Willis, Elmira

Elmira Willis

Submitted: Irene Miles Cahoun, Granddaughter

My maternal grandmother, Elmira Willis awas a full blood Choctaw (Roll #4122). She was probably born 1872 or 1873. Her mother died at her birth so she never knew her birthday or birthplace, tho it was probably Skullyville, I.T. Her mother could not have been too young she had a grown daughter with 2 children. It was this daughter who took care of my grandmother as a baby.

Grandma remembers all three children were told to never go near the cane thicket, but like all children they disobeyed. The wild hogs were there. The boy, possibly 8 or 9 years old, told his sister to grab Elmira and run for the house while he tried to divert the hogs. Of course, he was killed by the hogs. His mother had a nervous break-down and her husband took her away leaving grannie with neighbors.

Grandmother didn’t remember much about her life until she was near a teenager and she was living with a spinster German lady, make a garden, potato and corn ‘patches’ and clearing more land. That’s how she met a horseback rider who came by often to talk with her. This rider, whose name was Thomas J. Coston became my grandfather. He had the same rights as the Choctaws. His roll number was IW200 and evidently received indian payments and land allotments.

He left my grandmother before my mother, Lina Coston, was born on 1-7-1889. Mother’s roll number was 4123. She was born between Hugo and Soper. Grannie and mama lived with an older indian lady, called Aunt mary, in a four room log house. Aunt Mary taught mamato read and write but grannie only learned to draw her name very god and altho, she married three times she always stayed Elmira Willis. She had 5 children that was on the Dawes enrollment—all are deceased. Mama married a non-indian in 1904. Her first born, John Thomas Daniels was born in 1906 and was enrolled NB1182. This baby died in only a few days.

Back in those days, they didn’t have electricity, no refrigerator, no washing machines and no electric stoves but they had fun. Pie suppers, get a couple of fiddlers, move the furniture out of the room and dance all night. On Sundays, there was ‘Church all day and dinner on the ground.

Even after I was born in 1917 and we had a chance of a much easier life—we had that great ‘depression’ in 1929. I was to school and missed the first year of it at. At grannie’s we had chickens a cow, a garden and corn patch. I didn’t miss very much except the blame cistern would go dry every summer but thru it all, we had fun. Grannie’s other children were Rebecca, Thomas and Irene Willis, also Pete Miller. They had a hard but happy life.