February 7, 2012

"Lenna Earp" by Gerry Robideaux


Black Cemetery, Stroud Oklahoma
Lenna Earp, 1895-1914

I was born in Adair County Kentucky in 1895. My parents lived in Little Cake, if you can imagine a name like that. My dad was a day laborer--didn’t have his own farm.

I don’t remember just when it was that Daddy brought us all to Oklahoma Territory, but I do remember we lived on a farm in North Keokuk Township in Lincoln County near the big town of Stroud. I was fourteen and Daddy had his own farm.

On the next farm was a boy named Hughie Earp, which was homesteaded by his parents, and he was seventeen. I liked this blonde, blue-eyed man, so different from me with my brown eyes and long dark hair. He must’ve felt the same way for we married in 1912. He was nineteen and I was seventeen. Our parents thought we were too young to know what we were doing, but Hughie did a man’s work all day with his dad in the fields and raising horses, and I  knew how to keep house and take care of kids. I had little brothers and sisters.

Two years later we had a baby boy, and we named him Kenneth Hugh. He had my brown eyes and dark hair. Then eight days later I was dead from an infection. The doctor had come from delivering a baby calf at a neighboring farm and hadn’t washed his hands good afterward. 

They buried me in Black Cemetery northwest of Stroud. Hughie put up a beautiful tombstone there. It says, “We Shall Meet Again,” and “Gone But Not Forgotten”.

And his sister Coy wrote a nice obituary. It told how I was converted and joined the church, and about my marriage and the birth of baby Kenny. I liked the little poem at the end.

Heaven retaineth now our treasure of earth. The lonely casket keeps
and the sunbeams love to linger where our sainted loved one sleeps.”

I don’t know about “sainted,” but Elder Perkins preached, it said, “in the presence of a large audience.”