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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book

Oil DerrickMany lofty titles were entertained for the title of this book and much has been discussed as to the valuable historical material it holds. However, when one gets right down to it, the fact remains that essentially it was really simply "Gramma Bell's pictures."

Because Bellzona lived in a time period set directly in the middle of the events which molded Oklahoma as a state this makes the faded, tattered old photographs worth saving and sharing. The snapshots of an Osage Wedding are a rare find and, usually, the marriages were not recorded to this extent.

The history of this Jones family in Oklahoma is recorded also. They were the Joneses that came from Georgia out of Myers "Children of Pride," Jonesboro and who had been drawn upon for their life before the civil war in the old plantations there in the "Gone with the Wind" epic One person said about the Jones men, "they have a haunted look about them." Indeed, they were haunted by the crimes of the civil war, the desperate living conditions in Oklahoma and the rough lived element about the state. How they were able to maintain, their fineness and love for life is nothing more than miraculous. They were constantly there with the children always admonishing gently, "you can, but you can't."

Many of the Jones men married into different tribes. There are cousins who are Choctaw, Cherokee, Ponca, Osage, etc. Dennis H. Jones, our uncle, married into the Osage tribe. Lee Otis Jones, our father, married a Ponca woman. It was easy for them to fit into the Indian culture since not too many generations before their own blood was Welch. The strong Celtic blood made for an easy blending with the thinking of the Native American. This culture is slipping away but can be remembered as a philosophy that put God, the children, love of hearth, and respect for elders first. At the time of death the respect for the Native ways was completely a part of the man who was born of Welch ancestry.

Two years before Lee Otis Jones died he began pulling out the photographs his mother had saved. He too carefully saved them throughout his life. He wrote names and places on the backs. He went to this little chore at a time when he was most certainly close to death. Consequently, there is a record now. Even with the names written on the back it was difficult to research the material. Over ten years have gone into the search for some of the information.

Jewel Wagner, an elderly cousin, pointed to the town of Harrison, Arkansas and the book began to unfold. There is a great family in Arkansas. When the work is finished on this, we plan to meet these wonderful people with whom we have corresponded. As genteel as the "Gone with the Wind," people they are but living today as veterinarians, school teachers, and whatever other occupation one can name.

There was no order in which the pictures were stored. The little tin box simply held them as Bell stuck them there. An effort has been made to place them in some order putting the families together who lived at the same time.

The first segment is that of the Osages. There were many great surprises as research unfolded mysteries surrounding these people. Some books to read are: Tragedies of The Osage, by Author Lamb, The Osages, by John Joseph Mathews, Osage Mission Book of Baptism and Marriages by Louis Burns.

A great surprise was to see the possible kin and relationship of Dennis and Bertha, his wife. Osage genealogy is called a genealogical nightmare; therefore, an effort was made by the author to master to a degree an understanding of the language. The Osages often took Anglo names applying to their own name. First, one has to respect ingenious methods of self protection, and then, make a study of the name and its meaning in whatever language to see how it might apply to the Indian name.

Bellzona's mother was of the Collins family, which in French means Hill. Her grandmother was a Hunter. John Hunter, Osage, was Wats-a-moie, meaning One Who Travels, or Star Walker.

There is the constellation Orion who is a sky walker. Reaching back to the deepest depths of history, one sees the man, Nimrod the hunter, for whom the constellation was named. To list this is simply to illustrate the type of thinking one must use to sift through the Osage names. My question is, who helped establish this system for the Osage since many of them knew nothing of history or could not even speak the English language?

The greatest surprise was to have one of the photographs identified as Mrs. Frank Phillips, wife of an early day oilman in Oklahoma. Phillips Oil Company funded John Joseph Mathews for his book, "The Osages."

The segment on the Joneses starts with William Stephens Jones and Mary Ann. Probably DeWitt is the proper name for Mary Ann since there is a record of a marriage in Tennessee of William Stephens Jones, Mary Ann DeWitt. The birth dates are correct. The date is at the right time. Their children are pictured in this section. Walsie is on over into the Arkansas family section. The children pictured are: Joseph H., William Stephens ll, Dora or Doshia, Juda, Ruth Ann, and Hiliah Rebecca. Joseph Hubbard Jones, our grandfather, was quite elderly when we were children. He did share some information about his family as to stories and such. There was never any mention made of the people themselves. Bellzona saving these pictures gave us a great gift about this part of our background.

Walsie married a Watkins of Arkansas. One of Walsie's daughters (Birdie Lou Watkins) married a Bell. Birdie Lou had a daughter, Celia Bell who married a Williams and on and on it goes with the catching and holding of great families together. One comes into a new understanding of the importance, greater intelligence, and beauty of the thing.

Chilocco Indian School is pictured in the group with the Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones family. The old photographs are of a school that is no longer functioning. Books have been written of this subject alone. Each author is having a different story to tell.

The Native Americans pictured here are of the Ponca tribe, a tribe separated only by the Arkansas River as a boundary between their land and the Osage. These pictures were not in Bell's collection but were saved by Elizabeth Little Cook, Pensoneau, Hernandez whose Indian name was Me-Tah-Ing-Gay. Elizabeth was the daughter of Oo-Hunh-Zhing-Gah, Samuel Little Cook and the mother to Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones, Mrs. Lee Otis Jones.

In l876 the Ponca people were moved from their land in the Black Hills to Oklahoma.

On the group of Osage Wedding pictures, much quoting is taken from "The Osages," by John Joseph Mathews. He seemed to describe the ceremony well and since none of us living have seen an Osage wedding this was the next choice. Comments by tribal members are: "when the young people married properly according to custom the children to come from that union were considered to be as royalty." This simply meant the children are very loved by their parents and extended family.

Sandwiched together in the next segment are: The families of Collins, Wagners, Hobson's, McFadden's, Barbie and Wadley. Bellzona's daughter Adah Gertrude Jones married a Wadley.

The last section is of the Flood family. This history was so easy to obtain it was almost unbelievable. Simply walking into the library and availing oneself of John Flood, Rodney Flood's father, made the work easy. John Flood, grandfather to Rodney father came from England. His records are there with Buckingham Palace.

The author, Donna Colleen Jones Flood



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