Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Human Wolves of Konawa: The Lothorios and Katherine Cross

Konawa, Oklahoma had two claims to fame: In 1930 Pretty Boyd Floyd robbed the First National Bank and Katherine Cross was murdered by "Human Wolves."

Katherine was the oldest of the children born to John Taylor Cross and his wife, Mary Katherine Diehl Cross and teetering between being a child and being an adult. Katherine's siblings were (in order of birth) Ursie Mar, Esther, Ella, Claud, Clyde, Marvin, and Raphen. Leaving their home in Arkansas, the family moved to the new state of Oklahoma in search of greener pastures and farmland. In Konawa Katherine found herself in trouble. Big trouble. Katherine was pregnant out of wedlock. While it may be common today, this condition did not bode well for a girl at that time in history. To add injury to insult, things were about to go from bad to worse.

Konawa, which got its name from the Seminole language, means String of Pearls, and was a trade center in the early days. Boasting steady growth for the better part of the early 20th Century. it was an up-and-coming community growing to around 1,000 folks around the time the Cross family started calling the area home. Sporting a post office, blacksmith, lumberyard, bank, drug stores, hardware stores, and its own newspaper, the town was a nice place to call home. In 1903 the Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma Railroad bypassed a neighboring town and more folks moved to Konawa. Like any other town, Konawa also had a school system and a doctors to meet the medical needs of the community. 

Abraham H. Yates was one of these doctors. A respected doctor in the community, Dr. Yates was one patient's could easily trust and approach with even their most intimate of problems. On August 15 1917, another citizen of Konawa, Elise Stone, went to Dr. Yates with a very serious, and shameful, problem. Elise, like Katherine was only 18, pregnant, and unmarried. To compound the problem, Elise was a school teacher. This would be highly unacceptable at that period of time and most likely lead to her dismissal from her place of employment. Further complicating the issue, the rumored father of the baby was none other than school principal, Fred O'Neil, a very married man. 

The procedure was performed on Elise, who was quite far along in her pregnancy, and complications arose. Elise languished for four days in Dr. Yates office before she was returned to her own home where she would subsequently die. Elise's death was listed as "Congestive Chill," translated into today's terms as Malaria with Diarrhea. A common cause of death at that time, her cause of death was declared by none other than Dr. Yates. Elise's family mourned their loss and buried her like so many others in the local cemetery. Did her family know the real cause of her death you may ask? The answer to that has been lost to history. However, Katherine Cross would die next and shed light on the true cause of Elise's untimely passing. Elise would not rest in peace for long.

On October 10, 1917, Katherine Ann Cross went to see Dr. Yates for the very same reason as Elise. Katherine was also familiar with Mr. O'Neal, but it is unclear if he was the alleged father of her unborn child too. Mr. O'Neal none-the-less helped arrange the "criminal operation" that would claim her life that day. Dr. Yates convinced Katherine's parents of the necessity of the operation by stating Katherine was suicidal. Unlike Elise, Katherine's parents were aware of her condition and consented to the operation with the prompting, prodding, and encouragement of Dr. Yates. 

Katherine's death was a red flag to the good people of Konawa. They wanted answers as to why two beautiful young women died while in the care of Dr. Yates. County Attorney A.G. Nichols ordered Elise exhumed and examined. Elise Stone's body was disinterred and an autopsy performed right at her graveside. It was quickly determined she didn't die of "Congestive Chill," but of an abortion gone terribly wrong. Katherine's parents then came forward and reported to authorities about Dr. Yates and gave information about Katherine's procedure. 

Dr. Yates was arrested and the headline of the Seminole County News reported the whole sorted affair, albeit with much more politically correct language than we use today. The newspaper told of the arrest of Dr. Yates and Fred O'Neil. Dr. Yates was arrested for performing the abortion while Mr. O'Neil was arrested for arranging it. Gossip spread about both men who were married and held positions dictating adherence to a strong moral code.

Likewise, the Shawnee Daily News-Herald plastered the headline, "Under Bond, Dr. Yates to Face Murder Charge; Konawa Physician Arrested Following Death of Katherine Cross; Charge Death Result Criminal Operation; Doctor is Brought to This County for Safe Keeping." This headline must have been devastating to the Cross family since it came just one day after poor Katherine's funeral. Dr. Yates had been arrested, ironically, while singing at a church revival.

