about what happened?”

“He wasn’t here when all that happened. He was away at school but he returned not long after his father was cleared of the charges. He said he was never that close to his father and really didn’t know much about him or his character. He just remembers him being very strict and mean to his mother. His father made the name Henderson infamous in Mineral Creek. Since his death, Nathan has tried very hard to prove to the town that he is not his father.”

“Do you know what happened to the teacher? They took him in for questioning but there were no newspaper articles after that.”

“Papa said he was told to leave town but I don’t know who told him or why.”

“It seems like people know bits and pieces of the story but not the whole thing. Johnny Moore is coming over tonight to discuss it. Would you and Nathan like to come too? It sounds like your husband might want to lay these questions to rest as well.”

“I will ask him but I’m sure he would like that. So tell me, how is it you’ve been too busy to look up old friends but you managed to get acquainted with the most eligible man in Mineral Creek?”

Ella spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on ten years worth of Mineral Creek gossip. When she left she was feeling good. It was nice to get back with old friends. She hoped once they learned what actually happened to Elsie and Anna she would still have those friends. She didn’t think  Dorcus could be involved but she didn’t know about her husband. After all, he was the son of the man that killed Elsie and possibly Anna.

She had time before she needed to go home and prepare for tonight’s little dinner party so she decided to go visit her sister. Maybe sitting there with her will help her clear her mind so that she can be focused for the night’s discussion. The cemetery always gave Ella a chill. There was something about the stillness of the acreage and knowing that people were lying beneath her feet unnerved her. Normally, she wouldn’t come alone but she felt she needed to have this visit.

She sat down on the ground next to her sister’s grave. “Anna, I wish you were here. There’s still so many questions and I’m afraid we’re nowhere close to finding out what happened to you. I know you were worried about Elsie and you followed her to that place. Is that how you knew how she really died and why did everyone go unpunished? What is this secret and how many in this town was a part of it? It sounds as though that was a really dark time in Mineral Creek and you somehow got mixed up in and paid for it with your life. 

Did Mama and Papa pack up and leave because they knew what had happened? That you were murdered and feared for their safety as well as my own? Papa did one thing to get back at them before we moved though, didn’t he? He put that inscription on your headstone so that every time someone read it they either knew they were guilty or was it just to remind the town’s people of what they let happen?”

A breeze blew over Ella giving her a chill and slightly lifting her hair in the wind. She shivered and looked around. No one was there but the feeling that she was being watched crept over her. She looked over her shoulder in the direction that she felt the gaze. There was no one there but when she focused on the headstone, the name inscribed on it made her gasp, “Doctor Edward Henderson”.

“Oh Anna, even in death you must be tormented to be buried so near your murderer for I have no doubt that he played a role in your death as well as Elsie’s.”

Her peaceful mood while talking to her sister suddenly fled and she quickly said goodbye and left the cemetery. Her walk home had her looking over her shoulder every step of the way. Something was making her feel uneasy, as though someone was following her. She was never so glad to walk through her door as she was just then. Trying to shake the mood she suddenly found herself in, she started to prepare the evening meal and hoped that Johnny would show up soon because she didn’t want to be alone right now.

Farming, Baking, Historical Research – The Many Facets of Me

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I have all my irons in the fire, so to speak. There are a lot of different things that interest me. People tell me to pick one and stick to that, but that is something I just can’t do. I like to spend time with all my hobbies. My way of thinking is, if you enjoy it why deprive yourself of the pleasure of doing it. Though I didn’t get to do them all as much as I would like, I wouldn’t give up any of them.

Presently, I am working on getting my genealogy certificate. I have been a hobby genealogist for over 20 years, and I finally decided to take the time to take the next step. My hope is to eventually get my lecturer certificate and teach about something I love to do.

Last year I also started a home bakery and began selling at the local farmer’s market. Sitting at the market and becoming friends with the vendors and customers has been very uplifting. I enjoy making people happy through my baking. Baking is a passion of mine. What isn’t a passion? Dishes! I have always hated doing dishes. I thought it would change when I moved away from home and got a dishwasher, but now I find I hate loading and unloading them. Cam is always bemoaning the fact that the dishes are piled high on the counter. I told him to blame my artistic nature, it doesn’t promote cleaning. At least, that’s what my nineteen year old keeps telling me.

