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Don't Be Buffalowed
A Memoir by the late Elsie (Lynn) Miner

Of the Family of John "Gilbert" Miner

[Introduction - Jan. 18, 1970 - This is the history that Grandmother Miner wrote before she went into the home. It isn't complete but this is what she gave me. --Helen Miner]

I was borned in Old St. Paul Kansas, as the place was called at that time, on January 26, 1890. I weighed 11 pounds at 8 months old, they weighted a pig to see which gained the faster. The pig died and I lived. Roadway builted [illegible] 1/2 or 3/4 miles south of the house and my parents boarded one of the men. He was a dutchman, he and my father carried me around their shoulders, and told me to swear at this and that, as I had started walking and talking at 9 month old.

A couple of boys 16 or 17 lived close, as our place was the city water well (as no other good drinking water had been found so far). These boys taught me to fight, with me using a big iron spoon and a stove shovel. My mother shur me in once and I put my dad suspenders over my shoulder and table cloth around me and ashes all over the floor. Another time she let me out and found me hugging a black mares back leg that they didn't dare go behind her, as she always kicked them because they had her afraid from shooting off of her. That time my mother was scared stiff, she persuaded me away. One time she wrapped a sheet around her to scare me away from the water wel1 and I ran up to her and called her by name.

Opening paragraphs of Elsie (Lynn) Miner's 1969 memoir

One incident I remember a family lived directly across the road, I slipped over there and their youngest daughter and I played house, we used dock seed and a leaky coffee pot and made coffee. I tried to give a kitten coffee and it ran into the house and got under the cookstove. My mother went hunting me and found me under the stove trying to drag the cat out and she drug me out and spanked me and took me home. Then my folks moved down on the Waller farm adjoining ours' and he farmed both places. Jessie, Stanley and Myron were borned there. Before we moved I was bought a $1.50 pair of shoes (terrible price then). I walked in a slop bucket with them on.

My grandmother Lynn came to live with us when we moved to Waller farm. My Dad, Bob and Jim had all gone to school at Birch Creek School as kids. After his father had died, they had taken homesteads in Western Kansas, Dad, his Mother and Bob, they got to be worth $10,000 and drought wiped them out. My Dad went to freighting from Western Kansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bob and Jim to Cripple Creek and Victorville Colo. and run a barber shop. Bob then went to Aspen and got married, she was a school teacher. With his barbering and her a rooming house, he went thru and graduated from medical school in Colo. These were the Lynn boys.

My Grandmother lived with us. She was an intelligent and informed woman for her times. My mother admits she wasn't an old fogey, but she was good entertaining us kids as they came along. Granny made us things out of corn stalks. I got to go thru cigar box of fancy buttons and other things. Lots of things happened during these years on the Waller farm. I carry a fire scar burn on the back of right hand, and another scar I got was, the folks were milking and I and Jessie were running. I told her that I could beat her to the house, I run into small toped tree with bushy tops burned off, run it into my right leg. I guess it was good [as] it was charcoaled. The first toothbrush I ever owned Jessie and Stanley cleaned the cat’s teeth with it. I got a broken right arm, they had put Stanley on behind me to take the horse down to the creek to water, coming back the horse kept eating and I slapped her with the bridle reins and the horse made a quick fast move and Stanley was bouncing up and down like a ball holding around me for dear life and he pulled me off. I fell across my arm dislocating and breaking my arm. Looked like for a time gangrene was setting in and would have to be taken off. The Doctor was old, the new one was out of town. So I was left with a crooked arm. During the time we lived on the farm my Dad taught me not to be afraid, his expression was "Don't be Buffalowed." Cattle scared me and it chased me. Dad held me and told me to run at her. I began running at them and they started running from me. Dad also taught me my alphabet, to spell, read and little poems.

When on the farm we had plenty of food, a big garden which was canned and dried for winter uses. We slept on corn husk, straw and hay ticks and feather beds. Woven rag carpets, made own washing soap, drug store castile soap for new babies and corn starch for dusting them. Dollars were hard to come by.

