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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.

Nicholson Family

Roy Preston was born to Richard Edward and Anna Pearson Nicholson in Talala, Indian Territory, on July 18, 1902. Tessa Mary was born to John W. and Elizabeth Tredway Troxel near Goodman, Missouri, on January 27, 1902.

Tessa was in high school when she moved with her family to Talala in 1917. Roy had completed only eight years of school when he went to work on a horse farm. Roy and Tessa were married on September 11, 1921. They had two daughters: Annabeth (b. May 11, 1927); and Hattie Louise (b. October 12, 1933). Annabeth married Tom Schwaesdall, and they had two daughters: Jackie Lynn (b. 1949) and Joyce (b. 1962). Annabeth became the postmaster at Oologah. Louise married Ted McCombs, and they also had two children: Janet (b. 1952) and Mike (b. 1956). Louise later married Bob Blackburn in Seminole.

In 1978 Roy completed a short autobiography and family history in which he tells the story of his father, Richard, who was placed in an Indian orphanage when his mother, Eliga Jane, died in 1890. He ran away from the orphanage and returned home to work on Will Rogers's ranch at Oologah. Roy writes, "One time, Will roped a long-horn steer and Richard got off to turn him loose. Will got the steer between Richard and his horse and wouldn't let Richard get to his horse. Richard was really mad and said he wasn't getting off to let any more steers loose for Will." When Richard contracted measles, he was moved from the old bunkhouse to the east room of the family's large white house. Roy loved ranch life and carried scars and broken bones to prove it. He suffered a broken jaw when a horse threw him and broke his arm when he fell off a granary.

After Roy and Tessa were married in 1921, they moved to their own farm and milked cows, raised hogs, and sold cream and eggs. Roy sold his allotment in 1932. It now lies at the bottom of Oologah Lake. He then bought a farm north of Talala.

After they sold the farm in Talala in the early 1960s, the Nicholsons settled in Tacora Hills and, later, moved to Claremore to enjoy a full and active retirement. Roy passed away on October 8, 1983. Tessa followed him in death on August 30, 1984.

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