Josie Smith

Priscilla Josephine Smith (1878 - 1955)

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Priscilla Josephine (Josie) Smith aka Cavel
Born in Witts Spring, Stone County, Arkansasmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married in Bowie, Montague, Texas, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Duncan, Stephens, Oklahomamap
Profile manager: Deb Cavel private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 8 Oct 2015
This page has been accessed 464 times.


Biography of Priscilla Josephine Smith Cavel Smith-90716


Date: 3 MAR 1878 Place: Witts Spring, Stone, Arkansas,

  • 1880; Census Place: Turkey Creek, Stone, Arkansas; Roll: T9_57; Family History Film: 1254057; Page: 207.3000; Enumeration District: 196; Image: 0721.
  • Home in 1880 Turkey Creek, Stone, Arkansas
  • Relation to Head of House Daughter
  • Father's Birthplace Tennessee
  • Mother's Name Kizire Smith
  • Mother's Birthplace Arkansas
  • Household Members Name Age
  • Kizire Smith 35
  • Mary L. Smith 10
  • John W. W. Smith 7
  • Mahala A. Smith 5
  • Priscilla J. Smith 2
  • Eliza A. Smith 2


Josie married Frederick Francis William Cavel on 25 September, 1892, in Bowie, Montague Co, Texas. The ceremony was performed by J.L. Roach. Fred was 20 and Josie was 14. No more serious young couple could be found on their wedding day. (see image)

Almost a year to the day later their marriage was blessed by a beautiful baby girl they named after each of their mothers, Susan after Fred’s mother, and Kizziah after Josie’s. She would be called Susie, a dark-eyed little beauty. And on the last day of 1896 she was joined by a little sister, the blue-eyed fair-skinned Mary Annie.

And other children followed; Their first son, William Arthur, was born in Bowie in 1898. Then the family moved across the Red River to Ara, Pickens County Indian Territory (now Claud, Stephens County Oklahoma) where a daughter Myrtle Cleo, was born in 1901. A son, Charlie Hall was born in Ara in 1904. The family moved again to Park Township just outside of the town of Velma late in 1904, and in 1906 a third son, named Frederick Francis Jr. (called “Dick”) was born.

While he farmed for a living all his life Fred Sr. felt the call to preach. In 1910 there was a terrible drought in Oklahoma and Texas. Since crops were failing Fred took the opportunity to take his family south to Thrifty, Brown County Texas where his parents were living, to study to become an ordained Baptist minister.


On the 18 May 1910 he was ordained as a Baptist Minister by the laying on of hands at the Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Contention, Brown County Texas. The Ministers who ordained him were W.J. Gilbert, J.T. Bucker and H. J. Lee from Hog Valley, Crosscut Ohio Conference. These ordination papers were then recorded in the Stephens Co Oklahoma Ministerial Credentials Record, Book one, Page 97 and the Office of the County Clerk of Cotton County, Oklahoma, Book One, Pg 215. (see image)


  • Date: 1910: Place: Justice Precinct 6, Brown, Texas, Census Year: 1910; Place: Justice Precinct 6, Brown, Texas; Roll: T624_1535; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 107; Image: 435.
  • Frederick Cavel 37
  • Josie Cavel 31 Wife Father's BP USA Mother's BP AR
  • Susie Cavel 16
  • Annie Cavel 14
  • Arthur Cavel 11
  • Chleo Cavel 8
  • Hall Cavel 6
  • Francis Cavel 3
  • John Crouch 17

And all the while the babies kept coming. In 1911 John Houston was born in Brown County. At the age of four he developed osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, which slowly destroyed his right lower jaw. He would later be dubbed “Andy” after the cartoon character Andy Gump which the lack of his lower jaw made him resemble. If this defect made him self-conscious you wouldn’t know it. He was outgoing and rambunctious as an adult, a wonderful and loving husband, father and uncle.

In 1913 Josie gave birth to a set of twin boys, born prematurely, who did not survive. By 1914 they had returned to Park Township, Stephens County Oklahoma and Fred and his older sons built a house on the 40 acres he'd bought earlier on what is now Old Highway No 7 near the Velma turnoff. By the time I was a child, and old enough to remember visiting the old house, there was an oil or gas refinery just over the hill, which smelled pretty terrible when the wind was from that direction.

There was a kitchen, pantry and parlour on the ground floor, and upstairs a bedroom for the girls, a bedroom for the boys, and a bedroom for Fred and Josie. There was a path to an outhouse down the hill in the back and a well a few steps from the back porch to draw water from. The front porch served as social area.

