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Ora Lee Allen

Ora Lee Allen was born in Indian Territory in what is now the state of Oklahoma. She was born on August 14, 1895, the seventh child and fourth daughter of Madorah Ann Reynolds and Sanuel Lee Allen.

Ora was wed to Mr. Charles Clay Bursell on March 18, 1913 in Fullerton, Nance County, Nebraska. Charles, who was born on January 12, 1877 was the son of Meridith Daniel and Nancy (Farley) Bussell (Name change came about 1906 when he left Tennessee). This was Charles' third marriage. His first marriage was to Millie Clark, they had one child, Artie Mae Bursell. The second marriage was to Mottie Holiday and they had a son, Homer Chester Bursell.

Ora and Charles had four children during their marriage. Samuel Lee Clay Bursell, born on May 2, 1915 in Texas City, Texas County, Oklahoma, married Ida Jewell Stump on December 23, 1936 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, was their first child and son. Their second child, a daughter, was named Winnie Cordelia Bursell, she was born on November 12, 1919 in Guymon, Texas County, Oklahoma, Winnie married Walter Burton Penhale on February 5, 1945 in Waxahachie, Ellis county, Texas. Rutherford Enz Bursell, their third child was born on April 17, 1922 also in Guymon, Oklahoma, and he grew up to marry Miss. Lois Victoria Carroll in either 1938 or 39 in Dumas, Moore, Texas, and a second time to Beulah Virginia Sizemore in 1968. Their last child and second daughter was called Mary Burcha Bursell. Mary was born on December 19, 1928, also in Guymon, Texas county, Oklahoma. She went on to marry Harold Jack Maupin on August 14, 1946. They were married in Lordsburg, Hidalgo county, New Mexico. Mary is also doing research on this family and has provided me with much of the information I have.

Ora and Charles divorced in either 1936 or 37 and remarried to each other in 1939. The marriage did not take this time either and they were divorced again in 1941. Ora married Benjamin Franklin Wilkerson on January 14, 1944. Ben was born on December 24, 1894 in Big Springs, Howard county, Texas. Ben had also been married before and had the following children: Fred, Helen, Gunith, Clarise Lee, Bernice, Alta Hildred, Alfred and Verna. Benjamin Franklin Wilkerson died on September 25, 1949 and is buried in Sulpulpa, Oklahoma.

Charles Clay Bursell died on January 26, 1961 in Clinton, Custer county, Oklahoma and is buried in the Guymon Cemetery in Guymon, Oklahoma. Ora Lee lived for another seventeen years before she died on August 8, 1978 in Phoenix, Maricopa county, Arizona.

Their third child, Rutherford Inz Bursell tell about his mother in these words: "I always honored both my parents equally but my Mother knew how to accept the challenges of life better than anyone I have ever known. She was a heck of a lot smarter than any of her children and tried to teach us how to enjoy life and make the best of toough situations. When I was small, she taught me how to see the beauty in flowers as the buttercups began to bloom in the spring and how to spot the different kinds of birds and animals and know them by the sounds they made. She use to stand on the back porch in the evening and call the cows from the pasture by blowing through her hands--- a low mournful kind of whistle they recognized and would immediately head for the barn. They were all her pets. One time we went to the old abandoned central telephone station in the back to pick greens. While we were there a dust storm came up suddenly. All the way home, she held her apron over me to protect me from the wind and dust while she really layed the whip to old Maud. We made it home in record time, too. Mother could equalize any bad situation or chore and make it easy. She was a woman of much wisdom"

Mary Burcha Bursell Maupin writes about her Mother: "Ora Lee, my Mother, was born in a dug-out in Oklahoma Territory, now Cleveland county. She remembered some of her early life before her mother died. After the 'Little Babe' was born, her mother was too weak to stand and combing out her long brown hair was quite a chore. Mother use to hold it up from the floor while her mother ran the comb through it, then watch while she braided it back. After her death, mother kept her braid, which was dark brown in color, about fourteen inches long, in her trunk along with her silver snuff box, my brother Clay's baby dress and some ribbons from cousin Rheta's baby dress and all of the mementos Uncle Arther sent her from France and Gernamy. The braid disappeared as well as the baby clothes. Clay has her silver snuff box and the pillow tops Uncle Arther made while he was in the hospital in France along with the cards and valentine, have been given to his children."

