Poems in the haze of bushfires
25-27 December 2019
Camping at Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park NSW
25 December 2019
Blue sky above
after weeks of
The world on fire
or at least
a continent on fire
The glory of clouds
only visible when
against blue sky
as a red ball
grey smoke haze
The sounds of
and the cicadas
In the stream
water rushing over
a rock dam
Orange ball sun
Shrouded in smoke haze
White tipped wings
when in flight
Waiting in trees
Will they drink
at the stream
if I leave
Dried up forest
Two juvenile roos
Forage by the creek
Stream colour changes
brown green gold
Boulder colour changes
grey blue orange pink
The sun decides
In Tulsa Oklahoma in the 1925 probate records of my grandfather, E.S. Hutchison (the murdered “Love Pirate”), I discovered that W. Lon Hutchison, my father, the firstborn child, had been disinherited by his father. Many decades later, my father did the same to his firstborn child – me. In this family history, I found a pattern of revenge and rejection that I want to change.
That’s why I went on this journey – to uncover the mysteries of my father’s life as a basis for reconciliation. The journey has an end point: writing a novel, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time, based on events in my father’s life.
Continuing my search for information, I left Tulsa, Oklahoma and drove to Krebs. I could hardly tell where the larger town of McAlester Oklahoma ended and the tiny town of Krebs began, except for a sign, The City of Krebs welcomes you.
My father was born in Krebs in 1907, when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory. Today Krebs is a very small town in what was once coal country.
The population of Krebs is about 2,000. Because of several restaurants and a specialized grocery story, Krebs has chosen the nickname “Little Italy”.
According to Wikipedia, Krebs was founded in the late 1800s. The first post office was established in 1886. The town began as a coal-mining camp, housing European immigrants who came to work in the mines.
On January 7, 1892, an explosion in the Osage Coal & Mining Company’s No. 11 mine killed 100 workers and injured another 150.
Here’s a photo of the memorial to that explosion listing all those killed in the coal mine explosion.
I visited the Krebs Heritage Museum, a hodgepodge of stuff from peoples’ attics. I found a record of the birth of the Gilpin girls – my grandma’s maiden name, but nothing more. I bought a tee shirt of the Krebs Heritage Museum and went to look for a cheap motel to spend the night.
The next day I left Krebs to drive back to Vinita to find out if the woman at the Forensic Center had found any records relating to my dad… She hadn’t.
Weary of travel and digging for information, feeling somewhat frustrated, I drove back to my friends’ home, outside Lawrence, Kansas.
I had gone to the Tulsa County Court House to try to find out more about my grandfather’s killer. Instead at an annex, I found probate records of my grandfather’s estate. I was surprised by the size of my grandfather’s estate, (over $200,000, a sizable fortune in 1925) and that he had disinherited his first born child, my father.
Disappointed that I hadn’t been able to find out more about my grandfather’s killer, my next stop was nearby – the Roseville Cemetery.
Through online records I found out that my father had been buried at the Roseville Cemetery. I got there while the cemetery was open, but the office was closed. In the very extensive grounds, I could not find my family’s burial plot. There was no guiding information posted. It would have to wait for the next day.
The next morning, the office was open and I got directions to my family’s burial plot. With some difficulty, I eventually found the Hutchison family plot. The Hutchison plot was right next to the Purdy family plot, which was the surname of my grandfather’s killer.
I avoid cemeteries and have never attended a funeral, but I stayed awhile, talking out loud with everyone who is buried there, including my dad. There were gravestones for my grandfather, grandmother, great uncle, uncle, aunt and my father.
I went from grave to grave, greeting each person. I spoke with each of them and shared what I was doing. I told them I was researching my father’s history to understand the man I didn’t know and that I was writing a novel, Tracking the Human, based on events in his life. I explained to them that my project was a work in progress for reconciliation for all of us.
Driving out of the Rosehill Cemetery, I noticed a gun shop and firing range directly across the street.