In 1915 Fred and Josie had a son they named Thomason Howell, so beautiful his mother feared he was fey.

They had been married 25 years in 1917, when they had a portrait taken. (see image) He is smartly dressed in a business suit and tie and looks directly into the camera, while she, in her feminine, but home-made, dress looks away, brows slightly furrowed. Her waist-length hair is pulled back and secured in a bun or braid. She had frequent migraine headaches and the weight of her hair made her them even more excruciating. She begged to be allowed to cut her hair. Fred forbade it, quoting 1 Corinthians; "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering."

So if she was not altogether content I don't think her modern granddaughters and great-granddaughters would blame her. Granddad was very much a man of his time. The day after he died she went to the beauty salon and had her waist-length hair cut.


  • Date: 1920: Place: Parks, Stephens, Oklahoma; Census Year: 1920; Place: Parks Twnshp, Stephens, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1484; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 259; Image: 957.
  • Household Members
  • Name Age
  • Fredrick F Cavel 47
  • Josephine Cavel 42 Wife B AR, Father b US, Mother B LA, Read? Y Write? Y b 1878
  • Mary A Cavel 24
  • Arthur W Cavel 21
  • Charlie H Cavel 15
  • Fredrick F Cavel 13
  • John H Cavel 9
  • Thomason H Cavel 4

In 1920, Josie gave birth to their last child, a sweet little girl they named Maud Opal. And then, as the Bible would say, Josie left off bearing, after 11 children in 27 years, nine of whom lived to adulthood, several of whom lived into their 80s and 90s. In a time when many couples lost half their children to diseases caused mainly by poor sanitation the only children she lost were twins who were born prematurely. It was a remarkable feat of mothering, but she was a remarkable mother.


  • Date: 1930: Place: Parks, Stephens, Oklahoma; Page: Year: Census 1930; Place: Parks, Stephens, Oklahoma; Roll: 1932; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 21; Image: 392.0. Dwelling 55, Family 59
  • Household Members
  • Name Age
  • Fred Cavel 58
  • Josephine Cavel 52 b AR age at 1st Marr 14 Read/Write Y
  • Houston Cavel 18
  • Howell Cavel 14
  • Opal Cavel 9

By 1935 Granddad was 63 and had developed diabetes. All the children were gone, and working the farm had become too much for him, so they rented the farm to a tenant farmer and moved to a smaller house in Hastings, Jefferson County, about 45 miles away near Granddad’s younger brother Arthur and his wife Bessie.

  • Date: 1 APR 1940; Place: Hastings, Jefferson, Oklahoma, Census Year: 1940; Place: Marley Addition, Hastings, Jefferson, Oklahoma; Roll: T627_3299; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 34-10. Residence in 1935: Same Place.

Fred and Josie lived on a street called “The Marley Addition”. In the 1940 census there are several streets called “Addition”, each with a dozen or so houses, suggesting Hastings must have gone through something of a population boom in the 1930s. However in the 80 years since all those streets have either disappeared or have been renamed, for not one is on today’s Hastings map. In fact, “driving” through Hastings using the magic of Google Street View, you find horses grazing where houses clearly used to stand, and the town now (2015) consists only of a scattering of 50 homes. The 2013 population stood at 142.

Fred’s health continued to decline. There was no insulin then, no treatment for diabetes. In mid-January 1944 his condition took a sudden turn for the worse, and he was taken to the hospital in Duncan, some 30 miles away. Josie stayed at his bedside until the end. He slipped into a coma and died 21 JAN 1944.

Now she was widowed. This is a period of her life I know little about. I was not yet born. My parents were living in Illinois. But in 1947 when we returned to Duncan Oklahoma she moved in with us for a time, and then she lived close enough for me to walk to her apartment for the rest of her life. She often cared for me, as my mother was ill and Grandma stepped in to do childcare. I loved her so very much, and her portrait sits a foot away from me as I write this. She was the only grandparent I ever knew.

In 1952 there began a tradition which continues to this day, the annual Cavel Reunion, held in Brownwood, Brown County Texas. Someone lined my Grandmother and several of her children's spouses up for a photo (see image). In the background right the photographer caught a six-year-old me, my 13-year-old cousin Mack Cavel, my Uncle "Dick" Cavel and my two-year-old nephew Robert. The only survivors in this photo (as of 2015) are Robert and I, an apt illustration of the nature of the generational "wave" that rises and falls back into the cosmos, as the new generation rises to take its place. Robert and I are now the elders, the gg-aunties and g-grandfather of the new generations. hardly seems possible.


