Edmond Enterprise and Oklahoma County News. (Edmond, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 64, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 21, 1904 Page: 1 of 6
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P The Story of Little Nell. ||
The story of Little Nell touched us
in a most tender way. She arrived in
Pawpaw one cold, cheerless December
day. It seems to us that we never
saw a more dismal afternoon than that
particular one when the subject of
this sketch was first seen in our little
hamlet. It was one of those days, so
seldom seen in Oklahoma, when the
sun was hidden from view all the day
long. The clouds were sullen and
frowning, and the wind shrieked in
angry gusts, sweeping clouds of dust
from the north, while the chill of the
air and the frost clinging to tree and
shrub, all conspired to make humanity
shiver and hug the fire.
It was nearly sundown, if there had
been a sun to go down, when a sorry
old team drawing an old fashioned
Missouri wagon halted at our door.
The horses looked like skeletons cov-
ered with parchment and faded, dirty
unkempt gray hair. The harness was
a patchwork of worn out leather and
greasy ropes. The wagon was evident-
ly about to fall to pieces. It was cov-
ered with old quilts and half worn out
blankets and through the top at the
rear we saw a small rusty stove-pipe.
As a whole it was a "contraption" ex-
citing wonder and surprise. At a
glance this all appeared to us as we
greeted the man holding the rope lines.
The drive was a curiosity. His
coat was a Joseph affair. It was of
many colors. It looked like a patch-
work quilt, badly worn and faded and
grimy with the red dirt the chilly
northern blast had pounded into it.
His face was a mat of reddish hair,
with a touch of grizzly grey; and under
shaggy eyebrows were a pair of rest-
less grey "eyes that never looked you
square in the face. It was the face of
a porcupine and the eyes of a weasel.
A stream of tobacco juic? at each
corner of his mouth. A voice that
was a cross between the rasp af a file
and the screech of a dull wood saw.
His hat, or what had once been a hat,
was without a crown, but masses of
scraggly hair were playing in the brisk
wind. Such was the man! He was
shivering with cold. His bare hands
looked like reddish pieces of horn.
We invited him to come in and
warm. He said his wife was chilled
and they would be glad to stop. He
helped his wife out of the old rattletrap
and she said "Don't, don't forget
He climbed into the wagon, and
'neath a pile of straw and ragged
blankets he found a bundle of sleeping
humanity and brought it into the warm
room of our little cabin and laid it
tenderly on the floor. We watched
the affair with mute surprise. The
mother gently unwrapped the strange
bundle and then was revealed the face
of a little girl; sound asleep!
What is it in the human heart that
so quickly and tenderly responds to
the mute appeal of a sleeping child?
Mrs Volunteer grasped the situa'ion
at a glance. In a moment the child
was on the spare bed; still sleeping.
Apparently it had not suffered from
the stinging co'd.
Nel her of us fan ied the man and
w'fe, but that s eeping iit!e girl settled
; 11 d ubts T ie par'y remained with
u over a month. They had driven
ov rlar.j frvtn the Cza-k reg'dn a
hunJ.e m les southeast of SpJngfirid,
M 1. Tn y ■ ad uar ed '0 visit r !a-
tlve south of Sh'iwnee. T e fat i
M, Tarji;.* 5 Tier i w .8 0-.5 of tho:«
luckless fellows who ne'er do well. If
it was raining diamonds, Tarbox would
pick up nothing but mud. His wife
belonged to that class of women whose
necks seem always dirty, and who
would look as much out of place in a
silk dress as a cow wearing the gown
of a bishop. They were a well
matched matrimonial pair. His fore-
head sloped backward so rapidly that
when he cried the tears ran down the
back of his neck. Mrs. Volunteer
said he looked like a cross between a
razor back hog and a woodchuck!
The couple were indolent, unlettered,
honest people. If you ever saw the
tobacco chewing women of northern
Alabama, you have a picture of Mrs.
Rosalie Smeed. If you have seen the
clay-eating "Poor White Trash" of the
Carolinas, you can draw a mental photo
of Tarbox Smeed.
They had no ambitions; no dllght-
ed hopes. They nad no greed for
wealth; no dissappointments. The
whole world belonged to them, but
they never looked up a title deed and
were strangers to care and the tax-
gatherer. With plenty of corn bread
and tobacco they were happy upon
earth and read their "title clear to
mansions in the sky." If they had
"opinions" they kept them hidden un-
der the blanket of impenetrable silence.
But they had faiih In The Heavenly
Father; that "faith which passeth un-
To us they were as incomprehensible
as the language of the ancient Greeks.
They were simple, yet profound.
They were illiterate but had a certain
wisdom that "passeth knowledge."
Really "What is man that Thou art
mindful of him?"
Tarbox Smeed and wife were of
that large class that "are never all in
darkness, and are never wholly bright."
They were religious, honest and kind.
But they lacked something!
To describe Little Nell would re-
quire the pencil of an artist. She was
a little past four years; of slight and
slender form and as one of our neigh-
bors said, "as handsome as a picture."
