Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Sibbie (Byington) McClure Milam Submitted by daughters: Florence, Isabel, Pauline, Betty and Virginia

Our mother was born to Moody and Annie (Wade) Byington on August 23, 1898 in Bokhoma County, Indian Territory near the present day town of Haworth, Oklahoma. Her parents were also born in the same general area. Both were members of the Choctaw Tribal and were original enrollees. Mother was the eldest of their children. Others, in chronological order were: Francis, Lilly, Lonzo, Benjamin, James and Irene. With the exception of James and Irene, all her brothers and sisters died in childhood. Mother went to school at a one-room schoolhouse in Goodwater community, but completed the third grade only, not by choice, but because her father asked her to quit school and help her mother at home. Apparently, schooling for girls was not a priority with her father, and she always regretted she was not given a chance to finish school. However, we feel she made up for her lack of a formal education by learning skills very useful in daily living. Besides being an excellent cook, she canned, quilted, sewed, crocheted, knitted, tatted, gardened (both flowers and vegetables) and kept a tidy house. By watching others, she taught herself to play piano by ear. She loved horses and was an excellent rider. Being an eager learner, she appreciated seeing and learning new things. In addition to being a homemaker, wife and mother, she was active in the community and her church, visiting the sick and helping when and where she could. Mother had deep faith and that is what sustained her in the setbacks and heartaches she experienced in life. In September 1916, mother was united in marriage to our father, Alex McClure. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Daniel Jefferson at the home of her uncle, Simeon Byington. The drums of World War I was beating at this time but our father was spared. By the time he was called for duty, the war was over. They had six children born to them, the first being a boy (Grayson) who died at the tender age of four. The other five children were girls: Florence, Isabel, Pauline, Betty, and Virginia. All are serving at the time of this writing. During the Depression years of the thirties, our father was employed with the WPA Project but was injured at work and was confined to bed for several weeks under doctors orders, thus losing his much needed job. At this critical time, mother sought employment. She soon became employed as assistant Recreation Director for Youth at Haworth Community. Later, she was employed as assistant Librarian there. Afterward, she worked as a seamstress for a sewing project for about a year until she was hired as head cook for Redland School. She remained there until the school closed some years later. Some years before she accepted regular employment, she assisted the “Indian Agent” in training Choctaw women in the correct use of pressure cookers, which was replacing the old method of water-bath canning. Her payment was a small portion of the canned goods. We are so honored to have such a sweet, precious Choctaw mother who so lovingly and willingly gave of herself. The United States had entered World War II and many people’s lives became topsy-turvy. Families were separated, some because of the war and some transferring to other location for employment reasons. It was during this time after a period of separation our parents divorced. Some years later, each remarried; Mother to O.L. Milam, and out father to Irene Byington. After her husband’s death in 1963, Mother lived alone in Midwest City, Oklahoma. In 1984, she moved to Idabel to live with a daughter, Florence Spalding. At the time she was 86 years old, but still energetic and spry. She never quite adapted to the move and yearned for her friends and church she had left behind. Her last days were spent at Memorial Heights Nursing Home. We lost our darling mother on January 19, 1994. Submitted by: Dawn Wilcox

My great-grandmother was born Sibby Byington in 1898. She was an original enrollee. She told me stories about seeing the world wars, the adventures of the Wright Brothers, Oklahoma becoming a state and things closer to home like how it would take my great grandfather McClure, her husband, a whole day to ride from Haworth to Hugo and back on a horse. My great grandfather was an original enrollee also. She raised five beautiful daughters who all went to school at Wheelock. She believed strongly in and stressed education. One of her daughters, Betty Lou Spencer, became a college teacher and helped Betty Jacobs co-author the book “Introduction to Choctaw”. She personally never received higher education, but she had a lot of creative intelligence. When she got excited she would lapse between English and Choctaw, without realizing it. After her husband had an adulterous affair with a younger woman she left him and went to Oklahoma City where she met and married a wonderful man named Milam. They spent his remaining years happy together. I remember visiting her small duplex in Midwest City where she would entertain my mother and I with her vigorous piano playing and singing of Choctaw devotional hymns. In 1982 Grandma Milam and I went to the mall in Texarkana with one of my friends. I asked her to let me know if she got tired but she gave me a smile that lied about her 85 years and challenged me to keep up with her! I learned that it required considerable energy to keep up with her when she decided to go shopping. Her daughter, Florence Spalding bought a house in Idabel when she retired from her position in the pentagon. Flo asked grandma to come live with her. Grandma hated to leave her mature roses and gardens but she was happy to come live near all of us again. Even in her later years when she became slower and began to lose her eyesight she always loved to fix up with powder and perfume. I never saw her without her hair done up in some way, especially with braids and combs. She also loved to wear pearls. I am honored to be descended from such a proud and beautiful Choctaw woman.

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