Haskell Pruett (b. June 16, 1897, d. March 05, 1994)
Haskell Pruett, Ph.D
Haskell Pruett (son of Ozie Dean Pruett and Minerva Irene Small) was born June 16, 1897 in Mingus, Palo Pinto Co. Texas, and died March 05, 1994 in Stillwater, Payne Co. Oklahoma. He married Agnes Murray on July 28, 1920 in Hobart, Oklahoma.
Notes for Haskell Pruett: HASKELL PRUETT was the first born child of Ozie Dean Pruett and Minerva "Nervie" Irene Small, who had married September 16, 1894 at the home of Ozie's grandfather, Ransom Marion Pruett, in Charleston, Delta Co. Texas. The young couple had lived with her parents during 1895. Early in 1896 Ozie worked as a meat cutter in Grapevine, Texas and then he found work with the railroad in Fort Worth and later Mineral Wells, Texas. Ozie was promoted to Freight Agent at Thurber Junction, later renamed Mingus, where he built a two-room house, a block northwest of the Texas Pacific Railroad station, in preparation for the arrival of their first child. Haskell Pruett was born about sun-up, Wednesday, June 16, 1897 at Mingus, Palo Pinto County, Texas in the two-room house (which was torn down about 1945). Minerva's mother (Elizabeth Small) had come by train from Hopkins County for the "blessed event" and Minerva's sister (Braddy Smiddy) had come in a buggy from the north part of Palo Pinto County.
Two more rooms were added to the house within a year and in March 1899 Haskell's brother Carl was born. Since Ozie worked for the railroad he and his family got free passes so Minerva and the children could visit her family near Sulphur Springs and go to Ozie's family in Bell, Holland Co. Texas. When Haskell was 3 1/2 in 1901 the family moved to Hopkins County, Texas to a farm known as the "Price Place" about five miles north of Sulphur Springs. Haskell remembers being with his parents on two trips in a covered wagon from Hopkins County during the summer of 1901 to visit Uncle Tom (Thomas Jefferson Pruett) and can peaches and other fruit on his farm. In 1902 they rented from Gregg, north east of Birthright, where brother Earl was born in October.
In the fall of 1902, Haskell's great-grandfather, Ransom Marion Pruett, was traveling from Sulphur Springs to Charleston, Texas and stopped at the farm near Birthright for the night to visit with his grandson, Ozie and family. Haskell 5, climbed onto Ransom's wagon to see what he had bought that was under a quilt and stepped right through the glass door of a mantle clock and broke out the glass. Haskell always remembered the cruelty of Ransom's second wife Sevilla over the incident.
In 1903 Ozie rented a farm from Weir located about half way between Birthright and Tira. Ozie served on the school board for the three month school term and enrolled Haskell in the chart class with Miss Mattie Reed as his first teacher at Pleasant Valley. Lessons were taught from a big chart in the front of the room. In 1904-05 Ozie rented a farm from Mrs. Matt Chapman, a widow with several rent farms, a half mile west of Tira, Texas. He swapped a ham of hog for the tuition for Haskell and Carl for a three month school term during which Haskell finished first grade. (At the time Free school in Texas began for children at age eight.)
On Christmas Day 1904, Haskell's brother Criss was born. Haskell and Carl had spent the night with Minerva's sister, their Aunt Ida. The ground was covered with snow as they returned to find a baby brother. The baby wasn't healthy and Ozie couldn't afford to pay Dr. Chapman the $10 delivery fee until a year later. Criss had asthma as a child and stammered in early childhood.
Minerva believed a "scare" she had when three months pregnant with Criss had caused his difficulties. The rented Chapman farm was in Sulphur bottom, which frequently overflowed. The houses and barns were built close together on the edge of the upland above the flood waters. Times were hard, food was scarce. Near the edge of these bottom farms was a wild blackberry patch of many acres, which had been there before the early settlers arrived, and was used by people coming from as much as five miles away. Ozie had gone to the country store for freight taking Carl with him for the day. Minerva left Haskell at the house to care for Earl [20 months old) while she walked to the berry patch to get food.
