Jacob Wesley Lineberry and Eva Keithley married January 11, 1902 in Hobart, Oklahoma Territory – 108 years ago today.
The 1900 census showed that both Jacob and Eva were living in Carterville, Missiouri – Eva in the home of her father and next door to her sister, Violet, and Jacob living in a boarding house a few blocks away. On a trip to Missouri in November 2007, my daughter and I visited the vicinity of Joplin/Carterville to take photographs of the area and discover whatever we could from the court records, newspapers, libraries and historical societies of the area. The small towns surrounding Joplin have currently merged into a larger seamless populated area so everything was pretty close at hand.
After visiting the county seat in Carthage and finding land records, we drove to Webb City, a community a little over a mile to the west of Carterville. The historical society there had a genealogy room in their small library that had some of the old newspapers indexed. Sure enough, there was an index listing for Keithley – Eva had sent in a wedding announcement that was printed in the Webb City Sentinel January 10, 1902.
Eva’s family had moved from Illinois to Missouri and ended up in the mining town of Carterville. Her father owned a grocery store and, as the newspaper notice said, Eva was working as a night phone operator for the telephone company. Jacob was a carpenter with an entrepreneurial spirit – In January 1901 he wrote his brother that he and a buddy had bought a drilling machine for $1,200 and it was working 75 to 100 feet a week at $1.20 a foot.
Jacob left Carterville in August 1901 to try to get in on the land opportunities in Oklahoma Territory. Although he didn’t arrive in time to file for the land, he decided to locate in Hobart and capitalize on the exponential population growth prompted by those who had won the land opening lotteries.
None of Jacob’s letters mentioned his having a girlfriend but, perhaps his entrepreneurial spirit or brother-to-brother rapport didn’t place it high on the list of things to mention; nevertheless he had apparently been dating Eva, who was 11 1/2 years younger than he was.
Although the newspaper print edition shows that Eva was to marry John Lineberry, that is an error. The information Eva left was probably handwritten and, according to the 1900 census, Jacob apparently went by the name of Jake; I would surmise her handwriting may have allowed for interpretation in his name and the general shape of the letters in both John and Jake are similar.
According to the newspaper article, Eva left Carterville on the evening of January 7, 1902 – her 18th birthday. Since she was setting out in the evening rather than early in the morning and since Carterville was on the Frisco line that connected Joplin to Oklahoma City and on to Hobart and Mangum, my assumption is that my grandmother traveled by train to meet Jacob. In researching women at that time period, there were apparently few, if any, restaurants that would serve women traveling alone [in actual fact, they rarely served women, period], which would mean she had to pack foods that required no cooking or refrigeration. Trains in those early years often did not have sleeping accommodations or dining cars and were likely not well heated – it was January! I would imagine her trip was both anticipated with excitement and filled with nerves and, perhaps, fear. Oklahoma was noted to be a wild country with areas of lawlessness and Indians – including all those stories of Indian raids, scalpings and kidnapping women. Additionally, Eva was pregnant [their first child was born five months later on May 12] and I would imagine that, in addition to her nervousness and fear, being jiggled on the train plus being cold, hungry and likely unbathed made the journey tiring and difficult. My brother, sister-in-law, daughter and I made the trip from Hobart to Mangum along what would have been a similar route this past fall and observed the terrain she would have seen out the train window – flat prairie land, unrelieved but for the hint of hills in the distance. We saw some remnants of grasses, weeds and crops, but in January it likely appeared desolate.
The reason they married in Mangum rather than Hobart is purely one of speculation. Perhaps it was merely expedient if Jacob happened to be working in Mangum at the time of her arrival. Since I can’t imagine that Mangum was viewed as the honeymoon spot of the west, I also can’t see that Jacob would have met her train in Hobart and kept his expectant bride-to-be on a train for another long ride.
The newspaper announcement holds out her hope for a happy future when she wrote, “They will go to housekeeping at once in a neat cottage which the groom has prepared.” That sentiment must have been something she gleaned from his assumed letters to her because he wrote something similar to his brother on December 29, 1901, “but I expect her here in a short time and we will try housekeeping for the first time to ourselves …”
January 11, 1902 was a Saturday and, based on the marriage license, it would appear they were married at the Greer County Courthouse in Mangum, Oklahoma Territory. They would then have returned (perhaps after he completed his assignment in Mangum) to Hobart, Oklahoma Territory to set up housekeeping in a home Jacob had prepared for Eva and their soon-expected child.
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