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Russett, Oklahoma

The Oscar David Allen Family

by Pam Allen

Oscar David and Edna (Clifton) Allen

 

Russett, Oklahoma has been important in my family history.  Many of my ancestors were born and raised in Russett or in the surrounding area.

My great grandfather, Oscar Montgomery Allen, came to southern Oklahoma by way of Georgia in the late l800ís, in his early 20ís.  After arriving in Oklahoma, he developed a friendship with a young woman who did his laundry, Emma Shook.  Emma was the daughter of David Shook and Amanda (Colvard) Shook.  Emma was part Cherokee Indian.  They married in 1895.   

Russett was the birthplace for all of their five children: Willie Mae, Oscar David, Clyde and Cleva (twins), and Corda.  Emma had brought a son with her into the marriage, Ramsey Tripplett. Oscar supported his family by farming the land and working as a blacksmith. He served his community by being a member of the Russett school board for 38 years and signed countless diplomas over the years.

Their second born son, Oscar David, was my paternal grandfather.  He was born in Russett on June 28, 1900.  His name got shortened to the initials O.D. and he acquired the nickname of ďCuter.Ē That nick-name stuck with him throughout his life. He went to the Russett schools and was known for being able to hit a baseball further than just about anyone.  He also had a knowledge of trees and could graft a hickory tree into a pecan tree.   He had a love for the land and eventually made a living as a sharecropper, working for Mr. Chapman.

When he was in his early 20ís he started dating Edna Mary Clifton, who was born just south of Ravia in 1903.  Although they had known each other all of their lives, they developed a romance in their early 20ís.    They married in August l923.

Edna Mary Clifton, who we called Granny, was the daughter of Lee Clifton and Alice Mae (Settle) Clifton. She was the second born and had three brothers:  Oscar, Otis and Frank.  Her father, Lee Clifton, died of cancer when she was seven years old. Her younger brother, Otis, died when she was a teenager. Her mother remarried Steve Shook and had two more children: Iva and S.A.  Mr. Shook worked as a U.S. Marhsall, farmer and as a self trained veterinarian. He was also the brother of Emma (Shook) Allen.

Cuter and Edna Allen started their family shortly after they were married.  They had six children, including a boy, Otis that died at childbirth.   All of their children were born at home in Russett with the help of Ednaís mother, who was a midwife.  The children are; Louella (Allen) Walker, O.M. Allen, Lester Allen, Roy Allen and Sybil (Allen) Duncan.  The story is told that Lou weighed 3 pounds at birth and her first bed was a shoebox. The children all went to the school at Russett.  My father, O. M. Allen, was active in sports and was a good ball player, like his father.

The stories I have heard over the years make me believe that these were resourceful people, who were able to survive even during difficult times like the depression.  They grew their own crops of cotton, corn and peanuts and farmed with a horse and mule.  The watermelon patch was always a favorite in the summertime.  They would have a watermelon stand and sell the big ones for a dime and the little ones for a nickel.  My father worked in the summers for Mr. Chapman, earning a dollar a day and often getting paid with a bean order.  Even though times were hard, they never went hungry. Granny had a knack for putting meals together seemingly out of nothing and was a good cook, a talent she passed onto her daughters.

Family, friends and faith seemed to get them through the difficult times.  For a few years, Cuter and Edna and the kids lived with Oscar and Emma in a duplex that was about a half mile north of Russett, by the Washita River.  The Beams lived across the field.   My father recalls his grandfather having a radio and friends would gather to listen to the boxing matches on the week-ends. Sundays were a time for family dinners and aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather. A fight might break out between the cousins, and somebodyís nose might get bloodied, but they would be friends the next day. They stuck together.   

 In the l940ís, the war was waging and boys were enlisting.  This took my father and some of his good friends, like Junior Jester, out of southern Oklahoma and broadened their horizons. They talked on phones for the first time, saw sights they had never seen before and discovered what life was like outside the comfort of home.

The same year that my father enlisted in the navy, l945, his parents moved to Blackwell where his father worked at a meat packing plant for almost 20 years.    In April of that same year, Oscar Montgomery died.  He was 78 years old.   His wife, Emma, died in l950.  They are both buried at Russett.  Emmaís father, David Shook, is also buried at Russett.

When my father came back from the navy, he joined his family in Blackwell.  There he met his wife, Joyce Burton Allen.  She had also been born in Russett in the home of her maternal grandparents: Wyatt and Minnie Martin.  They met when O. M.ís older sister, Lou, arranged for them to meet at a revival at the Pilgrim Holiness church.  They married in 1949.  That revival was influential in my fatherís life. He went on to be a minister in the Pilgrim Holiness/Wesleyan church for over 25 years. 

In October of l965, my grandfather died of a heart attack at 65 years of age.   Granny died in April 1984.  She was 80 years old.  They are both buried in Blackwell.  My uncle Lester died in 1997.  And, my aunt Sybil died in 1992. 

I have been lucky to have two brothers and ten first cousins. Louella (Walker) Allen had two children: Donna Morgan and Walter Mae.  Walter is deceased and buried at Russett.  My father had three children: Mark, Pam and Tim. Lester had two girls: Pam Henley and Leslie Allen. Roy had four children: Rick, Joi Combs, Theresa and Kari. Sybil had two children: Becky Hill and John Duncan.  

Southern Oklahoma is still a gathering place for the family, thanks to the gracious hospitality of Uncle Roy and Aunt Lou.  When the family gathers to go fishing, uncle Royís knowledge of fishing and the outdoors comes in handy, and Aunt Louís fried fish and potatoes always melt in your mouth. As evening approaches, Russett stories are told, dominoes are played and family traditions live on. 

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Last modified: 05/27/07