And Still More
Regarding Uncle Claude Argata Enkey
(May 22, 1902 – September 27, 1981)
Wally Lee Parker
(All rights to this material reserved by the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter)
Reprint from the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter
September/October, 2000 A.D.
… a letter from Zona Enkey-Siler on growing up in Oklahoma …
In the last week of June, 2000, I received this letter from Zona Siler.
Eight typewritten pages, and some amazing stories.
Although we've never met, I hope by the time you've read this you will feel that we have — as I have, by reading the wonderful pages of family history that you have put together. This is a work that is very much needed and appreciated. I'm sure by all of us. Thank you!
My name is Zona Marie Enkey. I am the third child (second daughter) of Claude Enkey and Olive Freeman-Enkey. I was born at Liberty, Oklahoma, on March 3, 1931. My parents, Claude and Olive, lived in Leach, Oklahoma, at that time, but they had traveled by wagon to Liberty so I could be born at Grandma Freeman’s house, by the county’s only (that I know of) midwife. Everyone called the midwife Granny Hicks. No relation to us though.
When I was thirteen days old the folks moved to a 160 acre farm they’d bought at Peggs, Oklahoma. It was the old Doolin place, and was known all over the country to be haunted. And believe me, it was!!!
I can remember waking up one night and there was an old man sitting in a rocking chair at the foot of my bed — rocking back and forth. Not saying a word. Just rocking.
In reality we didn't even have a rocking chair.
The old house consisted of a living room, a kitchen, and one attic room. The living room doubled as a bedroom for Mom and Dad. Their bed was set up in the middle of the room. We six kids slept in the attic room.
This attic room had one window in the south wall. I can remember waking up many nights and seeing a huge spider web covering the whole window, and a dead man lying across the window — stuck to the spider web. I would start crying and try to wake the other kids. They would tell me to hush and go back to sleep. They thought I was just imagining things. But I wasn't. I am sixty nine years old now, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
Dad never believed in ghosts. He wouldn't accept anything like that. So I was afraid to tell Mom and Dad about it.
Dad said there was a logical explanation for everything if you just looked hard enough. He had heard of this house being haunted, but refused to believe it. He always said that the weird noises could be explained if one just looked hard enough to find the answer. Well, I looked for sixteen years and never found the answer.
During W. W. II — I was twelve years old (1943) — Mom was working in Tulsa making tents for the military. One night Dad had gone to Uncle Earl’s house and had left me home to take care of my younger sister, Alzada, four years old, and my younger brother, Sam, six months old. He was gone and gone. Finally, when it got dark, the weird noises started. I stood it as long as I could, then I gathered up the little ones and went outside. We huddled in a corner by the chimney for a while, and then I decided to walk to Uncle Earls to find Dad.
Uncle Earl lived about two and a half miles from our house. I was carrying Sam and leading Alzada by the hand. It was pitch dark out — dirt roads and no lights. We walked north about the distance of three city blocks to the main road, then turned west toward Uncle Earls. There were trees — a very wooded area — on the south side of the road, and an open field on the north side for about half a mile. Then it changed to thick trees on the both sides.
Out from the trees on the South side, glowing in the dark, came a bright orange ball. It hung in the air about three or four feet off the ground. It scared the wits out of me. I stopped and just stood there for a few seconds. It seemed like five or ten minutes. I was afraid to go toward the ball, so I started stepping backwards. Every time I took a step backwards, it would move toward me. If I decided to venture a step forward, the thing would move backwards. We kept moving back and forth like that, it keeping the same distance from me, for about ten or 15 minutes, till it finally just flew off into the wooded area on the north side of the road.
To this day I don't know what it was. But I know it was something with intelligence. Alzada says she can remember it too.
Well, enough of my ghost stories.
My father, Claude Enkey, was a farmer, just as his father, David Enke (prior to the added ‘y’), had been a farmer.
Aunt Mabel, Claude's sister, recalled when the family moved from Carthage, Missouri, to south west Oklahoma — to Pottawatomie County — by covered wagon. They were camped in the woods for the night, and Grandpa David had gone hunting to get food, when a wild bear climbed in the wagon with the family. It nearly scared grandma and the younger kids to death. But Claude and Oscar finally managed to get the bear out of the wagon.
Aunt Mabel also told me the story of how Grandpa David and Grandma Pearl met. Pearl had gone to the creek to get a bucket of water for her mom, when David rode up on his horse. He stopped, got off, and said, "Here little lady, let me carry that for you.” At that moment Pearl said to herself, "That’s my man.”
Another story, this one about after they were married, David was in the field plowing. Pearl dressed up like a man — disguising herself. She walked to the field, and, changing her voice, talked to grandpa for several minutes before he realized who he was talking to.
