Bellwood Cowboy is the life story of one of the greatest men I ever knew. Artie Quinton is one of the last of the old time cowboys. His knowledge of livestock and ranch management is renown in Oklahoma. He worked for the Daube Cattle Co. for forty seven years starting during the Great Depression era of the 1930s. Born in a log cabin in 1912 he would lose his mother before he was a year and a half old, then the grandmother who raised him when he was twelve. He attended a country school through the eighth grade. Married to the girl of his dreams, he started working for Daube Ranches in 1937 for $35 a month and that included his wife's pay for cooking three meals a day for up to twenty cowboys. Artie advanced to foreman of Daube Ranches and acquired a reputation as the best ranch manager in the area. He retired in 1984 and at 98 years of age and legally blind, lives alone in the small town of Mill Creek, Oklahoma. Artie has preached more funerals than most preachers, and is the corner stone of his church. Follow his most unique life in the pages of Bellwood Cowboy.
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BELLWOOD COWBOYThe Artie Quinton Story
By Ted L. Pittman
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Ted L. Pittman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDAY ONE OF A CENTURY
It is a common sight to see Artie Quinton walking along the streets of Mill Creek, Oklahoma clad in his blue coveralls and pushing his walker ahead of him. Folks know to watch for his slight figure as he plods steadily along. Artie has been walking these streets a long time, first about five miles per day for many years, then three miles, and now, the last several months, about a mile and a half. Not bad for his almost ninety-eight years. Artie lives alone these days, in a little white house just east of the Holiness Church he has attended since the early 1940s. He didn't plan it this way, but God has a way of changing your plans when you least expect it.
Things have sort of been this way since his loving wife Ag went to be with the Lord on July 25th 2000. It's not easy living alone, especially with the handicap of being legally blind, but you never hear him complain. Artie walks to church every day to pray, been doing it for a long time. He has a lot of friends drop by to visit and his ready smile is your welcome when you ring his door bell.
I know one of these days; I won't be able to see Artie in his favorite seat at the end of the pew, half way down the row of pews on the south side of the church sanctuary. Each Sunday, as I make my way into the church, my eyes search him out to make sure he is there. I will miss his greeting, "Hello Cuz, how you doing" and his hand on my shoulder. His presence gives me a feeling of security, as if his being there ensures that all is well with our little church and things are as they should be. I ask him how he's doing and the answer is always the same. "I'm just a doin", he says.
Let's start with a picture of Artie in his familiar blue coveralls and orange vest pushing the walker along the street as he makes his daily round. Then let's begin to re-wind his life back through the years, the happy times in the little house where he still lives, years on the West Ranch with Ag, back to the birth of his daughter Janet, the hardships and adventures of running the feed lot in the 1930s, courtship and marriage, the years spent in service to his country, the school years at Bellwood, all the way back to the little rented log cabin about four miles north of Mill Creek on the Sallie Gaddis allotment where it all started almost a century ago. A house where Robert Pierce Quinton and his young wife Bessie Howard Quinton were carving out a life in the country on the west side of the Bellwood Community. They had been married only a short time, but long enough to conceive the baby boy that would be born ten and a half months into the young marriage. Artie's uncle Albert "Ab" Howard told him a few years later, that they had been out working in the fields and when they came in for lunch, there he was. He was born after breakfast and was waiting for them when they came in at noon to eat. There had been some controversy over the exact location of Artie's birthplace until several sources that were actually there cleared up any misconception several years later.
Artie would live in that house from the time his mother died until he was six years old, and they would prove to be tumultuous years for him. At the very young age of seventeen months, he lost his mother to death during a difficult childbirth. It was a time in the history of the area where medical services were very limited. Pain management was almost unheard of at the time and when it became apparent that a cesarean birth was the only thing left to try, she just was not strong enough to handle the ordeal. Cesarean birth was not common at that time, and the knowledge to do it correctly was not there that night. Sadly, the result was the death of both Artie's mother and the baby.
Bessie Howard Quinton was born in Texas on October 2, 1892 and died March 24, 1914. She was twenty-one and a half years old at her death. It was a turning point in Artie's young life. What is a child, barely a toddler, to do without a mother, and with a father that had to work to make a living for what was left of his family? At the cemetery, Artie's maternal grandmother and grandfather, Martha and Ben Howard, asked his father if they could adopt him. He said they couldn't adopt him, but they could raise him as their own. A few years later, Artie asked his dad why his dad's parent didn't raise him since they were both still living at the time. His dad told him that he let his Grandma Martha raise him because she was the best Christian woman he knew.
(Author's Note :)
The words to this poem came to me as I was writing one day. I had a Howard family picture in front of me and as I reflected on it, the words started to flow. I hope readers can see Artie's life in the verses.
