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Minnie Lou Effie Johnson Dodds
Caney, Oklahoma
December 1978

This is the life of Minnie Lou Effie Dodds. My daughter, Ola Mae Bryce, ask me to write it. Now at the age of 86 years; I write from memory.

I was born July 3, 1892, near Little Rock, Arkansas. When I was about one year old my parents, Tom and Sallie Johnson, moved to the Indian Territory, Oklahoma. We moved from place to place in a covered wagon and lived in tents.My dad worked at sawmills, trapped, and hunted for a living, sometimes near the Red River.

At one time dad built a cedar log hut. It had a dirt floor. He built frames to put our beds on. My mother had a feather bed that her dad had bought for her when she married. Us kids had cotton sacking, what was called bed ticks and was filled with dead grass or hay. We did not have blankets, just home-made quilts and sheets made from unbleached domestic. Our underwear was made from wool flannel and cotton flannel. My drawers was made by sewing two legs on a band and fastened with one button. In the summer I did not wear anything but my dress; it was long sleeves and came nearly to my ankles. The material was calico and I wore a dress a week before I changed and it was washed. I only had three dresses at a time. My mother washed our clothes in the river by hand, and hung them on bushes to dry.

When I was four years old, we lived in a house among the Indians. We had just moved there the day before, when the house caught on fire and burned to the ground. Dad had gone back to our other house to get some wood he had cut, and some other things. Mother was cooking dinner, the house top caught fire from the stove pipe. My brothers, Forest was two years old, and Lester was two weeks old and in a box cradle. Mama took the cradle, baby and us out to a big tree in a shade, so we would be safe. She went back inside and got her feather bed and the things that was on it. She screamed for help and blew a cow horn, then got her big trunk out. It was mostly things we did not use every day. One thing it had was her bed spread called Country Pin. Soon some Indians came though it was too late to save anything else. One man got a team and wagon, and took us to another house. I learned some of the Indian language, such as Luoch for fire , Hoppy for salt , Tobies for beans , Mintea for come here , and Belilie was run .

All the fruit we got those days was wild plumbs, grapes, and berries. Our meat was wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon. When I was five years old, we lived on a big farm called the Johnes' Farm. Negroes and whites worked the land. That summer we was all sick in bed with some kind of fever. A doctor came. My stomach was swollen and the doctor painted it with Iodine, I cried and was mad at the doctor for making my stomach brown. In a few days, he came back to see how we were getting along. He brought me some gumdrops candy and I was not mad at him anymore. Buck and Betty Sparkman came over to see about us and gave us fresh water and cooked us something to eat. Betty baked us some little tiny biscuits to eat with soup. We never heard of crackers back in those days.

We left that place and went to Texas for one year near Paris, TX. I went to school two months while we lived there, then we moved back to the Indian Territory, to a small town called Matoy. We picked cotton for Bud Tigert and his dad, Bill Tigert. I was seven years old and one day I picked 112 pounds of cotton. The cotton was good. We lived there one year, then we moved west of there and lived there two years.

When I was nine years old, my dad put me driving a horse hitched to a drag. The drag was a small log used to smooth down cotton ridges, so he could plant cotton. Well, I got the log hung between two stumps and dad whipped me with a horse whip until my legs bled. Mother doctored and tied up my legs.

We moved from there to another place. Dad took a lease on some land, it had a one room house on it. He built one more room and a porch. We lived there six years. We helped start the community called Post Oak, (east of Caney, OK.)

When I was 10, my mother told me some things she thought I should know. At that age dad began calling on me to get up every morning and make a fire in the fireplace, (in the winter time) and in the summer it was the cook stove. Generally, the baby was awake and I had to hold it while mother cooked breakfast, or I had to help the small ones get their clothes on. Dad slept till breakfast was ready. Mother had to grind the coffee beans in a hand mill before she could make coffee.

People built a log school house. I was 11 years old then; I got to go to school again. Mother's father, George Washington Cole, lived with us and taught the first school. He got $1.00 a month for each scholar. The men around Post Oak took their teams and wagons, went to Markham's Sawmill on Boggy River, got lumber and built another school house. My dad kept us kids out of school one day of each week to cut wood or work at something else.

When I was 13, we went to a revival meeting under a brush arbor. I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized. My dad often led the singing. When I was 14 years old, I was allowed to let boys bring me home from church and play parties. We walked and the boy led his horse as girls were not allowed to ride a horse with a boy. When girls rode a horse, she had to sit side-ways, some people had Side Saddles.

My brother, Forrest died when he was 12 years old. A hurt in his stomach caused his death. When I was 16, my folks moved west of Caney, Oklahoma, bought a house, and three acres, a store and Post Office called Voca. There was a log school house nearby, so I went to school one more time. Later on dad bought 40 acres, two miles west of our house and built a new house. We lived in a tent until he got the house built. There also was a school building put up at the cross-roads and it was called Voca, and the old school was tore down. Now a brick church is all that is left of Voca.

I never knew when Christmas came, never heard of Santa Claus, never had a doll or gift bought for me when I was little. All the gum I had was from Sweet gum trees. We did not have glasses to drink from at the table. Us children had little tin cups for milk or water and that's what we had to drink.

Now when I was 19 and in the 8th grade, I quit school and married Samuel Johnson Dodds. My wedding dress was a cream colored Cashmere dress almost ankle length. My shoes was sharp toes with high top buttons and the buttons was so close together they had to be buttoned with a shoe button hook. We married November 30, 1911.

Me being the oldest of the children, I had to care and see after five brothers and one sister. My brothers were: Forrest, Lester, Thomas, Luther, and Lee. My sister was Myrtle. When I was married I still had a responsibility, though somewhat different. We married on Thursday and on Monday morning I had my first big cry. A surprise of my life. I found out Sam could not read or write. We went to the cotton patch and I beat him five pounds, and he would not have it that way. He said I was wrong. I got a paper and pencil, was going to let him count up his weights. I told him to put down 25, and he put 52. I had thought all this time he was bashful, now I knew what was ahead for me.

With God's help, kinfolk, and friends, we raised 10 children. Five boys and five girls. They are named: Carol, Alton, Linnon, Chester, and Dean. The girls are: Ola Mae, Eva Vada, Violet, and Christine. Our children have been a blessing to me. We worked hard, I went to the fields and worked when I could. I picked 40 pounds of cotton the evening before Alton was born. The measles, they hurt me pretty bad. My eyes, chest, and stomach. I have a scar on my lungs caused by them. I was 42 years old then.

When Dean was six years old, I began having to go to the hospital. I have been in the hospital thirteen times, including the T. B. Hospital three months in 1963, and Canaday Rest Home two months. Surgery on my left eye for cataracts. I am so thankful the doctor fitted my eyes with glasses so I can see to read and write. I can't see well enough to get my distance right and I loose my balance.

Sam and I had lived here in this house for 34 years. We moved here in 1944. At this writing, Sam is in Canaday Rest Home. He had a stroke in October, 1978, and is not well enough to come home. We had our 67th Wedding Anniversary on November 30, 1978, but Sam is in the rest home and Violet and me are here at home.

I have climbed that hill in life, pretty close to the foot of the hill on the other side. Just waiting. I am 86 and Sam is 88 years old. God know best, I am ready to go. I long to be in that home not made with hands.

Written by: Minnie Johnson Dodds - b. July 3, 1892 - d. May 28, 1980

Submitted July 1998 by Jerry Dodds, Mansville, OK. Grandson of Minnie Dodds. © 1998 Jerry Dodds

Mrs. Dodds wrote the" Voca News" for the weekly Atoka County Times Newspaper.

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