Inez Barbie could have been
a girl of ten rather than a woman of ninety-two. A screen door on her well
kept, wood-frame-house now separated us. The woman sized me up, looked out
toward the car where my husband waited and then back again at me. With one
hand she pushed the door open seemingly satisfied with what we looked to
be. Her living room was pleasantly furnished and could have been that
space out of my own grandmother's house from the time I was nine years old
“You are still keeping
house?” My admiration was there in my voice.
“Oh yes! I have all the
conveniences though.” This elderly but somehow young women seemed to be
“There is a washer and a
dryer here. It makes it easy to keep my bed linens nice and fresh. I just
toss them in the machine and then on to the dryer. I have a daughter here
who helps me too. When she called her daughter's name it was the exact
name as my daughter's. She told me she had another daughter with my name.
Her name, Inez, is my sister's name. I knew her husband Mark's name too
since this was my son's name also.
“When my sister-in-law over
there at Ponca called me here at Bartlesville to ask permission for you to
come visit no one could have told how shocked I was. We haven't heard
anything from your branch of the family for years and years.”
“I know. If not for the old
pictures Dad left I wouldn't have even known the name, Barbee. It is
strange after searching this whole nation for Barbee people I would find
them in my own town. When I called your sister-in-law she told me right
off we were related. However, she said she was getting ready to go in a
rest home. This must have been when she called you.”
This delicate woman in
front of me now smiled. If we did not know her age one would have thought
she was around fifty-six. A well kept figure with a very small waistline
didn't say ninety-two.
It was our purpose to have
Inez take us to the graves of my grandfather's sister, Dora (Doshia)
Jones, Frenchman there in the cemetery at Caney, Kansas. We had only a
short time and I wanted to visit with her a bit so we took her to lunch at
a small country café in town. My mind was satisfied as to why she was so
well kept when she only ordered a cup of clear soup and water.
We quickly finished our
lunch and headed toward the cemetery. Although I had seen it as a girl the
size of it surprised me a bit. Inez told us where to go, the exact road
and location she knew well. Toward the middle of the cemetery stood two
old cedars. Close to them were two large beautiful white marble stones.
Even though the dates were after the change of the century of 1800's to
1900's the stones lookedto be new. The writing on them was clear and
easily read. Someone had planted a white rose bush next to the two
markers. Dora's son Dennis Frenchman and his wife Dora was buried next to
her. Those marker's were in a black basalt marble. These were low to the
I had to weep a few tears
over my great aunt's grave who I had never known. Her tragic death and
then the death of her sixteen year old daughter next to her only six
months after Dora's death seemed so sad to me. Inez stood quietly beside
me with an understanding attitude.
In order not to tire this
gentle lady too much we drove her back to her home. While I walked her
back up to the door I did not want to leave but knew I must. There is such
a sad feeling about a person when we are certain there would not be
another meeting. The distance between Bartlesville and Ponca City isn't
too much but somehow our schedules keep us from driving there only on such
an occasion as this. Still Inez did live another number of years. Her
kind sharing of information and calling her daughter over allowed me to
meet this descendant too. We also met her son and it was his way to share
information with me about his mother and their family. After she was in
the rest home he said she usually called them every day.
The history I have written
of that grand family is available now for my family. There is a picture of
the very handsome, Benjamin Gray Barbee, in my living room. His U.S.
Marshall's badge rests on the lapel of his suit coat. He is the father of
William Mark Barbee, husband to Inez.
The contribution this
strong family made to the area around Bartlesville was listed in a full
page spread in the Phillips Oil Company's 66'th year anniversary brochure.
They were honored by the showing of their genealogy.