As soon as she was fairly awake she
made captives of our household.
Mrs. Volunteer fell in love with
Little Nell at the first glance. The
writer loved her instantly. She was a
woman in miniature. Her every
movement was grace and dignity per-
sonified, No child conld possibly be
more unlike her earthly parents.
Her mother had a mole near the
palm of her right hand. Little Nell's
right hand bore a mold like it!
Our hearts sank when we discovered
the two moles so much akin. We
had secretly concluded that Little Nell
was a stolen child, and had earnestly
prayed that God would aid us to re-
store her to her real parents. She
had, aside from the little mole, not the
slightest trace of resemblance tc The
Smeeds. Her voice was as soft and
tender as the music of the lute. Her
laughter made joy contagious. The
day after her arrival, Litt e Nel! had
b.;en trea'ed to c'ean clothing and
soon fe't ai much at home in our cabin
as if born and raised there, B lore
night she called us "Grandpa" and
She held the key of human love that
opens all hearts.
S 9 brought tears to all eyes when
she s*:d in tcnes hftif mournful, half
oyous; "I ricver had a Grand.;.a end
Grandpa before, and I do love you so
What unwritten volumes of history
were in that one brief sentence spoken
by Little Nell.
A child without Grandparents!
Your own heart can frame the ser-
mon from that brief text. When we
looked at her in all her sweetness and
contrasted her with her parents we
were confronted by a mystery as pro-
found as life; as unsolveable as death.
What strange mysteries are hidden
in the alchemy of nature. Little Nell
was an Easter lilly, pure and white,
grown on desert sands mid sage brush
and cactus. Tarbox Smeed and his
wife were her parents; but her every
look, every word, smile and act, told
us that she was not really their
Little Nell was the child of God!
We have a splendid copy of an old
Italian painting of The Madonna, with
The Christ Child in her arms. Little
Nell would sit for an hour steadily gaz-
ing at that beautiful picture.
The painting seemed to speak to
her heart and understanding as noth-
ing had ever spoken to her before.
The minister called one day when
the child was seemingly lost in medi-
tation of the painting. The good min-
ister watched Little Nell intently for
several minutes, and then said to us
in an undertone:—
"Your little friend has a face and
eyes so much like The Christ Child."
Little Nell overheard his remark
and coming wistfully to our arms and
"Grandpa, I have seen those faces
so many times in my dreams, before I
ever saw the picture or heard your
story of The Christ Child. I want, so
much to go and live with them, some-
We could not make appropriate com
ment, for we noticed what seemed like a
halo of soft sunlight resting like a golden
crown on the beautiful head of Little
Nell. She fell into a gentle slumber,
her head resting on our heart. Our
eyes were full of tears; Grandma wept;
her parents sobbed; the minister was
The next day the good pastor called
again and talked with Little Nell who
seemed unusually happy and full of
gladness. He said to Grandma:—
"That child is a mystery. Every
person in Pawpaw loves her. Did you
notice the strange light resting upon
her yesterday as she sat in Grandpa's
arms? I am not superstitious; I do
not believe in "signs" or "warnings
but there was something almost super-
natural about her yesterday as she sat
looking so intently at the Madonna and
The Christ Child. I do not dare to
speak"to Mr. and Mrs. Smeed about it.
The little girl seems perfectly health-
ful, but the thought is impressed upon
me that Little Nell is soon to be
called to her home above."
His voice trembled, his lips quivered
and his eyes moistened as he spoke.
His words troubled us deeply. The
child never seemed so dear to us as
then. The next day had been fixed
for their journey to continue to Shaw-
nee. The wagon had been repaired;
the horses had some flesh on their
bones and we sought in vain for ex-
cuses tj have them remain.
The Smeeds had grown wonderfully
in our esteem during the last two
weeks of their stay at the Volunteer's
cabin. Tarbox had proven himself a
willing he'per about the farm; and his
wife when washed and cleanly clad had
been of great help to Grandma. The
Smeeds as we saw the n first, werj
not The Smeeds as we, knew them cn
thr day of th« r dt^rturB
Through the uncouth provincialisms
of The Ozarks, shone The Mother!
When the dirt and grime of the long
journey was washed away, we beheld
A Man! A Woman!
Little Nell was their idol! They
knew her as Their One Treasure!
They worshipped Little Nell! It was
through that beautiful, loving child
that The Smeeds looked up to a heav-
enly Father their eyes could not see;
a Father their untutored faith, could
but dimly comprehend.
We all loved Little Nell from the
start. She was made to be loved.
Not to love that child was to admit
that you were lacking in the better
aspirations of manhood; wanting in the
finer institutions of womanhood.
Why should God decree that she
should be the child of The Smeeds?
We are not skeptical
This question Is not the complaint
It is simply this; we cannot under-
Why should Little Nell, fresh from
the mint of the All Wise, be coined
for people like The Smeeds?
