Mary Alice sent a telegram to summon W.E. home immediately. After the
telegram arrived in Tulsa, it was carried by horseback to the ranch and
arrived in W.E.*s
hands at noon.
He told his wrangler
to saddle the fastest and sturdiest horse on the ranch. With his heart
full of fore boding, W.E. mounted and headed toward Tulsa at a hard
As he rode the nine miles to Tulsa, he thought of a plan to get to
Vinita as quickly as possible. His options were limited because the only
daily passenger train to Vinita had already left Tulsa a few hours
When W.E. got to the depot, he learned that
the only other train in the vicinity was a freight train. It had already
left Claremore on Its way to Tulsa and would arrive In an hour.
In this desperate and urgent situation, the
usually modest W.E. Halsell used all his power and prestige to negotiate
with the president of the Frisco railroad. He chartered the locomotive.
As quickly as humanly possible, the train was
sidetracked, the engine turned around, and then headed north to Vinita.
The fireman feverishly shoveled coal until he was drenched In sweat. If
he paused even a moment, W.E. would grab the shovel and feed the fire
The locomotive arrived In Vinita at midnight.
The train stopped only a hundred yards from the Halsell home and W.E.
ran the whole distance. He dashed past the quarantine sign on the door
and up the stairs to his daughter*s
To Mary Alice*s
great relief, her husband was home. Willie*s
small body was twisted in agony as the doctor Injected her with a heavy
dose of morphine.
Her muscles relaxed but the situation was
grave. The doctor didn*t
have to tell the parents that there was no hope. It was five days before
The following announcement appeared In the
next edition of the Vinita Indian Chieftain "Willie Halsell,
11, daughter of W.E. Halsell, died of congestion of the brain. A large
crowd followed the little coffin up the hill to the burial place. She
was a favorite with everyone, and the whole town was stricken with
sadness. W.E. suffered much anguish, as did the mother."
body was laid to rest at the top of the hill. just out side the town of
Vinita, Indian Territory, twenty-three years be fore statehood.
The unspeakable sadness of Willie*s
death deeply touched her little brother Ewing. He not only missed his
sister, but felt the pain of his parents*
heartache as well.
That fall, W.E. took his wife and on trips to
help ease the sorrow. On their first trip, they went to St. Louis where
they visited friends, attended church and went to the theater.
When Mary Alice rested, Ewing accompanied his
father to the stockyards and watched him as he dealt with other
cattlemen and bankers. This was Ewing*s
first experience in learning about his father*s
extensive and successful businesses.
More travel helped to soften Mary Alice*s
grief and she became stronger. In June, almost one year after Willie*s
death, she was pregnant again. Ewing was nine-years-old and ready to
start the second grade at Worcester Academy.
In 1886, Mary Alice gave birth to a girl who
they named Eva. Three years later, another daughter named Clarence
(known as Clare) was born. And then in 1891, Mary, the last child of the
Halsell's was born. They were all cared for by a nurse and governess
It was five months after Mary well. was born
that Mary Alice had a serious accident. She and her favorite niece,
Josie Crutchfleld, were driving a finely made two-wheeled cart when the
horse ran away with them.
Both Mary Alice and Josie were thrown from the
cart but It was Mary Alice who suffered serious injury. She never fully
recovered and in the autumn of 1892 her health began a steady decline.
One year later, Mary Alice Halsell died of
consumption. She, was thirty-nine-years-old and had three children under
the age of eight.
Mary Alice was burled next to- her daughter
Willie who had been dead for nine years. Both mother*s
markers are marble and carved with fanciful imagery and poetry.
Later, when W.E. remarried, he chose his wife*s
niece (Josie Crutchfield) to be his bride. In 1910 W.E. and Josie left
Vinita and moved to Kansas City.
Then in 1945, Ewing, who was by then a highly
successful cattle man himself, and his wife Lucile moved to San Antonio.
Despite both couples*
change of residence, they all made arrangements to be buried in Vinita.
It may have been that Willie*s
tragic and untimely end caused the others to be drawn back to Vinita, if
only in death. They are gathered near Willie on the top of the hill.
Her grave Is distinguished by an angel carved
in marble and the following poem:
Our souls, Ah.
What can part our souls?
In ties of love entwined,
They will defy the spells and chains
That even death can find."
references: Vinita Indian Chieftain Daily; Vinita. I.T. by O.B.
Campbell: Vinita Leader, A Ranching Saga. The Lives of William
Electious Halsell and Ewing Halsell by William Curry Holden.
(Special thanks to Mike Campbell for loaning me his copy of A
Kathleen Duchamp, Vinita Daily Journal, Nov 11-12,2002