Birdie

 

    Mulberry’s Bramletts arrived in 1900. In Mississippi during the Civil War, Samuel Cole Bramlett (born 1861) was a young boy living near a wood. Odie, his grand daughter, remembered his telling of a “knocking,” and how he started to feel afraid. Then he realized the sound came from inside a tree, “and the tree had a door .” When Sam went closer and called out, a soldier opened the door and said he was starving. If he were found he’d be shot. Sam went home and asked his mother for a biscuit with molasses on it. The next day when he went to the tree again, Sam took his mother. No one in Mulberry seemed to know what happened to....


    1911 April 10: Mrs. McCrummen (whose husband hauled the lumber and built the pew
s for the church) deeded 277 acres to Samuel and M. F. “Dock” Bramlett for $1,400, adjoining “...a tract of land sold by me to John F. Hall.”

   

    Born the same year—1900—Mandy Parks and Jubie Bramlett were “inseparable”. Mrs Bramlett was Hattie with two Vaughn brothers. Sam had four brothers: John Franklin, Thomas Hugh, Madison Fountain “Dock” and Frank Harrison. Their father, Hugh A. Bramlett, will die in 1906 and be buried at Mulberry. “Grandma Ann Vaught,” killed in the “cyclone” of 1919, was Hattie’s sister.


    photos: (above) Thomas Hugh, Madison Franklin “Dock”, and Samuel Bramlett (1905)

        (right) Hattie (Vaughn) Bramlett, with brothers, Andrew and Tom (standing)


    1901 November 22: (Bonham News) Mr. Syl Reed [son of Sylvanus and Emma] of Bonham, and Miss Edna Bramlett [daughter of John Franklin] of Mulberry were united in matrimonial bliss....


    Mandy loved visiting the Bramlett home in Mulberry bottom. “Mr. Bramlett was the best old man ever was, Mr. Dock, too. Mrs. Bramlett was a big, fat woman, jolly as could be. Son [Samuel] and Az [Asberry] were the boys; the girls were Cord, Birdie, Hudie, Myrtle and Jubie.... Every time I got there I’d be hungry. She [Mrs. Bramlett] kept a syrup bucket with holes punched in the lid, full of biscuits. They’d be warm in the reservoir. I always had to have a biscuit with a piece of ham.”

    Henry Boyd, “older than Birdie,” was gathering corn on the river one evening with the Bramlett men. He didn’t return, was never heard of again, never saw Odie; her name was Odie Boyd. Birdie will marry Oscar Blankenship; they have two sons named for Birdie’s brothers, Samuel and Asberry.


    The Bramlett men were summoned in the trial of Thurmond and Rosie Ford for the murder of Lena Pendergrass (1902), and Maude Bramlett remembered the story. After the “cyclone” (1919) the Bramletts lived in tents on the floor of their old home till a new house, in the prevailing “style” of that time, could be built.


    1932 September 30: Hattie Bramlett died. Funeral costs necessitated “a second mortgage” on the home place. The first had already meant “division”. Since Sam and D
ock bought the land together and might lose all, Dock, unmarried, “took the loss, understanding he would always have a home”.

    Birdie Blankenship’s two-room house, built after the cyclone, was also in jeopardy. Her father and brothers wanted to move it, but she wouldn’t agree, saying, “They wouldn’t take a widow-woman’s home”. (Oscar had died early in 1919.) But they did and, with her three children, she moved to a remote place on the Bramlett farm.

    After her mother’s death, “Jubie became hard”. Her marriage to “the Marshall man” had ended; she went to work at the Ravenna gin and helped pay off the undertaker’s note.


    “Miss” Birdie had “stayed” with Hattie Parks at one point, to help the widow. She asked one of her sons, Asberry or Samuel, to buy her some snuff. When John Parks heard, he told Miss Birdie, “Just let me know,” but Zona said no, it wasn’t in the agreement; they wouldn’t be spending on any extras for Miss Bird.


    photos: (above) Jubie; (right) Birdie (Bramlett) Blankenship


    “Miss” Birdie stayed one memorable day with me too. I was about five, so it was probably ‘41. “Elect
ricity” had come, the REA, I know, because later that day when a storm came up, we were surprised that “it” didn’t go off. My daddy sat calmly reading in his chair, and the light didn’t go out.

    Miss Birdie had told me that morning how she’d lived through the Mulberry cyclone, and that her house was “blown off it’s blocks,” and I laughed because I imagined a house “flying through the air” to land safe and whole somewhere else. I had laughed, so Miss Birdie reminded me it “wasn’t so funny,” was it? when whole pieces of sheet-iron, or tin, from the barn up south, losing its roof, came tumbling across the field in the wind to slap against our house. My mother hadn’t come home yet from teaching school at Mulberry, and I was worried about her too. So I cried and promised never to laugh at Miss Birdie again.