Both men were being held with charges of Murder, however unclear legal technicalities dropped the original charge down to manslaughter. Friends of Elise Stone testified to the relationship between her and Mr. O'Neal while both worked at Vamoosa School. Surprisingly on February 23, 1918 the jury acquitted the two with a vote of 11 - 1 with regards to Elise Stone's death.  Newspaper after newspaper delivered the dramatic news, "Jury Liberates Konawa Doctor."

It should be noted several articles ended with, "Another charge of the same nature is pending against Yates, but will not be tried in this term at court." However, for whatever reason, which I have not successfully discovered, those pending charges were never addressed in a court of law.

Katherine's parents had enough of the grief and publicity, choosing to move away from Konawa to an area just outside Waurika, OK about 100 miles away to the south. Before they left, they were sure to set a mark in honor of their daughter that would never allow the town of Konawa to forget what happened that horrible October day. Purchasing the headstone for their daughter identical in shape and size of the one marking the site of Katherine's grandmother who was already at rest beside her, Mr. and Mrs. Cross had it inscribed with the following, 

If you look closely you would see the inscription read: 

The parents of Katherine Cross were not to be allowed to let their grief fade and move on so easily because in 1928 political rivals of County Sheriff Fred Bowles decided it was time to ouster him from office. The rivals asked Mr. and Mrs. Cross to sign an affidavit stating Sheriff Bowles was aware and actually complicit in the "criminal operation." Fred Bowles challenged the rivals in court, accusing them of libel and slander, for which they were found guilty. Each got a year in jail and had to pay a fine of $1,000, a very large sum of money in that time.

It has been debated since Katherine's death exactly what Mr. and Mrs. Cross meant by adding "Murdered by Human Wolves." Legend quickly grew werewolves existed in Konawa. Chatter on the internet has people claiming Katherine was ripped apart by mythical creatures supposedly roaming the open plains and thick forest of the Konawa area. Ghost sightings and mysterious lights are reported to be seen in the cemetery after sunset.

However, the inscription is most likely a literary reference lost on the less educated or unfamiliar. The idea of Human Wolves can be tied back to works of literature referring to "Lothario." A Lothario (synonym Wolf), according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is a man whose chief interest is in seducing women. Elise, Katherine, and even Katherine's parents were seduced, albeit in different ways, but seduced none-the-less. Elise and Katherine had relations out of marriage resulting in pregnancy and the Cross' were convinced (seduced, if you will, by the good Doctor) abortion was the only answer.

Thus the meaning of the "Murdered by Human Wolves" on the grave stone of Katherine Cross is a firm nod and finger pointed squarely at Dr. Yates and Mr. O'Neil whose character, charm, and position seduced and destroyed so many lives.

Interesting, eh? However, this story does not end here.

I couldn't resist. I had to go check out the grave site for myself. I had to see if the grave stone existed. I had to see if the legend was true and visit this piece of Oklahoma history and folklore. I dragged along my friend, Destiny, and we set out to find the site where Katherine has rested for almost 100 years.

Here is what we found:

The headstone is missing! To say we were disappointed is an understatement. Who the heck would steal a gravestone? We are still perplexed. Poking around on the internet for an explanation, I was disappointed to find only one reference to the stone missing and that was dated 2007. What happened to the grave stone of Katherine Cross?

And here is another creepy fact: Dr. Yates is buried close by Katherine! That's right, the man who killed Elise and Katherine is buried a mere 50 feet away. They were connected in life and now spend eternity close by one another. Unlike Elise and Katherine, Dr. Yates lived until the ripe old age of  65. If you stand where Katherine's headstone once stood, you can see Dr. Yates' resting spot.

So there you have a little information on the Human Wolves of Konawa, Oklahoma. I can't wait to see what other legends I can go explore.

Oh, and PS: Remember Duran Duran's hit song, Hungry Like the Wolf? That song is all about a Lathario. Bet you never listen to that again without thinking of Katherine Cross and the Human Wolves of Konawa.

Tiny House Homestead Podcast #31

Today Riana Stone and I chat about coyotes, Eastern Red Cedars, goats, storm shelters, and general homestead shenanigans. This is a long one folks, so get a coffee and use the restroom first!

Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Managing Eastern Red Cedar on the Homestead

Eastern Red Cedars
Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. This morning was drizzly and thunder filled, but that all cleared up by noon. We spent a good part of the afternoon outside doing some forest management. We focused on irradiating small Eastern Red Cedars that have sprung up all over. We walked around looking for any baby trees (those under 5' tall) and cut them down. We ran out of steam at around 30 and will do some more next weekend, and every weekend after that until all 4 acres are free of the preditorial beasts. If you do not control Cedars they will grow tall and broad, blocking out sapplings and other new growth by preventing sunlight from reaching the ground. My forest is mostly Oak, and I want to make sure to manage my forest so it not only looks nice, but all the trees remain healthy as well. 

Unmanaged Forest
Eastern Red Cedar has always been present in Oklahoma, but were kept in check by natural wildfires. Back in the day before European settlement, wildfires would take care of the issue, however changes in use of the lands has led to these trees reproducing at a rapid pace.

Baby Eastern Red Cedar around 2 feet tall
Red Cedars are prolific seeders. Birds eat the seeds and spread them via their waste. Anywhere birds roost, Red Cedars are common. The birds digestive systems prime the seed and the seeds germinate with ease once they hit the ground. If not removed when small, the trees continue to grow and become more difficult to remove

Cut down at the root
For those with large tracts of lands, prescribed burns can be an effective way to manage the growth of these trees. However, on my land that is not an option. So I choose the next best option. I go around with a pair of loppers and cut the baby trees off at the dirt. That's right, I commit tree massacre.

Juvenile Eastern Red Cedar
There is still much work to be done to bring this forest to where it needs to be, but we are making progress. After we get rid of the baby trees we will be taking a chainsaw to the larger, fully grown trees. We will however be leaving the Cedars along the front of the property. They look nice, don't interfere with any other plants, and provide us with privacy. Not all Eastern Red Cedars are bad, but careful control must be taken to prevent them from taking over. 

For more information on controlling Eastern Red Cedars on your property, the Oklahoma Forestry Service produced this helpful pamphlet.

Thanks for stopping by the homestead!

Monday, March 7, 2016

3 Packet Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Creating a wholesome dinner has never been easier than when using slow cooker. I love my slow cooker because I come home after a long day to a house that smells wonderful. I can sit down to relax and enjoy a meal without any muss or fuss. 

My good friend and neighbor, Chrissa, shared this simple recipe for a wonderful roast that tastes amazing. This roast is fall-off-the-bone tender. You can add carrots, onions, potatoes, whatever you want. Make a large roast or a small one, either way you can't loose. Make a large roast and freeze some for a later meal. This recipe is great for cheaper cuts of meat and will help stretch your grocery budget. Enjoy!


1 Ranch Dressing Packet
1 Brown Gravy Packet
1 Taco Seasoning Packet
2 tbs Oil 
1 Roast
Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onion, etc.

Add a Liner to Your Slow Cooker
1. Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker liner. This makes clean up a breeze!

Sear the Meat
2. Sear the beef using in two tablespoons of oil. 
3. Add any fresh carrots, potatoes, and onions  you want to the bottom of the slow cooker. Use fresh, uncooked vegetables. 

Sprinkle Packets on Meet. No Water Needed.
4. Place the roast on top of the veggies. 
5. Sprinkle the 3 packets on top of the seared roast. No water is needed. 
6. Cover with lid.
7. Cook until the meet falls apart.

This method makes an amazingly seasoned roast. Plus it is just so simple! I buy seasoning packets when they are on sale and keep them in my pantry. I also try to buy meat when there is a good sale. This meal is budget friendly and delicious. 

I love an easy meal that is filling and wholesome. Thanks Chrissa!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Homemade Egg Noodles

The overall goal I have with my life on the homestead is to become more self sufficient. Basic skills for the simplest of foods have been lost for many of us as we increase our dependence on grocery markets and packaged foods. A most basic item, pasta, is surprisingly easy to make. Making egg noodles is surprisingly easy. Why buy your noodles at the store when you can use your own fresh harvested eggs to make high quality noodles? 

Mrs. Volfie of Our Half-Acre Homestead is one of my favorite YouTube homesteaders. Mrs. Volfie is a wealth of information and today I found this short video where she demonstrates the process of making homemade egg noodles. 

The pasta machine, like Mrs. Volfie stated, is under $30. I poked around on Amazon to pick one out. I narrowed my selection down to two (based on price and reviews). Below are my two choices. I have settled on ordering the read one. 

