Bennett, Minnie Daniels

Bennett, Minnie Daniels

Minnie (Daniels) Bennett

Submitted by: Bobbie L. Hartsfield, granddaughter

These memories are dedicated to:

Minnie Daniels Bennett Born: February 6, 1901 Died: April 15, 1993

Minnie (Daniels) Bennett’s grandparents had endured and survived a walk that would be remembered for untold generations. Scholars would debate about it; men would record it for history. It was of course the tragic movement known as the “Trail of Tears”. The people born in the future who are a part of this ancestry will never forget it. The memories of those times are tragic and bring tears to all who envision it with their hearts. Grandmother is proof that the Choctaw people are some of the finest that God created. She shared with us her few known memories of that time, and made us award of our proud heritage, Minnie was an original enrollee. Milton Township, Indian Territory was her birthplace. She was born on February 6, 1901 to Turner Daniels, a Choctaw and an original enrollee and Louvenia Safronis Allen who was of Irish descent. Minnie had a fraternal twin sister named Mattie. Her father was born in Boggy Depot, Indian Territory on January 11, 1849. His parents were Alfred Peter Daniels, born in North Carolina and his mother was Polly Breshears, born in Mississippi. They came with Turner’s grandmother over the Trail of Tears. We know the grandmother only as the “Ole Granny Woman.”

Turner moved his family from the Milton area and took the allotments of land in Hughes County, south of Stuart. Minnie would have ten brothers and sisters, five would be original enrollees. Only her youngest sister, Letha is still living. She also had half brothers and sisters from her father’s two previous marriages. His first wife was Mary Leflore, their children were: Greenwood, Mary Ann, Napoleon, Lucy, and Susan Rebecca. Rebecca, also an original enrollee, was a favorite of our grandmother’s and was known to be a hard worker and had a sweet nature. She died March 21, 1908, near Stuart. His second wife was Kate Lilly or (Jo Lilly) formerly a Breshears. Their children were: Turner Daniels, Jr., and original enrollee and a second child named Zeno. Her father believed strongly in education and attended Haskell Institute. He received newspapers from all over the U.S. and owned many books.

Minnie was a well-read person and she loved to read about many subjects. She read all of her life until the blurring of her eyesight made it impossible. Minnie married J.D. Bennet, January 25, 1921 at the home of her mother, near Stuart. They lived mostly in Hughes County, usually close to Stuart. They would farm most of their lives. Minnie and J.D. had five children: Robert Truman, born 09-27-1921; Hugh Loftine, born 12-28-1923; Katie Lou, born 03-12-1925; Mary Frances, born 06-17-1933; and Marjorie Mae, born 07-21-1936. All are still living with the exception of Marjorie. They also had 17 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren and 29 great great grandchildren. Glenda Kathryn Cook, a granddaughter, remembers; Tough grandmother never considered herself talented, she made many beautiful quilts for her family. I remember her cutting dress patterns from any sort of paper; she could look at a picture, take our measurements and make her pattern. Grandmother loved and planted all flowers but roses were her favorite and they were utterly beautiful. She made a huge vegetable garden; there was canning for all three seasons. Jars would glisten on the shelves. Blackberries, apples, plums, pears and grapes for jelly. Dill pickles, always a favorite of everyone. Green beans, tomatoes for stew, and beets with their beautiful red-purple color, corn the color of the sun, and those wonderful back eyed peas. I can still taste them. We would stand in the cellar and look at all those jars and it was like a beautiful painting. Always when I smell tomatoes cook, I am back at her kitchen in the summertime. I can remember her washing jars, and sending us out to draw more water. The memory is both wonderful and sad. We really miss her a lot. Her life was filled with work, rising before daylight and sometimes working the fields until after dark. Her pleasure was her family. She loved for company to come, and would cook and bake all morning. There is no one living that can make fried chicken like hers. Her family and friends loved her and had great respect for her personage and wisdom. She died April 15, 1994.

A lot of our conversations start “remember when Granny…” Bobbie Lousie Hartsfield, a granddaughter, remembers: Granny had a life of some adventures. Once forging a river in a wagon, which turned over, and she had to be pulled to safety. She was floating away on a mattress. A freed black slave, who was a worker and a friend of her fathers, swam out to her and pulled her to shore. He was sent along in case they had trouble and needed help. He saved her life, she was only five years old. She had never learned to swim. Needless to say, she never did. If you stayed around long enough you could be part of the adventures too. I can remember running after her as hard as my short legs would go. The only reason I was ahead of my sister Glenda was because I had a head start. Granny was always a slow mover but today was a landmark for us. We were not on her trail as she headed for the house. We were up the steps and through the back door before we knew she was on her way back and with the shotgun. Only a quick u-turn and fast moves around got us going back in the opposite direction. We were hollering and shouting, “What is it Granny? What is it Granny?” She yelled, “A chicken hawk is after my baby chicks.” She had long legs but was also heavy set and I had never seen her move so fast in my life. She was across the little ditch and up to the fence. That chicken hawk was history. She threw that shotgun up on that fence post for balance and blew that bird into the next century. Feathers went everywhere. Were we impressed? You bet! We couldn’t talk about anything else for days. We had a great life. Celebrations for us was going to Granny’s.

Many times all of her grandchildren would be together and we loved it. In time we would go with friends and boyfriends, walking the meadows and picking mistletoe for Christmas. As men and women we would return with husbands, children, and then with grandchildren. Granddad died in September of 1962. During the summer of 1965 I watched her sow lespedeza, walking the lots around the barn, and hand cranking the carrier around her waist. In September of 1978 at the age of 79 she was still directing her daughter Mary and her granddaughter Glenda in the fine art of removing fence post, digging holes, and putting up new post. She lived in her home on her allotted land until the end of 1980, when she moved to Oklahoma City to be near family. Life was not easy on the farms in those days. People worked hard. That included everyone from the youngest to the oldest. My generation and future generations will never know that kind of hard work. I know what the term “blue wash day” means. For most of us it was the end of a time never to come again. I was 11 years old the last time we made lye soap. My mom and dad helped Granny. The big black pot was full of cracklings cooking over the fire. We had come from Oklahoma City for the weekend. I was considered a city girl. How can you know that a time is passing forever? Most of the children these days have probably never heard of lye soap. Her farm is gone. It was sold sometime in the 80’s. Someone else lives there now. They remodeled the house, of course. At the age of 11 my dad helped granddaddy cut logs for the old barn. It’s gone too. And so are the days when this country grew great people from the heart of this land. Yes…. that time is gone forever and those people are too. Thank you God for letting me have this grandmother who was never too busy to pat a child and hand out a biscuit with mustard and sausage. God Bless this land and its Native Americans.