In 1968, I still didn't know much about our Indian ancestry. In a letter, I pressed my mother, now 75 years old, for as much specific information as she could remember about her mother and father.
She answered in a letter:
"My, but you asked a lot of questions. Some I can answer, some I can not. My father was born at home, died of pneumonia at home when I was three months old. He had just one sister and two brothers. I do not know their names. My grandfather and grandmother died, one before I was born and one right after. Oklahoma was all Indian Territory when I was born.
My mother (Anna) would not talk much about my father, but she did say, if William Freeman Keith had lived things would have been wonderful for her and I. Often I have talked to my mother about him or what she thought he would say to me, his daughter. I often dream of him standing at the foot of my bed, he was a handsome man, good looking and all dressed up. He seemed to be trying to tell me something. I told her how he looked in my dreams, she said that was just the way he looked.
Around 1933/34, your aunt Bessie and uncle Ralston stopped at all the places where mother and her family lived in Oklahoma. Bessie said most of grandma Anna's sisters were dead, only one brother and one sister were still alive. The sister passed away soon after they got back from their trip. She was the one that gave her the picture of when she was a baby and I was about five years old.
My mother married Charles Pfieffer in 1896. About 1900 Charles Pfieffer went to California on a visit to see his brothers and sisters to look for work. If he could find a job, he would come back for mother, Bessie and I. After a long time, he did come back and in about 1902 Bessie and I went with Mother to Santa Monica, California. I was about nine years old at the time and don't remember anything about the trip.
I remember how much he hated me. I also can remember how my aunt Emma begged mother to let them keep me back in Oklahoma. She and her husband never had children and they were good to me. He made jewelry and Emma sewed for a living. I used to ask mother why she did not let them keep me. I am glad she didn't let me stay now, I would have never met your father. Emma was the only one of mother's family I can remember. I don't have any information about Georgia. Mother was 16 years old when I was born. I am 75 now."
This information was just enough to increase my curiosity and I wanted to know more about my grandmother and my mother's early life in Oklahoma and vowed to find out some day.
A few years later when I finally started to look for information about my grandfather and grandmother's early life. It turned out to be more than just looking for records.
The effort turned into a great adventure over many years, taking me to Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and several times back to Oklahoma. The results were surprising. I not only found information about my Indian grandfather, but learned much more about my grand mother. Maybe even more than I, or my mother, wanted to know.
I traveled back in history to learn the sad history of the treaties between Indian tribes and the American government. In particular the treaties with the Cherokee Indians. It was no wonder the Indians said, "White man speak with forked tongue" But, I also found that some Indians also have forked tongue. Rather, I should say Indians also have silent tongue when it suits them.
After learning more about the early life of my grandmother and my mother, I think I understand some of the reasons for the way they lived their life. Most important, I gained understanding of the great hardships they had to endure. I have greater respect for them and am amazed at the way they lived their lives in spite of their early hardships.