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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Little Dee Was Very Small

That evening when John came home, Zona told him about the orphan child’s grandparents who had come for her.

“I surely did hate to see the little thing go but they looked like fine folks and seemed pleased to have their grand baby. It will have a chance to grow up with its own kin. I’m thankful for that and they were too.”

“I’m proud to see you takin’ this so well, Zona.” John praised his wife in the customary way the family had of encouraging each other in times of adversity or sadness.*

“While we’re thinking about this,” John was changing the subject “there’s another orphan in the family.” Little Dee, my younger brother is staying mostly with Uncle Dan since Dad and Mother passed away, but everyone will have to chip-in to help.

‘Little Dee was very small and some said he was a bit slow but that was no problem. The family was grooming him to do the best with what he was. They even joked about the dilemma as was their way of coping with unsolvable things, perplexing to them.’

“You know he’s a bit slow?” John looked toward Zona to get her reaction.

“Matter of opinion,” I would say. Zona wasn’t going to comment on that.

“He was resting on the floor in front of the fireplace when he said to Uncle Dan, ‘Turn me over, Uncle Dan, I’m a burnin’. “Everyone laughed about it.” John smiled as he related the story to Zona.

‘As with tidbits of information passed down orally sometimes a statement that is no more than a simple observation can become valuable in unraveling important information regarding family lineage.

The uncertainty of the names of grandparents was an issue in our family. Why did a grandson insist his grandfather’s name was Dan and not William Stephens? It could have been the amount of pressure on the family due to the terror of the times. The lawless early days of Oklahoma saw their family as lawmen as well as Indian agents and it was during a time when even some of the pillars of the community were suspect in their dealings. Their father, William’s son, may have tried to protect his children by giving out erroneous information regarding, who the grandparents were even though the name was clearly written in an old Bible as William Stephens Jones beside his wife’s name of Mary Ann. My Dad outrightly stated his grandfather was Dan Jones. According to well-established records on Federal censuses the grandfather’s name was not Dan but was without a doubt, William Stephens Jones and, of course, as mentioned, there was the family Bible. The mix-up caused a difficulty, at first, in tracing family history.’

This small bit of oral history, “Turn me over, UNCLE Dan,” was the key to know that Little Dee, their brother, called Dan, Uncle. William Stephen’s did have a brother, Dan, which, of course, would not have been our grandfather. Today, the saving of oral history has become an important thing to do with archivists and I, for one, am happy with that.’

*Authors’ note: In 1988 I made a search for this person who was that baby with the thought that the woman could give me valuable information if she could be found. There was a woman living at Ralston, Oklahoma who had the same name, Helen Bullock. She was an elderly woman and living alone in a tiny, travel trailer. I tried to communicate with her but she either would not or could not respond. Her facial expressions told me that she knew of what I was speaking but she never spoke. Her pitiful living conditions and sad looking eyes made me back away. Someone in the town may have known her history but I wasn’t able to find anyone at the time who did.

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