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Margaret Strawn Williams's life story
As she told it to great granddaughter, Carolyn Williams. It
was printed in a Lawton, OK
newspaper on August 2, 1953. Submitted by Rodney Williams
The life of Margaret Strawn Williams Morrison,
93 year old Fletcher, Oklahoma resident, has been directly affected by such
historical events as the California gold rush, Indian Massacre of 1865, the
Oregon Trail, the first murder trial in Oklahoma, the lawlessness of the
indian territory and the land run of 1890.
Her story starts with the Williams family leaving Livingston County, Missouri and traveling overland to California and the gold rush.
John B. Williams, who she later married, made this trip with his parents. He was born in 1850, a few months before the start of the journey west.
The family resided in California until 1862. Leaving there, they came eastward, again settling in what was known as Illinois Bend of the Red River in Montague County, Texas.
It is at this point that she enters the story.
Margaret Strawn was born in Titus County, Texas and she moved with her family to Saint Jo, Texas, just a few miles south of the Williams family. At this time, this part of Texas was the western-most frontier, with the ever-present threat of Indian raids.
In fact, one of her most vivid childhood memories is one such raid in about 1865. She recalls very clearly seeing the smoke from a neighboring house and the Indians slaughtering the cattle about a mile from her home.
Williams family members escaped with their lives by going down to the Red River 35 miles to the fort a Gainsville,
Texas. Their home, however, was burned and their livestock slaughtered.
In 1875, at the age of 16, she became the bride of John B. Williams.
Seven years later, she and her husband, along with their three children and four other families, making a caravan of five wagons, started up the trail to Oregon..
When asked if they had any form of entertainment, she replied that one of the men was a fiddler and often played for them.
She recalls that one night in the early part of the journey, they even had a square dance by the light of the campfire.
But she added, most of the time, they were to weary by night fall that they did not demand much entertainment.
They continued up the Oregon Trail until they reached the mountainous section of Idaho. The journey, thus far, had taken five months. Becoming discouraged at the endless stretch of mountains and not knowing what lay ahead, she and her husband and two other families decided to turn back. The other two wagons went on.
She recalls that on their return journey, her husband became ill with some sort of stomach trouble and lay at the point of death for days. In fact, she despaired of his living until they could reach home..But finally, after another five months spent on the return journey, they reached Montague County.. just across the river from the Indian territory. There, her husband slowly regained his health.
As the result of the lawlessness of the indian territory and a case of mistaken identity, she carries a bullet in her shoulder today.. What happen was....
One night about dusky dark, she and her husband had gone after the cows when, about a quarter of a mile from their house, a rider appeared whom they recognized as her husband's brother, Wyatt Williams, who lived in the indian territory. and had enemies there.
He, never dreaming that they would be away from the house at this hour and failing to recognize them or even to distinguish her women clothing, thought it was ambush. He immediately fired a shot and the bullet lodged in her right shoulder..
She remembers the crude form of medical attention that she received after her husband and his brother had carried her to the house, they administered alum to the wound to staunch the flow of blood. They also believed that the alum would retard the outward healing until it could heal first on the inside. Since there was no doctor available, no effort was made to remove the bullet.
As if to justify him in his being alert and quick to shoot, she noted that Wyatt, some years later, in 1896, was shot and killed in Ardmore, Oklahoma. According to an old newspaper account of the event, Wyatt was shot by a man who was drinking when a dispute arose over some trivial matter with the murderer disappearing in the darkness. (His death is of historical interest since it resulted in the first murder trial held in indian territory)..
Her husband, John, made the run of 1889, staking a lot in Oklahoma City which he sold the next day for a few dollars and returned to Montague County, Texas.
By this time, John's parents and brothers had all died. (There were no sisters). We alone was still negotiating with the government for losses that the family had suffered in the indian raid of 1865. (the raid had taken place when John was only 15 years of age)..
Ironically, Mrs. Morrison said on the day of John's funeral in 1902, they received a check from the government for these damages-37 years later after the incident.
Some years later, she married Robert Morrison who died in 1923.
She now lives in Fletcher with a daughter, Mrs. Emma Childs... She has three sons and four daughters, all of who reside in or around Fletcher. Sons are Joel, Jim, and Curg Williams while daughters, Madames John Roberts, Angie Carmichael, Victor Kuntz, and Mrs. Childs. She also has thirty grandchildren, sixty-two great grandchildren, and eighteen great great grandchildren.
She has been a member of the Methodist Church for 60 years.
In April of this year, she fell and broke her hip and is at present confined to a wheelchair. But she has hopes of being able to walk again.
Although she has undergone much suffering with her broken hip, she has retained her sense of humor which was shown by her answer to the last question of this interview..
When asked the inevitable question To what do you attribute your long life? She humorously replied, I believe that God has placed everyone here for a purpose and he leaves them here until their work is completed.. I guess I just work slower.
| Photograph taken about
1899 at Illinois Bend, Texas before moving to Fletcher
Back Row: Emma Williams Childs, Jim Williams, Joel Williams, Jap Miller, and John Roberts
Front Row: John B. Williams, Curg Williams, Margaret Williams, Angie Williams Miller, and
Molly Williams Roberts
John and Margaret, daughter of James M. Strawn and
Celia Ann Spencer, were living in Montague County in 1900 and at that
time, they had eight children with six living: Mollie
was born December 1876 and married John A. Roberts and had 6 children.
Angie was born May 1878 and married Jasper I. Miller
and they had 2 children. After Jap's death, she married Charles
Carmichael. Joel was born 26 May 1881 and married Laura
__ and they had 6 children. James was born 30 November 1884
and married Gertrude Bedford and they had 8 children.
Emma was born April 1887
and was married to Fred Childs. Lecurgus was born 18 August 1892 and married Nora Belle Duncan and they had 3 children. Etta was born 15 September 1900 and married Victor Andrew Kuntz and they had 3 children.
Margaret married Robert Morrison after John's death. He died in 1923.
Jap and Angie Miller and John and Mollie Roberts were the first to move to the Fletcher area from Illinois Bend, Texas between 1900 and 1907.
Several of the descendants of John and Margaret Williams are buried in the Fletcher and Mountain View Cemeteries.
taken about 1934 at the home of near gyp hill
Back row, left to right: Robert Bedford, Annie and
John Williams, Lottie and Vernon Williams, Virginia and Raymond
Williams, Connie and Jim Sawyers, great grandmother Margaret
and Jim Williams.
Second row, left to right: Floyd, Vernon Jr., and Lucille Williams
Front front, left to right: Bernice and Betty Lou Williams
Robert Bedford was the father of Gertrude (Mrs. James) Williams