One of the neighbor women, Mrs. Tier, saw Minerva going to the berry patch and thought she was going to the bottom field to meet her husband, Mr. Tier, who was plowing his field nearby. There had been trails made in the large berry patch, mostly with logs which one walked over to stay out of the mud while they picked berries. Minerva had been on one of these trails only a few minutes when she heard Mrs. Tier cursing her. She looked up and Mrs. Tier was coming toward her with a club. She was as strong as a man. In great fear and trembling, Minerva ran to the end of the trail and then had to go through the briars and thorns and lost a shoe. She reached the edge of the berry patch and in fear for her two children ran to the back door of her house. Mrs. Tier took the farm lane around to the front door. Minerva fell into the back door and screamed to Haskell that Mrs. Tier was trying to kill her. Haskell, only seven years old, heard her coming to the front gate, cursing his mother. There was a 22 rifle by the side of the front door, loaded, and which Haskell knew how to use. Haskell aimed the gun the gun at Mrs. Tier as she approached the front gate about 20 feet away and ordered her to stop or he would shoot. She stopped without opening the gate but stood there saying mean things to Minerva for some 10 minutes, and then went on to her own home. Haskell recalls finding his mother in their kitchen several times during the summer crying from worry and fear over the incident while pregnant with Criss.
The Pruett family were often sick with malaria (epidemic at the time) in the summer months, and burdened with medical bills. Ozie's uncle's Francis Marion, and Thomas Jefferson "Bud" Pruett wanted to help, so they invited Ozie and family to move to Reed, Greer Co. Oklahoma Territory. The family arrived in Mangum on Friday, September 29, 1905 having ridden in the caboose of the freight train, which brought their household belongings. Haskell 8, Carl 6, Earl 3, Criss 9 months, and their parents were met in the Davis wagon yard by uncles Marion (who had recently married for the third time to Macy Petree), and Tom "Bud" Pruett and Ozie's grandmother Harriett Pruett. They at once began picking cotton for an income and lived at first in a half dugout. Haskell's great-uncle Marion built the family a two-room house on one of his farms (one mile north and four miles west of Reed) in the Sulphur community, and rented 80 acres to Ozie in January 1906.
When the Sulphur one-room school opened in January 1906 Haskell was among the 60 students instructed by Mr. Hawkins. Some students lived miles away and attendance at the five months term was irregular. There were no state adopted text books and students were taught to read from whatever books they had to bring from home. Many children brought bibles. Haskell completed the 2nd grade.
In August 1906 several members of the Pruett clan joined a wagon train bound for Roosevelt Co. New Mexico to stake out Homesteads. Ozie Dean Pruett 33, joined Luna Pruett, Virgil Pruett 20, Thomas Jefferson Pruitt 31 (the son of Marion's uncle Jessie Carter Farrar Pruitt), and Dora Belle Pruett's husband, Henry Jordan, on the wagon train to 22 miles south of Portales, New Mexico. Ozie staked out 160 acres. The homestead was later sold to Henry Jordan's father, Joseph Jackson Jordan, in 1907. Back in Reed in November 1906 Haskell's father began carrying the mail on Route 2, a 23 mile route he drove in a buggy pulled by two ponies.
In January Ozie's uncle Bud sold him a choice ten acres of his farm, a half mile west of Reed. Ozie built a two-room house on it and the family moved in March 1907, just after the birth of Haskell's fourth brother Audie on February 28th. Haskell's only sister, Ammie, was born in January 1909 in the two-room house. In August 1909 Haskell was baptized in Sleepy John Creek to become a life member of the Southern Baptist Church at Reed. Haskell's family visited dad's sister, Aunt Alice, during August of 1909 and 1910. It was almost a two-day journey in a covered wagon from Reed to the Hogue homestead. These two visits were the only time Alice and Ozie's children saw eachother. Cousins Grace Hogue and Haskell exchanged letters till the 1970's. Ozie prospered in farming, renting more land from cousin Will Ponder, and added two more rooms to the house in 1910.
