By Linda Schreiber
[Featured Image: My Great-Grandparents, Silas Alexander Hoover and Martha Ellen Carrick, with their family.]
A farming family in southern Missouri, they made the decision to move to Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 1903. It was then a booming town, capital of Oklahoma Territory. Silas started a livery stable in town, and they had a small farm outside of town where they planted an orchard.
I saw hints of their lives as they settled in through the local newspaper. Relatives visiting, notices of their being out of town for a niece’s wedding, holding a birthday party, all that sort of thing.
But especially, I was able to follow his business through all the advertisements. His purchase of his original stock, and the set-up of his new livery stable. Notices of expansion. And all of the many ads to drum up business. Some of them made me smile. “Finest horses and rigs for rent. Take your girl out!”
Then there was the news article about the fire that took the building to the ground. They had managed to get the stock out, luckily, but his place of business was gone. And more articles about his rebuilding at a new address. He picked up, and kept going. The business began growing again.
Suddenly the advertisements were different, starting about a year before he died. Oh, they were still glowing descriptions of his business, and stock, but for a very different reason. He was looking for a buyer. He was selling the business. Just a month later, the ads included glowing reports of his excellent farm and orchard. He was selling that, too.
Another social piece showed up in the newspaper. Mrs. Hoover had purchased a house in town. When I checked, she had indeed bought it in her own name. Apparently, the business and farm had been sold, and they used the proceeds to buy the house and, no doubt, create the soon-to-be-needed nest egg for the family. Four of the children were still at home.
There was nothing further in the newspaper about them for some time. Then were was a small social piece about Mr. and Mrs. Hoover returning from a trip to Sulphur Springs. He did have a sister living there, but it was also a place where people went to ‘take the waters’, searching for restoration of health. Perhaps it was a combined trip.
Silas died in 1909 of what was then called Bright’s Disease, a progressive condition now referred to as chronic nephritis. He probably was having great difficulty for quite a while, possibly a year or more, before he realized that the condition was becoming so debilitating that he just could no longer cope. And they started making the necessary changes in their life.
Watching this through the newspaper was eerie. It took time before I truly realized what was happening. Once I did, I could almost hear the conversations around the kitchen table between Martha Ellen and Silas, and later with the children, as they all were preparing for death.