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Tall Tales and True Stories (Florence Arnola Stults)
by Kathryn Bowman-Parks

 

This is the story of Florence Arnola Stults who was born in Reeds Springs, Stone Co. MO to Sarah McCrory Stults and Newton Jasper Stults.


Florence and the Hill

It seemed strange to Florence to be standing on the top of this hill and looking out across the beautiful, rolling countryside that surrounded the cemetery near Jennings, OK. It had been just a few weeks ago that they had buried her father here and now they were going to bury her mother next to him. How could this be happening to her again? She held the hand of her little sister as they laid their mother in her grave on the top of the hill with only wooden crosses to mark the site. What would happen to her and to this precious child that she had raised since she was an infant.

Florence’s dad, Newton Stults, had been the first in the family to become ill with the flu that was spreading rapidly across the nation. He commented to the doctor that he thought he could recover if he had a drink of whiskey to clear the congestion from his lungs. Newton was a Methodist and didn’t believe in drinking whiskey. He would have tried anything, however, to live and raise his large family. As the illness progressed, he realized that he would not recover and bade the doctor to bring his children and wife to his bedside so he could tell them all goodbye. This was done and he died.

Sarah McCrorey Stults had been ill for as long as Florence could remember and it was no surprise that she died from her bout with the flu. When, Edith, the last baby was born eighteen months before, Florence had taken the baby girl into her own bed and cared for her as if she were her own. She was just a child herself, only twelve years old, but there was no one else to care for the new baby. How she loved that little girl who stood beside her at their parents graves.

What happened next broke Florence’s heart again. Her baby sister Edith and their little brother Wesley were adopted and whisked away from their home. No one knew where they had been taken or how to find them. Florence would not find them again until she was a grown, married woman.

Newton's parents, Dudley and Sarah Jane Orr Stults died of the flu the same month and year as Newton and Sarah Stults. The doctor who treated Newton and Sarah died of the flu soon after he took care of them.


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© 1996, 1997 Jo Dunne