Cochanaeur, Zennie

Zennie Cochanaeur
Submitted by: JoAnn Wynn

The Woodlands of southeastern Indian Territory, still known as Crowder Springs, Oklahoma was the birthplace of my grandmother, Zennie Jane Cochanaeur, on April 17, 1899. Her father was Nicholas H. Cochanaeur from Mississippi, who died in 1929 and was buried in the Crowder Springs Cemetery, present day Choctaw County. Her mother was betty Nelson Cochanaeur, born near present day Antlers, Oklahoma in 1871 and buried in Crowder Springs on August 12, 1941. Their children, listed in order of birth were: William, Viney, Mary, Zennie, Henry, Nicholas, Betty and Lon. All except Betty and Lon were enrolled on the Dawes Enrollment. Zennie and Betty are the only survivors today. Grandmother has lived most of her life in Choctaw County. She has seen many changes in lifestyles, technology, etc. During her childhood, cash money was one item in pretty short supply. Most things used had to be produced at home, one way or another. Her dad farmed the usual vegetables and fruit. They sewed clothing, canned or dried food produced on the farm, made lye soap with the wastes from hog slaughtering and lye. Grandmother and her mother would go into the woods and gather herbs, bar, roots, etc., to use as medicine. Time has faded her memory as to which uses each one had. The soap was used to wash clothing, dishes and anything that needed cleaning, including shampooing, and clean it did, so Grandmother says. Plums, grapes, berries, and nuts grew wild in the woods and were plentiful enough for people to gather and preserve for good winter eating. As essential to them as a microwave oven is to us, were there three wooden barrels, one for pickling, one to catch rainwater and one for making lye for the soap. It sat under the drip line of the house, full of hickory ashes, water dripped into the ashes and drained through them forming liquid lye. A nearby spring provided water for household use if there was no rain. Grandmother’s first school was quiet different from today’s modern facilities. A one-room log building was furnished with split-log benches, lighted with kerosene lamps. The teacher’s room and board was furnished by the local school board members, one of which was my grandmother’s dad. The fashion for ladies wear was floor length dresses and high top button up boots. Pie suppers, “singings” at people’s homes, spelling bees and picnics were the entertainment in these rural areas. She met my granddad, Harley York, at the Crowder springs Church. After their wedding at her family home, they traveled by stagecoach from Paris, Texas to Honey Grove where they lived until his early death in 1936. Children produced from this marriage included the late Roscoe, Franklin, William, and Bertha. Still living are Bertie, Radford Henry, and Reatha Lou. Grandmother still gets teary-eyed remembering the times that life was so hard, bread and gravy was their only food. Choctaw people are tough! The children all lived to adulthood with successful lives and families. In her later adult life, Grandmother worked in nursing homes and as caregiver to several elderly people in Hugo. Her membership remains with the Assembly of God Church in Soper, Oklahoma. Presently she lives in the Golden Age nursing Home in Hugo, partly paralyzed from strokes. She is mentally alert and loves to participate in the entertainment and games provided by the home. Most of all she loves her family’s visits and of course we love her very much