Now That’s A Great Question

Photo Credit: Neodesha Chamber of Commerce

Photo Credit: Neodesha Chamber of Commerce

I am privileged to be taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday during the month of April. I must admit I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought, but I’m compelled to do it. I pray you will find my posts helpful as you take the time to discover your family’s story and hear a bit more about mine.

My goal is to provide a great question each day that you can use to ask your older family members, be it a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle. You can choose who to ask, hopefully it will be someone who has an interesting answer. Then, come back and share what you’ve discovered with us. It should be a fun and rewarding month as we purpose to uncover stories that may have never before been told.

Question #1

Where were you born, and what is your earliest memory?

oklahoma-landrush-1893My grandmother, Grace Stella Kirwin, was born in Neodesha, Kansas (pronounced Nee-oh’-deh-shay), located in the southeastern corner of the state, on March 2, 1889. Unfortunately, I can’t ask her what her earliest memory was, but I do know that when she was only 4 years old, her Uncle Charley took part in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893. He had a race horse named, Pigeon. I wish I knew why in the world he named his horse that–but one can only speculate. Not only was Pigeon a good horse, he was fast. Uncle Charley staked two claims of land for the family.

At precisely twelve noon on September 16, 1893 a cannon’s boom unleashed the largest land rush America ever saw. Carried by all kinds of transportation – horses, wagons, trains, bicycles or on foot – an estimated 100,000 raced to claim plots of land in an area of land in northern Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. There had been a number of previous land rushes in the Territory – but this was the big one. (Source: eyewitness to history website)

The claims ended up being in what is now called Noble County, Oklahoma. My Mom and I had the chance to visit the little town of Ceres, where we think the homestead was located.  It looks like their land is now owned by the power company and is underwater of a man-made lake.

So, what have you discovered about your relatives earliest memories? Won’t you join the conversation? 

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we came from.”

                                                                                                                   – Alex Haley
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We are taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.
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A Rut Can Be A Good Thing

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I have always loved maps. Maps help you see where you are from a different perspective, and they help you get to where you want to go. Traveling without a map would be unheard of, unless you are familiar with the layout of the land.

In Grace’s day, maps weren’t readily available to the common traveler. Instead, they followed ruts in the ground using a compass to make sure they were heading in the right direction. The ruts were well-worn paths that were a good thing. It showed many people had traveled that way and they most-likely led to the next town.

The map above shows what Oklahoma territory looked like in 1905.

You can see Noble County, where Ceres (pronounced like the store–Sears) is located, as well as the Creek Nation, where Jenks is located (marked with a yellow arrow). Both towns are where my book takes place. How Grace would have loved to have had a map like this when she discovered she would be leaving everything that was familiar to her in Oklahoma Territory for her new life in Indian Territory. But she didn’t. She had to rely on the advice of those who had traveled that way before, and it was frightening.

How often we are forced to depend on the advice of those who have gone before us as we face a new normal. The Bible provides an excellent map for Christians to follow day in and day out, and the wisdom there is not a well-worn path, but a proven guide that is not limited by the time in which it was written. Maps expire. GPS systems are practically obsolete from the moment an update is finished. Time marches on and marks are made along the way. Only those who are looking for guidance find the help they need.

What are the well-worn paths in your life that you can’t do without? What paths would be best to leave behind to pursue a new way?