   


    Around 1915, Odie’s stepfather, Oscar Blankenship (pictured below with Birdie), was operating the ferry on Red River. He had
moved the family to a house on the bank opposite Mulberry, “...just as it starts to rise. One day a man came and asked to be taken across, but he didn’t have the ten-cent toll. He said he was hungry. My daddy [Odie always said “my daddy”] took him across and told him mamma would give him something to eat. Mamma had just mopped the kitchen. She put down newspaper and walked over the wet floor. After he ate the man told her it’d be a long time before he had as good a meal again, and left. Then a sheriff’s deputy came up and asked my daddy if he’d taken a man across. He questioned mamma. When the deputy and the man came back, they stopped and the man told the deputy about the meal mamma gave him. We never did know what he was wanted for.”


    Odie:  After the cyclone, with the assistance “mamma” received, she built a small house “for us” not far from the Bramletts’ new house. “Asberry planted a tree in front.” As the years passed, he “buried nine dogs” under that tree. His “last dog” was run over by Willie Hall, who didn’t stop. “So Asberry waved him down on his way out, and said, ‘You ran over my dog.’ Without a word, Willie drove on.”

    Odie was picking cotton on the Hall place with Samuel and Asberry. The stalks were loaded with masses of bolls open for easy picking. Odie was on two rows. “Sambo was doing pretty well with his row, but Asberry was looking at every bird that flew over. Mr. Hall came riding up on the horse he called Old Dolly, very fat and black. He asked the boys if they had weighed up any cotton yet. They said ‘Not yet.’ He said they ought to do it pretty soon because the day was nearly done, and when he turned to leave, Old Dolly’s backside knocked over some cotton stalks that had been standing up so nice. Asberry said, ‘Mr. Hall, the next time you come in the cotton field you’d better leave Old Dolly at home.’ I cringed, but Mr. Hall just laughed, ‘Why boy! I can’t do that. I wouldn’t be able to get out here without Old Dolly.’”


    1935 June 7: (Bonham Daily Favorite) Two Fannin Men Charged in Murder ...Two men named
Blankenship living near Mulberry were arrested Thursday near Hugo, Okla, and placed in jail on a charge of beating to death another man named Dixon. It is stated that the trouble occurred on a farm in Choctaw county. The men were being held in jail in Hugo.



photo: Asberry Blankenship (two views)





Day of Fatal Difficulty


    1935 June 6:  [The Hugo (Oklahoma) Daily News]  Two Held in Man’s Death at Ft. Towson.  Murder charges are expected to be filed against two men arrested Tuesday night for an attack on C. D. Dickson, 52, of Fort Towson, Okla.... The two men who are brothers....

    Dickson, who had been superintendent of the farm near Fort Towson...his skull being fractured....

    1935 June 6:  “Complaint”—In Court...County Judge.... State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff vs. Ausberry Blankenship and Samuel Blankenship, Defendants.... Cap Duncan...being duly sworn...on or about the 3rd day of June, 1935 Osbury [Asberry, variously spelled in court also as Ausberry] Blankenship & Samuel Blankenship...did...willfully, unlawfully commit the offense of Murder...acting together...and with a premeditated intent to effect the death of Clay R. Dickson by...making an assault...striking, hitting...stomping with the feet the said person... and by inflicting grievous wounds...from the effects...the said Dickson did linger and die....

    1935 June 24:  “Affidavit”—Asbury [Asberry] Blankenship being duly sworn...one of the defendants.... That on the day of the fatal difficulty, between him and Clay Dickson, he spoke to him, Dickson, about a wrong he had done his mother; that before this difficulty his mother, Mrs. Blankenship had told him Clay Dickson had assaulted her, and on this day when he spoke to him about it, Dickson, made fight at him and that he knocked Dickson down and stomped him, and from which wound he afterwards died. That the other defendant, Sambo Blankenship had nothing to do with the assault. That the defendant, Asberry Blankenship, was beside himself when he considered the wrong that had been done his mother, and when the man made fight at him when accosted of the wrong.

    Signed by A. B. Blankenship.  “The facts stated in the above instrument are true.” Signed also by Sam Blankenship. Asberry and Samuel Blankenship were grandsons of Sam and Hattie Bramlett of Mulberry. Their mother Bird married Oscar Blankenship after Henry Boyd disappeared. Odie Boyd Crumby said Dickson had room and board with her mother and Asberry. Asberry had gone to town for groceries when it came a big rain; he was late getting home because of flooded streams. When his mother told him what had happened he called his brother Samuel. They confronted Dickson after a meal together; both refused to say which one struck the fatal blow. Samuel was married at the time and had a child. 

