A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The Powder Horn
by Rosemary Eskridge (Jan 2010)

        One day my brother, Frank announced, “I am dividing our family tree into seven branches. Each of the seven children will take one family line and research it so that we won’t duplicate the work needed to complete our family history.” I was assigned my great-grandfather, Delaney Elliott, and his wife, Louesa Caroline Baker.

        We knew they had been born in Missouri and had been married in Texas County, Missouri. I knew that Delaney Elliott had lived in a covered wagon and sold sugar to the Indians in the Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state. Family tradition said that his wife Louesa with her thirteen children had moved to New Mexico to be near her family. No other information had been located.

        Over a period of about thirty years, I frequented libraries and checked out old newspapers, census records, and property records. I continually met dead ends. My siblings were sailing through data like it was poured milk through a sieve, but my Bakers and Elliotts had eluded every aspect of my research.

        One day when my mom, Christene, was visiting from West Texas, she said “How about traveling to Calvin, Oklahoma (a small town of about 600 people) and attempt to locate information at the cemetery or court house?”

        The trip took my mother, my husband Gordon, and I about three hours. Upon arriving, we went to the very small cemetery and found a few Elliotts and Bakers but nothing that connected our family to these names. We drove to the courthouse. As we parked we noticed several elderly gentlemen sitting in the shade by the courthouse door playing checkers. My mom said, “Maybe one of those gentlemen would help us locate someone by the name of Elliott.”

        As we nervously approached the men, my husband Gordon spoke to the men and asked, “Does anyone here know of a family by the name of Elliott?”

        A very tall, slender man stood up and said, “My name is Tom Elliott, what do you want to know?”

        Surprised at finding him, I told him, “We are looking for information on Delaney Joel Elliott.”

        Tom informed us that he was Delaney’s nephew. He invited us to come to his home. When we were sitting in his living room, he brought out a powder horn that Delaney had made from the horn of a bull owned by the family. Tom told us, “Delaney lived with my family when I was a child. He made this powder horn for me.” Tom showed us where my great-grandfather had carved Delaney’s name and birth date on the power horn. Tom continued “When Delaney died, I carved his death date underneath his birth date.”

        We photographed the powder horn and were extremely grateful to have shared a moment of history with my great-grandfather’s gift to his nephew. Returning to Oklahoma City’s Genealogical Library, I quickly went to the newspaper section and checked for his death date. I found an obituary that read: “An uncle of Tom Elliott died.”


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