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Cox Characters
Conclusions to Confusions

Part 4: Chapter 30

 
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Experiences that Last Forever

by Doris Gail Monholland Cox

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Gail and Kenny Ray Cox, 1999
Photograph 73:
Gail and Kenny Ray Cox

(photo 1999)

 

Ken and I have spent years searching for our family roots, we have been to libraries, cemeteries, court houses and funeral homes. Even to a closed up jail looking for any records to help us. One night we slept in our Volkswagen car in front of an old farm house where Grandpa and Grandma Cox had once lived in Direct, Texas.

Just after we got married in 1979 we went to Tahlequah, Oklahoma in search of my grandpa, William Leonard Monholland, whom I had lost contact with over the years. After looking at least a half a day, we finally found him. What great joy when I saw that frail, thin, white-haired man sitting on the front porch of his home. We spent the day talking, catching up on lost time, getting to know each other again. Just a few months later, he passed away.

Ken and I have walked cemeteries in eastern Oklahoma looking for my Monholland, Clayton, Clark and Parsons family branches. I have gone to the office of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah. We also traveled to Corbin, Kentucky, where I met a distant cousin that I never knew. His name is John Pridemore. His mother, Martha Louise Pridemore, was my grandpa Monhollandís oldest sister. Kentucky is where my Monhollands lived before some moved to Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Itís so exciting to meet family you didnít even know existed.

Doing family history can be painful for some people, if you unlock skeletons in a closet, like I have. Murder, incest, mayhem, disorderly conduct abound through several generations of my family. But on the other hand, we have preachers and gospel singers. Traveling with Ken on the truck has taken me to all 48 continental states and to two Canadian provinces. We have walked many a cemetery along the way, and have been to libraries in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Houston, Texas; Iowa City, Iowa; Independence, Missouri; Salt Lake City, Utah and all through Oklahoma. Sometimes I would get fussy about stopping so much. "Oh, do we have to?" or "Ken we donít have time," I would complain. If I didnít want to walk a cemetery or go to a library he would say, "You can stay in the truck and take a nap, or watch t.v."

Once we walked through an old cemetery at Armstrong Academy that was a nightmare. Tall weeds, grass bushes and briers Ė stupid me, I was in shorts. We had to walk quite a distance to find it. It was hot; boy was it hot, and the smell was awful. I kept on complaining, and Ken recommended that I either sit under a shady tree or in the car. But, no, stubborn and still complaining, I said, "If youíre going, so am I!" I would whine, "Ken itís not here, itís just not here." And Ken, matching my stubbornness, answered, "Itís here somewhere; I smell it." After a lot of blood, sweat and some tears, we found it. My legs were bleeding from walking through the briers.

Then, there was the old jail at Ardmore, Oklahoma that we visited to try to find records on Grandma and Grandpa Coxís parents. The jail is now being used for storage. That day the electricity was off; no air or lights. Talk about haunted! After seeing a dead rat stuck between two small windows in a door leading to the solitary confinement cell, I had a "canít breathe" feeling and claustrophobia. And onwards to Boggy Depot Cemetery before sunset! When we arrived it was getting dark, there was no one around. Although it was nicely kept and fenced in, it had the same smell as other cemeteries. Maybe because it is near four rivers. It was sure eerie.

I have really enjoyed going to Whitebead Cemetery. Iíve tried growing different flowers and miniature rosebushes around our Cox and Maxwell family stones. But for some reason they donít survive. Whitebead is near Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Itís well cared for, thanks to donations from families whose loved ones are buried there. Kenís Uncle Will has provided money for this cause for several year, taking over for Aunt Jewel after she passed away. Recently in Pennsylvania, I saw a cemetery that sloped so steeply I could not even imagine how they bury people there. I have seen gargoyles in some cemeteries. We were told once that gargoyles are used as sentry guards.

I mustnít forget about meeting John and Emily Cox who live in West Liberty, West Virginia on the old Michael Cox, Jr. Farm. What wonderful people. Then, I met Don and Shirley Larson, who has contributed to, and helped to edit Kenís work. Shirley is a descendant of Michael Cox, Jr., and is a professional writer.

Ken and I have both found a lot of information on our families. It is a great feeling when you have looked long and hard, and then one day, unexpectedly, you find them. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have been there on the Trail of Tears when my great-great-grandparents, John Hilary Clark and Mary Ann Timpson Clark got married. I just canít quite imagine what it was like to walk that long trail, and even to be married on it. My great-grandparents were Jay Tecumseh Clark and Mary Ann Scott. Jay Tecumseh Clarksí parents were John Hilary and Mary Ann Timpson Clark. Jay Tecumseh Clark was stabbed by a blacksmith put on his horse which took him home to the holler where he fell off his front porch and died. His wife kept his body at home until they buried him. He was buried at Park Hill Cemetery. There is a holler named after her where she homesteaded; itís called Granny Clark Holler, and is located south of Park Hill, Oklahoma on the bend of the river. The only way into Granny Clark Holler is on horse back or four-wheel drive pickup. We recently got to visit the holler with my mother Dean Monholland and learned all about it.

These past twenty years of marriage have been rich. During the last ten, we have searched long and hard to find our ancestors. Weíve had bad times, but the good outweigh the bad by far. I appreciate Ken for all his hard work and for making our lives what they are. So, crazy or what? How do you end a project like this? Impossible. It goes on and on and on.

 

 


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