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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
The Osages - Bertha


BerthaBertha, here as a girl, almost a child, shows some sign of pressure and depression. Her mother divorced Harry Big Eagle, and remarried, leaving her the oldest girl being responsible for younger, step-sisters and half-sisters which meant she had her share of early problems.

Dennis and Bertha grew up together as children and were well acquainted. After her death Dennis would speak of her in kind ways. He never remarried, saying he could never find anyone to treat him as well as she did. He said, "I remember when we were children, she played with her dolls, dressing them and combing their hair, and that is the way she treated me." This is the way of the Osage woman.

Lee, Dennis's younger brother, Bertha indulged from his youth onward. He never wanted for anything while she lived. He was her favorite. In return, Lee worked and built the ranch. The Jones's were naturally workers. It was their joy. Money was only good for buying more tools in order to work. These facts are historical records as to their accomplishments. Today, the Jones men joke among themselves as to the real pleasure of their businesses is getting into the labor, the work. Consequently, Bertha and Dennis did not have to deal with the running of the place. Lee had a natural ability with people and Bertha was never bothered with having to deal with hired hands, planning, food storage for the animals, or any details. Lee gave them freedom from these things.

As Dennis would remember Bertha, Lee never, ever spoke of her. It was as if there was too much pain involved.

The deep respect payed to Bertha for over fifty five years tell of her as a person. There was just no discussion or gossip about the tragedy. The lack of loose talk on an issue is rare in these small towns. Only until recently have some questions been raised, one being, "a woman, almost never commits suicide with a gun." It is true hired hands worked over the grounds. The ranch house is built to allow quiet, unobserved entry. Dennis and his son Warren were in the kitchen, toward the back of the house, planning the evening meal with the cook. Bertha was in the front bedroom. Dennis said he truly never heard the gunshot, only her fall. There was no motive for Dennis to kill her because with her death the oil money stopped and he knew this. True, he did inherit a headright, but this was really nothing compared to her holdings.

The cook, Mrs, Buddy Buckius Warren, a boy of eight years, and Dennis all ran together to help Bertha. They all three came upon the tragic scene at the same moment, Warren, who was a child, was first into the door. Dennis said it was Warren's unshakable testimony that saved him. Things were different then; they did question the boy alone, and at the scene.

Lee and Velma were in town with Bell at her home, and Ura May was in school. Dennis had built a telephone system to the remote location at great expense and this is how he called the family to notify them of Bertha's death.

Ura May was fourteen and Warren was eight when their mother died. After years of sifting through records and since the investigation is sealed one comes no closer to what really happened. Many of the deaths during these times were calld suicides and then later declared questionable. The only real thing is the consequences this had on that family and it was sad beyond what one can express creating a shadow of despair and hopelessness to touch each member in one way or another.

Bertha's roll number is 2143. Her case number was 2212 listed as SG protected guardianship.

C.L. Ellis was the superintendant of The Osage Agency April 1, 1939.


 

 


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