    1935 November 12:  “Exhibit A.  Affidavit for Continuance”...The evidence of one Mrs. Birdie Blankenship, who is a material witness in the case...witness was ready and willing to be present in court...witness resides at Mulberry, Texas...not necessary to subpoena...was ready and willing and would have been here but for the fact that [she] unexpectedly became ill and at this time is confined to her bed at her residence in Mulberry, Fannin County, Texas...he expects to prove the following facts by said witness, to-wit:

    That said witness, Mrs. Birdie Blankenship and the defendant Asberry Blankenship were living on the Van Dyke farm in Choctaw County, Oklahoma at the time of the alleged offense in this prosecution. That his mother was keeping house for him while he was making a crop. That in March preceding the events...Clay Dickson, the deceased, came to board at this defendant’s and his mother’s home. That on or about the 29th day of May, 1935, the said witness Mrs. Birdie Blankenship was alone at her residence and defendant’s home and that the deceased, Clay Dickson, ate his supper there with the witness, Mrs. Birdie Blankenship, and that sometime later that night, about nine or nine-thirty, the said deceased came into the room of the said Birdie Blankenship, mother of this defendant and made an attack on her; just as she blew out the light and started to bed.... That she struggled with him and he said: “The boy hasn’t come in yet, has he?” and witness said: “No, but he will be in,” and that the deceased then said, “If he comes in I will kill him, and if you or he says anything about what I do, I will kill you both.” That he held her and his hands felt like fire...that was the last thing that she definitely remembers, except that it seemed like a storm...and did not remember anything else until she woke up Thursday morning when she came to herself...that she stayed around the house until sometime in the afternoon when her son Asberry Blankenship came in. That she mentioned Mr. Dickson to her son and then she ducked her head and started crying; that her son asked her what the trouble was, and she began to cry and finally told....

    That said witness would further testify that Asberry Blankenship then said he would go to Hugo to get a way to move her out of the bottom and fix it so she could see a Doctor.... That she left for Texas on Sunday afternoon. That she had again told the defendant, Asberry Blankenship, to be careful because Dickson said he was going to kill him.

   

    1935 November 11:  “Exhibit B.  Dr. J. T. Knight, Affidavit”—Ravenna, Texas.... This is to certify that I was again called to see Mrs. Bird Blankenship this morning and that she is in bed, unable to sit up; my best judgment is she will be down for several days and that she cannot safely appear in court. [Signed]  J. T. Knight, M. D. [Signed]  John Palmore, Notary Public.

    1935 November 15:  (Bonham Daily Favorite)  Fannin Co. Folks Interested in Trial at Hugo, Okla. Nov. 14. Brought into the courtroom here on a cot Wednesday, Mrs. Birdie Blankenship, ill the past three weeks, testified...and made threats against her and her son if she told of the attack....

    Several character witnesses testified in behalf of the defendant. His brother, Samuel Blankenship, charged jointly, has been granted severance.... The woman and her two sons have been living at Mulberry in Fannin County, Texas, their old home, since the two defendants were allowed bond....

    1935 November 15:  (Hugo Daily News)  Jury Finds Man Guilty of Murder.  4-Year Penalty Given Blankenship By Jury Today.


    photo: Family together (1946), including (from left) Audrey Cain, married Myrtle Bramlett; Jack Crumby, married Odie; Audrey Cain (back), son of Alva; Jubie (above); Margaret (Venable) holding child, married Audrey; Lois, Sam, Birdie, “Dock”, Odie (at back). (3 unknown to me)







“Dock” and Sam Bramlett at home

My Diary:

January 1, 1951: “Mr. Sam Bramlett was buried today.”

September 28, 1952: “Mr. Dock Bramlett died last night.


photo (below): Jubie Bramlett




“Miss Jubie”


The first visit of the Africans to Mulberry (1965) was so successful that

Operation Crossroads sent a second group to Austin College the following year, accompanied by a film crew from the United States Information Service.

The visitors talked with Miss Jubie on Red River,

and brought close in the camera’s view her wrinkled face,

like leather.


1967 July 11:

(Gladys, to Gregory in London)  ... Bernice said Jubie told them all about being in the African movie.  She said, “I never was so tired in all my life.  They would say, ‘Now, Miss Jubie, reel it in,’” and, she said, “My hand got so tired.”  She told Bernice and Son what happened that she didn’t get to see the picture.  Bernice said she said, “I never hated anything so bad in my life.”  And that sounds just like Jubie.