[Article found in the Lena Wills Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University); first line indicates it’s from 1972, presumable from Springfield News Leader..]


over the OZARKS with our historians, writers and poets                  edited by Jean Davies



(Part I)

                It was another big day for the oldsters at Wheatland Baptist Church with some 160 people present on Sept. 3, 1972.

                Irvin Allen was again our MC and, with his tape recorder, interviewed the honored guests. He gave the opening remarks and Mrs. Fronia Crain, 83, of Goodson, gave the invocation. The audience then sang, "Where We'll Never Grow Old" and it sounded like they meant every word of  it.

                Our afternoon program was most enjoyable. Mrs. Zilpha Murphy, 87, gave a reading about grandmothers, Mrs. Leota Berkebile, 84, of Weaubleau, gave a short reading and Mrs. Docia Donovan, 80, read a poem, "Old Friends." Mrs. May Celoder, 80, of Weaubleau, sand "In the Garden" in memory of her uncle and aunt, Ira and Lou Moore, who were regular attendants for many years.

                Mrs. May Johnson, 83, of Humansville, sang, "Shall we Gather at the River" without accompaniment and no glasses. Mrs. Alice Butler, and looking well for her 99 years, sang "Amazing Grace" with Mrs. Maude DeArtley of Centerview singing with her. Alice and Mrs. Bessie Kirk had always sung together, but Bessie passed away last Jan.30. She would have been 80 in September. Bobby and Joy Miller, two of Mrs. Johnson's grandchildren, sang for us, too.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Neil Breshears and Lanny Smith, young men from Fristoe, were asked to sing while the refreshments of delicious homemade cookies, ice cream and punch were served. Lanny plays the piano and they both sang gospel songs, which were greatly enjoyred.

                Mrs. May Johnson lives with her daughter, Ruth, on a farm. She does not look a day older than the first time she attended our program. She sings a number for us each year. Her other daughter and husband, Dorothy and Roy Saunders, came this year, also a niece and husband, so May's family was well represented.

                Mrs. Zilla Jones of Clinton was 91 in January. She loves to come back to Wheatland, her old home, and see so many friends. Her daughter, Zenith Newell, lives nearby and brought her. They stayed until Tuesday visiting friends and relatives. She has a poem in store for us next year. She received the prize for being the oldest lady who lives alone.

                Mrs. Alice Butler was here for the 19th time, having never missed a meeting. She has been in the hospital a few times during the past year, but was able to join us and happy to be here. She had a niece and two nephews and their companions present who had been married 50 or more years. They are her only sister's children. Alice received the prize for the oldest lady. We enjoyed hearing her sing her song.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. Fannie (Hostetler) Allen, 88, of Weaubleau, came with her daughter, Eunice and Delbert Wheeler. Both are retired teachers and care for Fannie, who has been in the hospital several times the past year. I told her I had not expected to see her this year and she replied, "I meant to come all the time." We're so happy she did.

                Mrs. Adah (Hostetler) Allen, 81, has been here with her son, Irvin, for several years. She lived in the Butcher community for many years, moving to Weaubleau after her husband died. She has two sons and a daughter.

                Wave (Coffman) Allen, 83, now lives here in town and enjoys these events. She has had operations on her eyes and no longer drives. Her son, Gerald, and family were here from Independence so his wife's grandmother, Mrs. Georgia Herren, 86, of Independence, came, too. Wave attends church services and has been a faithful member of the Prairie Union Homemaker's Club. She lives alone here. Mrs. Herrer often comes with the Allens to visit Wave.

                Ollie (Ketchum) Arnold, 83, was able to attend this time. Her niece, Mrs. Lillie Mulkey, brought her. Ollie is in Oakhaven Rest Home at Warsaw and likes to get out to see her friends. She suffered a stroke several years ago and does not talk much, but knows and understands. Her nurse, Mrs. Louise Smith, came with her.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Leota (Kline) Berkebile, 81, who read a poem, lives alone at Weaubleau. Her daughter, Hallie Hargiss, lives at Warrensburg and is faithful to visit her mother and see to her needs. Leota is very alert and gets around very well.

