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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
John was a Powerful Hunter

“Zony, you will have to drive the team and wagon carrying our belongings. I’ll need to worry with moving our stock we are taking with us.” He was working to keeping the schedule and date for the Oklahoma Land Run.

John was depending on help from his wife for making their trip from Thackerville up to the area around Marshall, Oklahoma close to Guthrie where his father had already selected the place where he wanted his son to stake a claim.

‘If we estimate roughly, today via the interstate 35 that would be 145 miles. In those days the road wasn’t by any means straight or as easy to travel. Today the trip on the interstate 35 can be made in and around two or three hours in a more leisurely way. How many days it took at that time around the turn of the century is not known.

Zona was a tiny woman who was plagued with asthma but she held to the trip with the spirit of a woman who loved her husband enough to support him in what he wanted to do.’

John stepped up to the side of the wagon, lifted the children down and then reached up to steady Zona. She had to jump to get off the side. This day had gone well and after a long winding trip over rough roads that made the ride less than smooth she was close to exhaustion.

‘These early day roads must have been what stimulated John to work on road crews who used picks, wagons and horses to cut roads through what looked to be the most isolated, remote place consisting of hills, forests, and steep, rock, terrain.

“If you will bring water up from that stream I’ll build a fire so I can heat it for the children’s baths.” Zona was from a family that practiced cleanliness no matter what. In fact, that ancestor of the Hunters from Scotland was one of the first doctors to value the practice of hygiene. There were never any circumstances or situations to stop her from seeing to having the children bathed first before their meal. Their bath served two purposes the first of which was simply to wash but the other gave the children an opportunity to enjoy splashing about in the big old wooden tub John built just for that. John’s Grandfather, William Beaver Jones, was a blacksmith and these men knew how to shape the iron staves for holding the wood staves together for a barrel. The children at play in the water gave Zona the time she needed to prepare a meal on the open fire.

“John will you get that iron-pot from the hook on the side of the wagon? Please?” The piece was unbreakable but too heavy for the small woman to lift easily. This sturdy, utilitarian iron, cookware was often passed down from several generations. This cookware was durable. This piece was one that Zona’s grandmother, Mary Amerika, carried from, first of all Kentucky, onto Bolivar, Missouri, to Arkansas and now it would find its way all over the state of Oklahoma where it finally rested for the next century.

The children were clean, fed and were snuggled into the down comforters Zona sewed and stuffed with the breast feathers plucked from wild geese. John was a powerful hunter and easily brought the birds home to his wife for the tasty meat they provided as well as the down of their breast feathers. The birds were delicious to eat in the way his wife roasted them.

Zona and her husband’s bed she made up on the ground under the wagon. This place where the tired couple rested was the roof over their head for the time being.

“John, tell me the names of the constellations again?” Zona never tired of hearing about the North Star, Orion the Hunter, The Little Dipper, The Big Dipper, Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. “Tell me that story again.”

John had heard the story so many times from his father he told the stories in a monotonous, repetitive way.

“Orion, the great hunter, was the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, were Artemis attendants. Pursued by Orion, they were rescued by the gods and turned into stars. Artemis eventually killed Orion, because she was jealous of his attraction to Aurora, goddess of the dawn. After his death Artemis placed Orion in the heavens as a constellation, where we can still see him pursuing the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. The hunter, Orion, was in love with the sisters and pursued them until the gods hid them away, transforming them first into doves, and then into stars.”

Before the stories were finished Zona was sound asleep until her own goddess of the dawn and chirping of little birds called for her to begin another day of their trek to a place where they would, along with so many others, make a successful effort to claim land. She had pleasantly dreamed of her Sister, Aletha (Leeth) Artemis Collins, Hobson, while they played as children together under a waterfall close to their home in Arkansas.

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