My next stop would be Krebs, Oklahoma, a very small town just outside McAlester Oklahoma, where my father was born in 1907. I had no particular leads, but thought I would go and take a look at his birthplace.
At the archives of the Tulsa Public Library, I found the shocking news that my grandfather E. S. Hutchison had his brains blown out by a jealous husband in front of the post office in down town Tulsa Oklahoma in 1925. Then a few days later in a speech at the Tulsa City Club, his brother, L.L. Hutchison denounced my grandfather as a womanizer and said he got what he deserved. As Ye Sow So Shall You Reap.
I wanted to try to find out more about my grandfather and his murderer, so I drove downtown to the Tulsa County Court house.
At the County Court house, I tried to trace what happened to the shooter, Charles Eugene Purdy, who killed my grandfather. I couldn’t find out if he was convicted or not. Perhaps I went to the wrong department.
In a very big thick black book, that was too heavy to lift, I searched and did find handwritten references to probate records for 1925. But the records were not kept at the county court house.
To see the probate records, I was sent to an annex in a temporary building in an industrial area. Thanks to the GPS, I found it on the outskirts of Tulsa. The annex was a nondescript building with a small parking area. There were no clear signs indicating what was in the building. I knocked on a few doors and finally found the probate records annex.
After writing a request for the probate records following my grandfather’s murder, I sat down on a metal folding chair and waited. I felt isolated and alienated in the bare surroundings with no signs indicating where I was or what was the purpose of the space I was in. I controlled a feeling of hopelessness telling me to get out of there.
Just as I was wondering if I was in the wrong place or if the files no longer existed, a clerk came into the room carrying a thick book of records. Glancing quickly through the files, I shouted out in a very loud voice, What? The startled clerk opened the door to the adjoining room to ask if I was okay. I reassured him that I was.
What caused me to shout out loud and startle the clerk?
Having gone to Tulsa Oklahoma to find out about the death of my grandfather, I was shocked to learn how he had died. On January 14, 1925, in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, my grandfather, E.S. Hutchison, age 43, had his brains blown out by a jealous husband ( Love Pirate blog).
Sitting in the Tulsa Public Library archives, I continued reading about the ongoing family saga on microfiche in the Tulsa Daily World newspaper.
To help the reader go back in time to events of 1925, here’s what was happening in the world four days after my grandfather was shot and killed in Tulsa Oklahoma.
On the inside of the Tulsa Daily World, the article on Mussolini goes on to say that Mussolini and his Black Shirts saved Italy from a “Red Overthrowal” and that Mussolini had no “Napoleonic ambitions” and was eager to return to “Constitutional Government”.
And if you were wealthy, here’s the car you could buy.
On the same day, 18 January 1925, my grandfather’s murder is back on page one of the Tulsa Daily World Sunday final edition.
Also on page one were excerpts from a speech by my grandfather’s brother. Five days after his brother was shot and killed, L.L. Hutchison made a speech at the Tulsa City Club, as retiring president. His speech was headlined on the front page of the Tulsa Daily World , “As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Also Reap”.
L.L. Hutchison said that the sorrow his family felt most bitterly (about the death of his brother, my grandfather), was due “entirely to a wrong philosophy of life”. He went on to say, “You can’t sin and get away with it”. He claimed that his brother E. S. Hutchison got what he deserved for chasing other men’s wives. He reminded his audience that the wages of sin are death.
My great uncle denounced his own brother at a public meeting and on the front page of the Tulsa Daily World. My great aunt Jessie Hutchison (wife of L.L.) had my father committed to an Oklahoma state insane asylum. Lon Lewis Hutchison denounced his own brother saying he deserved a violent death because he was a womanizer.
How much more rejection would I uncover in this family? The more information I found on my USA road trip, the more urgent became the necessity of working towards family reconciliation. Generation upon generation of vengeance had to be stopped.
What have you found out in your family research? Can we write our way to family reconciliation?