Zelah Wilson (1860-1904) and Robert Benn (d. 1917)

Many thanks to Pamela Nixon for the picture and information

Zelah was the daughter of Diadema Ward and Robert Wilson. She was the sister of Sara Rebecca Wilson Hill. She was born on May 13, 1860. She married Robert Benn in Socorro, New Mexico. They had three children. In letters from her father's pension file, her mother describes her and one of her sisters as invalids due to "spinal fever" and in another letter, Zelah describes herself as paralyzed. Zelah died on March 15, 1904 and is buried near her sister Ruth and her husband Vernon Maulsby in Maple Grove Cemetery, Witchita, Kansas.

 Robert and Zelah Benn
as rembered by their daughters Elsie and Edna

Robert and Zelah Benn and I, Elsie, their daughter, left our home on the Magdalena Mountian, New Mexico, May 1, 1892, for the Cherokee Outlet in Oklahoma. We traveled by covered wagon, driving a herd of 3000 pure bred Angora roats with the help of an old Mexican sheep herder, Billy, a seventeen year old Mexican boy, and two sheep dogs. My mother, who was a kind a loving mother and very frail, drove the team of horses, and the rest of us walked most of the way, driving the goats to Woodward. The trip took one year.

The wagon was a heavy mountain type with high, wide wheels, bows and wagon sheet and a chuck box built in the rear where a lantern hung. The cooking outfit was a grying pan, a sour dough crock, dutch oven, coffee pot and eating utensils. the water keg, wrapped in canvas was kept in the seat with my mother. A 45-90 rifle and buffalo gun were carried in the wagon and my father carried a 45 six shooter.

My mother usually kept strychnine rolle up in her long, abundant, dark hair as she had a horror of being abducted by the Indians. She thought she could be crafty enough to poison the food of the Indians and escape, or, in the case of absolute necessity, she planned to take it herself rather than be tortured.

We followed the streams as closely as possible. One of the greatest dreads was a dry camp, with no water available and hearing the pitiful cries of thirst from 3000 goats. My father never slept on a dry camp, but set on the waon tongue and smoked all night to keep awake.

We depended on the government freighter from provisions. We would trade gresh goat meat for staples of flour, sugar, and coffee.

The goats had to be milled through the night during a storm, or they would stampede. When the streams were high, the wagon was calked, and a log tied on each side to make it float. The horses and goats would swim.

During the summer my mother was delivered of a premature child, with no one in attendance but my father.

We arrived in Woodward, a town of tents and dugouts, May 1, 1893. We lived in a one room house made of railroad ties, in which my sister, Edna, was born, July 23, 1893. She was the first white child born in Woodward.

In a few weeks we were ordered out, as we were considered "Sooners". As my father was to make the Run, September 16, he took us to the place he had staked out, three and one-half miles north of Woodward, leaving Mama and Edna, who was only six weeks old, and me in a tent with two dogs to guard us. Two days later Papa returned.

My father rode bareback on a buckskin mare, name Pet, on the day of the Run. There were all kinds of ways to travel, spring wage, covered wagons, buggies, carts, horseback, donkeys, and on foot.

We went from a tent to a two room sod house. The next year we built a two story frame house.

In the fall of 1895 the settles organized a school board and they moved a.... shed to a mile and one-half North of Woodward. The first teacher was Ed McPherson, a cowboy, who worked his father's ranch and had attended high school in El Reno.

My father had a herd of fine mules and obtained a job with the Santa Fe railway to grade the roads. In 1896 he had the urge to run for sheriff, so he sold his mules to the government for the Spanish-American War, and the goats to a Mr. Young, south of town. He won the sheriff's office on the Populance ticket by a large majority. Father was a large man, six feet tall, weighing 225 pounds, kind and jovial but very firm. Woodward needed such a man, as there were thirteen saloons, a Honky Tonk (dance hall), and a red light district.

At this time we moved to town and lived on North Eighth Street, where Dema was born, Jan. 18, 1896.

Edna, Dema, and I (Elsie) all went to Woodward schools. Dema and I married and left Woodward, but Edna married a Woodward boy, Walter Nixon, and has lived in Woodward continuously, except for two years when she lived with relatives after the death of her mother in 1904 (who was then forty-four).

One of the most memorable events Edna remembers of early days was the three day picnic in September, called the Old Soldiers Reunion. Everyone came, some in covered wagons and carts, and most of them stayed three days. There was a large tank of temonade and a huge iron pot over a campfire full of Irish Stew for everyone. There was a program every afternoon with speeches and.... There were old soldiers in Blue and soldiers in Gray on the same platform showing nothing but love and friendship for each other, working for a common cause: Home and Country, although they were divided in the War. Father died in 1917.

I Elsie, married A.C. Teter and we had five children: Claybourne, Dumas, ..., Herschel, deceased, Gaylord, Clay..., New Mexico; Melbe Terter Hall, Corpus Christi, Texas; and Russell, deceased.

Edna married Walter Nixon and they had one child, Walter W. Nixon of Anchorage, Alaska.

Dema married S. B. Allen and they have three children: Robert Allen, Phoenix, Ariz; Mary Jean Lucas, St. Louis Mo.; and S. B. Allen, Jr. Anchorage, Alaska.

Written by Elsie Benn Teter... and brought up to date.... by Edna Nixon, Woodward. Elsie Teter died in 1972.