Colonial Women – Part II

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Due to the success of the musical about him, nearly everyone has been reintroduced to Alexander Hamilton. However, readers may not recognize the maiden name of his wife, Elizabeth Shuyler, who was born Aug. 9, 1757, and raised in Albany, N.Y.

Elizabeth, called Betsey, was the second daughter of Philip Schuyler and his wife Catherine Schuyler. When she was born, her father was a young captain under General Bradstreet, the quartermaster of the English army during the French and Indian War.

In her book “Dames and daughters of colonial days,” Geraldine Brooks writes “when she was only two months old, the frightful massacre of the German Flat occurred and the refugees fled to Albany.”

Brooks said that the Shuyler family sheltered the refuges in the barn of their home. After the war, they built their mansion, which still stands at 32 Catherine St. in Albany, N.Y. Brooks described the mansion, designed by Philip Shuyler, as magnificent and impressively placed on high ground with a view of the river. It was a long, two-storied home with a great large hall and rows of colonial pillars, Brooks said.

Philip Schuyler aspired to create a lovely country life in Albany for his family, and by Brooks’ account, he did.

“On all sides stretched the flourishing vegetable and flower gardens, the orchards and the vineyards, and the fields of flax and grain,” Brooks wrote. “The house overflowed with hospitality and generosity. … The Dutch kitchen was always redolent with the smell of delicious bread and cakes and pies.”

Brooks described candle dipping, cider making, soap making spinning, weaving and dyeing, orchard and crop harvesting along with outdoor festivities were part of the household’s seasonal routine.

However, education was also important to the family and when the time came, Elizabeth Shuyler and her sisters were sent to New York for school. Letters from relatives reveal they took to their studies, were healthy and made good progress there, Brooks said.

During her childhood, Elizabeth Shuyler had a close relationship with local Indians. In fact, she learned weaving, plaiting and other skills from them, Brooks said.

The high regard for Elizabeth and her family were evidenced by a story known to Brooks and retold in her book about Elizabeth Shuyler being named and adopted by the local tribe:

″‘All the chiefs and greatest warriors of the Six Nations,” says the chronicler, “had met in solemn council, row after row of fine specimens of manhood standing silently around an open space where a bit of greensward gleamed in the sunshine. Although they were dressed in all the barbaric pomp of war-paint, there was a peace on their faces as they stood awaiting the approach of a small group of whites — one or two officers in full uniform and a tall, commanding man in the prime of life, leading by the hand a slim girl of about thirteen dressed in white uncovered head and half-curious, half-frightened eyes. This man was Gen. Philip Schuyler, whom the Indians honored as they did no other white man; and they had met to offer him a tribute of devotion. At a sign from their great chief, their ranks parted to admit General Schuyler, who advanced into the open space, still leading his little daughter. There, with much pomp and many ceremonies, the child was formally adopted by the Six Nations, the chiefs ending the sacred rites by laying their hands upon her head and giving her an Indian name meaning ‘One of us.’”

Next week, we will take a look at Elizabeth Shuyler’s courtship, marriage and life as an adult.

Colonial Women – Part I

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Sarah Kemble Knight journied from Boston to New York in 1704 on horseback with paid guides.


By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The next few columns will be a look back at some noteworthy women from colonial times. In this column I introduce readers to Sarah Kemble Knight, who decided to take a journey from Boston to New York in 1704 when travelers in petticoats were rare indeed. Her diary provides a window into her journeys. After returning from her trip, Knight became a schoolmistress and taught two students whose name readers will recognize.

Highlights are in the book “Dames and Daughters of Colonial Days” by Geraldine Brooks published in 1900 by Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.

For context here are some facts. Knight, born and raised in Boston, was one of the children of a prosperous merchant. She married widower Richard Knight and had one daughter.

In 1704 Boston had a population of 10,000. New York City was only half as large, Brooks wrote.

“The Boston News Letter” had just been published, Brooks said.
“A great deal of the best English literature was as yet unwritten or unknown,” Brooks wrote. (p. 86).

Knight was educated but likely didn’t have many interesting things to read.