If all that doesn’t make me busy enough, we have the farm, 6 kids and full time jobs. Some say I’m a gluten for punishment but I see it all as tied together. We work to pay the bills and feed and house the kids. Doing genealogy is my quiet time. Baking is my passion, and farming is a means to get back to our roots.

I maybe busy everyday, but my life is full. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Green Briar Farms is Growing

No, not in that way! Green Briar Farms was created a couple of years ago when we decided we had all this land at our disposal and nothing was being done with it. Since then we have slowly been improving the area and adding animals. We are not a large farm but we slowly continue to enlarge it.

We started with goats, but soon came to realize we knew nothing about raising goats. After they were gone we decided to try something a bit bigger, but something we have both been around before. Our cows number 13 now and we’re hoping for a few babies by fall. Having the cows is great, but it just started a fire under us. What else can we do to bring Green Briar Farms to it’s best potential?

A few years ago I bought some baby chicks to raise. Unfortunately, the raccoons were more clever than myself and we lost all of them. Now, a few years later, and hopefully wise, we decided to build a chicken house and pen from scratch. There was no chicken house plans that we followed, just how I imagined the house to be. It took us longer than I had planned to build it. Sometimes its hard to get motivated (or to motivate someone else).

Finally, we were ready for chickens! We went to a local swap meet where other local farms bring their animals that they want to sell. I have seen chickens, goats, rabbits, and dogs when I have gone. The hardest part for me is that I wanted them all. It was so hard to choose, but I finally found my chickens. I got six hens and a rooster. I don’t know much about chickens, but the couple we bought them from said they are Cinnamon Queen chickens and that they lay eggs year around. They are still a little young but I’m hoping for eggs within the next month.

Beatrice Hen

Now I’m worried about raccoons again. So to protect our new livestock we brought in a security guy. His name is Duke and he loves the chickens. He hasn’t tried to eat them or anything.

Duke, the Security Dog

I’m glad you stopped by to meet the new members of the farm. I can’t wait until we get our first eggs, and who knows maybe we will add other animals in the near future.

Mystery Monday – Mineral Creek Chapter Six

Dear Diary,

I visited with Elsie today but I learned absolutely nothing. All she wanted to talk about was the latest fashions that the ladies in Tulsa were wearing. She never used to care about things like that. She has changed so much in the last few months. It’s like I don’t even know this Elsie anymore.

I asked her how her teacher friend was doing and she vaguely said that he was doing fine. Anytime I brought him up, she would change the topic. When I told her people have been seeing her walking out of town each night when the sun began to set she just told me people need to mind their own business.

I know that was directed at me but I’m just trying to look after her. We have been friends since we were young girls and right now she doesn’t seem to be capable of making good decisions. Well, after the failure to learn anything with our visit today I have come to a decision. Tonight I am going to follow her and see where she goes every evening. Perhaps when I find out what draws her away I can then begin to help her see the follies of what she is doing to her reputation. I will tell you all tomorrow dear diary.

Yours Truly,

Anna

Ella could feel her sister’s frustration in not being able to reach out to Elsie. She could see that her friend was going down a bad path but there seemed to be little she could do to stop it. How do you help a friend who didn’t think they needed any help? Maybe Anna learned something after following her, Ella thought, but then, in the end, Elsie had been beyond help at that point from what the articles and Miss Patty had told her.

My Dearest Diary,

What horrible things I have to write about tonight. I did as I said and followed Elsie out of town tonight. It was difficult to sneak out with Mama and Papa keeping such a close watch on me and Ella always wants to follow me but I managed to sneak out without her knowing it. When I set out to follow Elsie, I had no idea we would be walking so far. If I had known, I would have worn more sturdy shoes to be sure. 

We must have walked a good two miles before Elsie came to a large building set deep into the woods. I thought surely she was not meeting Mr. Rogers in this setting but when she knocked on the door it opened and Mr. Rogers took her by the hand and led her inside. I crept closer to see if I could hear anything as there was no windows at all in this building but I could only hear faint voices. There seemed to be far too many for just the two of them.

The whole thing seemed strange so when I found a knothole in the building I decided to see if I could see anything inside. The room was dimly lit with very few candles and from what I could tell all the corners were dark. 

