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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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Nettie Sarah Shawbell - Caldwell
1905 - 2001

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Written by Mrs. Nettie Sarah Shawbell-Caldwell b. 14 Mar 1905 I.T. d. 15 Dec 2001 OK Photo: Nettie on her Wedding Day-23 Nov 1923; Married Robert Wayne Caldwell, Sr.  Father: Lewis Evans Shawbell  Mother: Katherine Susan 'Kate' Seney

I was born in 1905 in Indian Territory. Oklahoma was not a state until 1907. I now live a little over four miles from the land homesteaded by my Father in the Land Run of 1889. As my Father was a carpenter..he built the house I was born in on March 14,1905.

I had three older brothers, John Roy, Claude Marion, Clem Lewis, and three sisters, Laura Marie, Eva Anna, and Kathleen Lulu. I was 4 1/2 years old when my Father traded our farm here for a farm in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

Many things I remember before our move to Pauls Valley. I slept in a small bed my Father built...on a straw matteress. My three sisters slept in a fold out bed ( all three in the bed..two with heads to head of bed, and one with head to the foot). The brothers had a very small room up very steep stairs (maybe they were all in one bed too). Girls were not allowed upstairs. No telephone, no water or electricity. Our heating was a large pot-bellied heater. We used cut wood, kindling and bits of paper to get a fire started. Our stove was a large range, oven, reservoir on outside oven side ( our source of hot water, besides we had a large tea kettle which sat on top of stove). We used kerosene in our lamps. ( The glass flues had to be cleaned every day for the flame smoked up so bad).

We ate on a large table..long with benches on each Father and Mother ate at each end. Our food we ate was grown in gardens, Meat (pork) from hogs we raised, (Milk from) cows, chickens, our eggs, even churned cream from milk and had butter. About the only thing bought in store was sugar, coffee, and spices. Everything from garden and orchard was canned and stored in a cellar. Homemade jelly, sauerkraut, pickles. Even cornmeal (from corn) and flour (from wheat) taken to Mill to be ground.

When we moved to Pauls Valley (about 65 or more miles from Oklahoma City) my Father and my brothers drove the wagons loaded with what household belongings we had and the herd, cows and calves. My mother and my sisters rode on the train (Santa Fe). My Father bought a house about a mile from the depot and main part of town ( What Pauls Valley town was in November 1909). This was the house I was living in when I was 8 years old. This house had two bedrooms, one for the boys, and one for the girls. By then I was having to sleep with my three sisters (4) in one bed....two heads at the foot and two heads at the head of the bed, until we got another bed. My Father and Mother had a bed in our large living room. The house had covered porches on all sides and it had three sharp gables. This home was on ten acres. My younger sister, Alice, was born in the house Feb. 8,1910. Life here was primitive, like my first home in Indian Territory.

When I was 8 years old I was in the third grade. We did not have kindergarten in the public school system I started to school when I was 6 years old. We all went to school in town. Took a lunch pail as we did not have cafeterias then. I had long hair which was braided in two braids (pigtails) with ribbons tied on the end. I wore dresses, length to mid-calf of my leg. Hightop (black) laced shoes in the winter..elastic waistband and elastic just above my knees. I never knew what a new coat was until I was 12 years old. (too many sisters older, and I got the hand-me-downs). My Mother made our clothes, buying material by the bolt so we sure had the 'look-alike'. I was about the same size as my sister Kathlenn (2 1/2 yrs older than me) folks who did not know us very well thought we were twins. My Dad never took us to buy shoes....he always measured our worn out ones (shoes) and bought a size larger. Sometimes I even had blisters on my heels from my new shoes rubbing in walking to and from, we just had one pair at a time because the shoemakers always put on half soles. In summer I got either Mary Jane slippers or Black Roman sandals.

There were plenty of chores to do... like carry in wood for the stoves. Feed chickens, gather the eggs and as each of my brothers and sisters got a year or so older, we got an added chore, like hoeing out vegetable garden, then picking vegetables and fruits: strawberries, gooseberries, dewberries, apples, pears and plums. At Paul's Valley we had a smokehouse, so we had cured and smoked ham, bacon and salted down salt pork sides. We even had incubators where eggs were kept at temperature and baby chickens were hatched out, we always had plenty to eat and clothes to keep warm but not always clothes that were not new.

We had two-holer outdoor toilets. When unpleasant chores were to do..more time than needed was spent in the 'outhouse' leafing through Sears-Roebuck catalog ( the paper was used for toilet paper). Through the colder or winter months, we had to wear long underwear. The legs were wrapped tight around our ankels then pulled up those awful black long stockings. For fun...we played games. Hide and Seek. Hiding places: Haystacks,corn field, and sometimes in the barn loft. One time my sister and I got into the wheat bin and scattered wheat all around. My Father, Lewis nearly skinned us alive. We had card games, dominos and the like. There were no picture shows in Paul's Valley. I was much older, possibly 13 or 14 years old before one was there, admission was ten cents for kids. Our water source at our home in Paul's Valley was a well...we drew the water out with long bucket, rope on wheel like a pulley. Then all screened in cistern to keep our pets out. We always had dogs and cats. 'Tipper Tail', our Rat Terrier, I remember most. We got him as a puppy at the first State Fair here in OklahomaCity...we took him to Paul's Valley. I remember we had a one-horse buggy, but walked more than we rode anywhere. Our farm was 10 miles further out from town. The Fourth of July...we had picnics at the creek, waded in water with our dresses hiked up (no bathing suits) Fried Chicken,Corn on the Cob and homemade Ice Cream (the kind you crank with a handle) and lemonade. My chores as I remember at 8 years old was keeping the wood box filled, gathering eggs, helping feed the chickens, drying dishes. Kathleen, my sister and I had to put on the boys overalls and scattered Irish potatoes out under our high foundation house and sprinkle lime around so weÕd have potatoes to eat all winter.

There were 10 of us who had to be fed three meals a day. My Mother made lye soap (out of bacon or stale lard grease) in large black pot over fire in backyard and we took turns stirring it. In summertime my Mother boiled white clothes in that pot. We used flat irons heated on top of range kitchen stove to do our ironing. I learned to chain croechet and later tat. My older sister, Laura, was about like a second mother to me and Alice, my younger sister. I went to Sunday School at the Methodist Church. I donÕt remember so much about staying for church service untill I was older. My Mother was sick a lot after my sister Alice was born. We did have bible reading at home. Many times the kerosene lamp burned up into the evening at night with us gathered around the dining table.

Our Thanksgivings were great family gatherings. Sometimes we had roast goose (we raised geese). I still have one goose feather pillow I yet use a combination of three feather pillows). We tried to raise turkeys at Pauls Valley, but they wandered off so did not continue. At Christmas time we had a live tree and had candles in tiny holders (not safe), string of cranberries and popcorn. Other decorations we made out of paper. Birthdays celebrated, our Mother made our favorite food ...cake, bread pudding, fruit cobbler or meat dish. Everyone had to ask the 'Birthday Person' for his or her serving. Those years growing up in a large family were happy times to remember for each of us cared and there was lots of LOVE. When sad times came, our family was close.

Nettie Sarah Shawbell-Caldwell 1985.

Submitted by Claude Marion Shawbell, II

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