Ben and Virgie Winkler


        The Winklers lived across Caney Creek in “The Cove,” an area bounded by the creek on the north and the river on the west. Milton Smith had a farm there. Eight or nine families, including Doss and May Neal with three sons, were neighbors. They called the road on the east, running near Johnson cemetery, “Carter Lane”.           

        Will Winkler (1869-1913) was born in St. Louis, the son of German shoemaker, Henrich Wilhelm of Wurttemberg, who arrived in New Orleans, aged twenty, on June 18, 1857. (A brother, Ralph, born in Illinois, was buried at Mulberry in 1884, aged about six. Brother Joe in the Texas Rangers may have avenged Ralph’s death.) Will crossed the river on a ferry to meet Martha Cook whom he married in April 1894. All their children were born in The Cove. Before Will died of TB, he advised his wife, “Martha, buy a place because a woman can’t rent.” She used his Woodman insurance; it was 119 acres two miles west of Ravenna. Edward was thirteen when his father died. To help make a payment, he carried Martha’s cotton sack over “middles” full of water. “She had seven sons and buried four.” An oft-told story recounts the sheriff waiting for Martha to reach the end of her row to ask the whereabouts of Ben. He was wanted on suspicion of involvement in a bank robbery in Grand Prairie, “with Bonnie and Clyde”. Ben and Virgie Lee (Kight) moved from the Rainey Flat in 1942 to Farm Unit No. 20 in Mulberry. Edward married Lilly Bryson in 1922; they returned to the Cove in 1929. Granddaughters treasure their lives in Martha’s  home: “She always spoke of him with deep affection, ‘My sweet Will....’”

Will and Martha Winkler (about 1906)

with children (from left) Ben, Roy, Pearl, Walt and Ed

Another day, another visitor
came, looking for Ralph Winkler’s grave in Mulberry. Then she let me copy the letter Ruby (Blanton) Winkler wrote to Ben on July 10, 1925. His wife at that time, Ruby died December 12th that year. John William, a son aged three, had died the year before of TB. Ben left two daughters with Grandmother Martha Winkler.

photo: Ben Winkler (left) in The Cove

Bennington Okla

Mr. Ben

     Dearest Ben. I will drop you a few lines [?] me like I was ok. Say I am so lonesome I cant hardly see straight since you left. Wild Ben if you can get off after me come as soon as you can for the more I think of coming home the more I want to. last night the boys had it around. they went to a dance got home at 1 o’clock and bucked and raired for a hour. I like to never got any sleep. [?] so awfull, but Dear I cant help it. It is just to bad for Brothers to do like that Will did Willie. come back or not rite me unless you come in the few days.  say Dear that man had to come after his tank. Less wouldnt let Eddie have the horse to get the mules up and wouldnent go after them his self. I have done told mama I was going home. she dont want me to go but I cant stay here among this. It would be alright wasent for the boys. I feel so sorry for mama. poor thing gets a cursin every time the boys hit the house. I tried to talk to Less last night and he got mad at me. said few hard thing but I dont care. he is the one that will suffer for it not me. I am so glad god [?] every one answer for his own sin. Dear come when you can. I am so blue to day but I guess it is for the best. now when you come you dont let mama know I rote and tell you to come for she is worried enough with out me wearing her any. oh it is awfull. I think it is best for me and her for me to go home because she [?] and needs a little rest. if you come after me you come in a car and fix it to where I can lay down in the back seat. I have got plenty of quilts to make a bed for me. as you come stop at Caddo and ask Dr. Dale about it. now be sure and do that for I dont want to do any thing that will set me back. as I told you Dear I will do my best so be good untill I see you


or at least as good as you can. I know you cant be perfic without God. but you can do your best and by doing that you may some day be all rite. forget all evel thing and lean to the things that are rite. My love and prours are your and our home. may god bless each of us, and all that needs his love.

So good by.

Ruby was a daughter of John E. A. Blanton, son of Rev. Benjamin Franklin Blanton (CSA veteran) who married Sarah Lucretia Boone in Fannin County in 1861. Sarah’s mother was Virginia E. M. Crenshaw who married Joseph R. Boone in Independence, MO. Virginia’s mother was Eleanor Green Lane whose father was Aaron Lane of Fairfax Co., VA, and Culpepper Co., VA, and a cousin of George Washington.

Old Aaron played with George Washington as a young boy. Aaron married one of his cousins, Eleanor Green whose father was Robert Green and who served George Washington as an aide during the Revolutionary War. Robert Green’s wife was George Washington’s first cousin, Mary “Patty” Ball, daughter of Henry Samuel Ball, Washington’s uncle.

            —Ruth Hasten Walsh