I get involved with Caddo’s history and with genealogy research for other people and sometimes I neglect to keep up my work on my own family. There are gaps in our family tree that have been nagging at me for weeks now, so I have spent the last few days doing some library and online work on the Banta and Alexander families. I have to be so very careful when I work on the Alexander family, because there are Alexanders on BOT H sides of my family. There are even four “Thomas” Alexanders! Those middle names become so important.
One of the things I did this week was re-read a letter that one of my great aunts wrote about coming to Oklahoma in a covered wagon. It really strikes me as amazing that a woman I knew and talked to and ate with moved with her family from Texas to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and worried about Indians attacking them. Progress and change are so constant that we often don’t realize how much can happen in one lifetime. I’m so glad that she took the time to write down some of the key events in her life.
I was also reminded that my great-uncle was a county attorney and involved in several infamous cases. I came across the newspaper account of one of the more gruesome cases and it made me shudder to think of him in that courtroom. Knowing the occupations of our ancestors helps us see them as real people. There were lots of farmers, inn keepers, tax assessors, constables, writers, musicians, and builders in our family tree!
As I’ve collected a few more obituaries and funeral records I’ve also had to add to the list of tragic deaths in our family. Many of my ancestors died in horrible accidents. But those stories are all part of the package. History is comprised of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone will ever read all this information about our family. And my belief is that yes, someone in the next generation or the one after that will want to read about the Banta’s wagon trip to Oklahoma:
“There were high sideboards and what was called an overfit which was just a flat bed that fitted on top of the sideboards and made it secure. On this was placed a mattress and that was where we three children slept during the trip. In the bed of the wagon was another bed on which daddy and mother and the baby slept. In addition to the two beds there were dishes, cooking utensils, clothes for the family, and provisions for the journey. Besides feed for the horses and a few essential tools for daddy’s trade, that being a carpenter, a farmer, and a woodsman all rolled into one. I do seem to remember too a box of books. Daddy was always a bookish kind of man. I took it all as a matter of course then, but I’ve often wondered how they managed to pack so much into one wagon. Over it all were the wagon bows and the tarpaulin, “wagon sheet” we called it, which kept out the rain and gave a measure of protection from the wind and sun. This was how we started the trek into Oklahoma.”
I hope you know a few things about your ancestors.