06 January 2008

Where were your Ancestors 100 years ago, 1908?

Lisa of 100 Years in America write "Where was your family in 1908?" She challenges others to join this story telling adventure. So here I go.

I can first say that while many were enjoying the hustle and bustle of a new era, mine were still farming and barely surviving in the west. Most all of my husband's and my ancestors were in Oklahoma and a few other surrounding states 100 years ago. Many of them were poor dirt farmers and some were living on Native American reservations still living a hard life and in some cases even denying their heritage in order to survive the discrimination of the Native Americans at that time. It was not the pleasant "good old days" for many of our ancestors.

Doug Dawgz writes a great article on the history of Oklahoma City 100 years ago. It give you a really good idea what it was like then. There are also many great pictures in his blog. Though I must say this is not a good account of life for my family since none of them lived in or around Oklahoma City.

I'll start with my husband's name sake, the Crooks. The Crooks were a wild bunch. It's hard for me to keep up with them as they were always moving. But there is a migration from NC to TX and then back to OK by the early 1900's.

  • Earl "Porter" Crooks was born in 1898 and would have been about 10 in 1908. His baby brother Clearance was born that year in OK. So the family was living in OK at the time. He also had two other brothers Jerel and his partner in crime, William aka "Dub." Porter and Dub were the wild ones. Later as adults they had many run ins with the law. Living a lawless life of bar fights and stabbings. Porter was said to have even spent some time in prison. He would go on the settle down and marry at the age of 45 to Ruth Ann Ward. They had two boys and he helped to raise her children from her first marriage. You might say she tamed the honorary old coot. It was the one thing my mother-in-law loved about her father-in-law. He was honorary until the very end and could make her laugh. I must say the same goes for his son, my father-in-law.
  • William Marion Crooks was born in 1876 (42 in 1908). He married Quincy M Myers (27 in 1908) in 1898. She gave him four sons, Porter (above), Jerel (7), William "Dub" (2) and Clearance who was born in Dec of that year. They lived in OK at that time.
  • Bolivar "Houston" Crooks was the father of William Marion Crooks. He died just months before 1908, but William's mother Martha G Thomas (64) was still alive and living in Frances, Pontotac County, OK. It's logical to think that William and Quincy were also living near by with their boys. We know they were in OK at the time at least. Martha would later go back to her home town in Yell Co., AR where she passed away in 1913.
My maiden name is Woolsey, though I'm not convinced that we are truly of the Woolsey's of New York. I believe it's quit possible that my great great grandfather William G "Billy" Woolsey changed his name and became a Woolsey some how. At least that's a theory until I can find out who he was before he married Lillie. The Woolsey's were dirt poor farmers. They lived around the Chickasaw Nation in Grady and Garvin counties.
  • Ewing Richard Woolsey, my great grandfather was born in 1890 so he was about 18 in 1908. He was a young bachelor still living with his parents and siblings in Grady County. He was a farm laborer, most likely on the family's farm. Ewing is the oldest son of William G "Billy" Woolsey and Lillie Ann Graham. He had four sisters, Minnie, Eva, May and Bulah and a brother James. Another brother would be born two years later in 1910. Living next door to the family is Ewing's future wife Mary Joann Williamson. She is the woman my dad and I get our curly hair from. They would be married three years later in 1911. Ewing continued to farm in around Grady Co., OK. He died in Garvin Co,. OK in 1959. His son would later move his family to CA where I grew up.
  • William G "Billy" Woolsey, my mysterious great great grandfather. It's almost like he didn't exist until he married the love of his life Lillie Ann Graham in 1889. He would have been about 43-45 years old. We don't know his exact age because so many records I have found conflict as to the year of his birth. Lillie would have been 35 that year. They had six children then and one more would be born to the family two years later. William was a farmer. He would never tell anyone who he was or about his family. I still believe he was running from something that happened in his younger days. We may never know who he truly was.
My mother-in-law is a Riddle. At this point I still don't know much about the life of the Riddle's in the early 1900's. I have bits and pieces I have found, but none that I can confirm. Her grandfather was Sam D Riddle (abt 31) and her grandmother was Daisy(18), who I believe I have found at an Indian Reservation school in 1900 as Daisy Blackwolf. It was known that Daisy was Native American and believed that Sam was at least part Native American. I believe it's possible that he was also living on an Indian Reservation during that era. They were married probably the year before in 1907 and then in 1910 she gave him a daughter, Bertha, whom our family never knew about. The rest of the children wouldn't follow until 1918-1926. Her father was their third child Sam Clifton Riddle born in 1919. The family moved throughout OK, TX, AZ and CA working on farms and living in tents. By the time my mother-in-law was born the family had began to settle down and carve out their new life in CA, mostly in the Stanislaus County area.

My mother was a Roe. Little did I know that this family was in fact living on an Indian Reservation in 1910, probably was in 1908 as well. I discovered the family in the 1910 census records living in Otoe Township, Noble County, OK enumerated in the Indian Population. This is where I learned that my great great grandmother was half Chipaway Indian. The family was not complete at that time. There are still three other older siblings I have not found. But in the family unit was my great great grandfather Jerry Roe (about 47), Rachel (about 44), and three sons, Piere (abt 12), my great grandfather Frank (abt 9) and the baby Jaybird "Jay" (abt 5). I believe the family migrate from Canada to the Indian Reservations of Oklahoma. Piere was born in MN about 1896, followed by Frank born in MO and then last Jay was born in KS before they end up in OK by 1910. Frank would later marry a woman from MO, May Elizabeth Rollette and live with her family for a time in MO before moving back to OK. Then in about the early 40's he takes the children, leave May and moves to CA where he starts a new life. The Roe's faired well in the Industrial world. Jerry was a farmer, but the future generations all went for Industrial work and seemed to be better off then those of our other ancestors during that era.

This was a fun post to write. I will look forward to writing about other branches of my family that lived 100 years ago in the near future I hope, lol.

So join this fun series of posts and let us know about your family 100 years ago. Post a link here for other to read your blog on the subject.


Lisa said...

It was interesting to read about your family's wild west ancestors, your Native American connection, the origin of your family's curly hair, etc.

Thanks for sharing your look back into the world of 1908.

Hummie said...

This is a great idea! It would be fun to do this for every ten years.

Tony said...

Hmmmm. I just started my Ancestory and I was born a Woolsey. My G-father was Bufford 'B.J., Boots Woolsey. I have found so far that William Grant Wollsey married Lillie Ann Graham. It shows Ewing, Boots and John Wesley as theyre children. I am the son of Stanley Woolsey son of Boots.

amyrebba said...


Send me an email (in my profile) I'd love to share more with you about our Woolseys. Yes I know of Uncle Boots and even saw a picture of him and our ggg grandfather Billy Woolsey recently. I am the great granddaughter of Ewing. His son was Albert Woolsey, my grandfather. I hope to hear from you soon.

Your cousin

Anonymous said...

Mary Jane Hays is my great grandmother. I am the little girl standing beside her in the 4 generation picture. I would love to visit with you. Rex Ann McCarty Bondurant
Gladewater, Texas

Amy Crooks said...

Oh Rex Ann I would love to chat with you. I hope you didn't post this too long ago. I didn't mean to ignore people, but I was focused on school the last two years. Now I'm back to my research again. You can contact me via email through my profile.