Bohemians settled in Kansas and brought in LaGrippe now called the flu, this caused Membranous Croup, diphtheria, Scarlett fever. Myron my second brother died of the Croup. We had no screens so no way to keep out flies and mosquitoes.

One other high light that I remember is going to the Ringling Bro. Circus. It was in the fall, we all rode in wagons, dust so thick couldn't see anyone ahead. Dad started day before and camped on Onion Creek. Drove in for parade and to circus in afternoon. Bought me a new coat. Had supper and my dad drove Mother and us three Kids to Cherryvale so we could catch train to her parent down in Ozarks. Her oldest brother met us in wagon hitched to oxens (Tom and Jerry) I was 8 years old at that time and last time I was ever there. I remember because I resented never getting to go again. My Aunt's youngest child was 14 years old, just 6 years older than myself, and our visit was cut short because a horse slipped in the muddy road and crippled Dad and his hip and he walked a little crippled the rest of his life.

That may have been one reason we moved to town, for Dad told me that he had enough money to buy farm, instead of building house in town. The folks move to town. Mother open a boarding house for men who was working on the Santa Fe railroad nearly all Irishmen brought in by the Company. They were a drinking bunch of men, they sung, danced, jigged or fought.

Taft, California -- where the Miners lived in oil country in 1911-1917 -- until a physician advised Will to take his wife away or it "would be in a box."

Jessie took typhoid and died when I was in the eighth grade. Jennie and Roy was the two youngest and I had to stay out of school at time to take care of them. After Jessie died my Mother changed toward me, said that Jessie was the one she loved. She left my father three or four time but always came back.

After I graduated from High School I taught in Oklahoma. I married William Miner February 4, 1911, at Caney Kansas. He was working for the Empire Company (The City Service) now. My mother wanted me to come back to Caney and teach and live at home and take care of Jennie and Roy. I didn't want to teach in Caney or did I want to stay at home and pay board and work too. She was planning on leaving my Dad, so I told Miner that we were leaving Caney on Monday and left on Wednesday. I didn't give her time to leave first. We went to California. She kept writing me how mean and terrible she was treated. I finally wrote her and ask her who married him me or her, and not to write me anymore such letters. She finally left and sued Dad for a divorce and Dad filed cross suit. They finally took it to State Supreme Court. The first divorce ever tried in State Supreme court in Kansas. She got the house in Caney and Jennie and Roy, Miner and I bought the house in Caney and afterward·bought out the heirs to the farm, Bob and Jim. And when dad died we bought out Jennie and Roy's share.

I haven't said anything about the time we lived in Calif. I never liked California, low altitude didn't agree with me, Your Dad liked it. Our first three children were born there Herbert Milton, Everett Thomas and Elsie Woodrow (Woody). It was 110 degrees in the shade day and days, it was a dry heat, nights were cool after the sun went down. We had snow once, ice, sleet and thunder once, but the fog was bad for three weeks, never saw the sun. Had ants, sand fleas and devil dust were continued, also wind, dust storms at times you couldn't see. It was a boom oil town (tent town). We got a tent just soon as we got in Taft and we lived in it. Couldn't get a job, we got down to one nickel, and I got a job dishwasher and waiting tables. Dad finally got a few days’ work at time helping unload pipe and supplies for Supply Ware Houses.

Water was 25 cents, coal oil stoves, couldn't afford ice $1.00 hundred. We tried to keep our food cool by building a wooden frame and covering it with burlap and let water drip over it. Dad got some lumber (2nd hand lumber) and build a projection and cover side with canvas. Herb was borned in this tent house. Dad got steady work and we sold the tent house and, bought lumber and built 3 room house with screened in porch. We worked Sundays and nights on it. He made an ice box but ice still was $1.00 a hundred. The house was built on leased ground which the railroad owned. Dad was working for Standard Oil and they laid him off. He got a job on the hill above Taft and was there 4 years and the Supt. Let him go and replaced him with his daughter's husband.

