Home > support >  Family Tree Histories

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.

Shi Family

Physician, patriarch, and pioneer Augustin Henry ("A. H.") Shi and his wife, Bessie, embodied the frontier spirit. A. H. was born in Bolingbroke/Forsyth, Georgia, in 1873. As his father, brother, and five uncles were physicians, he was practically destined for a career in medicine. He attended one year of medical school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and completed his education in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1898. While he was in school, he practiced medicine in Indian Territory, where a medical license was not required. He and his brother, Pat, took turns attending school; while one was studying, the other worked in Indian Territory to pay their tuition. After graduation, A. H. settled in McGee, Indian Territory. He complemented his medical practice in McGee by serving as a railroad doctor for the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway. He made roundtrips to Arkansas City, Kansas, on a regular basis.

"Doctor," as he was affectionately known, met his future bride, Bessie Jackson, in McGee. She was born in Jimtown, Indian Territory, in 1888. Her father, Adolphus Jackson, was a prominent cattle rancher and had just moved his family north to McGee. When Doctor arrived in McGee, Bessie became one of his patients. During an office visit, she was delirious with fever and kissed him, thinking he was a relative. Bessie left McGee to attend an Indian girl's boarding school near Ardmore. When she returned to McGee, Doctor began courting her. They were married in her parents' home in 1903. The Shis moved to Stratford when the town of McGee relocated there in 1906.

Together, Doctor and Bessie watched the Twin Territories change and the new state grow. They were married for sixty-three years, and he practiced medicine for more than seventy years. Before he had access to hospitals, he performed surgery on their kitchen table. Doctor made house calls and, on occasion, cared for patients in their homes overnight. He gave up his horse and buggy when cars became the preferred mode of transportation. Doctor delivered thousands of babies, many of whom were named after him. He cared for his patients tirelessly during the influenza epidemic of 1918 and the depression of the 1930s. When patients were unable to pay their medical bills, he let them pay on time or with food.

Doctor was recognized as an astute diagnostician who kept current with medical advances. He was also interested in economic development. Doctor was a silent partner in many local businesses and helped found Valley View Hospital in Ada and the Stratford Methodist Church. Doctor and Bessie helped change a lawless, undeveloped, and scarcely populated region into a civilized, modern, and cultured state. Dr. and Mrs. Shi are both buried in the McGee Cemetery near Stratford.

Dr. and Mrs. Shi raised three children: Josephine Howard (Shi) Donham; Dorothy Muer (Shi) Robertson; and Augustin Henry Shi III. They also had nine grandchildren: Jim Shi Donham; Bessie Jane Shi; Mary Josephine (Shi) Stucker; Martha Winn (Shi) Dew; Molly (Shi) Boren, former first lady of the State of Oklahoma and current first lady of the University of Oklahoma; Judy Anne (Shi) Connally; Augustin Henry Shi, M.D.; Mallory Ann (Robertson) Harvey, Ph.D.; and Susan Kirby (Shi) Crutcher.

Back to list