                Clarence and Grace (Fellman) Blackwell, 83 and 84, respectively, have their own place in the south part of town. They do their own yard work, grow flowers and have a bountiful garden each year. Clarence still drives his car and went alone to attend the Baptist Association at Parrack Grove.

                Claude Blair, 83, of Fair Play came again this year. His wife, the former Cuba Smith, came with him. They are one of our golden wedding couples and have been married 51 years. Clarence was another of our past 80 drivers.

                Earl and Pearlie (Pitts) Brenner, 83 and 80, of Bolivar, also were with us again this year. He drove his '57 Pontiac and also brought Mrs. Ina (Allen) Davison, 85, who enjoyed visiting her childhood playmate, Mrs. Zilpha Murphy. Mrs. Brenner had the flu but she is better now.

                Mrs. Julia (Button) Breshears, 83, was at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Oryene Hunziker, near Avery and she brought her to our event. Julia is a double amputee, but it doesn't dampen her spirits. She got to see many she knew and hadn't seen for a long time. She makes her home with another daughter, Mrs. Roberta Herbert at Warrensburg.







(Part II)

                EDITOR'S NOTE: Each year "80 And Over" Day is held at the Baptist Church in Wheatland. It is an enjoyable time for all who attend, young and old. Mrs. Nannie Jinkens, who helps sponsor the event, is kind enough to inform us of the "goings-on." Tomorrow will conclude her annual report.

                Pat Chancellor, 86, had a cataract operation this summer but is doing nicely. He enjoys his home and had a nice early garden. Pat made another trip to California and Oregon and received the prize for the oldest person who had traveled the most miles. His son and wife have moved here and see about him often. Pat's sister, Mrs. Mary Robinett, 88, of Weaubleau, was here again. She is small, neat and trim — a lovely lady. Her son, Archie, and wife, Helen, of Pilot Grove, came with her as they did last year.

                Mrs. Fronia (Blcak) Crain, who gave our invocation, has been married 65 years, but her husband was unable to be with us. Her daughter, Mrs. Berniece Matthews, of Springfield, sees that she gets here each year. The Crains live in Goodson since retiring from the farm.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. May (Thompson) Delozier, 80, of Weaubleau, comes from a family of 14 children, 12 of whom reached adulthood. Eleven are still living. The oldest is 82 and the youngest 61. There were eight girls and four boys, a wonderful family.

                Mrs. Dosha (Crawford) Donovan, 81, is following in her mother's footsteps in giving readings. Last year she gave a long one from memory that she learned 50 years ago to recite at a pie supper. Her son, Harvey, of Independence, brought her.

                Mrs. Lena (Blackwell) Foltz, 83, still lives on her farm west of town. Her son Chester and wife Rosalie stay with her at night. She can't see well and does not do much, though she likes to come to church when she is able.




                Walter C. and Lena Haralson, of Springfield, joined us this time. They are 82 and 81, respectively. They carried away honors for the longest married couple, 63 years, and he was one of the past 80 drivers. Neither of them look their age. We were happy to have them with us.

                Mrs. Jessie (Dickerson) Hyatt, 82, moved to our county several years ago. Her son lives near her in his trailer. Her home is filled with many gadgets and novelties she has originated. She has raised quite a bunch of ducks this year. She also has hens and furnishes eggs for the Preston area. As I write this, she is in the hospital at Clinton, for minor surgery.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. May Johnson, 84, of Hermitage appeared in a pretty yellow dress. She has worked for the public most of her life, but retired a few years ago. She came with other ladies from Hermitage and said she had such a good time. She is in the hospital at Osceola at present but she was better at last report.

                Clarence Little, 80, of Cross Timbers, and his wife, Verdie (Cothern), have been attending for several years. This year they brought more folks with them. They had a store in Cross Timbers for many years, but retired several years ago and their son, W. C. and his wife take care of the store now. They are also one of our golden wedding couples, having been married 57 years August 8.

