|Birth: ||Mar. 7, 1870|
|Death: ||Oct. 12, 1913|
According to the US Census, Docia was born in March of 1870, on the southern edge of Newport in the Big Pigeon Valley of Cocke County, Tennessee. She was the fifth child of George Washington Runyan and Nancy Jane (Mantooth) Runyan, whose lives and ancestries are described in their respective memorials. She was called “Docia,” but this was a common shortening of the name “Theodocia,” meaning “gift of God.” The 1880 census, which listed her family’s first names simply by initials, listed her as "T. Runyan," reflecting her full first name. Her friends simply called her “Doshie.”
Docia was born into a close-knit community of relatives. The home of her paternal grandparents, Henry and Margaret (Mantooth) Runyan, was on one side of her house, along with their remaining children, while the home of her maternal grandparents, William and Nancy (Lee) Mantooth, was on the other side of their house, with their remaining children. Next to them lived her mother’s cousin, John S. Mantooth, who was married to her father’s sister, Mary Jane (Runyan) Mantooth, while next to them was the family of her mother’s uncle, and next to that a cousin, and so on. A bit further down the road lived the family of her father’s cousin, friend, and comrade in arms, Joseph Manning Runyan. The two families were destined to journey together as pioneers to new lands in the west.
In eastern Tennessee, land suitable for farming could be found only in the valleys, and all of it was already taken by others. So there was little opportunity to expand or to have land enough for one’s heirs. In addition, the state of Tennessee had disenfranchised Confederate veterans like George and Joseph, leaving them with few rights and opportunities. So in 1871, when Docia was just a year old, her family and the Joseph Manning Runyan family moved from the Newport area of Tennessee to the Newport area or Arkansas, no doubt going by train. As Confederate veterans they were disqualified from claiming a homestead on federal land, but they could rent land from someone else and save up money from their farm income to buy land of their own. Joseph and his family rented a farm on the south side of the White River, just west of Newport on the road to Oil Trough, and raised livestock. Docia’s family were more adventuresome. They traveled 110 miles up the White River and its tributaries to a sparsely settled region of the Ozarks called Bennetts Bayou. There they rented land along the Bennetts river, near the present location of Vidette, in Fulton County, where they planted gardens, and raised livestock. Click to see earth view of the property. The river itself provided transportation for people and produce as well water for livestock and a place to catch fish.
Docia grew up at this location, no doubt helping with the stock-raising and gardening as well as the housework. Her likely lifestyle there is described in detail in the biographies of Docia’s mother and father, the links to which are at the bottom of this memorial. A short distance away from their farm was Click to see earth view of the church. Docia probably attended both church and school in that chapel. Nearby was a simple racetrack where the community gathered to watch people race their horses.
The family seems to have made trips down the White River, perhaps to sell livestock and buy supplies, but for sure to visit with relatives. More and more of their relatives were moving from Cocke County to Arkansas. In 1879, Docia’s 15-year-old sister Dora was married to a man in Oil Trough whose sister had already married into the family. She stayed there while Docia and her family returned upriver to their mountain home in Bennetts Bayou. The family had one relative in Bennetts Bayou, a man named William Thomas “WT” Mantooth . He had come to Arkansas with his parents in 1869, and he might well have been the one who encouraged Docia’s family to settle in Bennetts Bayou. He evidently lived on their farm, because in 1876 he got into trouble when it was discovered that he was operating a moonshine still in the woods near there. In 1883 WT claimed a homestead on the North Fork of the White River in Baxter County. It was only nine miles away as the crow flies, but since it was in a different valley and in a different county, it gave him a new start. After having time to build a cabin, dig a well, and get things ready, he married Docia’s sister Mary Florence, in 1884. He also bought 50 acres of adjoining property. Five years later, when WT had lived on the claim the minimum five years and had applied for a patent to it, he sold it to Docia’s father George, then he and Mary Florence traveled to Oklahoma Territory to claim a new homestead in the land run of 1889. So early in 1889, when Docia was turning 19, her family moved to a farm of their own, 208 acres of good land along the North Fork River. The property was in an attractive and well-watered location, with easy access to river travel. Click to see earth view of the property. They could easily travel down the North Fork to a landing near Mountain Home or travel down the White River to Oil Trough or Newport, where their relatives lived.
