Pope, Winnie Katherine
Winnie Katherine Pope 1902-1995
“A Proud Choctaw Mother”
Winnie K. Pope, an original enrollee, was born on June 16, 1902 to Gilbert and Lucy Sam Pope near Bugtussle, a small community north of McAlester, Okla. She was the oldest of four children. She and her younger brother walked several miles to a little school on the top of a hill, south of Bugtussle, called Mountain Boomer. Mrs. Fannie Ross was her teacher, then later Gloria Russell. Their home was on Fish Creek and she had many good memories while they lived there. She remembered the large orchard. Her mother, two sisters, baby brother and a cousin are buried on the old home place. When she was only nine years old her mother passed away then one year later her father passed away. She remembered her father was buried at night, as they had funerals at nighttime then. All of the children went to live with their grandmother, Fannie Willis Sam, on a farm near Richville, Okla., which was called Cherry dale at that time. Her grandmother had five Holstein cows, two big dogs, turkeys, chickens, geese and hogs. While living there she learned to milk cows and her grandma made butter and sold it to people in Krebs, Okla. Since she was the oldest she got to go to town with her grandma to deliver the butter. She remembered her grandma always bought her a small can of Garret snuff each time they went to Krebs. Back then it must have been a treat. Her Uncle Ace Sam farmed the land there. They raised corn, peanuts and big-big sweet potatoes. Her Aunt Lois lived there too and she played an accordion.
She was a good cook and done all the cooking. They had lots of pies and cakes and she cooked chicken and pork for their Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. They only got to stay with her a short while as they li8ved too far from a school. They lived with an Indian family by the name of York for a while and went to Bugtussle School. Her uncle John and Aunt Lizzie Perteet got guardianship of all of the children when she was 12 years old. They got all of their schooling at Bugtussle. Her teachers there were Charlie and Lottie Ross and Walter Gregg. Two of her schoolmates were the Honorable Carl Albert and Bill Anderson. This was in the year of 1914. She was 12 years old and Carl and Bill were six. They always enjoyed the Bugtussle school reunions, as my mother always got the gift for being the oldest student there. She learned to play the organ by herself and they had Sunday school and church in the same building and she played the organ for them. Bill Anderson told her at one of the reunions that she taught him the only tune he could play on the piano. He played it for us. When Mama was twelve years old, Carl Albert and Bill Anderson were 6 years old, a photographer took a picture of the whole Bugtussle School. That picture is hanging on a wall in the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City.
When she was seventeen years old she quit school and married Adam Gibson, Nov. 2, 1919. Carl Albert helped with the horse and buggy in getting Judge Brown out to Bugtussle where he married them. They were married in her aunt and uncle’s living room. Their first home was a small wooden frame house East of Bugtussle where their first child was born. Her 160 allotted acres was where McAlester Lake is now. Her uncle John helped build a home there and they made one crop when they had to move because of the lake. They were given 160 acres of allotted land near Arpelar, Okla. They were blessed with five daughters and one son, eighteen grandchildren, thirty-two great-grandchildren and thirteen great-great-grand children. Our mother was a blessed mother, hard worker and helpmate to our father. She never cut her hair and always combed her own hair. I never saw her in a pair of pants and she never went to a dentist. I never heard her complain of a toothache and she pulled her own teeth that needed pulled. She still had some of her original teeth at age 93 when she went to be with the Lord. She cooked and washed clothes for at least two hired-men along for her family.
Our dad farmed several acres and these men worked for room and board. I can remember carrying water from the creek on washday and we’d fill the big black wash kettle and build a fire under it. When the water got hot she would cut lye soap up and put it in with the white clothes. She would wash all day on a rub-board. When she got through washing she would use that soapy water to scrub our floors. They raised their own hogs for meat and lard. She made lye soap with the cracklings. During the depression years, like everyone else, they had a rough time. She would can everything our dad could raise in the garden. She had such a big heart if she saw a neighbor was having rougher time than we were, she would share her canned food. She used a treadle sewing machine to sew for us five girls. She taught each of us to sew. She was truthful and honest about everything and always taught us to be, too. You never heard her talk about her neighbor or anyone, unless it was something good. When our parents retired they spent a lot of their time on the lakes fishing. She loved to fish. She caught a ‘gar’ one day and it scared her. She thought it was a small alligator and couldn’t take it off her hook. She lived twenty-three years longer than our dad and she lived alone. She wasn’t afraid living alone and several times she would open her door to people who had car trouble and needed to use the phone. I remember about ten or twelve years before she passed away, she was in her kitchen getting ready for bed when she heard someone trying to get into her house through the living room window. She had her doors locked and shades pulled. This man was crawling in the window and was half way in and she raised the shade and curtain and politely asked what he was doing. He said he was looking for “Mable” and wanted to know her name. She said “Winnie” and there is no Mable living here. He backed out and left in an old truck. I know her guardian angel was taking care of her.
She never got scared or tried to call any of the children but went outside and put the screen back on the window. She didn’t know until morning that he had cut the telephone wires. We never knew who the man was. She always felt safe and was satisfied living there alone. About two months before her death, she had a real good dream about our dad. He had appeared in the door and told her to hurry and get everything ready because he was going to come back after her. She laughed when she told the dream and said, “I’m ready to go”. The next whole month beautiful blue birds flew around her house and into the glass in her storm door in the living room. Then they would try the kitchen window and back storm door. They bothered her, as she would have us tape newspaper over the glass to discourage them. Surely the good Lord was trying to tell us something through those birds. The evening of July 20, 1995 was a sad, sad day for all the children and grandchildren as nearly all of them were at the hospital when she left.
I remember it was storming with thunder and lightening and just as she was leaving us it all quit, the clouds broke and one of the nurses took some that was there to the window and showed them the prettiest rainbow in the sky. We can’t say enough good about our mother as she had such a hard up bringing. During her life she saw the telephone come in, also the radio, TV, wringer washer, electricity, automatic washer & dryer, icebox, refrigerator, gas cook stove & heater, penicillin and a lot of other things. A nickel would buy a big hamburger, bottle of pop, make a phone call, mail a letter and get two 1-cent post cards. It didn’t take much to make her happy and everyone loved her. She was devoted Christian lady and loved to go to Sunday school and church. She treated all of her children equal and remembered every child, grandchild, & gr-grandchild’s birthday with a card and three dollars. We miss her so much but we all have such wonderful memories of her.