As the years passed Haskell and his brother Carl, less than two years younger, did not have much in common. A family dynamic emerged that was obvious not only within the family, but to all of the relatives who know them. Carl was his dad's son, and Haskell was his Mother's helper. Carl was not interested in school like Haskell was. In boyhood days it was Haskell and Earl who were closest. They spent many hours together planning how they together would own and operate a big modern farm someday.
Haskell's only sister, Ammie Beatrice Pruett, was born in 1909 at the farm at the west edge of Reed, Haskell was 11 years older and he idolized his little sister. On winter mornings when they faced a north wind and maybe snow too, for the half mile walk to school, teenage Haskell carried little Ammie on his back.
Haskell attended special subscription schools; singing and penmanship schools that lasted from a week to a month. He finished the common school (now with four teachers) at Reed passing the Oklahoma common school examinations in the spring of 1912 and was awarded the State Diploma. A year later the first high school was started at Reed. During the school year 1913-14 Haskell was a freshman at Mangum High School. In August 1914, Haskell's youngest sibling was born, brother Ozie Douthit Pruett. Haskell's great-grandmother, Harriett Elizabeth Pruitt Pruett, died in June 1915 and was buried in Reed Cemetery. In August 1915 the family home was expanded to seven rooms with a new barn and windmill. By 1919 Ozie bought and paid for the farm he had been renting for nine years. The family Home was theirs.
A new high school was started at Reed and Haskell was in the first graduating class of 1917. He took the State Examination and received a 2nd Grade Teacher's Certificate. In August 1917 he started his life's career as an educator at age 19. With a growing interest in his famiy history he spoke to Marion Pruett and Mantha Ponder, taking notes to preserve their memories.
Haskell taught for two years following high school graduation, and served as County Agent of Custer County 1919. He and brother Earl, who graduated in only three years in 1919, took the state competitive examination and both won $100 scholarships to Oklahoma A & M College (OSU). Haskell and Earl rode the train to Stillwater and both entered as freshmen in the section II of Agriculture. They roomed together in the Boys Dormitory, Crutchfield Hall, in room 209.
Haskell and Earl stayed close. They often double-dated; quite often dating the Petty sisters, who were also students at the School of Agriculture. One Sunday in the fall, Haskell and Earl rode the train to Mehan, 11 miles, and walked back to Stillwater. They each carried 10 lb. sugar sacks sent by their mother, and on the way back filled them with pecans. The brothers had walked miles without saying a word to each other. Earl remarked, "Haskell, I guess we would enjoy each other and being together even if we did not say a word." The feeling was mutual.
Haskell was principal of the two-teacher school at Fairview, District No. 96, six miles north of Granite, Oklahoma. Within three years he developed a consolidated school with all 12 grades, and had served as its superintendent. In April 1920 he became the Greer County Superintendent of Schools at a salary of $150.00 per month. Before he left the office there were 15 high schools under his direction, as well as a few typical rural schools. Haskell managed to get his brother Carl a job teaching in a one-room country school in Shiloh, southwest of Hobart in Kiowa County.
In July 1920 Haskell was married to Agnes Murray of the Lake Creek community. Agnes' family had come to Greer County in 1904. Both Haskell and Agnes continued in school. Haskell was superintendent of Eastview Consolidated No. 5 and Agnes taught there in 1921-23. Brother Earl was principal of the Ladessa Consolidated #10 school in 1920-21 with Haskell as Superintendent over him. Both Haskell's younger siblings Audie and Ammie were in the eighth grade graduating class of 1921 in Reed. Both of their diplomas bear Haskell's signature. Haskell was in the spring graduating class from the Southwestern State Teachers Junior College in in May 1923. Between teaching and in "cotton picking vacations" both he and Agnes went to went to college. Haskell was at Oklahoma A & M the first semester of 1919 and both went to summer schools at Oklahoma A & M in 1921-22-23. Haskell became Oklahoma's first State Rural School Supervisor in July 1923.
