THE LIFE STORY OF HAZEL IRENE BARGDILL

I was born April 9, 1924, the eighth child of Hendrix or H.D. and Dorcas Messer Smith.  We lived nine miles northwest of Stroud, Oklahoma in Lincoln County, School District 30, called Baker School.  This school was the next place of importance to me after my home.

Two sisters and a brother, the first born in Kentucky, died.  The second, a girl, Georgia Mae lived to be something a little over a year old.  A brother Marcus died one week after his twelfth birthday.  Georgia Mae was buried on Grandfather Smith’s Farm near Davenport, Oklahoma.  She was the first one buried there and it became a family grave yard in that area for both the Smith and Messer families.  It is around an acre of land and I don’t think at this time there is very little space if any for more to be buried there.

Getting back to my family, Jesse my oldest brother that I knew, was born in 1910.  He lived until 1972.  Marie was born in 1913 and lived until 2000 and was the last one to be buried in the family cemetery.  Clayton was born in 1915 and died in California when he was 78.

Lora, my next oldest sister, was born in 1920 and is living in the State of Washington and had her 86th birthday June 21.   Sharlene, the youngest sister was born in 1927 and died in 1988 in Florida.

Our home was an 160 acre farm, one half mile square of land.  The land in Oklahoma was surveyed in 1 mile square sections and the roads for the most part went around each of the square mile sections of land.  So when directions were given to people it was, say, so many miles north, east, south or west to travel, or parts of miles.

As you already know, my father was a farmer and I think had a comfortable life the years before I was born.  Considering the dependents he had we were given our jobs to do as we grew up and we were responsible that they were done.

Our first task, I assume for all of us, was probably seeing that the stove wood was in the house for the fires.  In summer time wood was used to cook with.  So this was a daily job and sometimes more than once a day.  In winter time wood had to be carried in to heat the heating stove.

When I was around eight I learned to milk cows.  Thereafter it was helping with the milking, feeding calves, and other jobs.  I guess I started working some in the fields hoeing the weeds in the fields in the summer about this time also.

I started to school when I was five years old.  The school was one and a forth miles north of home.  So we walked the distance to school and back after school let out at four p.m.

I don’t seem to remember much about my brother Jesse,  He was married I think about the time I started to school, in October 1929.  This was the year of the big crash financially in the nation.

I remember a few things before I went to school.

One event was a big hail storm.  They told it was in June 1927.  The hail, some of it, weighed about a pound.  Dad had to put a new roof of shingles on the house.  Another building was destroyed.  I remember the hail stones coming into the house.  My father and mother were holding my baby sister and were sitting against the bedroom door in the living room.  And mother was praying.  She told me and my sister Lora and cousin visiting us to get in under the bed that was in the living room.  Seemingly it wasn’t a very long time.  I know it made an imprint on my mind.  I can say to know a storm was coming was very hard for me to keep calm even till this day.  I’ve heard all the crops were beaten down.  Cattle and livestock were beaten to death.

Then came the drought years and the sand storms.  We did not have a real good life.  Many people went to bed hungry but I can’t remember missing a meal.  One year I remember my father didn’t have any hay to winter the cows and horses on.  Just a little corn fodder that he fed out during a snow.  The cows all went dry.  I was able to stop in at the neighbors and help with the milking and in return they gave me milk to take home for our use.  In early spring some oats came up and that helped get the cattle through till grass was growing.

I became a Christian when I was around eleven years old, soon after my Grandmother, Martha Walker Messer, passed away.  I still remember some of the words spoken by Reverend Wright at her funeral.

Reverend Wright was like a family member.  He had been a close neighbor of ours when I first knew him.  Later he sold his farm and moved into a town called Avery.  He I don’t think ever drove a car.  His older children while they were still home drove him to church.  Then when they were no longer home he would walk the 4 or 5 miles, staying over till after evening services and walking home.  Not many of the people had automobiles or anyway they seldom would take him home.

He was at our home mostly for the time spent after the morning worship until time for the evening services.  Sometimes he stayed over night going home on Monday morning.   He was well liked by everyone.  The evening services were well attended.  Not so many were there on Sunday mornings.  On special Sundays we always had a crowd and many would come to attend who had moved away.

It was my privilege to be back and attend services a few times.  I not only was able to see Brother Wright but able to see my teacher in grade school.  She married a local man and they lived in the community.  In fact Brother Wright and my teacher Margaret Hopkins were present at the funerals of my mother and father.  My mother died in 1956.  My father lived eleven years after mother passed away.  He lived with my sister Lora for some years after mother passed away.  Later he came back to Oklahoma and lived with Marie.

My parents moved to Ohio, along with my sister Marie and her first husband Roland in 1939.  Roland died in 1942.  Marie and her son Harold moved to California with my parents later that year.

Robert and I lived in Ohio after we married May 24, 1942.  Sharon, our daughter, was born in Ohio in 1944.  We lived several different places there.  In December 1945 we moved to Martinsville to a home we bought.  Roger was born in February 1946.  Bob’s health became very poorly.  We sold it and in late 1946 we moved to Arkansas, living part of the time in Fayetteville.  I was not well either.  My sister Marie had remarried in California and her husband and she came to live in his home in Arkansas.

A few years later, when we were back on our feet, we moved back to Ohio and lived there on a farm.   We belonged to the Westboro Friends Church.  My husband Bob and I both loved music; he often played the piano and was a good singer.  Our pastor, Mary Cochran, is now retired and still lives there and I count her as one of my dearest friends.  We are able to talk on the phone and I went to visit her in the spring.   My husband died in 1993.

In early 2000 I came to Maryland, southeast of Washington D.C. to live with my daughter Sharon and her husband Lewis O. Moon.  Later that spring Sharon’s son Brendan married his wife Jackie.  We also went to his brother Jeremy’s college graduation.  Soon after, I started going to Lakeside Methodist Church with Brendan and Jackie.  Since coming to Maryland I have had six major surgeries.  I also attended my 60th high school reunion in Ohio in 2002.

Brendan and Jackie had two twin daughters, Emily and Annabelle, in April 2004.  Jeremy and Bryan moved to Washington D.C. in 2004 after they graduated from school in Syracuse.  They also come to visit me when they can.   I was 82 on April 9, 2006.

Since I have lived in Maryland Roger and his wife Nancy have visited me many times.  They now live in Norfolk, Virginia.  During my illness they have come up a lot to help Sharon and Lewis take care of me.

God has granted me a long life and the nearness of my children and their families.  I have been preparing my whole life for this and am ready to be with the Lord.

mother 2004, april-1

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