The purpose of her journey is not in her diary, but Geraldine Brooks supposes it was to attend to a New York property, which may have left to her by a New York relative. It could also have been to have an adventure, Brooks said.

Knight left Boston on horseback in October with a male travel guide who was paid to accompany her. So sparse was the population that it was customary for private residents to open their homes to travelers. Despite the custom, Knight was sometimes turned away. When this happened her diary entries recorded the anger she felt at literally being left out in the cold.

She also stayed at taverns along the way in those days called “ordinary.” At such taverns she had to share a room with her male guides. Knight describes the beds therein as too high, hard and lacking coverlets. At times the ruckus in the tavern was so loud she could not sleep and simply had to sit by the fire all night and endure or write in her diary when the conversation became to course.

I’ve often wondered when Indian fry bread was introduced. Knight mentions in her diaries being served what she calls “Indian bread” at a tavern with pork and cabbage.

Knight also gives an account of riding in a canoe, which she called an “Indian vehicle.”

Along the way she stopped in New Haven in the Connecticut Colony for several weeks and was welcomed by friends and relatives with whom she stayed. The food and hospitality were fine and she made complimentary comparisons to Boston in her diary entries.

She journeyed on to New York and stayed there for two weeks.

In her diary Knight noted some differences between New York and Boston. According to Brooks diary summary, Knight had said the Sabbath was not kept in New York as it was in Boston, and Knight was also surprised by the “leniency in regard to divorce.”

Knight also noted an unfamiliar New York wedding custom wherein the groom would run away and be pursued by the groomsmen who would bring him back “to duty.”

Her return to Boston would have been even more uncomfortable since winter had set in. She traveled through woods, snow and freezing temperatures to arrive in Boston in March 1703 to the warm welcome of her mother and her only child, a daughter.

Soon after her return, Knight opened a school in her house where Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Mather were both her students.

“And it was a Mather of a later generation, Mrs. Hannabell Crocker, who called Madam Knight an ‘original genius’ and said her ideas of that talented lady were formed from having heard Dr. Franklin and Dr. Mather converse about their old schoolmistress,” Brooks wrote on page 99 of her book.

Later her daughter married and moved to New London, Conn., where Knight visited.

Knight owned several farms but her primary residence and the church she attended were in Norwich, Conn.

Her last occupation was as an innkeeper at the Livingston Farm in New London on Norwich Road.

“No doubt hers was a model ordinary,” Brooks wrote.

I speculate that it was — with excellent food, hospitality and sleeping quarters. Some might even say it was extraordinary — like the woman herself.

American Indian Style Show – Part III

By Roseanne McKee
Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

This is part three of a column a style show presented by Osage elder Margaret Bird to Tulsa tourists at the Community Center in Pawhuska on Oct. 26.

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Samantha Good Eagle in a jingle dress with buckskin leggings.


Samantha Good Eagle wore a jingle dress, which is heavy because of the metal jingles. She also had buckskin leggings on. Bird shared that as told to her by a northern tribe the jingle dress originated from a dream by an elder father following prayer due to the sickness of his daughter. The elder who had the dream instructed that the dress be made. The girl wore the dress, got better and started dancing, she said. The jingles on this dress were made from snuff cans that had been rolled, Bird said. Several tribes wear this dress, but this one is for the Menominee tribe, she said.

“In the jingle dress they don’t carry a shawl when they’re dancing. They usually have a plume in their hair and a fan,” she said.

Jacquelene Kemohah, who is Osage and Creek, wore a Navajo velvet shirt with silver sewn into it and a necklace of turquoise before it turns blue. She carried a wool shawl. The velvet worn is not like velvet as we know it, Bird said.

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Jacquelene Kemohah, who is Osage and Creek, wore a Navajo velvet shirt with silver sewn into it and a necklace of turquoise before it turns blue. She carried a wool shawl.

“It is fine velvet, and they will take this shirt with all this silver on it, and they will wash it in a pan. They’ll hang it up and they’ll put it on. … They’ll have a big concho belt that they’ll wear with it. There is a binding on the inside of the hem of the velvet skirt, which they call their slip,” Bird explained. Kemohah also wore a necklace of turquoise before it turns blue, and she carried a wool southwest shawl, Bird said.