Was the dear, Innocent child the
manifestation of His love to point
Them to the heavenly way?
Was Little Nell merely a child of
those types of people found in certain
regions of the Ozarks!
Is it not more probable that she
was the re-incarnation of Angelic life
unknown to any earthly mind?
Truly, "God moves in a mlsterious
way his wonders to perform."
Little Nell did not live In vain.
Her life was poem, sermon and sweet
benediction, all In'one. She was not
a miracle of grace. She was Divine
in form of Innocent childhood! Her
life with us, brief as it was, trans-
formed our little cabin Into a cathe-
dral of beauty, and changed the dreary
December to the fairest blossoms of
We wanted so much to keep her.
We dared to hint as much to her par-
"We are poor but all the world could
not make us part with Little Ntll."
The rebuke was deserved. And it
raised the Smeeds very much in our
estimate of their character. We were
generally sorry to see them go. Lit-
tle Nell clung to us tearfully but she
loved her parents and like the dear lit-
tle diplomat that she was, she said: "1
will go with Papa and Mamma, but I
love Grandpa and Grandma, and will
comeback sometime." Then, with
tears in her beautiful eyes, she bade us
goodbye. The cabin did not seem the,
same after she left.
Something very dear to us had gone
out of our daily life. The Smeeds
said "We'ell send you word;" but they
never did. The Friday evening before
Easter The Smeeds returned to us.
Little Nell had been ill for the last
day's journey. There was a strange
light in her eyes. Her face was drawn
and pinched. Her hands were hot
and fevrish. Our hearts were sad for
the little sufferer. The doctors shook
their hetds and told us there was no hope.
The dear child was dying!
A more patient child we never saw.
Easter Sunday opened with bright sun-
shine. Little Nell looked at the sun;
then fixed earnest eyes upon the pic-
ture of the Madonna and The Christ,
Clvld. The parents, the doctors and
the minister were with us. She had
hardly spoken a I through the night
She suddeuly po'n'ed her little hsnd
toward the picture and said in clear
•■They #ro culling Uttto Neill"
APRIL 21, 1904
As she uttered this cry her pure
spirit took leave forever.
It did not seem like death!
It was more as if an angle of light
had pushed aside the portals of heaven
that the spirit of Little Nell might en-
ter In. Amid the sobs and tears of all,
the minister said:
"Of such is The Klndom of Heav-
In Lone Tree Cemetery is the little
grave of the sweet child whose charm-
ing personality made willing captives
of all hearts in Pawpaw.
The Smeeds, broken in spirit, are
slowly wending their sad way to that
desolate home in the Ozarks.
Before the flowers of June are in
bloom, loving hearts will erect a shaft
of white marble—
"In Memory of Little Nell "
Secretary J. B. Thoburn, of the Ok-
lahoma board of agriculture has taken
the matter of securing fish with which
to stock the Oklahoma streams up
with the government fish commission,
with a view of ascertaining at what
time the car of the commission will
pass through Oklahoma, All of the
farmers who desire fish for their streams
should notify Mr. Thoburn so that he
may make arrangements with the
commission for the number needed.
The favorite species, with the Oklaho-
ma farmers and fishermen now are
the black bass, channel cat and croppy.
Address J. B. Thoburn, Guthrie, Ok-
Saturday the Democratic county
central committee held a meeting in
Oklahoma City and it was voted to
hold three conventions as follows:
One at Edmond May 16 to select
delegates to the congressional con-
vention at Oklahoma City July 26
and one to select delegates to the
National convention at Anadarko June
It was decided to hold the county con-
vention one week after the convention
held by the Republicans.
A young man giving the name of Fred
Adams died in St Anthony's hospital at
Oklahoma City, last Friday. Several
telegrams were sent to his father tell-
ing him of his sons Illness, but he sent
back answer that were almost insulting
in their tenor and refused to come or
to send money. When informed of
his death he immediately telegraphed
to tury the body till further pre-
parations were made.
Yukon and vicinity was shocked
last Wednesday morning when the
alarm was spread that L. G. Conway,
drayman of the village had committed
suicide, by hanging himself to a rafter
in his barn. Mr. Conway suffered a
sunstroke last summer which left his
mind in an enfeebled condition. It was
thought that he had recovered but it is
now evident that his mind had suffered
a relapse which caused him to suicide.
The post office building and the build-
ing occupied by the The Canadian
Valley News at jones caught on fire
last Wednesday and but for the timely
arrival of the bucket brigade both
buildings wjuld have been destroyed,
says the News.
D. Golds'ein, a pawnbroker at Ok-
lahoma City, was recen'ly robted of a
$1,000 watch and a go'd bar va'u-d at
$150. The property as supp'sei to
have been taken by his spn who disap-
peared at the same time as the above
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Edmond Enterprise and Oklahoma County News. (Edmond, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 64, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 21, 1904, newspaper, April 21, 1904; Edmond, Oklahoma. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc140162/m1/1/: accessed November 20, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.