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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Calaway Family

John Jestus Calaway was born in Topeka, Kansas, on May 20, 1890. Laura Jeannette Donnellan was born in Herington, Kansas, on October 30, 1892. They were married in Wellington, Kansas on June 22, 1911, and settled in Caldwell, where John worked for the Rock Island Railroad. Their first daughter, Margaret Ellen, was born in 1912. Their only son, Richard Harold, was born in 1915.

In February 1917, the Rock Island Railroad transferred John to Chickasha, where he and Laura brought two more daughters into the world: Erma Louise in 1919; and Dorothy Helen in 1923. Laura died from complications in childbirth only two days after their fourth daughter, Laura Jean, was born in 1926.

Throughout John's dedicated career with the Rock Island Railroad, he served as secretary of the Switchman's Union. As a member of the Oddfellows Lodge, he served as grand scribe, grand treasurer, grand representative, and grand patriarch of Oklahoma. He was honored with the Decoration of Chivalry (a meritorious service award) and received a 55-year-veteran jewel for his service.

On June 8, 1933, John married Ina Pearl Hedrick, who was born in Salem, Indiana on January 28, 1892. Ina passed away on June 13, 1964. John died on December 13, 1970.

The Calaways were members of Chickasha's First Christian Church. They left numerous descendants: Margaret (1912-1996) married Frank Shaw in 1954; Richard (1915-1993) married Ruth Matilda Dora Wolf in 1944; Erma (1919-1993) married Leonard Virgil Spoon in 1937 and, upon his death in 1946, married William Claud Ferguson in 1947; Dorothy (1923-2002) married Clyde Eugene Stauffer in 1953; and Laura (1926-1991) married Otto Keyton Boothe in 1949.

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