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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.

Brakefield Family

Clark Elifilite and Elizabeth Bell (Waddell) Brakefield were married in Ohio on April 10, 1881. They later moved to Nebraska. Between 1881 and 1889, Elizabeth gave birth to five children: Ray, Mamie, Frances, and twins Earl and Pearl.

The Brakefields staked a claim in Canadian County on April 22, 1889, and had three more children: Gladys, Ernest, and Essie Amelia. Living in a tent with eight children, Clark and Elizabeth were anxious to find more permanent housing before winter set in. Clark often traveled to Oklahoma City for groceries and became lost on the way home, leaving Elizabeth to care for the children until his return.

In late summer 1889 the Brakefields lost Pearl, one of the twins. Later that year they built a one-room house. After two years of construction, the family moved into a ten-room house in 1900 that included four rooms downstairs and a kitchen, dining room, parlor, and living room. They had two storage rooms, a washroom, and three upstairs bedrooms, each with a linen closet. A cistern supplied water to their washroom, where they installed a hand pump to supply water to a tub and wash basin. The house also had two screened-in porches. One of the upstairs walls included a secret compartment for use as a hiding place. A Bible verse was inscribed above the outside door of the upstairs porch. Two wood burning fireplaces were located downstairs.

In 1916 Clark and Elizabeth moved to Oklahoma City. Their son, Ernest, remained in Canadian County to take care of the home place. Ernest married Lou Reaves in 1923 and lived at the Canadian County home off and on until 1934. Four of his children—Chester, David, Thelma, and Dean—were born in the house.

Elizabeth passed away on July 15, 1922. Clark, who was living with Ernest and his family, passed away in May 1924. The Brakefields' pioneer home southwest of Yukon remained standing well into the twenty-first century as a testament to pioneer days in Canadian County.

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