Monday, June 18, 2018

Rememberings of Rusha Cordelia Kephart

Rusha Cordelia Kephart was born in Ida Grove, Iowa on October 17, 1891 to my second great grandparents, Alexis and Susan (Templeton) Kephart. Rusha was the baby of the family, and one of two girls in the family, and by all accounts she was very close to her mother. I believe it's likely that Rusha was named after her maternal grandmother, Jerusha (Sutton) Templeton. Rusha may have been short for Jerusha, or just derived from it. 

Rusha Cordelia Kephart Ancestry Chick

Alexis Kephart Family Portrait

Rusha was my second great aunt, and though I never got to meet her, I feel connected to her much as I do her parents. She lived very near the area of northwest Ohio that I have lived for over 30 years. She married Frank Baum in 1911 and they made their home in Ada, Ohio and raised their family there. Rusha passed away on February 2, 1972, when I was just 5 years old and living somewhere else. Perhaps it was fate that I was brought to this part of Ohio, where so many of ancestors lived and died. But fate aside, I love finding and sharing things related to my Kephart kin.

Susan Kephart - Daugther Rusha Kephart Baum - Rusha's Husband Frank Baum
Back: Susan (Templeton) Kephart, Rusha (Kephart) Baum
Front: Frank L. Baum, and one of Rusha & Frank's Children

Fortunately for me, passed down through our family have been memories recalled by Rusha Kephart Baum. These memories help to paint a picture of the lives of the Kephart family when Rusha was growing up. I don't know who wrote these memories down, but they originated with Rusha and I want to share them here for posterity, and for any other "cousins" who may be in search of their Kephart ancestors. Rusha's words appear in italics. Note that I have inserted names or information in brackets here and there as points of clarification. I've also inserted images and here there to help illustrate what Rusha has described.

Mother was born and lived in Rock Island, Illinois, until she was married. Her real name was Susan Eleanor, named for her aunt Susan Eleanor Sutton. Dad named her Nellie. After they were married at mother's home in Rock Island, they lived on a farm east and a little south of Spencerville, Ohio, where Arthur [John Arthur Kephart], Ed [Edgar Templeton Kephart] and Anna [Anna Carrie Kephart] were born. They then moved to and proved up on a government claim in Shaller, Kansas where Ray [Byron Ray Kephart] was born. Hot winds killed all their crop the second year. The third year, the grasshoppers or the locusts, I'm not sure which, took all their crop and nothing was left. Mother's sister, Matt [Martha Emeline ‘Mattie' (Templeton) Sutherland], who lived near Ida Grove, Iowa, wanted them to come there. So they sold what they could, put all they could get in a covered wagon and went to Aunt Matt's. Dad went to work on the farm for Aunt Matt's husband [Charles Sutherland] and the folks rented a house in Ida Grove, Iowa, where I was born. The winter was so cold there that after about three years they shipped their goods by train and went to Canton, Oklahoma, where mother's brother [Edwin Hall Templeton] was an army man in charge of Indian affairs. This was where the Salt River and caves were, where the outlaws would hide out after bank robberies. 

Our family and Uncle Ed Templeton were the only white families at the Indian Reservation where Uncle Ed was in charge. I was just learning to talk. Uncle would give out the Government issues allotted to the Indians, Mother and Aunt Lillie [Lillian (Frost) Templeton] were really self-made missionaries. The Indians were so good to us in their way. Homesteaders would come to the post office and small store, which Uncle Ed managed. Of course, the Indian children were at the post office and store a lot as it was so near to the Indian encampment. I learned to talk Indian and refused to talk white man talk, so the folks moved up to Kingfisher, Oklahoma, where uncle Jerry Brown lived, rented a farm.

All was OK until the terrible tornado. Then our stone house and all that was in it but mother's big walnut cupboard was blown about or destroyed. The cupboard was left standing with not a dish broken. They gathered what furniture they could with the help of the neighbors and moved into the small town of Kingfisher. We were there until the Kepko for homesteaders was opened up. Then we got 160 acres bare land, 7 miles from what is now Wellston, and 11 or 12 miles from what is now Chandler, the county seat.

First thing, Dad and the boys made a cellar and moved a little building Uncle Jerry Brown gave us. They took it all apart and moved it on wagons. Then mother, Anna, Ray and I went up. We put up a tent to help out until a log room addition could be made [photo, below]. Later they built on two more rooms. This is where the family lived when I came to Ada, Ohio, in October 1909 to go to Ohio Northern Normal School. 

Alexis Kephart Family Near Chandler Oklahoma Ancestry Chick

Before the log room was built, another tornado destroyed Chandler and took our tent. A hen setting on eggs was in the tent by Arthur and Ed's bed. The old hen sat tight and hatched all but one egg. [This should be April of 1897, which is when the town of Chandler was destroyed by a Tornado.]

While I was in Ada, my brother Ed was in Oklahoma City helping build homes for a company. He came to the farm and helped Dad, Arthur, and Ray build the new two-story home which you see so often see in pictures [called Cedar Lawn Farm], with mother and dad on the porch. 

Alexis and Susan Kephart Cedar Lawn Farm Oklahoma


Alexis and Susan Kephart at Cedar Lawn Farm Later Years

After mother and Dad died, the heirs sold the house to a man who tore it down and moved it to his place. The land surface was sold. The five children kept the mineral rights and that is why if oil is found, if ever, the surviving heirs will share. A well was put down but capped after some of the drill was broken. Ray has my power of attorney. Folks that was there said when the well was shut, they saw oil. 1-1/2 miles south there was a well producing oil. There is a very small chance that some day it might be opened. My eyes are so bad that it is hard to write this.

Rusha Kephart, Warwick, Oklahoma

I really love these memories, even if the dates/times may a bit difficult to follow. It really helps me to visualize the lives of these ancestors. I hope you enjoyed reading it too. In a future post, I will share a letter that Rusha's mother, Susan 'Nellie' Kephart wrote to her daughter for her birthday.

Thanks for the memories, Rusha!

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