From an article Old Timer of the Week written by Helen Hedgepath for the Healton Herald and Wilson Post-Democrat in Carter County, Oklahoma:
October 11, 1979 JETTIE JOHNSON Story Told Our old timer this week has a lifetime story of hard work, and at age 80, she still keeps busy piecing quilts. This week honor JETTIE NAVADA JOHNSON as our Old Timer of the week.
Jettie was born Feb. 28, 1899 near Wagoner, Oklahoma. She was one of eight children born to SNOWDEN and MARY HALFORD DALLAS. Her parents were both from St. Claire County, Missouri. Jettie has one brother still living, TOM DALLAS, age 86, living at Midwest City. In her early years, her family lived in Colorado and her father worked in the beet harvest. She recalled her father and one brother returning to Oklahoma by covered wagon and the rest of the wagon rode the train home. She attended her first school at the old one room Foist Hill School, near Atoka. They lived there about four years and later lived in Caney, Clayton and Wapanucka.
She told of living in a tent and the covered wagon, the years her family moved around so much. Her father did farm work for awhile, then they started clearing land and they lived in a saw mill camp near Wapanucka. Her father had several men working for him at the sawmill where they made telegraph poles and wagon “fellies,” the rims of a spoked wheel. It was while they were living at the sawmill camp that she first met her husband-to-be, THOMAS BERRY JOHNSON. She told of the first time she saw him, he was walking down the rods wearing overalls, jumper and boots. His “slippers” were hanging out of his back pocket. She and a girl friend were in the road trying to ride a goat that her family owned.
Later in the day, she and her friend were in the house playing the organ and singing when her father called to her to “be a little quieter.” She went to the kitchen and found father feeding the young man. He had hired him to work in the sawmill. Jettie was only 14, but in August 1913, she and Tom Johnson married. They drove a wagon to Caney and were married under a brush arbor at the close of the evening services. They lived with her parents for awhile then moved to Wells Valley where they lived in a tent and Tom cleared land for her father.
They moved back with her parents when their first child was born. She and Tom had three children, WILLIS “BILL” JOHNSON who lives north of Healdton; BOB JOHNSON now deceased and lived in California, and MARY who married JOHN KILCREASE of Graham. Jettie has ten grandchildren: TONY JOHNSON of Perryton, Texas; MARY LOU of Washington; BETTY LOU in California, BOBBY RAY JOHNSON in Arizona. Her daughter Mary has JOE LEE KILCREASE of Fox, BILLY LOU KILCREASE of Healdton, TOMMIE FAY DARTEY, JOHNNIE SUE FLETCHER and KENNETH KILCREASE of Graham, and MAX RAY KILCREASE of Hominy.
She told of living near Ninnekah in the 1920’s and losing everything they owned in a cyclone. She laughed about living in a tent. She didn’t have a pan or bowl to mix her biscuits, so she put her open sack of flour “up against a sapling tree,” dug a hole in the flour and mixed the biscuits. Someone had given her a fry pan and she fired the biscuits on a camp fire.
She recalled the Depression years. She told of making all her children’s clothes, canning meat and vegetables. She recalld making W.P.A. mattresses. She sewed the ticking at home and went to Ardmore to tack the mattresses. Before this time, she told of using straw mattresses with a feather bed on top of the straw. Everybody in those days had a bed in the living room.
Jettie and her husband lived in California during WWII. He worked on a ranch while she chopped and picked cotton, did house work and worked at a school cafeteria. They returned to Oklahoma after the war and moved to Graham. During this time, her husband developed a heart condition and Jettie had to make the living. She began doing housework in Healdton. Some of the families she worked for were: EARL and ILA MAE FAULKNER, MADALINE BLEVINS and her mother Mrs. MASSAD, MARTHA OLIVER, NINA MURPHY, SAM and JOYCE CARSON, ROSE HENSON, VIVIAN THOMAS, JEROME and ZIPPY ABELS, and MARTHA TREADWELL. She stayed with Grandma ANDERSON for several years, grandmother of VERNA MAE BRAY and JUNE FEATHERSTON. She has fond memories of each of the homes where she worked.
Jettie says she has cut lots of wood in her lifetime and has cooked many a meal on a woodstove. She washed clothes on a rub board when they heated the water in a black iron kettle outside. She told that she has scalded and butchered hogs, carried water from the springs to her house and says she has lived in some good rent houses and some bad ones! Jettie attended the Pentecostal Holiness Church and is truly a “good” woman.
Although her life has been one of hard work, and she is crippled now with arthritis, she has such a pleasant, sweet outlook on life.