"After Aunt Trude married, Granddad was at a loss on how he was going to care for the family and especially this nine year old girl. He talked with the Woodrow family and it was agreed Mother would stay with them to be a playmete to their little girl. Only Mother didn't understand it that way. She spent the night with them and the next day after school she headed for home only to find there was no one there. All the furnishings were gone, the house was empty and she was left there all alone. Tears wailed up in her big brown eyes. She began to look around and found fresh wagon tracks leading to the road then south. She followed the tracks almost four miles. Then she saw her Papa's wagon and team and her three brothers playing with the children she stayed at Grandma and Grandpa Allen's. She said she just stopped and played too, until Granddad called her into the house."

"Apparently five of the children, Maude, Arley, Arther, Ed and Mother stayed with Granddad and the wagon as he started off to look for work elsewhere. Mother tells that 'sister Maude' got a job doing housework for a family, leaving Mother, three boys and Granddad to travel alone. Aunt Maude left a pair of her old shoes in the wagon and Mother wore them, even though they were far too small for her. She walked barefoot along side of the wagon in order to save Maude's shoes for special occasions."

"One evening late, Granddad had camped along the road not far from where Aunt Maude was working. Whether by choice or accident is not known. Uncle Ed saw his siter Maude through one of the lighted windows and ran towards the back door. He put his little dirty boyish face up to the screen door and called her. She brought him in and fed him the scraps from her employer's table and handed some to the other three who remained outside. She was afraid of letting these ragamuffins in for fear of loosing her position."

"After Aunt Maude married, Mother took over the task of keeping the wagon and watching after her two younger brothers. The four of them, Uncle Arley, Uncle Arther, Uncle Ed and Mother all slept in the wagon and Granddad always slept beneath the wagon. Sometimes they had only salt port, sorghum molasses and grease to sop their sourdough biscuits in. But if Granddad camped along the road where lambs quarter or dandelion grew, they had greens to eat. Granddad was a stickler for cleanliness and neatness and he often scolded Mother for not cleaning the utensils well enough. Being responsible for the cooking, cleaning and two little brothers was not the usual life for a 10 year old."

"Sometime between 1908 - 1910, they were living in the panhandle. One afternoon Granddad drove up to their wagon in a buggy and introduced Millie as their new 'mama'. After the marriage, they lived in a two story house. One morning Millie was upstairs with the boys when Mother heard Arther cry out. She picked up a stick of stovewood and raced up the stairs, two at a time, raising the wood over her head as she reached the top of the stairs. The frightened look on Millie's face convinced her she didn't have to use it. This was one incident which Millie did not tell Granddad. Mother felt she had to protect those little boys from Millie's wrath, usually unprovoked, as they were too young to protect themselves."

"Millie never liked Granddad's children and was often the cause of them being punished. Millie would tell Granddad that she would make something for the family if he would get the ingredients. After he was gone, she would bake cookies or gingerbread, then hide it from his children and give it to her daughter, Nora, when no one else was around. One day Mother saw Nora eating something which she and the boys didn't have, and asked her about it. Learning that Mother had discovered her secret, Millie poured turpentine in Mother's milk. Mother smelled the oder before she drank it and accidentally spilled it. She took a severe scolding from Granddad because of her awkwardness, but she didn't tell."

"About 1910 they were in Guyman and Mother became acquainted with the Weatherfords. Julius and Laura were expecting their third child and ask Mother to come help with the cooking and cleaning during harvest. Julius and Laura lived in a half-dug-out and the stove was out under a ramade. One day was particularity impressive to Mother. Laura made fried apple pies for the haying crew and they all ate outside. With Laura teaching her how to make fried pies and Aunt Faye teaching her to make shirts for my Dad, she became skilled in both crafts."

"When she was about 16, Granddad sent her to live with Aunt Gertrude and Uncle George in Nebraska to get her away from my Dad. Aunt Gertrude and Uncle George tried to interest her in other boys but when Dad came to Nebraska in 1913, they went to Fullerton and got married. (The marriage certificate is bordered in red and pink roses and hangs on my living room wall)."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the length of this family story, it will be continued next month.

Joe Reynolds


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