|Woodrow Wilson Carroll - 1912 - 1997|
(Several years before Dad passed away, I was able to interview him and piece together this biography. Where possible, I used his words. James H. Carroll)
Woody was born November 30, 1912 in Perry, Noble County, Oklahoma. Perry was the home of his maternal grandmother. Of the seven children born to Henry Hamilton Carroll and Eliza Jane Rorabaugh, two were born in Perry. The others were born in Drumright, Oklahoma where the family resided. Eliza was married to Henry in 1904 at the age of 18, and bore several other children: Sylvia Faye, 1905; Henry Bryan, 1907, Vinie Violet, 1908, Alta Susan, 1910, After Woody in 1912, there came Ulice Lee, 1915, and Alma Rose, 1917.
Eliza's children were the second batch of Henry Hamilton Carroll's offspring. Ham, as he was called, was first married to Eliza's sister, Nancy Josephine Rorabaugh. They had six children, and then Nancy fell during the last months of a pregnancy. Both mother and child died on February 13, 1903. It is assumed that Ham turned to Nancy's sister for help with the children. They were married less than a year later. Of Nancy's children, only Lucinda Pearl and Joseph Dean were still at home with the family when Woody was a child. "I remember when Dean went into the army," Woody recalled.
Woody also remembered the death of his Grandmother Rorabaugh. (Mary Ellen Clark Rorabaugh was in the 1893 Cherokee Strip Run into Oklahoma and secured a homestead in Black Bear township near Perry.) "We rode up to Perry on the train I think. I remember that two black horses pulled the black hearse that carried Grandma's coffin to the cemetery." Woody was four years old at the time.
According to Woody, his mother, Eliza Jane, was "a good-hearted woman; too good", and she regularly took the children to church. They walked the one and a half miles to the Tiger schoolhouse for church services. "Ma was one for discipline. She would get switches from the buck berry bushes near the house when discipline was needed. Lee, being three years younger than Woody, would often pester Woody until Woody would "box his ears". Then Lee would head for the house bawling. "Ma would whip us both since she couldn't be sure which of us was guilty."
When asked about his father, Woody had some bitter remarks: "He was mean! He didn't seem to care much for us kids. He was mostly interested in how much work he could get out of us. Pa always held me responsible for getting the work done when he was away. He'd blame me for everything that went wrong, even though I certainly wasn't the oldest of his boys. I hated to see him come home. He used to travel down through southern Oklahoma buying up cattle. Later, he'd get us boys to help him gather up the cattle and drive them to the railroad to ship them north to auction. Pa would ride with the cattle and send us back home to tend to the farm. He'd come back with some lame excuse that the cattle didn't bring much profit. Of course, he'd be wearing a new pair of boots."
"Basically we lived off the farm. For awhile Pa operated a feed and seed store in Drumright, but he sold a lot on credit, and lost a good deal of money. We hauled alfalfa some, and for awhile, Pa worked for the railroad while it was under construction. He took care of the mules which were used to pull the heavy equipment. When he'd get some money, he'd buy flour by the one hundred pound, perhaps a three gallon pail of lard, and a sack of potatoes."
"Pa never told us anything about his parents. The only thing I remember him ever saying about his boyhood was that he tended goslings on the river. He ran away from home when he was about thirteen years old."
Woody attended the Tiger, Oklahoma school. Tiger no longer exists, but there was a post office there from June 30, 1902 to March 31, 1913. Tiger Township, organized in 1896, was situated two miles north of Drumright in northwestern Creek County, Oklahoma. The township was named for Billy Tiger, a prominent Creek Indian. The school was located about a mile from the property line of the 160 acres Ham Carroll bought from Anna Lila McIntosh. (See Hastain's Township Plats of the Creek Nation, page 17, Okla. Historical Society Library, Oklahoma City, OK).
"I went to school through the seventh grade. I started the eighth grade, but Pa jerked me out of school to help on the farm. I tried two or three times to go back to school, but I was embarrassed to be so much older than the other kids." His Pa agreed to buy Woody his first automobile about 1930. Woody was to plant 10 acres of cotton, which he did. They harvested one bale per acre of cotton for $100 per bale. His Pa took him to Cushing and they purchased a 1928 Model A Ford coupe for $350. "Pa made out on that deal too! The car was mine, but it was used as the family car as well."
(Aunt Sylvia told me a story of how hard Dad would work for his father. He wasn't often rewarded, but once when he wanted a new brown suit, his Mom stepped in and told Ham to buy the boy the suit. Also, Billy Carroll, Moses's son, told me that Woody could usually be found out in the fields working.)