Kimberly Brave wore “an old-time, on-contact Cherokee dress. When they saw the Cherokee Indians on first contact, this is the kind they wore. … She’s got a necklace with a spider — the Cherokee know about that. … She’s carrying a fan out of turkey, and it’s a quill work on birch bark fan. … She’s wearing a wrap-around moccasin … and this is the purse they would carry,” Bird said referring to the turtle shell purse Brave carried.

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Kimberly Brave in an on-contact era Cherokee dress.

“We don’t go out and kill things to make things, we find them already dead. There were bells, so they had contact with the white people because they had hawk bells,” Bird said. The hawk bells were little brass bells the Europeans brought to trade, she said.

In the Carolinas there was a white bird, a Lune, and they took the fluff from the bird and used pitch, or tar, to attach the feathers on the dress, Bird said.
Referring to beads traded with Europeans, Bird said, “a lot of the beads they traded weren’t good for you. When you put the beads under a black light, they just shine. … the beads would have some kind of chemical, but the Europeans didn’t know that. Just like the ribbon had acid in it. After 50 years, the old silk ribbon deteriorates. The colors of the ribbon were also limited not all the vivid, bright colors we can get now.”

Next, Melissa Murray wore a purple Winnebego dress. “She’s got a silver broach. … They put a lot of silver work all over and silver washer pins. They embellished clothes and leggings with silver work and ribbonwork,” Bird said.
Murray also wore leggings that matched the dress, moccasins and carried a shawl and a fan.

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Melissa Murray in a purple Winnebego dress.

American Indian Style Show – Part II

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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Rosemary Wood is wearing a Cherokee tear dress.

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Carol Revard is wearing a Sioux dress with beaded moccasins.

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Julia Karen Lookout is wearing traditional Osage regalia.

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Princess dress worn by Erica Kemohah for tribal princess competitions. Margaret Bird is behind the model narrating the style show.


This is a follow-up to the last article, with additional details about the regalia featured in the style show presented by Osage elder Margaret Bird to Tulsa tourists at the Community Center in Pawhuska on Oct. 26.

Rosemary Wood wore a Cherokee tear dress and carried a shawl and a tulip bag. The dress is called a tear dress because originally these dresses were constructed from torn pieces of fabric, Margaret Bird said.

Carol Revard wore a Sioux dress made of wool broadcloth with a scarf and carried a shawl, fan and wore blue beaded moccasins.

“This is a heavy dress because it has a bone necklace,” Bird said. “The original Sioux breastplate is made of foraged bones. Her dress is also embellished with elk teeth molars.”

Julie Karen Lookout wore contemporary formal Osage clothing with silk red blouse and a ribbonwork skirt, Osage moccasins, a pin and a necklace of bone and beads.

Erica Kemohah wore an Oklahoma princess style buckskin dress with cut beads. Such dresses are worn in princess competitions statewide, Bird said. Since she is Osage, Kemohah wore a ribbon with a pin, her leggings, carried a shawl and a fan. It is an honor for Osage women to have a white tail feather from a bald eagle in their fan, Bird said. The dress had beaded red hands on the pale buckskin.

“My family is the OnHands. I dedicate this to Evelyn OnHand Pitts, my aunt, and my mother, Louise May Bellmyer Brown, because they have been a huge influence all my life helping me with my collection. And, I appreciate Joan McCauley who accompanies me to the style shows,” Bird said.

“Sometimes when I make something, I will bead underneath a little hand. That’s my signature,” Bird said.

Julie Karen Lookout said, “I’ll tell you what Mark told me about where the OnHand name comes from. There were Indian cowboys and they said, ‘we’ve got these guys over here on hand,’ and they named them that.”

Paula Stabler, an Osage congresswoman, wore a Delaware buckskin dress, wrap-around skirt, moccasins and carried a tulip bag.

“Most tribes from the East will carry a bag like this,” Bird said.

