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Bessie Bird Gentry

Bessie Bird Gentry

Female 1894 - 1958  (63 years)

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  • Name Bessie Bird Gentry  [1
    Born 14 Dec 1894  Alma, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Female 
    Died 3 May 1958  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Duncan Memorial Cemetery, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • When Bessie's husband vanished in the late 1920's, she was left as the sole supporter of their five children. She worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for various families in Duncan, including the Ederington's, who owned the local service station, and for the parish priest. She also had to rely on her and Tom's family for financial assistance. One person who was especially helpful was Tom's first cousin, Annie O'Neill Sparks. Annie was able to help Bessie enroll her older children in nearby Catholic Boarding Academies. These academies had been set up to service the needs of impoverished Native American children. But because Tom was enrolled in the Chickasaw Nation, and Annie was well known in her parish, she was able to help make this happen. Patty Gay, the youngest child, remained with her mother. She was a sickly child, with a congenetial heart defect that led to her early death.

      Lynn Moroney told Charles that although Bessie received help from some of her kin, at times was resentful of being the object of their charity. Lynn also related a story that her mother Fay had told her, concerning a different type of charity. Bessie and her children lived for a while in a duplex in Duncan. This duplex had adjoining closets which actually allowed you access to your neighbors living quarters. Bessie's neighbor explained it would be of great service to her if Bessie could "keep her beans from burning" while she was at work each day. She would have a large pot of beans or stew simmering on the stove all day long, and each day Bessie would take one of her children through the closet with her "to stir the beans." She would give the child a small sample of the hot food every time they helped her to stir them, and admonish them to keep this a secret from the other children. The neighbor was fully aware of this, and both she and Bessie kept up the pretense that it was Bessie helping her, and that it wasn't the other way around. The girls compared stories years later, and were each surprised they weren't the only one whose meager lunch was supplemented by hot beans or stew.

      After her daughters were grown, Bessie lived with each of them for a time. Charles recalls when she lived with his family in Duncan. He recalls that she was shy to the point of being reculsive, and fearful of many things, most especially of inclement weather. Whenever a storm even threatened, Charles was dispatched to take her to the storm celler, and to remain with her until it was all clear. His younger brother Bill soon discovered Bessie's almost obsessive attention to detail, and took delight in secretly tormenting her. He would turn the telephone in the wrong direction, or slightly tilt pictures and doilies in their home. Bessie would immediately fix things back to way they should be. When she would walk through the room again a few hours later, she would be upset to find everything slightly out of order again, and worriedly set about put things back in order.

      Charles Strong reports that as a youngster, he on occasion thought he heard a Payne relation let slip a reference to how "Uncle Tommy" was doing, and immediately change the subject when they realized he was in the room. He suspects that Tom may have been in touch with one of more of his relations back home. If this was so, however, no one shared this information with Bessie or her daughters.

      Bessie had an ulcer on her leg that never healed, and after several unsuccessful skin grafts she eventually had to have it amputated, and was give a wooden prosthetic. Her grandchildren were both scared and fascinated by the leg, and hid it from Bessie occasionally to tease her. Charles heard that the leg infection started when she was a young girl, helping her parents in the fields. She would scratch mosquito bites until her legs were raw and ragged. One of the sores became infected with ragweed, and never properly healed. Charles is not sure as to the veracity of this story, and suspects that a genetic skin condition may have contributed to this. He and several of his children and grandchildren also suffer from severe skin allergies which may be related.

      FUNERAL IS HELD FOR MRS. BESSIE PAYNE

      A native of Alma, Mrs. Bessie Payne, 63, died in a local hospital early Saturday after a two week illness, following a stroke. She had lived in Oklahoma City the past 15 years. Funeral was in the Church of the Assumption Monday morning with Rev. Ferdinand Strasser officiating. Rosary was in Grantham Funeral Home Chapel Sunday afternoon. Burial was in Duncan Cemetery. Survivors include three daughters, Mrs. Homer Strong, 1806 Birch, and Mrs. Fay Pierce and Mrs. Jim Hanna, both of Oklahoma City; a son, Thomas of Newport Beach, California; two sisters, Mrs. Richard Meeks, 704 No. 2nd, and Mrs. T.M. Goodwin, Belle, California. Five brothers, Al Gentry, 305 South 7th; Delbert Gentry, 516 Pine; Elmer Gentry, west of Duncan; Jess Gentry, Duncan and Lloyd Gentry, Oklahoma City and 13 grandchildren. Bearers were Lucien Haas, I. G. Imming, L.W. Jennings, Eldon Pickrell, Louis Scott and Robert Walter.
    • (Research):Census Information:

      1930 census Stephens Co. OK
      King Twp. Duncan city, ED 69-4 Sheet 19A 17 No. 7th - Hot
      el 396/435C

      Payne, Bessie B., FW 35 M 18 OK TX TX
      Patty G., dau. FW 2 2/12 S OK OK OK
    Person ID I6298  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 17 Aug 2014 

