OKLAHOMA HISTORY: Forgotten People and Forgotten Past

Effie A. Ray and her husband Jess Hudson, left the tree covered hillsides of Butler Co.,Missouri in 1917. They loaded up the covered wagon Jess used in his log hauling business, attached the two study horses and set off for Oklahoma. The mining business, the hauling business, and something called 'oil' were making the area very attractive.

They arrived first in the Okmulgee area, where some other family members were also working, and Jess quickly went to work as a teamster. Times were hard, and for the first several months of their life in Oklahoma they lived in a tent with a wooden floor. Effie recounted the terror experienced during a strong and violent storm. The heat, the insects, snakes, and cold until they could afford a real home. He moved the huge boilers, the harness pullers, and other implements of business, oil exploration, mining, and timber. Sometimes Jess made long trips leaving Effie alone with the children and she had to cope as best she could in his absence.
[Pictured is Jess Hudson and his team after setting the cable rigging in place. Jess is the man in the middle leaning against the pole with the broad brimmed hat.]

Slowly, things began to look up as a home was found, friends made, and dreams begun. The real money, however, was in the growing energy field and by 1925 Jess put away his team and wagon and was working for a gas company. Family fortunes rose steadily as revealed in family photos, portraits, and even photos of family members with prize additions such as phonographs!

Disaster struck, however, when Jess went to work one early morning in August of 1929. The family was living in Bristow, Oklahoma. Effie's mother was living in town as was one of her brothers and his family. Jess, his 14 year old step-son Freeman "Red" Conner, and two others were sent to check a coupling on a line near the main entrance to the Bristow city park. The resulting explosion shot Jess some fifteen feet away and killed him almost instanteously, sending his young step-son into shock and wrecking the family in one terrible instant.

Faded yellow photos are all that remain of those days, but they show the equipment hauled, the team, and the man and the family who were the silent part of Oklahoma history. As long as people such as Jess and Effie remain forgotten people there will always be a pieace of past forgotten and lost.

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