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Jones Place on the Osage Highlands
Page 18

Strike Axe was a family name of an Osage family. Their genealogy is tied in with the Jones's through Dora Strike Axe. This property was purchased and it was separate from the allotment of Bertha Big Eagle where Dennis Jones built the Bungalow style house. This is the home where Lee Otis Jones, and Velma Louise Penseneau Jones lived. Lee Otis, my father, was a brother to Dennis Jones, and a son of Joseph Hubbard Jones, grandson of William Stevens Jones.

Here is a picture similar to the Strike Axe
Here is a picture similar to the Strike Axe

The Strike Axe place was an older home and it was rich with the established landscaping the original tenants had put there. The beautiful old trees were what made it so pleasant.

There was a fenced yard also. A cement cellar set immediately off the large cement back porch.  This is all that remains there today. The house burned around 1988. It was an eyesore to the people who lived below it in that it could be seen right out of their kitchen window. They were probably, glad to see it go. I wish now I had picked up some of the things left there by my family, the old sewing machine base, the medal bed frame backboards, some of the toys we children had, other little things like this. The house was only a mile from Dennis and Bertha's home. Lee and Velma were homebodies and kept an eye on Dennis's home since they were gone most of the time.

Velma loved to garden, raise chickens, sew, can, quilt and she loved people and company. A lot of time was spent in entertaining. This out of the way place served as a retreat to many city folks who were happy to come fish in the watershed Lee built. Sometimes, they were invited to come share the late crops of Velma's garden and they enjoyed this too. When I say garden, actually, it was more like farming. She would have two acres of pop corn, maybe five acres of maize, two or three acres of corn for canning, a very large bed of strawberries, maybe a fourth of an acre. Velma was gifted with the genes and intellect of a farmer and she had a built in sense of planting crops at the right time.

wooden egg crate
wooden egg crate

Those were the days before clear plastic wraps but she bought the newer cellophane bags to bag up her dried foods such as beans, corn, soybeans, popcorn, etc. This extra produce she took to town on market days and traded for dry goods we needed. The crates of eggs she took into town were grabbed up by the grocer there. Her hand work, such as pillow cases edged in crochet work were always purchased by individuals. She had a sense of fair pricing which allowed her a profit but was shared with people so they could afford to buy. The feed then was sold in pattern fabric as sacks. These were essentially free and it was what she used to make plain things. Nicer pillow cases and scarves she used a good quality of white woven cotton which sewed up to look very fine, especially with her lovely hand work on it.

This picture is similar to the Strike Axe except the pillars on the front were about one and a half foot square built. This made the difference is how much more attractive it was.

The barn setting to one side of the house was large. It had a granary where grain was stored. That room was probably about nine by twelve feet. There was a window setting high and this is where the grain chute was used.

The little prairie rattlesnakes were a fear for Velma. We could not go out before she let  the dog run around the fence line. If we picked strawberries we had to take a stick with us and poke around the bushes before we reached down to them.

Velma kept a chicken incubator in one room of the chicken house. This was where she hatched eggs and kept baby chicks during the winter when it was cold. She also always had setting hens. This is a pleasant memory as I can still see the little chicks running under their mother's feathers when it rained. What a beautiful concept and way to teach a child, I'm reminded.

Coyotes, civet cats, skunks, weasels, and chicken hawks were a constant threat to Velma's chickens.  Lee taught her how to use a shot gun and I can see her yet,  blasting away at a low flying hawk as it attempted to pick up one of her juicy fat hens.

Picture of a "Chicken Hawk" which is in reality a red tailed Hawk
Picture of a "Chicken Hawk" which is in reality a red tailed Hawk

She loved to tell the story about how she pulled off her dress to run out to grab the mother hen and chicks caught in a sudden down pour. A neighboring rancher just happened to be on his horse looking for a stray. She screamed and literally dived into her corn patch for cover.

Velma was American Indian and her unity with the elements was noteworthy. It didn't bother her a bit to stand under the eves of the house to wash her hair in the water running off. The mineral free rainwater, fresh,  was a bonus to make her shimmering long black hair even more striking.

Only now, sixty years later,  can I see the circumstances to cause a  break between the brothers which had nothing to do with their own personal lives. To cause  the loss of all things good and beautiful itself was brought about by forces up above which had to do  with the greed of those so accustomed to siphoning off the wealth of the Osage. The squeeze was too much for the small rancher to absorb with the death of Bertha and her loss.

No regrets. It was a wonderful beginning for my life and there is no loss there.

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