I see a child with skin so fair
With rosy cheeks and snow white hair.
I see him in his little bed
The pillow where he lays his head
He has no ma to hold him tight
To kiss his cheek and say good night
She left him there, she had no choice
One day with her, he will rejoice.
So he must be, a little man
And he will do, the best he can.
To hold her memory in his mind
With body strong and spirit kind.
I see him as he walks to school
To learn to read the golden rule.
So he can be, a boy that she
Would be proud of, if she could see.
I see him as a strong young man
With handsome face and skin so tan
Where is the child of yesterday?
Who worked so hard and seldom played.
Who is the girl she is so fair
With rosy cheeks and golden hair.
He walks with her and holds her hand
On life's short road with her he'll stand
Their love is deep it's meant to last
The future grows out of the past
Together now with no refrain
Forever so they will remain
He holds the child she gave to him
His love for her will never dim
Life now is full as life can be
Add one more branch now to the tree
Oh love so pure where have you gone
He sits alone now on the throne
For she is gone for just awhile
He'll see her soon and her sweet smile.
Alone once more why is it so.
Why must it be he wants to know
He'll hold her memory in his mind
With body strong and spirit kind
'Til once again he'll hold her hand
As they stroll 'cross the promised land
The mothers there that had no choice
The tears flow now as they rejoice.
The light shines bright down from the throne
He sees his Savior there alone.
He reaches out and takes the hand
And steps into, the promised land.
Ted L. Pittman
THE HOWARD FAMILY
Before we move on, let's take this opportunity to talk about the family and the setting that would be home to Artie for the next several years of his life. Ben and Martha Howard had several children of their own at the time Artie went to live with them. They were his aunts and uncles, but he always thought of them as his brothers and sisters since he grew up as part of the family. The following is a breakdown of the Howard family that was such a big part of Artie's life.
Edwin Howard. (Edwin was about 19 years old when Artie started living with the Howards. He was born in Texas in 1895 and would die in 1918 of the influenza. The flu was especially bad in the winter of 1918 and claimed many lives, especially among the rural communities where medical services were scant at best and non-existent in many cases.)
Etta Howard. (Etta was 15 years old when Artie's mother died. She was born December 31, 1898, also in Texas, and lived until the ripe old age of ninety five. Etta married Turner Pittman and they raised five children, three girls and two boys. The girls were named Edna, Bernice, and Jean, and the twin boys were Boyd and Floyd. They also lost three children, Parthey, Elsie, and Buddy. Etta was 15 years old at the time Artie moved in with the Howards.)
William Albert. ("Ab" Howard was 13 years old when Artie joined the family. He was born April 8th, 1901 and died February 12th, 1973. Ab first married Flora Holder and they had a daughter they named Letha. His second wife was Cozette Beesly and they had a son they named Bobby Gene. Ab later married Jeanette Goshameyer.) He was a colorful character and was prone to partake of the spirits a little too much on occasion. He rode the rails and roamed the country and was pretty much a free spirit for much of his life. In later years, Ab was at Leonard and Edith's house one day and Leonard's son Bobby noticed Ab writing on a piece of paper as he sat at the kitchen table.
"What you doing Uncle Ab," he said.
"Why, I'm writing a letter to myself," Ab replied.
"What does it say?" Bobby wanted to know.
"Don't rightly know," Ab replied. "I won't get it for three or four days." Ab was about thirteen years old when Artie's mother passed away.
Cecil Howard. (Cecil had just turned 11 years old when Arties mother died. He was born March 14th, 1903 and died September 20th 1993. He married Geneva Burk and together they had three children, Benny, Jerry, and Shirley Kaye.)
Leonard Howard. (Leonard was almost 6 years old when Artie became a part of the family. He was born June 23rd, 1908 and died January 2nd, 1983. He married Edith Miller and they had two sons, Billy and Bobby. He was four years old when Artie became a part of the family.)
Raymond Howard. (Raymond was born a little over a year after Artie's mother died. He was born April 6th, 1915 and died May 19th, 2003. Artie was two and a half years old and already living with the Howards when Raymond was born. Raymond married Edith Spears and they had three sons, Eddie Frank, Danny, and David.)
Emma Howard. (Emma was the baby of the family. She was born March 4th, 1917 and died November 8th, 2004. She was married to Frank Gaines. They had an infant son that was born and died on Christmas Day 1935. Artie was home on leave from the Army at the time. They also had a daughter named Peggy Joyce. Artie was almost four and a half years old when Emma was born.)
