GENERATIONS LINKED

Through Letters, Land


| March/April 1997



C. E. Bush Machine

C. E. Bush Machine, August 1902

Reprinted with permission of Kansas City, Missouri's Farmland News, from its November 1995 issue.

In 1899, John Franklin (Frank) Weaver got off a train in Oklahoma, looking for a place to build a new home for his wife, Julia, and their five children: Edgar, Edna, William, Harvey, and Louella. The 160 acres he purchased southwest of Newkirk became their family farm in January, 1901, soon after they arrived from Dayton, Iowa, in a covered wagon.

'Iowa is all right, but Oklahoma beats it,' Edgar Weaver wrote to his uncle in Iowa in February 26, 1903. 'If we do have hot winds, droughts, dust storms, centipedes and a hundred other such things some of you Iowa people think we have, I would rather have them all, such as they are, than your long-bill steel-pointed mosquitoes.'

Whether that conviction was held by other Oklahomans breaking the prairie into tillable land is unknown, but many facets of the Weavers' lives are known thanks to dozens of letters kept through the decades. Those letters have given Karen Dye of Newkirk a great deal of insight into the lives of Frank and Julia Weaver, her great-grandparents.

'When Frank and Julia set out for Oklahoma, they sold the house to Frank's brother, and it stayed in the family for generations,' said Dye, the granddaughter of Edna Weaver Bush. 'That's how I got the letters written from Oklahomano thing was ever thrown out!'

A Civic Family

Frank Weaver wasn't one to stay put. Born October 5, 1854, in New Jersey, he married Julia Mumford in Henry County, Illinois, on August 19, 1880. After they reached Iowa, Frank taught school and farmed. He was quite active in civic affairs by the time he settled in Oklahoma, where he served as president of the Newkirk School Board and secretary of the Newkirk Democrat Victory Club. He was also president of the Oklahoma State Fair Association and secretary and treasurer of the Oklahoma Corn Breeders and Growers Association.