My dad told us that David Enke was an exceptionally strong man. Once when the family was out on the road in the wagon, four or five men rode up on their horses and started using bad language. Grandpa David told them not to talk like that in front of his wife and children. The men told him he’d have to make them. He invited them to climb off their horses, saying he would. They did and he did — whipped them all and sent them on their way.
My parents said that Great Grandpa Enke and Great Grandpa Lee fought on opposite sides in the civil war, so they didn't care much for the other. Dad told Mom (who then related the story to me) that when Great Grandpa Lee would go to see the kids — David and Pearl — if Grandpa Enke's horse was tied up out front of the house, Grandpa Lee would ride off and come back later. And if Grandpa Enke rode up and saw Grandpa Lee's horse tied to the hitching post, he would ride by and come back later.
I think Dad was 19 or twenty when Grandma passed away. Then, a short time later, Grandpa passed away. The older kids kept the family together for a while, then some of the girls went to stay with an uncle in Texas. Dad and Oscar worked the crops and the girls kept house. Dad told us that Mrs. Grimes taught him how to make biscuits.
Mom told me that she and Dad met at a dance. Dad loved to dance and went to them real often. Mom was a school teacher, very reserved and proper, seldom went anywhere. Her younger sister, Opal, was more out-going.
One night Opal wanted to go to the neighborhood dance. Their dad, Grandpa Freeman, let her go — but only if Olive went to keep an eye on her. As it turned out, Mom was the one who caught a boyfriend that night.
Dad was a very handsome man, and he inherited his father’s strength. He was always showing off. But Dad hadn’t had any formal education. So when he got married he wasn't sure of the correct spelling for his last name. Mom spelled it the way it sounded — Enkey. Later, after meeting some of Dad’s aunts and uncles, she learned Enke was the correct spelling. But since the marriage license said Enkey, they went and kept that spelling. And all the other kids in David and Pearl’s family kept that spelling too. All the family outside of Oklahoma uses the original spelling of Enke.
The Clem Freeman that married our Aunt Goldie, he was my mother’s first cousin. Goldie's children and Claude and Olive’s children are double cousins — first cousins on Claude and Goldie's side and second cousins on Olive and Clem's side.
Times back then were hard. It was during the depression — the dust bowl. If you didn't dig your living out of the ground, you didn't eat. It made young people old, pleasant people mean, and it didn't take many years to do it.
One of my first memories is of Dad coming in from town and telling Mom that they had to get rid of all but (I believe) 10 head of cattle. The government, trying to get the economy under control, had ordered farmers to either kill off or practically give away any and all of what they had over that amount. Mom and Dad had been saving and enlarging their herd in order to have enough to sell and pay off their home. This was quite a blow to them. And they were not even allowed to keep the meat for food.
I was too young to remember all the details, but I remember that all the neighbors were upset about it. Everyone was having a hard time putting food on the table. In my early school years some of my friends only had water bread and water gravy to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My dad was a very hard worker, and expected no less from each of us. I remember working in the fields just like a man, seven days a week, daylight to dark, through the long, hot summers. This went on year after year until I was 17 years old and left home.
I have the utmost love and respect for my parents. We always had plenty to eat. Milk, cornbread, and my Mom’s good biscuits. We canned approximately five hundred quarts of fruit, berries, and vegetables every year. Dad worked our tails off — but he’d been hungry in his lifetime and wanted his children to have plenty of food.
While other men were running whiskey stills to make cash, our dad was running a sorghum molasses mill.
Dad was known all over the country as being an honest, upright man of his word. I don't think anyone ever challenged him at anything — not if they had good sense anyway.
We kids had to walk five miles on the roads to get to our grade school, but only three if we cut over fields and through woods. Dad made us take the short way so we could get home to start our chores sooner. And all too often we had more excitement than we wanted walking that way.
Some of our distant neighbors were well known whiskey makers. Two or three times a week several, maybe six to ten men, all drunk, would gather on the dirt path to play poker. Then when we came along they would chase us. Most of the time they’d chase us on foot, but sometimes they would load in their pickup trucks and, as they drove by, the ones standing in the back would jab at us with their pocket knives. Needless to say, we were terrified.
We would have to jump ditches, dart in and out of the woods, and every other thing we could think of to escape.
We would tell Mom and Dad about it over and over, but it was such a wild story they didn't believe us. They thought we were making it up so we would have an excuse to walk the road with the other neighbor kids.
This went on for two years. Then, one day, the gamblers got carried away and chased us close enough to a neighbor’s house for her to see what was going on. She went on a run to tell Mom and Dad. That evening, after the chores were done, Dad got on his horse and rode off. We asked where Dad went and Mom said he had gone to tell those men that he would be following us to and from school, and the first man he caught chasing his kids would be a dead man. It never happened again.