Stainless Steel Pasta Machine w/Clamp

Stainless Steel Pasta Machine in Red: Get ready for the exciting complements for your fresh homemade pasta with this durable stainless steel pasta maker. It's very easy to use; just clamp your pasta machine, choose your settings and you are ready to start. Also included an instructional booklet to help guide you on your pasta preparation. You can make all kinds of pasta such as fettuccine, spaghetti, linguine, and tagliolini with this machine.

Metro Italian Style Pasta Maker in Chrome

Metro Italian Style Pasta Maker in Chrome: Make delicious homemade pasta anytime with this stainless steel pasta maker from Metro. Just clamp this pasta machine to your counter or table edge, choose a setting, and you're ready to turn out fresh homemade pasta. You crank the Metro pasta maker by hand as you feed in your dough.
Made of stainless steel, the machine's adjustable rollers press your dough into long, four-inch wide sheets in a choice of seven thicknesses. You can then cut the sheets into squares for making ravioli, or longer sections for lasagna. By sliding on the stainless-steel cutting attachment, you can extrude thin spaghetti or medium-width fettuccine noodle.
After use, wipe the machine clean or run a damp paper towel or piece of felt through it. Remove the handle and clamp for compact storage. You'll never want to resort to buying dried, store-bought pasta again. A recipe booklet is included to get you started.

I will also need a drying rack. I picked this one: 
Norpro Pasta Drying Rack

Norpro Pasta Drying Rack: Even the longest fresh fettuccine or linguine won't touch the counter when draped on the arms of this sturdy pasta drying rack. The rack stands 16-1/2 inches high, including a heavy, stable, 7/8-inch-thick base. Assembly (and disassembly for storage) is simple. The 3/4-inch center post screws into the base. Four 18-inch dowels then slide through holes in the post, providing eight arms--cunningly angled so they don't interfere with one another--on which to hang fresh pasta to dry before going into the pot, refrigerator, or freezer. As is traditional, the rack is made of unfinished wood so pasta strands don't slide off. --Fred Brack

The best part of being a homesteader is there is always something to learn. I can't wait to make a fresh pot of chicken noodle soup with my own fresh egg noodles. Yum!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bored with Facebook and it is Affecting My Blogging

Did you ever get to a point where something you are super into and love reading about becomes the same thing over and over? Let me use Facebook as an example. I am a member of several Tiny House groups on Facebook. I have researched and read so much that the posts are now becoming painfully repetitive. The same photos, ideas, and questions are posted over and over again. Facebook in general has become that way. It is such a time thief as you scroll through post after post trying to find new and unseen information. I wonder if Facebook will eventually go the way of MySpace?

I think one of the problems is you don't see all the posts from your entire friends list. This means you see the same unhappy people posting the same unhappy, snarky memes over and over. The vibe from
Facebook seems so negative now. I used to enjoy my morning coffee while I caught up on friends and family's posts and activities. Now I just see political mudslinging, memes with spelling and grammar errors, and complaining. Facebook has become, for me at least, useless information overload and time-suckage. Am I the only one that feels this way?

This has me considering only using Facebook to update my Tiny House Homestead page on posts here and moving away from using Facebook for any other purpose. Don't get me wrong, I still think Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with distant family and friends, but maybe my interaction should be through direct posts to them, not generalized posts or memes. Does Facebook actually serve the same purpose it did 5 years ago? 7 years ago?

I think I might feel differently if there was some sort of Facebook search engine. Some way to look though posts quicker for information I find interesting. Right now I just see a mile of posts and maybe find three or four that are actually useful or interesting to me. Life is simply too short to spend hours trying to glean a gem out of this mine of useless information. My time is too valuable.

I find this repetitive information overload to be draining and it actually affects my blogging in a negative way. I hesitate with many of my posts (many never get published) because I don't want to contribute more of the same over and over. I try to update on things I actually do or try here on the homestead. I try to post things that are relevant and useful. Most of all I try to post and be real. This is after all my real life, my real experiences, my real adventure. At least when I post here you make a choice to stop by and read. I don't post five times a day, flooding your email and Facebook with the same posts over and over. I appreciate you, my readers, and I respect your time. I value your feedback.

Anyway, as I was sitting here this morning mulling over the days since my last post and trying to decide on what to write about, I found I haven't done anything super exciting or thrilling or maybe even post-worthy. I worked, collected eggs, lost a few chickens to a critter, slept, ate... well you get the picture. So, if you get irritated because I don't post a ton or I go in spurts, please understand I am trying to spare you bullsh*t fluff because I respect your time.

Are you experiencing the same overload I am? What do you think?