A few events in the lives of Fannie Crowder and Essie Wallace, Original Choctaw Roll Members (submitted by Carlotta Earlene Bates nee Hollis)
Mrs. Fannie Wallace nee Crowder related this to the newspaper in Chickasha on her 103rd birthday:
Mrs. Fannie Wallace, a resident of the Sunnyside Nursing Home, celebrated her 103rd birthday on January 10. Highlighting the birthday celebration were two large birthday cakes, one from her daughter, Mrs. Leona Owen, and another from her church, The First Assembly of God.
Mrs. Wallace is not hesitant about giving credit for her long life to the Lord. A Christian since the age of 28, she believes that people were probably happier back years ago than most of them are now.
Mrs. Wallace was born in 1872, south of Boswell in Indian Territory. Her parents were Flora and Thomas Crowder and they lived for many years near Crowder Springs. She had three brothers and two sisters.
At the age of 18, she was married to Jesse Henry Wallace and they lived on a farm near Sterling, Oklahoma for a number of years. Her husband died in March of 1935 and she moved to Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1950. Mrs. Wallace recalls helping with much of the farm work and says she even pulled a crosscut saw.
One of her good memories was of her grandmother, Martha “Patsy” Crowder nee Goins, fixing cornbread and sweet milk for the children in tin cups that she kept washed and hanging on a tree branch. She recalls that her father could talk the Indian language as well as anyone and adds that she is part Choctaw, on her father’s side, and Cherokee on her mother’s side.
While talking about cooking over an open fireplace, Mrs. Wallace explained that back in those days they killed deer, wild turkey, squirrel, ducks and geese to stock the larder as well as raising hogs on the range.
She said they went to town in a wagon and usually got enough supplies to last about a year. They made wire racks to hold the sacks of flour so the mice couldn’t get up into the supplies. They bought green coffee and did their own roasting and grinding and then she recalled that when they ran out of coffee they would grind up okra seeds and use it for a coffee substitute.
Mrs. Wallace said, “We did our own sewing and did it on our fingers because we didn’t have any sewing machines.” She added, “ We had a spinning wheel and used it to make thread, but we did buy our cloth. We usually bought a bolt of material at a time and used bolts of domestic to make sheets.”
Mrs. Wallace recounted that she had lived in a log house with a dirt floor as a child. She said she didn’t receive much schooling and when she did get to go she had to walk three miles to the nearest school.
The family took baths in tubs made from wooden barrels after heating water in a tea kettle. She also recalled using a kerosene-type lamp without a globe. She said she had seen people plait strings and place them in a saucer with some lard and light them to give a little light at night.
Another interesting item she mentioned was her father hunting for deer at night and using a headpiece with a light on it to spot the animals. She also told of her stepmother making soap each year. She said she made the soap with lye and ashes from the hopper and said they made 50 gallons every spring.
Mrs. Wallace has been a member of the First Assembly of God Church at Fifth and Colorado since moving to Chickasha in 1950 and attended regularly until she was in her 90’s. Her pastor, Harry M. Myers, and his wife were visiting her on the afternoon of our interview as well as another member of her church, Mrs. Eldred Trent.
Her pastor said Mrs. Wallace never had a very large income, but had always given her tenth to the Lord and had always been a very faithful church member.
Mrs. Wallace had eight children and all have passed away except three. Those surviving are Mrs. Leona Owen, Mrs. Dona Wilson, and Mrs. Ellie Lee Hollis. She has 30 grandchildren and a large number of great-grandchildren.
This was given on 10 January 1975:
My mother, Mrs. Essie Lee Hollis nee Wallace, was the daughter of Fannie Crowder and Jesse Henry Wallace. She was born 19 July 1905 and was added to the Choctaw Minor Roll in 1906. She passed away 18 August 1995, not quite a month after her 90th birthday. She was born and raised south of Boswell as were her mother and siblings.
She had told of helping her father in the fields from the time she was big enough to be of help, in fact, she used to say she was her father’s boy, as her sisters were the ones that helped their mom in the house. She attended Crowder Springs School and when they moved to Sterling she attended Sunnyslope School. She quit school in the eighth grade.
She also told of her grandfather, Thomas Crowder, talking to the old Indians that would come by and sit on the porch and talk in the Choctaw tongue, and she would stand out of sight and listen to them. She always regretted not trying to learn the Choctaw language.
She also told me about her mother, Fannie, mixing up some sort of medicine that she kept on the woodstove. They all had to take a spoon full every night to keep from getting colds. She was not sure what was in it but she thought it was butter, sugar, and turpentine. When she was little she stepped on a rusty nail so her mom made her sit with her foot in kerosene so she would not get lockjaw.
She met Rolles Franklin in Sterling, Oklahoma and they married in March of 1924 when she was 18 years old. Of this union, there were three children born. Their only son, the middle child, died at 8 months old. They farmed around Sterling until 1936, when they moved to Shamrock, Oklahoma where Rolles worked in a grocery store and Essie ran the laundry. While living there she taught all of the high school friends of my sister to dance. She always loved to dance and often told me how she taught herself and of going in the wagon when she was small to dances with her mom and dad. She said they would have a wooden platform and one of the men would do the calling and everyone would have a real good time.
In 1942, they moved to California where they lived until Rolles died Christmas, 1964. She then returned to Lawton, Oklahoma where she lived until she died.