Many lofty titles were
entertained for the title of this book and much has been discussed as to
the valuable historical material it holds. However, when one gets right
down to it, the fact remains that essentially it was really simply
"Gramma Bell's pictures."
Because Bellzona lived in
a time period set directly in the middle of the events which molded
Oklahoma as a state this makes the faded, tattered old photographs worth
saving and sharing. The snapshots of an Osage Wedding are a rare find
and, usually, the marriages were not recorded to this extent.
The history of this Jones
family in Oklahoma is recorded also. They were the Joneses that came
from Georgia out of Myers "Children of Pride," Jonesboro and
who had been drawn upon for their life before the civil war in the old
plantations there in the "Gone with the Wind" epic One person
said about the Jones men, "they have a haunted look about
them." Indeed, they were haunted by the crimes of the civil war,
the desperate living conditions in Oklahoma and the rough lived element
about the state. How they were able to maintain, their fineness and love
for life is nothing more than miraculous. They were constantly there
with the children always admonishing gently, "you can, but you
Many of the Jones men
married into different tribes. There are cousins who are Choctaw,
Cherokee, Ponca, Osage, etc. Dennis H. Jones, our uncle, married into
the Osage tribe. Lee Otis Jones, our father, married a Ponca woman. It
was easy for them to fit into the Indian culture since not too many
generations before their own blood was Welch. The strong Celtic blood
made for an easy blending with the thinking of the Native American. This
culture is slipping away but can be remembered as a philosophy that put
God, the children, love of hearth, and respect for elders first. At the
time of death the respect for the Native ways was completely a part of
the man who was born of Welch ancestry.
Two years before Lee Otis
Jones died he began pulling out the photographs his mother had saved. He
too carefully saved them throughout his life. He wrote names and places
on the backs. He went to this little chore at a time when he was most
certainly close to death. Consequently, there is a record now. Even with
the names written on the back it was difficult to research the material.
Over ten years have gone into the search for some of the information.
Jewel Wagner, an elderly
cousin, pointed to the town of Harrison, Arkansas and the book began to
unfold. There is a great family in Arkansas. When the work is finished
on this, we plan to meet these wonderful people with whom we have
corresponded. As genteel as the "Gone with the Wind," people
they are but living today as veterinarians, school teachers, and
whatever other occupation one can name.
There was no order in
which the pictures were stored. The little tin box simply held them as
Bell stuck them there. An effort has been made to place them in some
order putting the families together who lived at the same time.
The first segment is that
of the Osages. There were many great surprises as research unfolded
mysteries surrounding these people. Some books to read are: Tragedies of
The Osage, by Author Lamb, The Osages, by John Joseph Mathews, Osage
Mission Book of Baptism and Marriages by Louis Burns.
A great surprise was to
see the possible kin and relationship of Dennis and Bertha, his wife.
Osage genealogy is called a genealogical nightmare; therefore, an effort
was made by the author to master to a degree an understanding of the
language. The Osages often took Anglo names applying to their own name.
First, one has to respect ingenious methods of self protection, and
then, make a study of the name and its meaning in whatever language to
see how it might apply to the Indian name.
Bellzona's mother was of
the Collins family, which in French means Hill. Her grandmother was a
Hunter. John Hunter, Osage, was Wats-a-moie, meaning One Who Travels, or
There is the
constellation Orion who is a sky walker. Reaching back to the deepest
depths of history, one sees the man, Nimrod the hunter, for whom the
constellation was named. To list this is simply to illustrate the type
of thinking one must use to sift through the Osage names. My question
is, who helped establish this system for the Osage since many of them
knew nothing of history or could not even speak the English language?
The greatest surprise was
to have one of the photographs identified as Mrs. Frank Phillips, wife
of an early day oilman in Oklahoma. Phillips Oil Company funded John
Joseph Mathews for his book, "The Osages."
The segment on the
Joneses starts with William Stephens Jones and Mary Ann. Probably DeWitt
is the proper name for Mary Ann since there is a record of a marriage in
Tennessee of William Stephens Jones, Mary Ann DeWitt. The birth dates
are correct. The date is at the right time. Their children are pictured
in this section. Walsie is on over into the Arkansas family section. The
children pictured are: Joseph H., William Stephens ll, Dora or Doshia,
Juda, Ruth Ann, and Hiliah Rebecca. Joseph Hubbard Jones, our
grandfather, was quite elderly when we were children. He did share some
information about his family as to stories and such. There was never any
mention made of the people themselves. Bellzona saving these pictures
gave us a great gift about this part of our background.
Walsie married a Watkins
of Arkansas. One of Walsie's daughters (Birdie Lou Watkins) married a
Bell. Birdie Lou had a daughter, Celia Bell who married a Williams and
on and on it goes with the catching and holding of great families
together. One comes into a new understanding of the importance, greater
intelligence, and beauty of the thing.
Chilocco Indian School is
pictured in the group with the Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones family. The
old photographs are of a school that is no longer functioning. Books
have been written of this subject alone. Each author is having a
different story to tell.
The Native Americans
pictured here are of the Ponca tribe, a tribe separated only by the
Arkansas River as a boundary between their land and the Osage. These
pictures were not in Bell's collection but were saved by Elizabeth
Little Cook, Pensoneau, Hernandez whose Indian name was Me-Tah-Ing-Gay.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Oo-Hunh-Zhing-Gah, Samuel Little Cook and
the mother to Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones, Mrs. Lee Otis Jones.
In l876 the Ponca people
were moved from their land in the Black Hills to Oklahoma.
On the group of Osage
Wedding pictures, much quoting is taken from "The Osages," by
John Joseph Mathews. He seemed to describe the ceremony well and since
none of us living have seen an Osage wedding this was the next choice.
Comments by tribal members are: "when the young people married
properly according to custom the children to come from that union were
considered to be as royalty." This simply meant the children are
very loved by their parents and extended family.
Sandwiched together in
the next segment are: The families of Collins, Wagners, Hobson's,
McFadden's, Barbie and Wadley. Bellzona's daughter Adah Gertrude Jones
married a Wadley.
The last section is of
the Flood family. This history was so easy to obtain it was almost
unbelievable. Simply walking into the library and availing oneself of
John Flood, Rodney Flood's father, made the work easy. John Flood,
grandfather to Rodney father came from England. His records are there
with Buckingham Palace.
The author, Donna Colleen