Haskell and Agnes were best man and matron of honor at brother Earl's lovely home wedding to Fay Valentine McMinn on December 24, 1923 in Jester, Greer Co. Oklahoma. Haskell and Earl weighed the same, and Agnes and Fay weighed the same. There was mutual affection among the four.
While living in Oklahoma City Haskell bought a blank book, Family History And Home Record. He took it on the Christmas trip to his parents home and asked his dad to write the story of his life and memories of relatives in the book. Ozie Dean Pruett's handwritten story was presented to Haskell dated December 22, 1924.
He received the General Education Board (Rockefeller) scholarship to attend George Peabody College for Teachers, in Nashville, Tennessee in the school year 1925-26. After their delayed honeymoon trip to the World's Fair at Philadelphia, and to New York and Canada, Haskell and Agnes returned to Oklahoma City. Haskell became Oklahoma's first Director of School Housing.
Double tragedy struck Haskell's beloved brother Earl. Earl and Fay's first child, a daughter, was born February 15, 1926, but lived only a few hours. After burying his baby Earl went to Oklahoma City to have a troblesome tooth pulled. The dentist broke off a needle in Earl's jaw. Septicaemia resulted. Earl died in the Rolliter Hospital on East 5th Street about daylight on February 26, 1926 at the age of 25. Haskell had been called from Peabody College and was with him at the time of his death. Parents Ozie and Minerva were at a nearby hotel. They took Haskell to Reed to arrange for the funeral while Agnes stayed in Oklahoma City to look after details and accompany Earl's body by train to Mangum the following day. Upon arrival the body was taken to Earl's home Baptist Church at Reed for sevices directed by Rev. J. W. Soloman. Interment was a little before sundown at Jester Cemetery. Haskell and Agnes purchased Earl's headstone. Carl had the baby moved from Jones Cemetery to Jester Cemetery and reburied beside her father. Years later after Fay remarried and moved to Denver Haskell and Dresslar moved the gravestone beside their mother's.
Haskell's father, Ozie, like his sister, Alice and brother Criss, had asthma. Haskell and brother Audie sometimes served as his substitute mail carriers and helped him with the mail. Ozie's health allowed him to retire early in 1933 and draw a government monthly check the rest of his life.
Haskell and Agnes lived in a duplex at 1326 East 18th Street in Oklahoma City when their first child, daughter Mildred, was born on Feb. 22, 1927. While Agnes was in the hospital following Mildred's birth Haskell's cousin, Arthur Eskel Pruett (son of Thomas Jefferson Pruett), spent a night with Haskell at his home. Before retiring Arthur said jokingly, "How do you blow out this light?" They recalled the days of the kerosene lamps with which they'd grown up. Sadly on March 19, 1927 Arthur was killed by a truck and buried at Reed Cemetery.
Haskell and Agnes' son Dresslar Murray Pruett was born Oct. 28, 1929 completing the family. Haskell bought the old home place and during the Great Depression employed his brothers Audie and Criss to tear down all buildings and rebuild everything in a new location on the farm. Soon after Haskell built a new three bedroom brick home at 830 N. E. 17th Street where the family would grow and live till 1935.
Haskell completed his Master's degree from the University of Oklahoma, by attending Saturday classes, night classes, and one summer term. He was awarded a Rosenwald Scholarship to finish another Master's degree at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, and a teaching fellowship to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1933. When Haskell was awarded his Ph.D degree Agnes sat toward the rear of the audience during the lengthy ceremony with Mildred 5, and Dresslar 3, in case she would have to leave early with a restless child. After sitting through the ceremony very patiently, Dresslar broke away and ran up to the front where the graduates were being congratulated and asked, "Daddy, are you Dr. Pruett now?" Haskell's younger brother Audie also attended the graduation having made the trip from Drakesboro, Kentucky where he and his wife Beulah Baker were living with her family.
