This sweet old snapshot is my Grandpa Marlin Mills and his sister, Pauline. It was made on the front porch of their home near Kiefer, Creek County, Oklahoma, probably in the spring of 1918.
This happy time preceded significant turmoil in their young lives, as their younger brother, Jack, would soon die at the age of 18 months. In the emotional aftermath of his death, their mother, Nellie (Shoultz) Mills insisted that the family should return to their home and kinfolk in Gibson County, Indiana. They did so, and are recorded there in the 1920 census. Great-grandfather Roy Mills knew it was a bad move, as he could never make as good of a living there as he could working in the Oklahoma oilfields.
The family moved back to the Kiefer/Mounds area in 1921 and he resumed his job with Texaco (then known as the Texas Company). Nellie's father, Marshall Allen Shoultz, cried after they left Indiana, telling his wife and children that they would never see Nellie again. He was right, as less than a year later, in February of 1922, Nellie died of tuberculosis at the age of 28. She left behind three children under the age of 10.
My Grandpa, Marlin Mills, who was known for years as Barney, died in 1979 and is buried at the Memory Gardens Cemetery in my hometown of Pampa, Texas. My great-aunt, Pauline (Mills) Gattis, is 94 years old at this writing and living in Springfield, Illinois. Their brother Jack died in 1918 and is buried at the Mounds, Oklahoma Cemetery, alongside his parents. Their other brother, Leonard Dale Mills, never married and was killed in Italy during World War II. He was only 25.
This old photo, which originally belonged to my great-great grandparents Marshall and Eva Shoultz, was sent to me in 1979 by my great-grandmother's sister, Mrs. Ruby Shoultz Hartup, of Princeton, Indiana. She also shared her memory of Roy and Nellie and the children stopping by their house to say goodbye as they left Indiana in 1921, and her father's emotional reaction to their departure.
© 2008, copyright Stephen Mills