I could hear more clearly at the knothole so I put my ear to it. I heard a lot of giggling and men whispering. When I put my eye back to the hole’ a man walked in front of it. He was wearing a mask so I couldn’t see who he was but it definitely wasn’t Mr. Rogers. This man was short and round while Mr. Rogers is tall and lanky. 

Then suddenly a woman pranced by and I can only call it prance because she seemed to be skipping like a child. She also had a mask on but it was what she was wearing that was scandalous. She barely had anything on! 

Oh Diary, I don’t know what kind of mess Elsie has gotten into but this is definitely not good. Now I have more questions than ever and the only word I can describe about what I saw was debauchery. Who are those people and how can I help Elsie escape them? I’m afraid I’m at a loss my friend.

Until tomorrow,

Anna

Ella closed the diary. It seemed as though Elsie was involved in a lot more than a clandestine meeting with an older man. She truly had been in terrible danger and seemed blind to it but how did it go from this to her death? She would talk to Johnny about it tomorrow evening when he came by. Together they will figure this out.

She awoke the next morning feeling as though she hadn’t slept at all. Anna’s last diary entry she had read had bothered her all night long. What exactly did Anna stumble upon? 

Was this the secret of Mineral Creek and if it was, who all was involved or knew of it’s existence? Could this thing still be going on today, ten years later? She wasn’t sure where her next step should be or who to talk to. 

Anyone in this town could have been a part of this. She was now sure that Anna must have asked the wrong questions to the wrong people and it ended up with her death. Maybe if she found where this building was she would be able to find out more about what went on inside of it. Maybe finding out who owned the property would also help her find answers.

She knew from Anna’s diary entries that Elsie left town at dusk and walked about two miles. So she needed to find out who owned what property in a two mile radius. 

Also, she could ask Miss Patty which direction Elsie always went. That would help narrow down the search. Feeling she had a destination in mind finally, she got up and quickly got dressed. Her first stop was the library and Miss Patty.

* * *

“Case dismissed. We will take a one hour break for lunch and reconvene at one o’clock,” Judge Fisher declared to the court, hammering his gavel loudly.

Johnny shook hands of the man that had just won his court case. He saw the judge start towards the door leading to his offices in the back of the courthouse. “Judge Fisher, may I have a word with you please?”

“By all means, Johnny, come on in to my office. Would you care for some stew. My wife sends me enough food to feed an army.”

“No thank you Judge but it smells delicious.”

“Thank you and you can call me George outside of the courtroom. Now what can I do for you?”

“I am helping a friend look into something that happened in Mineral Creek a few years ago and I know that the case came up in your court. I know you can’t confide all the details for me but I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation.”

“I’ll tell you anything I can, Johnny. Who would this be about?”

“Doctor Edward Henderson.”

“Oh yes, the illegal operation case I assume?”

“Yes, that’s it. It was on Miss Elsie Potter. My friend and I have been doing some research but when we looked at the newspaper articles they suddenly stopped. Rumor has it he was cleared of all charges but it had seemed from the clippings that it was pretty clear that he had done something very illegal.”

“Yes, I was the one that granted the petition to exhume her body but I wasn’t the one who presided over the case. I was called out of town and they had brought in another judge. He claimed that there wasn’t enough evidence and threw the case out. Never thought that was right because it seemed pretty cut and dry to me.”

“May I ask who brought in the other judge?”

“It was the mayor at the time but you won’t get any information out of him. He died in a hunting accident some eight years ago. The funny thing is, the call I got to go out of town was fake. When I got to Tulsa, the person I was supposed to see wasn’t even expecting me.”

“That answers a lot of questions. Now I will let you get to that stew. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.”

“Oh, Johnny, before you go I want to give you a word of advice. I can’t tell you not to go around asking questions but please be careful. I’m not sure about everything that happened ten years ago but even these old eyes can see that something was covered up. I don’t want a repeat of what happened back then. I will have no deaths on my watch again.”

“Yes of course, you have been most helpful and I will keep your words in mind.”

* * *

Ella entered the library as a couple of kids came running out. “Hello Miss Patty!”

“Ella dear, how goes the research?”