In 1935 Haskell became the Business Manager of Oklahoma A & M College at which time the family moved to 510 South Duncan Street just two blocks from downtown Stillwater, Oklahoma. Just around the corner on 6th Street was the ice-cream store which sold triple-dip ice-cream cones for 5 cents, and two blocks away the hamburger stand had hamburgers for for 5 cents each or six for a quarter. Mildred and Dresslar enjoyed swimming at the Crystal Plunge pool and movies on Saturday mornings at the Camera Theater for ten cents admission. Mildred joined the Order of Rainbow Girls, and Dresslar joined the Boy Scouts.
In 1936 Haskell changed jobs to become the head of the Department of Education Administration. In 1937 Haskell spent six weeks in Washington D.C. on special assignment in the U.S. Department of Education accompanied by his son Dresslar. Haskell and Agnes traveled extensively with their children during school vacations covering 45 states plus Canada and Mexico over the years.
In 1939 the Pruett family moved into a home Haskell had planned and built at 105 Admiral Road in Stillwater. The street address was later changed to 155 South Redwood Drive by the city. Mildred and Dresslar finished their schooling while living there and each earned degrees from Oklahoma State University.
After World War II Haskell founded and became head of the Department of Photography. Haskell retired June 30, 1961 with 44 years credit toward retirement as an Oklahoma educator, with 27 years sevice at Oklahoma State University.
In 1975 many years after the deaths of his great-grandmother Harriett Elizabeth Pruitt Pruett's brothers, Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt and Benjamin Franklin Pruitt, Haskell bought new military markers for their graves at Reed Cemetery. Haskell commented that he had found his great uncle Jesse's company very interesting when he'd known him in Reed, Oklahoma before his death in 1922.
In retirement years Haskell served as president of the Payne County Retired Teachers Association, deacon in the University Heights Baptist Church, president of the Old Greer County Hall of Fame and Museum Board, etc. His most personal satisfying achievement was the preparation of the book of his family history on the eve of the bicentennial of the United States. After publication of The Pruett-Pruitt Family in 1975 Haskell and Agnes planned to prepare her Murray family history. Both Haskell and Agnes are listed in "Notable American's of the Bicentennial Years." Haskell is listed in "Who's Who in Oklahoma," "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in the World." Agnes is also listed in "Personalities of the South" and in "Women of the World."
Haskell Pruett, Ph.D died March 5, 1994 in Stillwater, Payne Co. Oklahoma. Agnes had predeceased her husband by ten years.
THE PRUETT-PRUITT FAMILY By Haskell Pruett Ph.D Professor & Department Head, Emeritus Oklahoma State University 1975.
Haskell Pruett began the research that would culminate in a family book in his youth. In 1917 Mantha Ponder 64, and Francis Marion Pruett 60, together with clear minds, were in agreement on the information about their paternal grandparents when Haskell questioned them. They knew all of their uncles and aunts personally. "I still have (in 1975) the notes I wrote at the time of the interview, but now, 55 years later, I think of many questions I wish I had asked them," Haskell noted in his book. On December 22, 1924 Haskell's father, Ozie Dean Pruett, wrote his childhood memories in a blank book given to him by Haskell: Family History And Home Record.
At the 1955 Pruett Family Reunion at Camp Luggart, Oklahoma, Sheron Reid heard Dr. Pruett from OSU talk about the family history. After she was married she got in touch with Dr. Haskell Pruett again. Assisting and contributing a large portion of the Pruitt family research to the forthcoming book were Sheron and her cousin Virginia Beckham Carroll (both grandaughters of John Ruben Harrison Pruitt). Haskell had searched for the grave of Diannah Hillsman Farrar Pruitt Whaley for many years with no luck as he prepared to publish his book. In July 1971 Sheron and Virginia visited with Tennie Parlee Pruitt Coaly, age 93, at her home in Ringling, Oklahoma. Tennie gave them a picture of her father Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt and his brother Benjamin Franklin Pruitt in their Civil War uniforms and when asked, Tennie knew exactly where Diannah's grave was located! They were soon off to visit Diannah's grave in Fox, Oklahoma, and after taking pictures called Haskell with their news. He just couldn't believe they'd found Diannah's grave, and drove out there himself almost immediately!
