I skipped the trip to Tulsa and drove through Oklahoma City so we could stop at the Oklahoma Historical Society to see if they had birth or marriage records. They didn't, but they had records of William Freeman Keith's Indian claim and a 1937 interview with him telling about his life in Indian Territory and when he walked from Georgia to Oklahoma with a group of Cherokee Indians in 1880. The Oklahoma Historical Society promised to send a copy of this and whatever other information they could find about William or my mother.
After I got to San Diego, I told my sister , Alice, what I had found and asked her what she thought about telling mother. She was mad and excited. She questioned why I looked for that kind of information anyway? She told me not to say anything about it to mother. In fact said she would crown me if I did.
I stayed with my mother a few more days and we talked about her early life and about grandmother Anna. Aside from my sister 's threat, I was reluctant to tell my mother what I had found because I knew it would shatter her dreams about her father.
Many times my mother had told me of the recurring dream she had since she was a little girl. She would dream that her father would appear at the foot of her bed. He was a tall handsome man, and told her he was sorry that he had died, so early and wanted her to know he loved her and wished he could be with her to protect her, and wanted her to know how much he loved her. Her mother had agreed that was the way her father looked. Her mother had always told her what a fine man her father was and how much better their life would have been had he lived.
We will never know the full story of how and why Anna became pregnant with my mother, Dora, but from all that Annie told my mother about William Freeman Keith: I am torn between the thought that there is a love triangle there some place, rather than a rape. Annie could have reacted to a rape by being ashamed and did not want her daughter to know and therefore told her, her father had died when she was a baby. On the other hand Annie could have loved William Freeman Keith and wished she had married him instead of her sister. She wanted her daughter to know William Freeman was her father, but didn't want Dora to think her father didn't love his daughter. His early death would have worked for either story.
I knew that telling my mother what I found would be very poignant stuff for her. I was very reluctant to bring up the subject, On the other hand I wondered if my aunt Bessie had found the same information about William's death when she stopped in Porum in the 1930s to check on who her father actually was.
Bessie wanted her father to be William, the same as her sister, Dora. She said only one aunt was still alive. This aunt gave her a picture of herself and Dora as children, it must have been the aunt, Emma that wanted to keep Dora to help her sister Anna. If so, Aunt Emma, must have told Bessie about her sister's Anna's secret. My aunt Bessie might have even met and talked to William himself, as he and his wife Alma was still alive at that time. What ever way she learned that her father was actually Charles Pfieffer and not William, she showed her disappointment.
I remember that my mother and father were mad at my aunt Bessie and her husband for several years after their trip to Porum. As a youngster, I never knew why they had a falling out. I just knew they avoided each other when we visited the west coast. Now the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. If Bessie had told her sister Dora that William was living, my mother would not have wanted to hear it. My father would be upset that Bessie told the story, perhaps in a mocking manner. If so, that might be the reason for the falling out.
It is probable that my grandmother was too embarrassed to tell her daughter about the affair. I think she wanted to let Dora to continue believe her father was dead, rather then feel bad and wonder why he never tried to contact her.
In spite of my mixed feeling and reluctance to bring up the subject as well as my sister's warning, one evening my conversation with my mother reached a point when it seemed the right time to tell her about my trip to Porum. To my great relief, she didn't seem shocked when she heard the story. Even if she had heard the story from her sister before, I was sure she was disappointed. It did shatter her dream, but in a way she seemed relieved. It is possible she realized she had to believe her sister Bessie's story from back in the 1930s. She didn't say anything about Aunt Bessie's trip, So I never asked.
She said that her mother, Anna, had told her several times that she had something she wanted and needed to tell her before she died. Unfortunately her mother, Anna, died before she ever got around to telling her whatever it was that needed telling. Dora had always thought something like this might have happened, and her mother wanted to get it off her chest.
Several years later, when my brother, Donald, and I were together visiting my mother, we had a long talk with her. I made a recording of everything my mother could remember about her childhood in Oklahoma and home life in California before she was married. Also what she could member about her mother's life, after Charles Pfieffer left. She still didn't bring up Bessie and her trip to Porum, though that would have been a good time to discuss it.
I now had an explanation of why Anna's second husband, Charles Pfieffer, had been so mean to my mother and why my grandmother had such a hard life. I assume that with his extreme religious and self-righteous thoughts and with his warped sense of logic, he decided my mother was bad, and should be punished because she was born out of wedlock
I had solved one question. Now I had some real mysteries on my hands: All of my aunts and uncles were now dead, They probably would not have known, but now I can't ask them. I will have to find records or speculate what happened in the past in order to write this story.