I didn’t believe he really intended to follow us. Then, one day …
On our way to school we had to cross several creeks. It had been raining and snowing enough that the creeks were near flood stage. The foot logs over the creeks were slippery. I was about seven years old at the time, and when we got to the first foot log I just stood there crying, afraid to cross. One of our neighbors came, picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and carried me across. Slung over his shoulder, I looked back, and high on a wooded bluff overlooking the creek stood my dad, hunting rifle under his arm. I never doubted his word again.
In those days we country kids didn't have toys. We’d make up games to play during our lunch time, or on rainy days. One game was follow-the-leader. Our oldest brother, Lon, was always the leader.
One time he climbed out on a tree limb, jumped off, and we followed. When I hit the ground my knees came up, hit my chin, and caused me to bite through my tongue.
Another time it had been raining so much we couldn't work the fields. We decided to go down to the creek, to our favorite swimming place. And as usual, we were playing the follow the leader. Even though it was flooding, my brother Lon decided to swim the creek. I wouldn’t follow, but my younger brother Bill decided to try.
He dove in, and the water carried him down stream until it took him under an overhanging tree branch. He caught hold of the limb, and hung on until Lon could swim down and get him. We went home and changed into dry clothes. Mom and Dad never knew anything had happened. They just thought we were wet from playing in the rain.
On Saturdays Dad and Mom would hook up the wagon, pick up any neighbors that wanted to go, and drive into Tahlequah to buy staples, — flour, sugar, coffee, and such — things we couldn't grow on the farm. Dad would assign us work to do while he was gone. We’d work like crazy to get finished and have some play time before they came home.
One Saturday we climbed the persimmon trees and sat up there like monkeys eating persimmons. For some reason, maybe the limb broke, Lon fell out of the tree and hit his head on some rocks below. He was out for quite a while. We thought for sure that he was dead. Needless to say, we were forbidden to climb the trees when the folks were gone.
I learned early in life that it never pays to brag on yourself. I was about five or six we were walking home from school — walking cross an open field — and I was saying to the other kids that if a wild bull came along I would just knock him in the head with a rock and keep on going. I hadn't much more than got the words out of my mouth when here came an old bull, bellowing, pawing dirt, acting mad. I was the first one up a tree. To this day, I haven’t lived that down.
My dad made sorghum molasses until he died. After the juice was squeezed out of the stalks, the pummys, as the stalks were called, were piled up in rows six to ten feet high and left to dry. They were winter feed for the cows and horses.
It was a big no-no to climb on top of the rows — to run races to see who could stay on the longest without falling off. So guess what one of our favorite Saturday games was — when Mom and Dad were gone.
When World War II broke out, everyone, including the children, started taking life more serious. Dad started working at the powder plant in Pryor, Oklahoma, and did the farming on weekends. Later on he and my older sister, Opal, who was sixteen at the time, went to work at a foundry in Tulsa. Later Mom also went to work — making tents for the military.
Both of Mom’s brothers were in the army overseas. I was twelve years old at the time, and became the family babysitter. At one time I was babysitting five kids, all under school age. My wage was $2.50 per week. I saved my money until I had $15.00, then I bought some pigs. I figured I would become a financial whiz with my hog business. I don't remember what happened to my hogs or my money.
I guess you can tell I was quite a tomboy and would fight at the drop of a hat. Once when I was in grade school a neighbor girl threw a rock, and cut a big gash in my head. I picked up a whole lap full of rocks and threw them at her all the way till she ran in her front door. I guess those Enke genes just kept on flowing.
As I read Aunt Lillie's story of her growing up years, it reminded me so much of my own child hood. Yes, life was rough. But we had experiences that would help us through a lot of hard times, when others would probably fall. And I for one would never want to go back to the "good ole days".
In 1947 my maternal grandfather, Sam Freeman, passed away. And we moved to Hulbert, Oklahoma. Then in 1948 I got married and moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma. I worked at the same Swift meat company that one of your other relatives worked at.
I didn't get to be around Aunt Lillie much as I grew up. I guess she had already moved away. I did get to meet her in 1987 at the family reunion in Hulbert, Oklahoma. And I had a nice, long telephone talk with her a few weeks ago. I know I missed a lot by not being around her. I feel we’re kindred spirits.
I live in Wagoner, Oklahoma now. I moved here in 1989, and brought Mom here to live with me until she died, January 30, 1998 — at the age of 94.
I have three children. A boy named John — retired from the Navy and living in Pennsylvania; a daughter, Linda, living in Wyoming; and my youngest daughter, Brenda, and her family, lives with me in Wagoner. I adopted 3 boys — Joey, Robert, and Justin. And I've cared for so many foster children I've lost count — thirty five or forty the last time I tried to put a number on them.
If I don't hush and get this in the mail you’ll never get it. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Give my love to Aunt Lillie, and sure wish we could visit face to face in the near future.
Your Cousin Zona