Genetic Genealogy

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DNA testing has opened doors genealogists in the 1970's and 80's never dreamed possible. It's enabled us to leap brick walls we could only look at in frustration before. I've tested with 23 and Me, and transferred my results to FTDNA and to If you'd like to compare matches at my kit number is M121246. Please feel free to contact me if we have a match. I'm still searching for the identities of several 3rd and 4th great-grandmothers whose surnames I've not been able to uncover, and I need *help*. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Paternal Grandfather: Frederick Francis William Cavel Part 2

By the time Fred was 18 he was a fine, healthy young man. He was described by his daughters as being 6' 2" in height and strongly built, a fact photos of him bear out. He must have set the young girls hearts to beating as he sat in church on Sunday morning. 

He was serious from childhood, not one for jokes and pranks. He read his Bible and prayed for the safety of his eternal soul on a daily basis. 

And when the Carter family moved in nearby in 1891, one of the daughters caught his eye. She paid him no attention, which was only proper. But after several months he called on her stepfather, Matt Carter, and asked if he might called on his daughter Josie with the object of marriage, if they found they were compatible, and the girl found him acceptable. 

Fred Cavel and Josie Smith-Carter Wedding Photo
Matt Carter and Josie's mother Kizziah found Fred's earnestness appealing. He would not toy with Josie's affections. They gave him leave to call on Josie with the stipulation that no marriage could take place for a year. Josie was but 13 years old, and they felt her too young to marry. Fred agreed, and thus began his courtship of Priscilla Josephine Smith-Carter, in her mother's parlour, at church suppers and church picnics. 

Fred and Josie were wed on the 22nd of Sept 1892. He found but one flaw in her, a flaw he conveniently erased with scripture, but which surfaced again and again during their life together.  And though we’d certainly frown on such a young girl marrying today, it was common enough in the 1890s. 

Almost a year to the day later their marriage was blessed by a beautiful baby girl they named after each of their mothers, Susan after Fred’s mother, and Kizziah after Josie’s. She would be called Susie, a dark-eyed little beauty. And on the last day of 1896 she was joined by a little sister, the blue-eyed fair-skinned Mary Annie.  

At Christmas time 1897 the family posed for a portrait. Though the young parents are characteristically solemn, the  girls are dressed in soft dresses and are barefoot, relaxed and at ease in their parent’s laps. 

And other children followed; Their first son, William Arthur, was born in Bowie in 1898. Then the family moved across the Red River to Ara, Pickens County Indian Territory (now Claud, Stephens County Oklahoma) where a daughter Myrtle Cleo, was born in 1901. A son, Charlie Hall was born in Ara in 1904. The family moved again to Park Township just outside of the town of Velma late in 1904 and in 1906 a third son, named Frederick Francis Jr. (called “Dick”) after his father was born.  

While he farmed for a living all his life Fred Sr. felt the call to preach. In 1910 there was a terrible drought in Oklahoma and Texas. Fred took the opportunity to take his family south to Thrifty, Brown County Texas where his parents were living, to study to become an ordained Baptist minister. 

And all the while the children kept coming. In 1911 John Houston was born in Brown County. 

At the age of four he developed osteo-myelitis, an infection of the bone, which slowly destroyed his right lower jaw.  He would later be dubbed “Andy” after the cartoon character Andy Gump which the lack of his lower jaw made him resemble. If this defect made him self-conscious you wouldn’t know it. He was outgoing and rambunctious as an adult, a wonderful and loving husband, father and uncle. 

In 1913 Josie gave birth to a set of twin boys, born prematurely, who did not survive. 

Nineteen fourteen found the family back in Park Township, near Velma Oklahoma, where Fred and his older sons built this house on the 40 acres he'd bought earlier on what is now Old Highway No 7. By the time I was a child, and old enough to remember visiting the old house, there was an oil or gas refinery just over the hill, which smelled pretty terrible when the wind was from that direction.  