I rode in my first car which was a Saxon, then dad later got a one-seater, second hand Ford. A year before we came back to Kansas he traded in Ford for a new Maxwell. I saw every nationality in the world out there, we had a Chinatown. A tong war started from there in California. Wages paid mostly in gold money. The land in and around Taft was owned by railroad and California Land Co. I have seen oil flecks carried 8 or 9 miles on our linens and clothes.

Dad was finally told by the Doctor that he had better take me out or it would be in a box. First war was declared April 1917 and we left in October 1917. My father came to take me whether Dad came or not. We got map and followed Old Santa Fe Trail. State Men searched all cars coming into Arizona. We burned, froze, and burned again, then rained rest of the way to Kans. Drove thru Mormon Country, Petrified Forest, missed Grand Canyon, liked Flagstaff. Drove hairpin curves interesting and dangerous. Three kids and three grown ups and a black water spaniel.

Wagoner, Oklahoma, the Miners' final residence for 20 years, where they owned a local plumbing company

Dad got a job with the Old Prairie Oil Co. out of Caney Division under Bill Greene. This was in 1917 and 1918 in the winter, and he got $3.00 a day that he worked, but had to pay board as he was staying away from home. There was little left over for the home and family. He was in Elgin, Kansas. He started looking for a monthly job, got in with Connelly and Owens and worked in the Ramsey oil field and later in the Osage which was both in Oklahoma. Connelly and Owens split up and-he was left with Owens. The Ku Klux got into the Co. and run it, I would wouldn't let him have a pillow slip and a sheet and wouldn't pay $15.00 to get in. Dad sprained his back and Ku Klux saw a chance to get rid of him that way and they did. We had a Company car, so had sold ours, they took car and we were left a foot. We got by with what work he got for a couple years.

Connelly and Lorauix formed a partner-ship and hired Dad and sent him to Bush City. He managed to buy an old $45.00 car and got to Bush City. I was left to sell cows, clear up what I couldn't take, with a sick baby, a dog, and the four of you. I couldn't get the baby food the Doctor had put her on. So I told dad that it looked like she was going to die and I was going to do as I thought best. I pulled her thru but it wasn't till October. The baby was Muriel.

Durring all of this time I was checking in supplies, wrote up the well logs, fixed daily time sheets. Dad was running 5 drilling machines at one time. I’ve gotten meals all hours and clean clothes outfit a day. The Company put in a booster plant and high Octane plant. One worker worked nights and kept robbing the money till. Bank that we were banking with went broke, took bankruptcy, personally we had only $80.00 but had $600,00.00 Company Money. Oil prices went down and they cut our wages to a $100.00. In 1929 Wall Street crashed. Garnett was the closest High School and there were three of you in High School, we couldn't afford to send you, so Dad quit his job and we moved back to Caney so you three could go to High School. He didn't want to go out on the farm, so I took Herb and moved out there. He wanted the forty acres down joining the Waller farm. We bought it, the drought hit and he just gave up.

We sold everything and he traded in the car on a new one and he and Everett went out looking for jobs. Didn't find any so he came back home and said that was the last time he would ever leave home. There wasn't any jobs in Caney, so we lost the place in town, the farm, and the car, we were broke. So it was to start from scratch again. We never was on W.P.A. [federal assistance through the "Works Progress Administration"] but would of fared a lot better than we did. We lived on $2.50 or $2.00 a week. A lot of management.

We went to Ketchum and worked on the Grand Lake project, then moved to Dewey then to Chouteau, later Wagoner, all in Oklahoma. We had a plumbing shop in Wagoner and made that our home for 20years.

[Concluding note by Helen Miner - "To finish it in my own words Dad and Mother moved to Ponca City where Muriel the youngest daughter lived, they fixed an apartment on the back of their home. Dad passed away and mother went to a rest home to live in Ponca City and she passed away. They are both buried in the Caney Cemetery."]

Copyright © 1969 Elsie (Lynn) Miner. Published with permission.