Additional style show descriptions will continue in next week’s history column.

American Indian Style Show – Part I

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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Princess dress worn for tribal princess competitions. Margaret Bird is behind the model narrating the style show.

“There’s no museum in the world that has all the Indian clothes. I have 50. The collection is stored in Tulsa and is insured,” said Osage elder Margaret Bird as she prepared her models for a style show at the Community Center in Pawhuska for 20 Tulsa tourists.

“I’ve been working on these since I was a fifth-grader. … I used to dance. I always hung around the elderly people and they would tell me the real deal. … You don’t just do things about traditions without asking.”

As an adult Bird went to the elders of each tribe and asked for detailed information about their regalia and for permission to reconstruct and show them.
“I’ve had only one tribe that said I couldn’t show their clothes. They made me a dress, but I don’t ever show it.

At this style show 13 models wore tribal regalia as Bird narrated and answered questions.

Several male and female models wore Osage regalia and one wore a traditional Osage wedding coat. Additional details will be in next week’s column.

After the style show, the models were transported to Indian Camp for an Osage lunch of fry bread, corn soup, chicken and noodles.

In an interview at Wakon Iron, the community center building in Pawhuska Indian Camp, Bird said, “I really want to stress that I don’t think people should get things out of a book. They should ask permission.

Bird’s accuracy has given her credibility with the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

“The Smithsonian came to Caney, Kan., at my home and come to me to make Delaware clothes and they have them there [at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution].”

Although she is not Delaware because of her expertise, Bird was asked by the Delaware Tribe, also called Lenape, living in Canada to teach them how to construct their regalia.

There are three groups of Delaware, Bird said, concentrated in Anadarko, Bartlesville and Canada, Bird said.

“They’d been dressing like other tribes from up there, and they were Lenape. But, they didn’t know how to dress. So, they commissioned me to go up there to show them how to do the men’s clothes and the women’s clothes,” Bird said.
“I drove up there with my sewing machine and my ribbons and I taught them. … That whole gymnasium was full of Indians — men and women. Well, they all wanted to learn to sew their Indian clothes. We showed them a film of the Delaware down here. Then we got our materials. … We worked two to three weeks every evening. … People brought their sewing machines. We stayed on a bed and breakfast on the res. We taught them everything they needed to know.”

A year later the Delaware Chief invited her to attend their dances in Canada.
“I was amazed at that powwow. All those people had their Native clothes on. I was just shocked. I cried. In two years they wanted it so bad and I asked ‘how many years have you been dressing like these other tribes,’ and they said, ‘we didn’t know.’”

“I had a good mentor, Nora Thompson Dean. Her Indian name was Touching Leaf,” Bird said.

Upon retirement “I’d like to get someone younger to hand this off to,” she said.
To learn more about having a style show hosted by Margaret Bird, contact Danette Daniels, owner of The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska at 918-287-9129.

Part II and III of the style show will follow on Sundays Jan. 13 and 20.

Eva Glass

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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The late Eva Payne Glass, wife of oil business magnate Julian Wood Glass, was an art aficionado with a gift of hospitality who lived in Nowata. She was a founding member of the Tulsa Opera.

Also, a founding member of the Tulsa Ballet, Eva Payne Glass paid to bring the “Nutcracker Ballet” to the Nowata Public School to be performed by the Tulsa Ballet at Christmas, said Nowata Historical Society President Carroll Craun.

Glass enjoyed sharing the arts with her neighbors and so she brought the Tulsa Philharmonic to her outdoor backyard balcony to play on a number of occasions, Craun said. She was a founding member of the Tulsa Philharmonic as well.

“She loved Halloween. She’d sit at the front door on what they called her throne and she’d invite the children in and give them large-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars,” said Craun.

As an extrovert, Glass loved people and young people.

“She would make egg or chicken salad sandwiches for the kids who visited and sit with them on the patio,” Craun said.

Glass was also a co-founder of a Nowata chapter of an international women’s service organization, General Federation of Women’s Clubs known as GFWC La-kee-kon. La-kee-kon means “good reading” in the Cherokee language, said Craun, who is the group’s most recent past president.