"During the Oklahoma oil boom," Woody said, "everybody worked in the oil fields. My first job was taking up eight inch pipe between here and Cushing. I was paid 40 cents an hour." There was little money to be had. There was a lot of bootlegging going on. A brother-in-law went to jail twice as a result of being involved in the bootlegging business. Woody admitted to making moonshine himself a few times.
On June 6, 1938, Woody married Ella Lingle. They lived in Drumright where there first son was born in 1939. Later the small family moved to Sims, Illinois where Woody worked for T & L construction. Woody said: "I didn't know much about the pipeline business, but I certainly knew more than those dummies working with me. I became foreman right away making $6.00 a day." While in Sims, a second child, a daughter, was born. The family moved back to Drumright where Woody worked for McCall/Sebastian, another pipeline company, for seventy-five cents an hour. Their third child, another girl, was born that year, 1943.
In the winter of 1944, Woody got a job in Drumright with the Service Pipeline Company. Six weeks later he received his notification of induction into the army. He had registered for the draft in Adair county, so he had to go there for processing, and was officially inducted April 19, 1944. He went first to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, then to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. Next he attended purification school in Virginia. A part of the 137th Engineering combat Battalion, he was shipped out from Boston on November 10, 1944. His specialized training kept Woody from face to face combat. On the Rhine river, in the heat of the final months of the war, he remembers they slept at night in pairs, barricaded in concrete crypts, listening to the sounds of heavy fighting around them. During the day they were busy purifying water from the river for the troops. His battalion received two Battle Stars. Woody returned home on November 1st, 1945.
Woody returned to his family and his job with the Service Pipeline Company. His family lived in Drumright in a house located on the Pure Oil Lease, just east of Drumright's Lincoln Elementary School. A fourth child, a boy, was born. Later the family moved the house from the Pure Oil Lease to a lot just north of Lincoln school. A fifth child, a boy was born in September of 1949 while the family lived at this house. The school-aged children attended Lincoln school. In 1950 the family moved out to a farm south of Drumright, just south of the Tydol refinery. The last of six children, was born in 1952 while the family was residing there.
Soon afterwards Woody bought a house in Drumright on South Duke. It was a house of his parent's choosing. He bought the house and property and traded it for the forty acres which his father still owned of the original 160 acre tract northeast of town. His parents were very satisfied with the trade, it being their desire to have a smaller place nearer to doctors, stores, etc. Woody had built up a fairly large herd of cattle, and the 40 acres were adjacent to the old "Saffa" place which was an additional 80 acres that he could rent.
For the next eleven years he lived with his family on this land, continuing to maintain his job with Service Pipeline. The older children all transferred to Edison Elementary and all six children graduated from that school, going on to Drumright High School. In 1963 Woody, being plagued by skin cancers inflamed by his work on oil tanks, felt that he must make a change. After 19 years with Service Pipeline, he took his separation pay and bought a dump truck for hauling sand and gravel. Woody was fairly successful in his sand and gravel hauling business; however, the change in lifestyle brought some significant changes to the stability of the family. He and Ella were divorced. These were very difficult years for all members of the family.
One of Woody's great personal interests was horses. He owned as many as nine horses at one time. When asked to name some of the horses which he owned through the years, Woody remembered these: A black mare named Peggy, and a pony named Cricket. There was Rusty, a Shetland pony, and Nancy, a white mare that the children rode during their growing years. Prior to his becoming interested in registered quarter horses, he paid $400 for a good gelding that was not registered. Also, he had a good dogging pony that he bought from his brother, Lee, for $80, and sold for $800. There was a mean horse named Satan which he also got from Lee. His first registered quarter horse was a mare named Miss Katy. Then followed a string of registered quarter horses: Sunlight & Sundare, these foals from Miss Katy; there was Sheeno, Frances, Sue Kay Joe, Tonto Litebars, Easy Fiddler, and Carroll La Duke, an excellent barrel pony which sold for $4,000 in 1989.
A tragedy occurred in 1982 which permanently changed the course of Woody's life. He developed an eye virus. A local doctor prescribed a wrong medication. The medicine actually drove the virus further into Woody's eyes resulting in permanent blindness. Although Woody received a substantial settlement in a malpractice suit, he was no longer able to lead an active life. He was cared for a number of years by Alma Dennis, a friend, until she died in 1995 as a result of cancer. Woody later resided in the Stroud Health Center in Stroud, Oklahoma, and at the time of his death he had been staying with his daughter in Ft. Smith, AR. He suffered a stroke early in January 1997, and died in the hospital in the presence of his oldest three children. His funeral was in Drumright, Oklahoma and he was buried in the Lawson cemetery along side his father and mother. He was honored as a veteran in burial.