                Warder Maberry, 88, has moved his residence to a trailer near his daughter, Vivian, and her husband, Earnest Foltz, in the Hermitage area. He is fairly well for his years and attends church regularly where Earnest pastors the Bethel Assembly of God. Warder received the prize for the father with the most children and also for the oldest man who lives alone.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. Carrie (Acker) Mabry, 82, Weaubleau, lives alone in the lovely home of her late parents who were early prairie settlers. The Acker home was a social center in the fall when the apples ripened and neighbors were invited in for cider and cookies. Carrie, who has a musical education, always delighted everyone by playing the piano. She still has her piano, but arthritis prevents her from playing. She still drives, though, and has a new auto. Carrie remembers attending the World's Fair in St. Louis with her father when she was about 14.

                Mrs. Emma (Darby) Matthews, 81, of Halfway, enjoys these events with friends and relatives. Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Eddie Matthews, of Springfield, brings her each year along with her own mother, Mrs. Crain. Emma  has been a widow several years and moved from her farm to a trailer in her daughter's yard. She loves to stay until the last and see everyone.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Z. O. McCracken, 83, and his wife, Stella (Button), 82, came for the first time this year. They have been married 60 years, April 12, and have lived on the same farm in the Elkton area for 48 years. They plan to move to a new home in El Dorado Springs this week, as they have sold their farm. They have a son, Amie [Arnie?], in Arizona, and she has a daughter who is a missionary in South America. Mr. McCracken was another of our 80 year old drivers.

                Mrs. Annie (Feltman) Mitchell, 81, of Preston is doing well after a broken hip last year. Her sister, Mrs. Grace Blackwell, cared for her. Grace did a good job for Annie seemed fine and was happy to be with us.

                Mrs. Ellen (Fisher) Morgan, 88, of Preston, also came for the first time. She went to church that morning with a neighbor who invited her out for dinner. Then, as a surprise, Mrs. Eveline Tiderman and Mrs. Margaret Lindstrom brought her to our event. Ellen lives alone on a farm and has a nice comfortable home. She has been a widow about 10 years and still has her car, though she no longer drives.

                Mrs. Zilpha (Fisher) Murphy, 87, has been away for several months in the home of her daughters, but is now back in Wheatland and living with Mrs. Delia Fields. She fell recently and broke her left arm, but was soon back home. Her son, Fisher, visits her nearly every day.








                EDITOR'S NOTE: Today concludes the report of the annual "80 And Over" Day held each September at Wheatland Baptist Church.

                Hugh Owsley, 83, lives in the south part of town alone. He is a retired farmer and has grown a garden every year until the present. He still drives his car, visits his son and daughter and their families.

                Mrs. Minnie Pack, 84, a widow from Cross Timbers, attends our event when she has a way. She is another lady growing old beautifully. She has lived in the same house for more than 50 years.

                Mrs. May (Mitchell) Wilson, 81, of Preston has had an interesting life and is proud of her heritage. She was left a widow with three little girls and many debts. She put her shoulder to the wheel and came out with abundance. Now she is crippled and walks with a cane, but still drives her car where she pleases and is content and happy.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. Lou (Mitchell) Parker, 84, of Osceola, lives alone in her own home near her son's store. She takes care of it a few hours when needed, and watches the children after school. She received the prize for being the mother of the most children. She has 13, nine of them still living.

                Mrs. Grace (Wells) Sanders, 80, of Hermitage, was present this year. She is quite active, lives alone and has traveled many miles visiting her children and relatives in Colorado. She likes to keep busy and always attends services at the Baptist Church.

                Robert Walthal, 81, a retired farmer from Cross Timbers, and his wife, Juanita (Cothern), have been enjoying our event for several years now. They have a cozy little home in town and like to get out, but Robert no longer drives.