In 1890, Congress passed the Oklahoma Organic Act, which divided the region into two territories, Oklahoma and Indian. It also provided for lands of Indian Territory to be allotted to individual members of tribes, and for unused lands to be made available for purchase. Docia’s sister Mary Florence and her husband WT Mantooth had acquired a homestead from the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889, but seeing the potential in Indian Territory, they sold it, no doubt for a profit, and moved two miles across the border into Chickasaw Nation. There they used their accumulated capital to open a general store in the small village of Johnsonville, this being the first store in that region. They no doubt wrote to Docia’s family as well, encouraging them to come, and explaining the availability and price of land. Unlike Oklahoma Territory, where all the land was covered by the Homestead Act, which excluded Confederate veterans like Docia’s father, land in Indian Territory could be purchased by anyone, if they had the money. So in January, 1891, Docia’s mother, Nancy Jane (Mantooth) Runyan, negotiated the sale of their property in Arkansas. As it happens, she got a very good price for it. They would have sold off their livestock and furniture as well, but kept their tools. Then early in 1891, as Docia was turning 21, the family set off for Indian Territory.
Docia and her family would have taken a sternwheeler steamboat down the White River in Arkansas and disembarked at Oil Trough. There they would have visited George’s cousin Joseph Manning Runyan and his family, including his sons Russell and John, who later joined them in IT. And they would have visited Nancy Jane’s brother William Manon Mantooth, who was married to Joseph’s sister Mary Jane Runyan, and perhaps Nancy Jane’s nephew Clayborn Mantooth and his family, who later joined them in IT as well. But most importantly, they were joined on their journey by Docia’s sister Dora and her husband Harden Bollinger and their children. The family would then have boarded a train at the nearby town of Newport and traveled to Texas. There they probably stayed with their relative Nancy Mantooth and her family, who later joined them IT as well. Docia’s mother and younger siblings probably stayed for a while with their relatives in Texas, while her father and the older children went ahead to IT. They would have taken Santa Fe Railway north from Gainesville to Paul's Valley, in Chickasaw Nation, then gone overland 18 miles to Johnsonville, where Docia’s sister Mary Florence was now living, with her husband WT Mantooth. Although Oklahoma was not as mountainous as eastern Tennessee or north central Arkansas, they found the highest spot around, with rocky outcrops, deep ravines, land suitable for pasture, and an artesian spring that provided water for a garden and a pond. It was a choice location, and Docia’s father a large acreage, eventually expanding to 340 acres. (Click to see earth view of the property between the roads.) Presumably George and the older children planted a garden, dug a well, built cabins to live in and a barn for animals, then called for the rest of the family to come. Docia’s sister Dora Bollinger and her family settled on a property a few miles to the east. But Docia’s brother Malcom, who married a woman from Gainesville, Texas, lived on the Runyan Farm and worked as a barber. A description of the Runyan farm, lifestyle, and cuisine, at least as it existed later, can be found in the biography of Docia’s mother Nancy Jane.
Docia’s parents evidently invited George’s close friend and cousin Joseph Runyan to join them on their spacious farm. Joseph did not come, but two of his sons did. One was John R. Runyan, who was taking a break from the study of medicine and was earning money for his tuition. The other was Russell Runyan, who had evidently been working on the Humbard ranch in McKinney, Texas. The ranch had been started by friends and relatives from Newport, Tennessee. Also working there was Clayborn Mantooth, the nephew of Nancy Jane, who had come from Newport Tennessee, along with his wife Eudocia and their children. In February, 1895, Russell married their daughter Moodie in McKinney, Texas. According to their grandson Talmage Mantooth (via Donna Minke), Clayborn and Eudocia and their children moved to the Runyan farm. Finding that Moodie was pregnant and doctors were scarce, she and Russell returned to Newport, Arkansas, to await the birth. Her baby Selma was born in December of 1895, after which she and Russell and their baby traveled to Indian Territory and settled onto the Runyan Farm. In 1897 John Runyan completed his medical degree, and after some residency in a hospital, he returned and set up a medical practice in the village of Johnsonville, just two miles from the Runyan Farm. In 1898, Russell and Moodie had a second daughter, named Beulah.
Around this time Docia went to Pauls Valley, either as a move or perhaps just to shop. She met a widower there named William Jasper Brown, who was engaged in the construction business. (The name “Jasper” was that of a Revolutionary War hero.) William’s first wife, Eunice (Comer) Brown, had died in 1889 of tuberculosis, and William had raised their six children. The first three were daughters and were all married and living elsewhere, but the last three were boys and still living with their father. Docia and William were married in September, 1897, probably in Johnsonville. They evidently honeymooned in Lexington, across the river in Oklahoma Territory, since that is where they had their photographs made. Lexington was the place people went to have fun. (See photo section.)
The new family set up home in Pauls Valley, at the west end of town. The oldest son, Frank, was 18 and lived and worked on a farm, but Doshie helped raise William’s two youngest children, Arthur Samuel and Nathan. The 1900 census lists the four of them living in Pauls Valley. (The census also says that William was a carpenter, that they owned their home, and that they could both read and write.) They reportedly attended the Pauls Valley Christian Church.