Glass stood a diminutive four feet six inches tall. Eight of her formal dresses and coats are on display for the Christmas Open House, which continues today from 1-4 p.m. weather permitting, Craun said.

Known as the longest continuous GFW member at the time, Glass became a GFWC Ameritus member for Oklahoma in 1957 and was given the title the “Jewel of Oklahoma,” a title rarely conferred, Craun explained.

As a young woman Glass was married and living in Hope, Ark., when her husband, whose last name was Payne, was taken ill and died from the flu. Glass was then pregnant with her daughter.

While her daughter was yet an infant, Nowata resident Roberta Campbell invited her for a visit. Campbell, who later co-founded GFWC La-kee-kon with Glass, introduced her to her future husband, Julian Wood Glass.

The couple married on Dec. 21, 1904 and went on to have one son, named Julian. After their son Julian was raised, the Glass Mansion was built and the couple took up residence there.

Unfortunately, her husband, J. Wood Glass, died of a massive heart attack in 1952 long before Eva Glass, who lived until 1983, and who died just two weeks shy of her 102nd birthday, Craun said.

Glass enjoyed piano music and hired a local high school student to play for her every afternoon for an hour and a half while she took her nap.

Terry Jordan, a high school student who also did yard work for her, played piano for her for a three to four years time span during the 1970s. When he played, Jordan was instructed to enter through the French doors near the piano so that he would not track mud over the carpet, said Evelyn Jordan, Terry Jordan’s mother.

Terry Jordan recalled that the performer Beverly Sills was invited to have lunch with Glass a year in advance so that the dining room could be repainted in Sills’ favorite color — red.

Glass’s favorite color was pink — of any shade, Craun said.

“Her house is baby’s breath pink because of this. A lot of rooms in the house have a pink tone to them. The kitchen has furniture in a shade of pink. Her bedroom is pink and so is the wallpaper,” she said.

Another quirk of Glass’s was that she did not believe in televisions because she thought they taught bad manners. She did not allow them in the house, and there has never been one in the house, Craun said.

She did allow her nurse to have a TV in the garage apartment as long as Glass could not hear it.

Glass was a good cook. Although for special occasions she had someone come in to prepare food.

“I have some of her handwritten recipes,” Craun said. “We’re thinking about doing a cookbook. A lot of her recipes are older style — beef tongue, egg salad.”

For the holidays Eva Glass and her son, Julian, would sometimes travel to the Glen Burnie Home, an ancestral home of the Glass family in Winchester, Va.
The Glen Burnie home, built by Robert Wood Glass starting in 1794, on property originally surveyed by James Wood Glass in 1735, was renovated by Eva Glass’s son, Julian Glass, and his best friend, R. Lee Taylor.

Craun described Taylor as “an exquisite miniaturist from Winchester, Va., who made sequined Christmas tree ornaments for Glass” on display from time to time at the Glass Mansion.

After the death of Julian Wood Glass Jr. in 1992, and as a condition of his will, the house and gardens were opened to the public on a seasonal basis in 1997. They are now an important part of a year-round regional history museum complex known as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

No doubt Glass would be glad to learn that her tradition of hospitality and appreciation for the arts are being continued at Glen Burnie, which will hold a holiday tea and watercolor exhibit on Tuesday. This year’s holiday tea at Glen Burnie in Winchester, Va., took place on Dec. 11, featuring blended teas, chicken cashew in phyllo cups, tea sandwiches, cookies and brownies.

After the conclusion of the Christmas Open House, the Glass Mansion will be closed except for pre-arranged tours. To schedule a tour or to rent the mansion for a special event, call the Nowata Historical Society Museum at 918-273-1191.

Childhood Memories

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
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One evening when I was in Tulsa with my friends Mark and Linda Simms, they took me to Coney Island — a family-owned restaurant established in 1926. They said the restaurant had special significance for Mark Simms. We agreed that one day he would tell me the story, and I would write about it. On Oct. 19, I arranged to meet him to hear about the important part the Coney Island Restaurant and its staff had played in his childhood.