                Mrs. May (Dent) Whelchel, 84, has missed a few years, but was back this year, looking very pretty. Her daughter, Mrs. Leona Moore, and her sister, Mrs. Minnie Reavis and husband, Ray, came with her. May has lived in Wheatland her entire life.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Mrs. Bertha (Thomas) Young, 84, of Wheatland received the gift for the oldest person who walked to the church, about six blocks. She lives in her home, raises a garden and flowers.

                We had many golden wedding anniversaries to celebrate this year:

                Horace and Octa (Easterwood) Bird of Warrensburg, were married February 24, 1918. Horace was here last year, but Octa had to work, so this was her first visit with us.

                Tom and Florence (Lowe) Bird were married January 10, 1917, in Ardway, Okla., then went on to Colorado and set up housekeeping in a sod house. Tom was born in a log cabin. They now have a nice home in Warrensburg.

                Early and Mertie (Bird) Phelps were married July 28, 1915. They lived at Warrensburg for a long time and then moved to Purdy. They drove down to be with her brothers and wives and visit their beloved aunt, Mrs. Alice Butler, who is like another mother to them.

                Wilbur and Elsie (Breshears) Tipton were married 52 years February 11, 1920. He is a cousin of Birds and a nephew of Mrs. Butler. They live near Wheaton in a comfortable home with their semi-invalid daughter, Idellah. Elsie is full of history from away back and always ready to discuss it with interested persons.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Claude and Fedonia (Cox) Carpenter of Weaubleau, are one of our younger couples. They celebrated 50 years August 13 at the Congregational Church. They come from old families in the Butcher neighborhood west of town. They are retired farmers, have a garden early and late and she grows lettuce from seed that has been passed down in the family since pioneer days.

                L. O. and Lulu (Bennett) Burton live on a farm near Cross Timbers and were married March 29, 1916. He was a member of the county court for three terms.

                J. R. and Iva (Breshears) Bird were married April 22, 1917, and now live in town after retiring from their farm in the Avery community. They are faithful members of the Spring Branch Brethern Church. Iva is from the family that settled the lovely Breshears Valley.

                Bertie and Mertie (Jenkins) Scarbrough of Cross Timbers were here for the first time. They were married 56 years October 15, and live on a farm north of time.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Roy and Nellie (Stevenson) Reed were married 55 years October 4. They worked at Warrensburg, then retired back to their farm near Elkton.

                Arthur and Audra (Miller) Ransey were married December 20, 1916. They have one son, Dean, who lives in Independence. Arthur is an ardent fisherman, but has had to give it up due to poor health. They still have a good garden and flowers.

                Lloyd and Dovie (Skidmore) Reser, celebrated their 50 years last October 23. They have no children so friends and neighbors made it a big day for them. They also went on to California for a big celebration with relatives there.

                Our pastor, J. L. Wright, and his wife celebrated their golden wedding last Sept. 24.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

                Members we have lost since last year are: Eric Agee, 91, Hermitage; Venia (Cates) Breshears, 94, Bolivar; Nellie Mae Brown, 91, Preston; Gertie (Richardson) Davis, 92, Cross Timbers; J. E. Ellis, 90, Wheatland; Jess J. Payne, 91, Preston; May (Jenkins) Vanderford, 93, Wheatland; Emma (Hostetler) Bangle, 83, Weaubleau; Maude (Brown) Clymore, 80, Flemington.

                Nannie (Bradley) Dorman, 83, Wheatland; Atha (Coffey) Durnell, 81, Kansas City; Atsy (Breshears) Jennings, 88, Wheatland; Clara (Sheriff) Monroe, 87, Weaubleau; Nevie (Edde) Ray, 87, Preston; Sadie (Henderson) Roberts, 81, Independence; Jim Bullington, 75, Weaubleau; Bessie (Haller) Kirk, 79, Wheatland; Leslie T. Wilson, 72, Wheatland and Guy Wood, 78, Wheatland.

                This it is for another year and we wish to thank everyone who helped make it a happy day!



Posted 18 Nov 2006 by Ginny Sharp

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