In January, 1899, Docia gave birth in Pauls Valley to a daughter of her own, Bertha Lena, but the baby died a year later, shortly after the death of Docia’s mother Nancy Jane. Both were buried in a family plot in the Old Johnsonville Cemetery. In 1901 Docia gave birth to a son, Edward Dempsey, who lived to adulthood. Soon after that, Docia and her family moved to Johnsonville, where her father, brothers and sisters now lived, and numerous cousins. Her sister Dora moved there as well, with her husband Harden and their eight children. Harden worked there as the manager of a general store, almost certainly the one owned by Dora’s brother-in-law and second cousin, WT Mantooth.
At that time tuberculosis was epidemic in the US and was the leading cause of death, killing 110,000 Americans annually. It was called "consumption," because it seemed to consume the tissues of the body, leading to weight loss and death. It was endemic because medical science had long regarded the disease as hereditary rather than contagious, and there were few public health measures to contain it. At that time most people were infected with TB but it remained latent, not causing illness, until trauma or other illnesses gave it an opportunity to become active in subjects with genetic susceptibility. In the case of Docia’s sister Dora, the delivery of her last child seems to have suppressed her resistance enough that the disease became active. When Dora became too ill to care for her baby Beulah, she asked Docia to care for her, and Docia took Beulah into her home. According to Maryellen Leachman, later in life Beulah shared with her daughter Estelle pleasant memories of Docia standing by the window and singing to her. Dora’s other sisters took in children as well. According to John Larimore and Ruth Crouch Pratt, Dora was attended by her cousin Dr. John Runyan, who did what he could for her. Unfortunately, there was no cure for TB at that time, and Dora died the last week of June, 1902.
Johnsonville and Byars
From The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture:
“In 1903 railroad interests established the Byars community one mile south of Johnsonville on land allotted to Katie Byars. She and her husband donated land for the town square. The tract was permanently set aside for community purposes. Despite opposition from the citizens of Johnsonville, the Byars post office opened on April 9, 1903. Byars was incorporated in 1906 and by July of 1908 was served by the main line of the east-west Oklahoma Central Railway. Agriculture and cattle ranching were the community's main economic activities. In 1907 the population of Byars was listed as 537.” The surrounding countryside, now called “Byars Township,” had another thousand people, some of them in the village of Johnsonville, but it was destined to decline as Byars grew.
Construction of Byars began in 1903. Around that time Docia and her family moved to Johnsonville. They lived on Tackett Street, which is evidently the street now called 128th, where the school is. Click to see earth view of the location. Her brother Malcom and his family lived around the corner on Main Street, which is now called Johnsonville Ave. He was a barber and the proprietor of the Model Barber Shop. Their sister Naomi “Oma” lived in Johnsonville and worked as a seamstress, along with their sister Lillie May. The Byars Banner notes in July, 1904, that Lillie May and Docia came from Johnsonville to shop in Byars. Their father George Runyan presumably lived in one of these households as well. He died of “dropsy” on July 23, 1904, and was buried in the family plot. After their father’s death, Docia’s sister Oma took responsibility for their two youngest siblings, Alonzo, 18, and Lillie May, 16. Later that year she moved with them to Shawnee, where she presumably worked at home as a seamstress. That same year Malcom moved his barbershop to the growing town of Byars, but he continued to reside in Johnson.
As for the Runyan Farm, around 1903 Clayborn and Eudocia Mantooth moved to a farm of their own across the river in Cleveland County. By late 1904, Docia’s parents had died, and their children had moved off the Runyan Farm into the growing towns, leaving the farm to Russell and Moodie Runyan. Nevertheless, the relatives often got together. Beulah (Runyan) Thompson, who was born on the farm in 1898, remembered Docia well from family get-togethers. When Beulah was in her 90s, her granddaughter Donna (Thompson) Minke showed her a photo of Docia, Beulah recognized her right away. She said that Docia was “a sweet, kind woman” and that they used to ride horseback together.
On August 18, 1905, Docia gave birth to her third child, Deverl. The Byars Banner put a humorous announcement in their paper: “Our good friend W. J. Brown of Johnson was in Byars one day last week. He seemed to be in a great hurry and hardly took time to notice his most intimate friends. We have learned since that a young lady has taken up her permanent abode at his home. Mother and child both doing well and it is reported that Mr. Brown will soon recover.”. Unfortunately, Deverl died a year later, on August 17; he was buried in the family plot.