There was a kitchen, pantry and parlour on the ground floor, and upstairs a bedroom for the girls, a bedroom for the boys, and a bedroom for Fred and Josie. There was a path to an outhouse down the hill in the back and a well a few steps from the back porch to draw water from. The front porch served as social area.
In 1915 Fred and Josie had a son they named Thomason Howell, so beautiful his mother feared he was fey. 

They had been married 25 years in 1917, when this portrait was taken. He is smartly dressed in a business suit and tie and looks directly into the camera, while she, in her feminine, but home-made, dress looks away, brows slightly furrowed. 

Her waist-length hair is pulled back and secured in a bun or braid. She had frequent migraine headaches and the weight of her hair made her them even more excruciating. She begged to be allowed to cut her hair. Fred forbade it, quoting 1 Corinthians; "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." 

So if she was not altogether content I don't think her modern granddaughters and great-granddaughters would blame her. Granddad was very much a man of his time. 

In 1920, Josie gave birth to their last child, a sweet little girl they named Maud Opal. And then, as the Bible would say, Josie left off bearing, after 11 children in 27 years, nine of whom lived to adulthood, several of whom lived into their 80s and 90s.  

And the family was growing in prosperity as well as children, for granddad bought a big Buick convertible, large enough to drive the entire family to church on a Sunday morning. 

Here we see him behind the wheel, with Grandma Josie in the passenger seat. Behind Granddad, thumb in mouth is toddler Thomason. Behind is FF “Dick” Jr.  “Andy” is closest to the camera and Charlie Hall sits at the back.  

In the 1920 and 1930 censuses they are enumerated in Park Township, in the farmhouse on Highway #7. His occupation is listed as farmer, and for the first time in 1930 he is listed as a naturalized citizen because although he was only five years old when his parents became Americans citizens, and he should have become a citizen along with them, the processing clerk overlooked him, assuming he’d been born in the US. He thus went through most of his life as a British subject. 

By 1935 he was 63 and had developed diabetes, a disease his mother had for much of her life. All the children were gone, so they rented the farm to a tenant farmer and moved to a smaller house in Hastings, Jefferson County, about 45 miles away. I’ve often wondered why they chose Hastings instead of Duncan, but looking through census and death records  I found Granddad’s younger brother Arthur and his wife Bessie had moved to Hastings between 1930 and 1935, and I’m sure Granddad and Grandmother were happy to live near Arthur and Bessie. 

Unfortunately Bessie died on the 7th of August 1936. She is buried in the Hastings Cemetery. When Arthur died in 1951 he was buried at her side. 

Fred and Josie lived on a street called “The Marley Addition”. In the 1940 census there are several streets called “Addition”, each with a dozen or so houses, suggesting Hastings must have gone through something of a population boom in the 1930s. However in the 80 years since all those streets have either disappeared or have been renamed, for not one is on today’s Hastings map. In fact, “driving” through Hastings using the magic of Google Street View, you find horses grazing where houses clearly used to stand, and the town now consists only of a scattering of 50 homes. The 2013 population stood at 142. 

Granddad’s health continued to decline, though he looks well enough in this photo taken of him at age 65. There was no insulin then, no treatment for diabetes. In mid-January 1944 his condition took a sudden turn for the worse, and he was taken to the hospital in Duncan, some 30 miles away. Josie stayed at his bedside, and realizing the end was near, the children were called to come. 

He sank into a diabetic coma and shortly after 2:00 am on the 21st of January, 1944 he passed quietly, with Josie at his bedside. They had been married 52 years. 

He was buried in the Duncan Municipal Cemetery, and though I have no picture of his stone I visited it many times as a child with my Grandmother. 

I only knew him through the prism of my Grandmother and his children. I know he could be hard on his wife and children but was also a loving husband and father and he raised a family of children, my uncles and aunts, who surrounded me with love as a child, who gave me a sense of belonging, and who on the whole spoke of him with great warmth and love. As a family we owe him a debt of gratitude. 

Thank You Granddad - 

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