  • Date: 28 FEB 1955
  • Place: Duncan, Stephens, Oklahoma, USA
  • Age: 78

Grandma Josie passed away on the 28 FEB 1955. I remember picking her up and taking her to the hospital. (see image of Obituary)

I was not allowed to attend her funeral, but I remember the argument among her daughters afterwards. I sat in my usual spot under the kitchen table and listened as they argued over whether she should have filed her application for Indian land at the turn of the century or not. Some felt she should have and some said no. The discussion got quite heated. But the general agreement was that whether she wanted to or not, "Dad" wouldn't have allowed it because he said "Mama" was no longer an Indian, once you were baptized Christ washed the Red away and made you White.

I didn't learn until I was in my late 30s that she had taught me her Native language as she cared for me, or that my father and his older siblings spoke it as their first language, as *their* grandmother lived with the Cavel family when they were young. My Dad and his elder sister Susie were still fluent in their old age, but had hidden it all their lives, for they were beaten for shouting in it to each other in the excitement of a game at school, and beaten for speaking it in front of their father at home. I asked them why they had never spoken it in front of us, or taught us, and they said they didn't want us to face the prejudice they had suffered as children. But they did allow me to sit and listen to their conversations. How I wish I'd have taped them.

In the early 1990s saw a documentary with an elderly Mohawk woman speaking English and the voice and accent sounded so like my grandmother that I could not stop weeping.


  • Place: Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma
  • Duncan Municipal Cemetery: Name, Josephine Cavel
  • Birth Date: 1878, Age at Death: 78, Death Date1955
  • Web: Oklahoma, Find A Grave Index, 1800-2012

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Memories: 1

On 17 Nov 2017 Deb Cavel wrote:

This is a story I heard my Cavel uncles and aunts repeat many times during my childhood, during gales of laughter, and sometimes a few tears after Grandma had passed.

In those not-so-long-ago times before “the pill”, married ladies had few reliable ways of preventing a new little “bundle from heaven” from arriving like clockwork every 12-18 months. One of those ways was to continue nursing the last baby as long as possible.

My grandparent's family already had a healthy contingent of four daughters and three sons, so my Grandma Josie apparently had decided that this was the method for her. So my Uncle Fred was still nursing at the age of five. He liked it, but the older kids teased him and called him a titty baby, so he took pains to get Grandma off to himself for his nursing sessions. He preferred to have her go down to the barn and hide out in one of the horse stalls where no one was likely to interrupt them.

In addition to farming my granddad was pastor of one of the Baptist churches in town, and one afternoon a pastor and his wife from the next district over made an unexpected visit in the middle of the afternoon. Grandma was serving them iced tea and cookies when Uncle Fred slipped up beside her and whispered, “I wants some tiddly.”

Grandma elbowed him away, and whispered, “Not NOW Fred, later, after the company has gone.”

But Fred was insistent, so he crowded in again and whined, “But I wants it NOW.”

Grandma said, in a firm voice. “Fred, you go outside and play. I'll see to you later.”

So, Fred, frustrated beyond his five-year-old's capacity to endure, picked up her skirt, lifted it, bent over and bit her on the leg! “I wants my tiddly NOW!” he bellowed!

And thus Fred was weaned, and 11 months later Uncle Houston (whose nickname was Andy) arrived, a new bundle of joy from heaven.

Deb Cavel

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Josie by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Josie:

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Images: 10
Fred Cavel and Josie Smith Wedding Portrait
Fred Cavel and Josie Smith Wedding Portrait

Fred Cavel and Josie Smith Cavel 25th Wedding Anniversary
Fred Cavel and Josie Smith Cavel 25th Wedding Anniversary

Cavel Family 1938, Fred and Josie, at back Andy, Cleo and Arthur, in front Tom and Opal
Cavel Family 1938, Fred and Josie, at back Andy, Cleo and Arthur, in front Tom and Opal

Priscilla Josephine Smith Cavel about age 70
Priscilla Josephine Smith Cavel about age 70

Josie Smith Cavel and children's spouses
Josie Smith Cavel and children's spouses

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On 13 Mar 2016 at 13:31 GMT Connie Martin wrote:

Wonderful Biography Debra.

Josie is 15 degrees from William Brewster, 16 degrees from Skye Driggs and 20 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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