Bertha Big Eagle Jones died January 31, 1938. This photograph was probably
taken sometime in the years shortly before her death. She died at her
ranch home five miles between Foraker and Grainola, Oklahoma. The home her
husband built for her as a bride followed the tradition of the groom
building a "long house," for her before they were married.
Bertha was ill when she
died. Not only was she suffering from diabetes but with the pulling of her
teeth she endured excruciating pain. She had just returned from the agency
where they had told her she did not have enough money to go to the Mayo
clinic for help.
Shortly after, a scandal
was uncovered as to the theft of large sums of money which had to be paid
back to the Osage people by the Federal government because of dishonest
handling of their monies. Great sums of money were refunded to the people.
Since Bertha was no longer living, no money was refunded to her or her
One wonders if in some way
she knew about this theft and radically committed suicide, bringing the
attention of the authorities to the area. She was very angry with the
agency when they left and according to Dennis, she was very verbal with
the bureaucrats, contrary to Bertha's peaceful nature. This brings another
question to mind. Did the people at the agency take her seriously when she
threatened an investigation? One can only speculate as to the reason for
such a tragedy.
Everyone who knew Bertha
spoke well of her. The neighbors, Anglo-American and German, said she was
gentle and patient. They said she was superbly kind to her children.
People remembered her as always pleasant and never cross. Some tell how
she took time out for them, her neighbor's children, kindly asking of
their welfare as to how they were getting along.
Velma Jones, Lee's wife,
and Bertha's sister-in-law, remembers a dream she had the night after
Bertha's funeral. She said she dreamed she was weeping beside her casket.
In her dream Bertha looked up at her, smiled mischievously and said,
"Don't cry kid, I'm not really dead, I'm just 'foolin' them."
Bertha was generous. She
alone was responsible for the survival of many families in a large radius
reaching out to broad areas of Oklahoma. One has to remember how
impoverished people were. Just by helping them with the purchase of
children's school clothes became a great contribution to their needs.
She was modest herself.
However, any gift she shared as to children's toys, machinery for the
ranch, wages for the hired hands, clothing for her own children, food, and
any material thing was of the best quality. She never skimped on the needs
of the people around her. Only recently a man remembered how she brought
his own father, Ed Dunlap, out of an impoverished area. She gave him a job
on the ranch. Later she saw to it he was employed at Conoco oil in Ponca
City where he worked until he retired. The woman to the left of Bertha is
Mary Smith, Murray, a cousin. Her Indian name was Ke-Ah-Som-Pah. Her roll
number was 831. Her allotment number was 781.
A young man of the Red Corn
family saw this picture in 1990 and said, "I like this photograph. It
shows our people as they really were, fun loving and happy," This is
a good observation because Bertha was fun loving and only at the sunset of
her life was she depressed and this mostly over her health condition