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The Pioneer Woman


Florence & George


Florence Knight Wallace 1899-1989
was born at Wellston, Oklahoma to
Finis and Hattie (Dewees) Knight.
After her father's death, Hattie married
Lon Poling. Florence moved to Kiowa County
with her mother, Hattie, and her grandparents,
Samuel E. Dewees and Eliza Jane (Gray).
Florence married George Wallace.

Florence spent her adult life primarily as a librarian
and science teacher. She received her B. A. from
Oklahoma College for Women (Chickasha) in 1922,
and a graduate degree from Colorado State Teachers
College. She was editor of the Earth Sun, Earth, Texas
for 3 years and was very active in many organizations in
Jackson County, Oklahoma while living in Altus. She wrote
for the Mangum Star and SouthWest News and
authored a western serial "Rainbows above the Dust"
which appeared in three Texas papers. She wrote the
article below in tribute to pioneer women.

image image

"Neglected Pioneer Mother"

Minute-women we might have called those brave, untrained, sunbonneted ladies
who answered every emergency call of the frontier, but they are unnamed in
history. They hung lace curtains in dugouts, carpeted dirt floors, and made
homes with a touch of beauty of their own invention. From their dugouts and
cabins they answered calls to duty with a courage undaunted, to provide
meal, bedroom, hospital, nursery, bathroom, morgue, bakery, and of times,
blacksmith shop. Wild meat from their tables and cold water were their only
assistance, as they served husband, family, and wagon train.

These women who followed their men into Oklahoma are unnamed in song and
story, but sure as the stars above they conquered a wilderness and settled a
West. They birthed their young and buried their dead and taught their
children to pray. They washed their clothes in the river with homemade
soap, stored dried corn and apples for winter food and had courage when
the going got rough. Their lives were short on beauty and long on love.

From Coronado to Geronimo there were women on every trail. God planned this
land for the buffalo, Indian, rattlesnake, prairie dog, coyote, and
decorated it with mesquite and cactus, but it must have been before he made
woman because there was nothing feminine in sight.

The long dusty trails were dotted with watering holes, Perry's Crossing,
Doan's Ford, Cowboys' Buttermilk Station, Doolin's Windmill, McNight's water
hole, and there was a "woman at the well" always who shared bread and gave
living water with a merry heart.

Mrs. Holt at Buttermilk Station once said, "We have been called Texans,
Mexicans, Spaniards, squatters, cowpushers, claimjumpers, sooners, nesters,
but have never been known as rustlers yet." Sometimes we have almost been
paupers, but we never ran out of cornbread and buttermilk and hay for your
horses", she explained to a strange wrangler. Frank Dobie has written,
"Had it not been for women like her, Old Greer County would still belong to
the hoot owls and coyotes."

Gunslingers and prospectors never civilized the West or built an Oklahoma.
Homes were built and a culture born through the efforts of our pioneer
mothers and the one-room school teachers. Women still excel in that
fascinating art of creating a place for folks to go when all the other
things are done.

Florence Knight Wallace

Shared 4 July 2003 by Marilyn Wallace, granddaughter of Florence Knight Wallace