“It started when mom took me to the Coney Island, and we stopped there and we ate. There was a long line, and we had to wait. … I used to watch people come in … they had kind of school-like benches.”

These were simpler times, when children were free to explore. As a child, Simms, remembering the location of the Coney Island he had visited with his mom, decided to venture there one his own one day.

“I was real young and I’d ride the bus downtown. When I got downtown, I’d walk to Coney Island,” Simms said. “I must have been in grade school. I don’t remember the exact age. Anyway, I knew all the bus routes around Tulsa, and I knew how to transfer. All the bus drivers knew me. It was real easy to get down there and get home because I knew the bus routes.

“Well, one day I ran out of money and I didn’t have enough money to buy lunch. So, I asked the owner, ‘could I work to get me a coney,’ and he looked at me and he said, ‘yeah, you can.’ He said, ‘if you’ll sweep the floors, mop, clean the desk and clean the bathroom, I’ll give you free chips, pop and a coney — as much as you want.’ At that time, that was a big deal for me.

“Anyway, this went on for a while. … and I got real familiar with him and his workers. If he was off, they would still give [lunch] to me.

“It got toward fall. I swept, mopped, and I went to get my coney and I couldn’t swallow. … So, I started crying. The owner came out and said, ‘what’s wrong, and he looked at me and felt my neck and said, ‘I think you have the mumps.’
“So, he called my mom, and they rushed me to Hillcrest. Of course, I did have the mumps, but I was still crying because I’d worked and didn’t get my coney,” he said with a laugh.

“The owner kept saying, don’t worry about it, you can still come over and get your coney. But that didn’t soothe me. I was still cryin’ cause I couldn’t eat my coney,” Simms said laughing.

“Time went by and I came in several times, and he served me a coney without working. Finally, I got to where I could work again and continue my coneys.
“I never did know his name … I just called him the Greek. He had those real thick eye glasses. He didn’t remember my name either. He’d say, ‘was the little Indian boy through yet?’ I knew him as the Greek, and he knew me as the little Indian boy. At that time we didn’t know each other’s name.

His daughter, Georgia Tsilekas, confirmed in a phone interview that her father who founded Coney Island, had worn thick eye glasses and his name was Christ Economou.

“Finally, we moved away from Suburban Acres,” Simms said.

He grew up and didn’t have much time to think of Tulsa and the Coney Island. He attended college, served in the Army and started a business in Bartlesville.
Years later on a day trip to Tulsa, Simms and his wife passed by the restaurant. It was open and so they went in.

“Everything was pretty much the same. I was going through the line, and there was a real pretty Greek girl. I told her the story and she said, ‘I’m the granddaughter.’ … While I was talking to her, her mother walked up and said, ‘I’m the daughter.’ As I’m going through the line she said, ‘he doesn’t have to pay for it.’ So, she gave me a free pop, chips and coney. She said, ‘I was a little girl, but I remembered something like that.’

“Later it closed and they opened in another location. … They had the old pictures on the wall. I couldn’t remember their names, but I recognized them. Linda took a picture of me out front.

“We still go to the new loctation, but my fondest memories are from the original little location downtown. That was my first job,” Simms said.

The family still owns Coney Island at the northwest corner of Archer and Main in the Brady District of Tulsa, and they still have the same school-style seating.

“My dad bought them used in 1926. They were restaurant chairs from the east,” Tsilekas explained.

Economou originally had 26 restaurants. Once established, he would sell each of them to an immigrant and move to another town until he arrived in Tulsa and decided to put down roots, she said.

“He had stores from Pennsylvania to Nebraska to Dallas. His cousin said, ‘I’ve heard Tulsa is a nice town. As soon as he got off the train and looked around, he said, ‘that’s the place where I want to be.

“He went back to Greece in 1929 and married my mom and brought her back,” Tsilekas said.

The Economous had three children — Georgia Tsilekas, Pope Kingsley, who owns the Coney Islander in Owasso, and James Economou, who owns the Coney Island in the Brady District — managed by his daughter-in-law, Vicki Economou.