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Josiah Dickey


Reunited with his children years after he had given up hope. For years and years, they too, searched for him in vain. Three of the children, Lue, Robert, and William live here. It doesn't look possible that a man could be completely lost from a large family for 35 years in a land like this, but such was the case. Three of our citizens, Lue, Robert and William and others of the family were separated 35 years ago from their father in Illinois and all effort to find him proved to be a failure. These three boys are industrious miners of our city. They have spent time and money in the search of their lost father and had given up hope of ever seeing him again. Often after a hard days work was done they would sit by their fireside and ponder, where is father? Is he living? Is he dead? If dead, where is his grave? These questions were ever on their minds. Like Phantoms, these questions were ever with them. It often occurs, when the human mind is powerless to solve mysteries fate comes to the rescue. Below we give a clipping from the "Muskogee Daily Phoenix" which thoroughly gives an account of how this family was separated from their father and how united. Joe Dickey, 82 years old and a Muskogeean for the last fourteen years found his family yesterday when he walked into the room of a friend and was introduced to a woman, whom he remembered 35 years ago as his little daughter. Today that old man is going back to Missouri to enter the home for which he searched so vainly all that length of time. Like a leaf from a fairy book, the plot of the most improbable of novels, is the story of the disappearance, thirty year search, and the life of Joe Dickey with its romantic ending here. It was in Colchester, Il. that the story begins with the death of Dickey's wife. He was stunned, completely shattered by the blow. For several months he was unable to turn a hand at any work. Then sick and sore at heart, he placed his six children in the care of a relative and set out for the new west, there to seek another home and to forget. Fortune even a slight measure of success was denied the man. On and on through Missouri into Kansas, down into Oklahoma and later into Texas he drifted. A carpenter by trade, the thought of his great sorrow weighed so heavily upon him that he could not find success even in a country where his labor was in demand. A few years rolled by and then he wrote a letter to his old home. It came back undelivered. His children had been taken by the relative in whose care they had been left, to Galesburg, Il. There they grew to man and womanhood's estates. Hearing nothing from their father they began a search. They advertised in newspapers, they did everything possible, but no father could they find. Many, many years ago they gave him up for dead. In 1908, Dickey drifted into Muskogee. He was 68 years old, but he got a position as a carpenter for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. He had not given up hope of finding his children, but his means were small and growing smaller. He did not know what to do. As late as 1906, in some manner, he learned that one of his daughters had married a man in Brookfield, Mo. He wrote a letter. But fate has decreed that he was to have a dissimilar name from the one his daughter took and although his daughter was in Brookfield, that letter came back undelivered. Then Dickey gave up hope and settled down to pass the last few years of his life as best he might. For several years he lived in a little quarter between Broadway and Okmulgee on F St. The little place belongs to Thomas A. Marcum who has allowed Dickey to make his home there free. The old man still worked at small carpentering jobs. Just one month ago he was employed to build a flower stand for Mrs. W.H. McKay, 113 North F. St. To Mrs. McKay and her husband, in large measure, is due the ending of this story. She became interested in the man, who although old, worked away so cheerfully. "Haven't you any relation" she asked, and then he told her the story, so remarkable that she became interested. Further questioning drew from Dickey the fact that he believed that his daughter had married a conductor. Here fate got in its hand again but this time in Dickey's favor, for Mr. McKay had been a railroad conductor. He wrote to the secretary of the order of Railroad Conductors at Galesburg, Il., where Dickey thought his daughter might be. He gave him all the facts in the case. Again fate came to the old man's aid for the secretary of the order happened to be a close friend of W. H. Bowles of Brookfield, Mo., whom he knew had married a girl named Dickey in Galesburg. He sent the letter to Bowles. That was about three weeks ago. Bowles at once wrote a letter to the McKay's. Another letter followed and Tuesday night on the Katy came a husband and wife, the latter firmly believing that she was to see her father for the first time in 35 years. The next day they went to Mrs. McKay's home and the latter sent for Mr. Dickey with a message that there was a letter for him at their home. The old man came over and nodded his head pleasantly to the anxious woman and eager husband who were in the room. Unable to restrain herself any longer the woman cried: "Don't you remember me papa?" "Are you my daughter?" were the only words the old man could utter and then he stood stock still in the center of the room incapable of another motion. This morning the three are going back to Brookfield, where Mr. Dickey will spend the rest of his long life. "Our boy Vernon," Mrs. Bowles said," has always wondered why he didn't have a grandfather. Now he'll get one, although he had to wait longer than most boys." Dickey has 3 sons, all in Mystic, Iowa, engaged in the mining business, two daughters married in Galesburg and one in Brookfield. Five were notified by telegraph last night that their father had been found. Mrs. Bowles was the only one who knew of the good fortune. Mr. and Mrs. Bowles spent all day yesterday at the home of R. L. Davis, 423 E. Broadway. The Davis home is literally filled with tables, chairs, racks and other pieces of furniture that Joe has made. "Uncle Joe" they call him and do not want to see him go. Joe Dickey in spite of his age, is able to work. He runs rather than walk as he goes along the street and none, even those who knew him best, had guessed the story he carried locked in his heart. He doesn't smoke or drink and he eats whatever he feels like, he says. He chews tobacco incessantly and defies anyone to say that it is a bad habit or unhealthy. Glasses have never been necessary to aid his still keen vision. "I'm glad I've found my boys and girls." he said. "but it'll take me some time to forget the people here and get used to what is my own."

Contributed by Patricia Kennedy Smith

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