Most folks around the area were poor people in terms of finances when Artie was just a little tyke. The kids would go barefoot all summer and would usually get a new pair of shoes before cold weather set in. You had better take good care of those shoes because they had to last until it got warm enough to go barefoot again the next spring. One fall when Artie was about six years old, he got a new pair of shoes. He was so proud of those shoes; he wanted to sleep with them. Folks would wear blue jeans until the knees got holes in them, then they would put a patch on and keep wearing them. When the patch wore out, they'd put another patch over the old patch if the jeans looked like they might hold together a little while longer. It paid to be conservative.
The Howards were good people and Martha Howard was the only mother Artie ever knew. He was just too young to have any memory of his biological mother. His grandma's name was Martha Adeline. Most folks called her Martha, but Ben called her Addie. Artie called her Mother. In the ten plus years he lived with her before her death, he never heard her raise her voice or heard her say a bad word about anybody. One of Artie's earliest memories of her is of her praying. Martha Howard's maiden name was Anderson and she was raised in Texas. When Emma Howard was just a little tyke, Martha took Leonard, Raymond, Emma, and Artie to Texas to see her mother, the children's grandmother. She was Artie's great grandmother. They went on the train as did most folks in those days if they had very far to go. They stayed a couple of days and then stopped and visited with Martha's sister on the way home. It was the only time Artie ever saw either one of them.
Ben Howard was a hard worker and expected the same from his children, including Artie. Artie learned at a young age, when Ben told you to do something, you did it. Wasn't no back talking or hum-hawing around, you just did it. You never heard Ben Howard use foul language, but he had a by-word he used religiously." John Brown", he'd say when something wasn't going to suit him. He wouldn't get many sentences out of his mouth 'til here would come another "John Brown". He had a voice that carried like a trumpet. If he needed to get your attention and you happened to be thirty or forty feet away from him, he would holler loud enough for folks a couple of hundred yards away to hear what he said. He didn't dole out a lot of corporal punishment, but on at least one occasion, when Artie and Raymond were having a cotton boll fight, just throwing them at each other like boys will do, Ben hollered for them to quit. As boys will do, Artie had to throw another couple of bolls before he quit. He happened to run close enough to Ben for Ben to grab him as he went by, and he got a pretty good swatting with a switch Ben had close to hand. It scared him more than it hurt him, but it served to reinforce the fact that when Ben Howard told you to do something, you might better be doing it.
The house in Bellwood Community where Artie spent most of the formative years of his life was like most every other house in the area at the time. No electricity, of course, and no running water. There was a pump on the well outside where the water bucket for the house was filled and the water for the livestock was pumped on a daily basis. Water for cooking had to be pumped and brought into the house as well. There was an outhouse out back, and it was hotter than the outside temperature in the summer and at least as cold as the outside temperature in the winter. Didn't take too long to do your business when it was twenty degrees outside, that's for sure.
The house had two wood stoves, one in the living room for heat and the cook stove in the kitchen. Ben Howard would usually be the first one up and would get the fire going in the stove in the living room in the wintertime. There would usually be a few coals left from the big log that was banked up at bed time the night before. He would take some coals and get the fire started in the cook stove in the kitchen as well.
One of the first chores Artie had was to pump water for the hogs they kept. It was an everyday job. Raymond was too short to reach the pump handle, so when it came his turn to pump, he would stand on a wooden box so he could reach the pump handle. Everybody had work to do.
They really didn't have much overhead. The only thing they bought at the store besides the bare necessities of groceries was kerosene. Kerosene was used only when necessary for the lamps. It was a necessity to be conservative.
Excerpted from BELLWOOD COWBOY by Ted L. Pittman Copyright © 2011 by Ted L. Pittman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: A story from Bellwood's early days....................xvii
Part one: Day one of a century....................1
I see a child....................6
The Howard family....................9
The little Boy....................19
Bellwood School District....................23
Shopping in early day Mill Creek....................31
Part two: Growing up in the hard times....................37
Boys Will Be Boys....................44
Part three: Love at first sight....................53
The Storm of 1933....................58
Part 4: The Army Years....................63
Agnes McClure Quinton....................76
Part 5: Working at the feed lot....................83
She never did get rested....................96
Move 'em out....................100
Brothers by choice, Sisters by blood....................106
A real cowboy....................114
Part Six: Home on the range 1945-1975....................129
Miracles one right after another....................132
A thief in the night....................137
Saved, And Doing God's Work....................144
Cowboy life in the early 1950s....................150
A time to test your faith....................164
The Making of a Man....................174
A Rough Tumble....................185
Part seven: A healing from God....................203
Part Seven: A healing from God 1976-1984....................203
Part eight: Retirement....................211
The Last Day....................212
Poems & Prose....................221
Quotes and comments....................226
A History Of The Mill Creek Pentecostal Holiness Church....................252
Interesting facts and pretty good guesses....................257
The last Word....................265