|Birth: ||Jan., 1875|
|Death: ||Sep., 1936|
Naomi was born on January 9, 1875, in Arkansas, probably in Fulton County, where her parents lived. She was called “Omie” and later “Oma.” Most of what is known of her early life with her family is described in the biographies of her parents, to which there are links below. Besides attending school and helping with the family farm, she learned to sew clothing.
Her oldest sister, Mary Florence, was married to WT Mantooth. They had 208 acres on the North Fork of the White River, where they probably had a trading post and perhaps a small farm. Near the end of 1888 they sold that to Mary’s parents, who then moved there with their family, and they traveled to what became Oklahoma Territory. There they participated in the land run of April 22, 1889. The next year they sold their claim and crossed two miles into Indian Territory, where they settled in the small town of Johnsonville, in Chickasaw Nation. There they opened a general store, at that time the only one in town.
Evidently Mary sent wrote home with glowing reports and encouraged the rest of the family to move there. So early in 1891, Oma’s parents sold their property and moved to the Johnsonville area, where they settled on choice land about two miles southeast of Johnsonville. There Oma worked at home as a dressmaker, while her brother Malcom worked as a barber. Their married sister Dora Bollinger lived on a farm with her family a few miles further east, but in 1902 Dora became ill, and the family moved to Johnsonville, where she died. Oma reportedly helped with the children and may have moved to Johnsonville at that time, as did her married sister, Docia Brown, who took in Dora’s youngest. In May, 1903, the federal government allotted the land where the Runyan family was living to a man who was one eighth Chickasaw, so the whole Runyan family moved to Johnsonville, where non-Indians were allowed to buy lots. The next May her father died. A few months later Oma moved to the town of Shawnee, where she rented a house and presumably worked as a dressmaker. She was soon joined in her house in Shawnee by her brothers Alonzo and Hodge, where were barbers, and her sister Lillie Mae, who reportedly worked as a dressmaker as well. Around 1907 the siblings moved back to Johnsonville. There her sister Lillie Mae was soon married to a farmer named Jim Crouch.
Oma and her brothers played in a string band (see photo). She played a guitar; Alonzo played a banjo, and Malcom played a fiddle.
On January 8, 1910, Naomi Runyan was married in Shawnee to George A. Ward, and they set up home in Johnsonville, next to his parents. In October of 1913 her sister Docia Brown died of tuberculosis, which was endemic at the time, and Oma took in her son Dempsey for a while. Her brother Malcom died the next year. Then in December of 1914 her sister Lillie Mae died. She left behind two daughters, Ruth age 6 and Gladys age 4. Oma assumed responsibility for the maternal care the girls, but she and her husband divorced, and the Wards moved away. Her brother Alonzo moved in, as did Jim Crouch, the girls’ father. The 1920 census shows them all sharing the same house in Byars, with Oma Runyan as the head of the household. She was working as a dressmaker and Alonzo as a barber, while Jim Crouch was unemployed. (In 1918, Jim had been working for a creamery.)
Eventually Alonzo moved into a house next door and Jim Crouch moved out, while Oma raised Ruth and Gladys. According to Ruth, Oma not only sewed but also cleaned and pressed clothing, ran a bathhouse, and owned the barber shop in which her brother Alonzo worked (as confirmed by the 1930 census). Oma supported the two girls through high school and even through the first years of college, which was unusual for the time, especially for a single woman. Her niece Ruth remembered her very fondly. She said Oma also looked after her brother Alonzo, who was alcoholic.
In 1929 Oma’s niece Gladys was married to David Butts and moved to Tulsa. As for Ruth, she continued to live with Oma but eventually moved to Wanette, where she was married to David Chesterfield “Chess” Pratt. In September, 1936, Oma passed away in Johnsonville. Around 1970 her nephew Ual Jasper Brown replaced her original grave marker with the current one.
George Washington Runyan (1840 - 1904)
Nancy Jane Mantooth Runyan (1842 - 1900)
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)*
Old Johnsonville Cemetery
Maintained by: Darrell Brown
Originally Created by: Tammy
Record added: Aug 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 29387227