Telling the History of Claremore…one story at a time
Sketch of the Early Life of Will Rogers
This article was published in the Ranchman magazine November 1947.
By: Sallie Rogers McSpadden
It was a dreamy forenoon in November; to be exact November 4, 1879 when a sturdy baby boy came to join the family of Mary Schrimsher and Clement Vann Rogers, making the eighth entrants into this happy home.
This home situated 12 miles north of Claremore and 4 miles east of Oologah, stands today very much as it did sixty-three years ago. As you stand in the doorway from the hall you can visualize the comfortable armed rocking chair of our mother on the left of the fireplace. My father’s desk just opposite on the right side with Will’s little walnut bed against the north wall and a glowing hickory log fire in the big fire place and you will have an exact picture of the room in which Will was born.
Ruddy and appealing as most babies usually are, he had no hesitation in making his wants known as in later life; he got the things he wanted because of his energy and perseverance.
Could we perchance, have looked into the future and seen the wide acclaim with which this ordinary American baby boy, grown to manhood, would be greeted both at home and abroad, I doubt seriously if his upbringing would have been different from what it was.
Our parents were extremely proud of all of their children but Will meant just a little more than any of the others because he was the baby. Being an artificially-fed baby his bottles and their equipment received special care, even in that day of pioneering.
In learning to talk, he found pronouncing bottle quite a task, so he called his mode of sustenance “bah-me.” I recall one afternoon, as we were crossing the river, he called quite insistently for “bah-me” and was furious when he found it empty. It was suggested by someone in the surrey that “Bah-me” was no good and that he throw it in the river, which he promptly did; thus ending an important era of his babyhood…for ever afterward when he wanted Bah-me, he was reminded that Bah-me was “way down in the river.”
What a valuable lesson to have been learned so easily, but one he ever afterward adhered to, that conditions which were impossible to change must be borne with courage and patience.
His love of the farm and all that it meant was an abiding factor in his life. The love of roping I’m sure was inborn in him. Even prior to his school days he would stand for long periods at a time roping a large post-oak stump in the back yard, all alone, for there were no children near us and while we had to make our own amusements, we were never lonely.
Our mother was the most resourceful woman I’ve ever known. Her winter bouquets made of bitter sweet from the woods, cox-comb and bachelors-buttons from her summer flower garden, combined with cedar and lovely dried and crystallized grasses were works of real art and were always commented on with deep admiration by the visitors that were almost constantly in our home. It was a proud day for me when I was old enough to help in the crystallizing of the many varieties of wild grasses.
Our home decorated Christmas trees which we never failed to have, still live in my memory with more appeal than the electrically decorated ones of the present.
Will’s love for his rope and his Palomino horse goes hand in hand. All thru life, Will Roger’s happiness came from his love of the homey, the true, the good and the beautiful in nature and in humanity
Note: Sallie Rogers McSpadden was the sister of Will Rogers. No one is better qualified to tell of his early life as after the death of their mother, Sallie was both mother and sister to Will and throughout his life, there was a room reserved for him in her home at Chelsea.
Edited and submitted by the Claremore Museum of History