She looked around to make sure no one was in ear shot. “I have discovered what may be this secret you talk about. I’m still not exactly sure what it is but I think I know approximately where it takes place. In Anna’s diary she had decided to follow Elsie one evening to see where she was going. She followed her a couple of miles outside of town to a large, old building set in the woods. She said the building had no windows so she couldn’t see inside but when Elsie knocked on the door Mr. Rogers opened it and led her inside. Do you happen to know a building that fits that description?”

“It sounds like the old Stillwell homestead. They were a strange family, always kept to themselves, wouldn’t let their kids go to school. I’m not sure what happened to them or who owns that property now.”

“Would the Stillwell place be in the direction that Elsie gone every night?”

“I only saw her leaving town one time and when I questioned her about where she had went she was very vague but it seems to me that was the direction she went in. I should have been harder on her. I just thought she already had such a rough life losing her parents and all that I wanted her to have a little freedom. I didn’t realize that freedom would lead to her death.”

Ella patted her on the back to comfort the older woman. “You couldn’t have known, Miss Patty. I think when Johnny comes over this evening we may go out to the Stillwell homestead and see what we can find.”

“You and Johnny seem to be spending a lot of time together. Anything I need to know about?”

“We’re just friends and he is helping me find some answers.”

“I want you to know that just because you don’t have any family left doesn’t mean people don’t care. If you ever need to talk, I am here for you and if Johnny breaks your heart let me know and I’ll take care of him for you.”

Ella laughed and gave her a hug. “Thank you, Miss Patty. It’s nice to know that I still have friends in Mineral Creek. I haven’t seen any of my old friends since I’ve been back.”

“Unfortunately, most of them have moved away. They thought they could find more options out of this small town. Dorcus is still here though. As a matter of fact, she is married to Nathan Henderson. He is Doctor Henderson’s son.”

Meet the Workers of Green Briar Farms

I have told you a couple of stories about our attempts at raising a garden and the purchase of our little herd of cattle. Before I post anymore stories I thought you should meet the farmhands that I mention in my posts.

SAM –

Ever since he was born he has loved animals. He doesn’t discriminate on his love of creatures, he likes everything from cows to the little creepy crawly things that he knows his momma can’t stand. At times he has surprised me with his little pets in places that there shouldn’t be any, such as his pockets when I am doing laundry.

Where other kids his age are sitting inside playing video games he likes being outside helping around the property. He especially loves piling brush for some reason. A job I honestly hate to do. He’s very good at taking care of our animals. Don’t get me wrong though, he still loves his video games and there are times I would like to throw it out the door.

Braxton –

Braxton, being two years younger than his brother, wants to be exactly like him. Unfortunately, at three years old his youthful enthusiasm usually ends up getting him in trouble. Also, where Sam loves animals Braxton is terrified of them. He tries to put on a brave face but as soon as an animal draws near to him he goes into a panic. Our poor dog, Duke, wants to play with him but Sam has told him Duke wants to eat him. Now, every time Duke runs to him, Braxton runs screaming that he’s going to eat him.

Braxton is a good help though. Like Sam, he likes to be outside picking up sticks and piling them up to burn. His favorite job is feeding the chickens. Its easy for him because they are in their house so he doesn’t actually have to get near them to give them feed.

AMELIA –

Miss Amelia is our little princess. At just a year and a half and surrounded by all boys I thought for sure she would be a little tomboy, but I was wrong. She doesn’t like animals, and screams her lungs out at the sight of a cow. She is more at home inside helping mommy do the cooking.

This little princess can be a diva though, she doesn’t allow the boys take advantage of her and more often than not she has at least one of them on the ground with her sitting on top of them with a big grin on her face. Our other two girls are 19 and 16 so she has to take care of herself, and she does good. All the boys are afraid of her temper.

ALEXANDER –

Alexander is not only the younger twin, but he is the youngest of our six children, and being the youngest seems to make him the most emotional. He is the easiest to get his feelings hurt because he is just a laid back little boy. It’s amazing the traits of twins that I have learned. Alex and Amelia are like polar opposites. Where Amelia is feisty and doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her, Alex is quiet and always smiling. He seems a lot calmer than his sister.

I have noticed the same traits in my husband and his twin brother. My brother-in-law is definitely more laid back than my husband. My husband can be very intense and leaves his emotions on his sleeve so to speak.

Well, I have introduced you to most of my little farmhands so in future when I talk about them you have a face to go with the name.

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