    Father James Edwin Gentry,   b. 25 Mar 1869, Johnson County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Jan 1950, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Mother Elzada Trawick,   b. 6 Jan 1871, Coffeyville, Montgomery County, Kansas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jan 1951, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Married Abt 1891 
    • Lynell Gentry Cordell writes that "Zada Trawick's family was also in Wise Co., Texas in 1880. I wonder if John M. and Pamelia could have moved there after the 1880 census and Zada and Ed met and married there in 1890/91. Preacher William, possibly in need of care, his wife having probably died, could have been there around that time also." It is also possible that they married in Oklahoma, her obituary saying she had been a resident of Alma and Duncan since 1889.
    Family ID F1081  Group Sheet,  Family chart

    Family Thomas Hamilton Payne, II,   b. 20 Mar 1893, Marlow, Indian Territory Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Dec 1957, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Married 27 Dec 1912  Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Vol. 3, Stephens County Marriage Book: , Lic. # 101
      Thomas H. Payne, 19 to Bessie Gentry, 18 married 12-27-1912

      Because of his outgoing nature, it must have come as a surprise to some when Tom Payne and Bessie Gentry were married a few weeks after her 18th birthday. Bessie was timid and shy by nature, and much happier in town than in the outdoors. They had five children in fairly short order, and times were tough in Oklahoma during the dust bowl. Charles Strong, Bessie's oldest grandson, also remembers that Bessie had very high standards, which her husband found hard to live up to. She was a thorough and dedicated housekeeper, and was almost obsessive about things being neat and tidy at all times. Charles recalled a story one of Bessie's brothers related to him about dropping by one afternoon for a visit. Bessie had just mopped, and refused to let him in, not wanting her immaculate floors stepped on.
    Children 
     1. Anna Laura Payne,   b. 23 Oct 1913, Arthur, Parks Township, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Sep 2004, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 90 years)
     2. Dora Fay Payne,   b. 30 Jan 1915, Alma, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Mar 2002, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years)
     3. Thomas Hardrick Payne,   b. 17 Jan 1917, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Apr 1997, Shasta County, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)
     4. Lois Marie Payne,   b. 10 Feb 1920, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Nov 2013, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     5. Patricia Gabriela "Patty Gay" Payne,   b. 8 Feb 1928, Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Mar 1936, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 8 years)
    Last Modified 9 Dec 2006 
    Family ID F21  Group Sheet,  Family chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 14 Dec 1894 - Alma, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 27 Dec 1912 - Stephens County, Oklahoma Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 3 May 1958 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
    St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
    PLEASE HELP US IDENTIFY the Unknown students in this picture

    Top Row: Appears to be one of the RICE sisters from Noble, Oklahoma

    Middle Row: Unknown, Bessie Gentry PAYNE (the mother of Lois and Fay PAYNE)

    Bottom Row: Lois Marie PAYNE, Fay PAYNE, UNKNOWN

    Please help us identify the unknown Students
    Gentry, Bessie Bird ca 1930 with her daughters
    Gentry, Bessie Bird ca 1930 with her daughters
    This picture, of Bessie with her daughters, was probably taken around 1930. From left to right are Bessie Gentry Payne, Anna Laura Payne, Fay Payne, Lois Payne, and Patty Gay Payne.
    Gentry, James Edwin Farm House, Stephens County, Oklahoma
    Gentry, James Edwin Farm House, Stephens County, Oklahoma
    Taken at the Ed and Zada Gentry farm house sometime before 1940. Top row, left to right, Zada and Ed Gentry, Eva and Bud Gentry, Arthur Gentry, Jess Gentry. Bottom row (l to r), Ruth Gentry, Gracie (Gentry) Payne (ASSUMED), Harold Gentry, Myrtis (Burch) Gentry, Robert "Bobby" Perry Sanders III, Betty Jean Gentry, and Bessie (Gentry) Payne.

    PLEASE HELPS US CLARIFY THE UNKNOWN OR INCOMPLETE INFORMATION ABOVE.
    Gentry, Bessie ca 1940, with son Thomas Hardrick Payne and daughter Fay Payne Pierce
    Gentry, Bessie ca 1940, with son Thomas Hardrick Payne and daughter Fay Payne Pierce
    Bessie Payne went to visit her children in California in the 1940's. This photo was taken at Fay Pierce's home, 847 1/2 Pointsettia Place in Los Angeles.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    Gentry, Bessie Bird ca 1950
    Gentry, Bessie Bird ca 1950
    B. 1894 Indian Territory D. 1958 Oklahoma
    Wife of Thomas Hamilton Payne. He disappeared, leaving her and their five children behind in Oklahoma during the dustbowl
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.

    Documents
    Gentry, Bessie Bird, Delayed Certificate of Birth
    Gentry, Bessie Bird, Delayed Certificate of Birth
    Delayed Certificate of Birth issued by the Oklahoma State Health Department. Bessie was about 48 years old at the time her delayed birth certificate was issued.

    Headstones
    Payne, Bessie (Gentry)
    Payne, Bessie (Gentry)

  • Sources 
    1. [S390] State of Oklahoma, State Health Department, Delayed Certificate of Birth.