From Haskell's opening page Acknowledgements; "This study would never have gotten a good start had it not been for my wonderful kin. For about 60 years they seem to have accepted me as Family Historian. They have answered my questions by the hours. They have answered my many, many, letters. When I have visited in their homes they have taken me to the attic whether it was as hot as a baking oven or as cold as a refridgerator to look into Grandma's (or some older relatives) old trunk for an old family Bible, [or] a package of old letters. I was shown an old wedding dress almost a hundred years old, and Confederate Captain's uniform. They have walked with me by the hours that ran into days looking through old cemeteries grown up in weeds and long lost family burial grounds. They have written other members of the family to help with information. My wife, Agnes, has sat by the hours waiting for me in some courthouse, or by an old cemetery to find "one more" clue. She has traveled with me to visit dozens of families and family reunions. She has loved my kin and they have returned the love. To my cousin Sheron Darnell goes much credit for hundreds of hours or research work on microfilms, courthouse records, and her trip to Franklin Co. Georgia... Our cousin Virginia (Beckham Carroll) was Sheron's team worker. To them belongs the credit for locating the grave of Grandma Whaley (Diannah Hillsman Farrar). I had looked for it for about 50 years. My only daughter, Mildred, has done hundreds of hours of letter writing, organization work and finally typing this book..."
From the Introduction written by Haskell's daughter Mildred; "I never knew a time when my Dad was not seeking more information about his kin. In growing up, my brother and I traveled with him and our mother in 45 states, Canada and Mexico. We often drove many miles out of our way just to go by an old courthouse, and old cemetery, or to call on some person who might have an old family Bible, some old pictures, letters, or stories he had not heard. My Dad has always been a student. As a student in four different universities, he worked in seven major fields. He wrote theses for the Master of Science and also the master of Arts degrees. His doctorate research was used as a worthy example while he was working on it at George Peabody College for Teachers. He built a personal library of over 15,000 volumes. He has always read a lot. I have never known anyone with a better memory. I sat as one of his many thousands of students...I know how he compares with the many other university professors...I could be prejudiced, but the fact that for over a quarter of a century all of his classes were filled to maximum enrollment, supports my opinion. No other university professor is listed in more "Who's Who" in America and London."
In his books Prologue and Summary Haskell reflected on the changes in family life between the 19th to the 20th centuries...[A century earlier] "If a newly married couple could get a '"patch of ground,'" a mule, a Georgia Stock (plow), a cow, a few chickens and a pig they were '"well fixed.'" They wanted to carry their own responsibilities. Children born into the home were were an economic asset to work on the farms... "In my lifetime (and many of those in this book), I have seen the decay of the strong Family Life. The Family is the oldest Institution on earth. It is the basis of other great institutions of government, schools, [and] churches... The broken homes from divorce have thrown children into crime, [and] drugs... Children in the family are no longer economic assets, but expensive luxuries. I hope I am not sounding a '"Doomsday."' I just hope that family books such as mine will help younger people realize they are still a part of one big family scattered everywhere. Already through my relationships with my kin I have had many know each other as cousins, and become interested in each other's welfare."
Haskell concluded his book with the quote: '"The future of a country is safe in the hands of those to whom her past is dear."'
Thank you Haskell for your many gifts and great contribution in preserving our family history.
Sources: The Pruett-Pruitt Family by Haskell Pruett, Ph.D. 1975 Library of Congress Catalog Card #75-26207 Greer County Oklahoma History Book, article written by Haskell Pruett about Ozie Dean Pruett.
Census: 1910 Greer Co. Oklahoma, E.D. 115, sheet 2B. Listed as "Haskell Pruet" 12, born TX TX IN.
More About Haskell Pruett: Burial: Fairlawn Cemetery, Stillwater, Payne Co. Oklahoma.
More About Haskell Pruett and Agnes Murray: Marriage: July 28, 1920, Hobart, Oklahoma.
Children of Haskell Pruett and Agnes Murray are:
Mildred Pruett, b. February 22, 1927, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co. Oklahoma.