Two weeks later, Docia’s husband suffered a terrible accident, which the Byars Banner described as follows: “W. J. Brown of Johnson, while at work last Friday [Aug 31, 1906] on the addition to S. C. Newbern’s livery barn, fell from the building and received severe injuries and is now in a critical condition.” According to his son Ual, a board slipped from the hand of a carpenter working with William, and the board knocked him off the building. William was left bedfast for one year, and the accident left him crippled for life. Afterwards he worked at home as a cabinet maker.
About this time, and perhaps for this reason, Docia’s siblings in Shawnee moved back to Johnson, living on Main Street. It’s possible they occupied the house vacated by their cousin WT Mantooth, after he moved to Stratford that year. Docia’s sister Oma worked as a seamstress. Their brother Alonzo partnered with another man to operate the Postoffice Barber Shop in Byars. (Except for brief marriages, Oma and Alonzo remained single.)
In July, 1907, ten months after William’s accident, the Byars Banner made the following announcement on its front page: Born On Sunday, July 28, to Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Brown, a boy.” This was Docia’s last child, whom they named “Eual Jasper Brown,” later shortened to “Ual”, a variant spelling of “Yule.” Although William could no longer engage in construction, he recovered enough to attend church and be active in the Republican party. Soon after his son’s birth, the party nominated him for justice of the peace.
In 1907 Docia’s youngest sister, Lillie May, married Jim Crouch, a farmer who lived in Johnson. Her niece Pearl Bollinger lived with them, and afterwards they were blessed with two daughters of their own: Zelma Ruth and Gladys. Later in life Ruth recounted the close friendship between Lillie Mae and Docia. She said they often visited each other, and Ruth remembered playing with Docia’s son Ual. She also recalled Docia singing.
On November 16, 1907, Indian Territory was united with Oklahoma Territory to form the country’s 46th state, now called simply “Oklahoma.” The town of Byars continued to grow while Johnsonville declined to a farming community.
Docia began to suffer from tuberculosis. Docia’s sister Dora had died from TB in 1902, at age 39, and most likely TB is what killed her sister Mary Florence in 1899, also at age 39. Docia succumbed to the disease on October 12, 1913, at age 43. She was buried in the Old Johnsonville Cemetery near the graves of her children Bertha Lena and Deverl and near the graves of her parents and sisters. Docia was survived by her crippled husband William and her two sons, Dempsey age 12 and Ual age 6. Her sister Oma took Dempsey into her home, and Ual evidently stayed with his father. The next year, however, their sister Lillie Mae died, at age 29. Oma took Lillie Mae’s daughters Ruth and Gladys into her home, and Dempsey moved out.
Docia’s husband William Jasper Brown could not care for them adequately because of his disability and declining health. So in December, 1914, took his son Ual to live with his daughter Nora Glass in Tecumseh, which was thirty miles north on the train line. He then traveled another 120 miles north to Tonkawa with his 13-year-old son Dempsey, so they could live with his daughter Mertie (Brown) Bufford and be near his son Nathan, both of whom were farmers. After a year, his daughter Nora (Brown) Glass and her husband sent 8-year-old Ual 400 miles away to Lakin, Kansas, to live with her sister Lura (Brown) Warthen. For the next two years William and Dempsey lived with Mertie and perhaps with Nathan as well. On February 18, 1916, as death approached, William sold his property in Johnsonville to Nathan. One presumes he then distributed the proceeds and his personal properties to his heirs. Three days later, on February 21, he passed on, aged 65.
Around 1970, Docia’s son Ual returned to Johnsonville and had new gravestones made for Docia and her sisters Oma and Lillie Mae, and for her daughters Deverl and Bertha Lena.
George Washington Runyan (1840 - 1904)
Nancy Jane Mantooth Runyan (1842 - 1900)
William Jasper Brown (1850 - 1916)
Bertha Lena Brown (1899 - 1900)*
Edward Dempsey Brown (1901 - 1967)*
Deverl Brown (1905 - 1906)*
Ual Jasper Brown (1907 - 1990)*
Mary Florence Runyan Mantooth (1860 - 1899)*
Dora Runyan Bollinger (1863 - 1900)*
Malcom C. Runyan (1869 - 1914)*
Theodocia E. Runyan Brown (1870 - 1913)
Naomi Darlene Runyan (1875 - 1936)*
Lou Runyon (1879 - 1890)*
Alonzo Runyan (1882 - ____)*
Lillie Mae Runyan Crouch (1886 - 1914)*
Doshie R. Brown 1873-1913
Note: Her son Ual replaced the original marker with this one around 1970.
Old Johnsonville Cemetery
Maintained by: Darrell Brown
Originally Created by: Rosemary Harris
Record added: Apr 20, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 88852859