Sarah Elizabeth Cline

Text By Bettye Zoller Seitz (nee Elizabeth Volkart)
Grandaugher of Sarah Elizabeth Cline - 1864-1962

My grandmother, Sarah "Sadie" Elizabeth Willis Cline traveled three times in a covered wagon from Illinois to Missouri with her parents and siblings. She said she was only about 5' 2" because she "slept crossways in the wagons with her head and feet jammed against its sides all during my growing years." The family (as did many families at that time) took the children into town to view hangings. They took a picnic lunch! Was this a morality lesson? Yet, the children seemed to look back upon it as 'pleasant.' Grandma said they ate, had a good time, and watched the mavericks hung.

When my grandma was a little girl (age unspecified but she clearly remembered it) she sat on President Lincoln's lap in Springfield Illinois. Grandmother was born in 1864 and died when I was sixteen years old in 1962 (age 98). She made her daughters print in the paper that she was "96." They did so out of respect for her. She was always sensitive about her age. She was never ill for a moment. She walked to card parties and had a great old age and took to her bed only four months before her death. She was always smiling and laughing, despite the fact that she had had four of her eleven children die as babies and one son took his own life in adulthood while one teenage daughter died of diptheria. Nearly everyone passed away, her brothers and sisters -- everyone -- prior to her passing, because she lived so long.

Her husband, Willis Cline, was a real estate salesperson and he and my grandma ran for the land opening the Oklahoma Strip. Later, they had a chauffeur and were rich when they lived in Gage and Chicashay OK. He had a private railroad car. Grandpa passed away during the influenza epidemic in the 1920s and Grandma never remarried. The children loved him, calling him "Papa." My mother, the baby of the family, was three years old when he passed. My grandmother thought she had entered menopause when she became pregnant with my mother. She was 44 years old (1908) at the time. Grandma Sadie said that she "knew she would have a baby every spring when Billy 'got that look in his eye' but oh it was wonderful, because how I loved those pretty babies!"

When my grandma was a young and very beautiful girl, she fell deeply in love with a boy and became pregnant. This was a well-kept family secret until I was old enough to understand and be proud. Grandma kept the baby, my aunt Edna, a nurse and a wonderful woman. Grandma was only sixteen and she and Edna said they always felt more like sisters than mother/daughter. Edna did not look like my grandma's other children. I realized this later when I was a teen. The boy refused to marry her. Later, Grandma met Billy, my grandpa Willis Cline, and he took her and her young daughter as his own.

My mother and dad were married fifteen years, childless, when I came along. Therefore, my mother was thirty-five when I was born in 1943 and my father was 40. Grandma Cline was 79! When I can recall her, at about age five or six, she was age 85 or so she was walking everywhere around the neighborhood, shopping, cooking, and acting like a woman half her age!!

Grandma told me that when she was a young girl, because she was the oldest child, she raised "all the younguns." She said that she had "done dishes all her life and was sick and tired of them." She was smart and a good student, but seldom got to attend school because she had to stay home and help her mother "tend to the younguns."

When my mother and aunts talked about their mother, my grandma, they loved her so much -- you could tell -- but their complaints about their childhood were that Grandma knew she had a "readymade household staff in us. She would get all dressed up and go to the Ladies Aid Society or another social function and leave us girls to do the dishes, cooking, and tend the young ones. Grandma was hardly ever home when we got older. Why should she be? She had us to do the work!" Of course, my mother and aunts smiled when they related this childhood memory. It was not really a complaint -- only an observation.

Grandma sewed all the clothing for her seven children and herself. She dressed everyone beautifully, still finding time to make gorgeous quilts and to make beautiful natting and embroidery pieces. I have six of her quilts and her lace tablecloth, which is huge!

She had an old Singer sewing machine with foot treadle, its wood cabinet dating from the late 18800s. She also had framed pictures on her bedroom wall from Godey's Ladies Book, the most fashionable women's magazine of her time. I remember the sun streaming through the windows of her bedroom when I was a girl, her at her trusty sewing machine, making this or that, or repairing a piece of clothing at the request of her adult daughters.

Grandma's favorite song was:

I wish I was single again again
I wish I was single again
I wish I was single
My money would jingle
I wish I was single again!

She liked a good joke, some of them rather 'blue,' but I guess when you've reached her advanced age, you have seen just about everything and can laugh about it!

If you wish to exchange family information, please e-mail Bettye Zoller Seitz.email icon

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