Martha May Berryhill

Martha May Berryhill

Okmulgee, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, USA
Death 18 Dec 2010 (aged 110)
Burial Okmulgee, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, USA
Memorial ID 63063128 · View Source
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OKMULGEE, OK — BERRYHILL, Martha May, 110, homemaker, died Saturday. Wake 7 p.m. Wednesday, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mound Auditorium. Services 11 a.m. Thursday, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mound Auditorium, McClendon-Winters Funeral Home.

Martha May Berryhill, lifelong Okmulgee resident, died Saturday morning, December 18, 2010 at the age of 110. Mrs. Berryhill was the last original allottee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She was born July 12, 1900 in Okmulgee, Indian Territory to Harrison Logan Berryhill and Bettie (Burgess) Berryhill. She was a member of the Newtown United Methodist Church and Northeastern Oklahoma Centurions Club of Tulsa, and enjoyed quilting and sewing. Mrs. Berryhill was preceded in death by her parents, six brothers, five sisters, a son, two daughters, a great granddaughter and a great grandson. She is survived by a daughter, Ruby Mauk, eight grandchildren, nineteen great grandchildren, thirteen great great grandchildren, two great great great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Mrs. Berryhill will lie in state at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mound Auditorium beginning at 1:00 P.M. Wednesday. A wake service will begin at 7:00 P.M. Wednesday evening. Funeral services will be held 11:00 A.M. Thursday, December 23, 2010 in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mound Auditorium with Reverend Alfred Berryhill officiating. Interment will follow in the Tallahassee Cemetery. Casketbearers will be Sammy Haynes, Dean Haynes, Charlie Hicks III, Cory Smith, Derek Smith and Greg Berryhill. Arrangements are under the direction of the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home of Okmulgee.
(McClendon Winters)

OKMULGEE - Driving never much suited Martha Berryhill.

Although she once owned a car, a 1926 Ford Model T, the lifelong homemaker and Muscogee (Creek) Nation member "didn't like the whole experience. The roads back then were dirt, and there were big ruts," said Geri Johnson, Berryhill's niece. Deciding to give up automobiles for good would never hurt Berryhill's mobility, though. Every Sunday after she attended services at Newtown United Methodist Church, Berryhill set out on foot for a ritual she maintained for nearly 50 years - visiting tribal elders at four nursing homes. Taking them hot homemade dishes and treats, "she wrapped her pots and pans in a big white cotton tea towel, like the Indian women did back then. It made it easier to carry them," Johnson said. While the elders ate, Berryhill talked with them and read Scriptures aloud, all in her native Creek tongue. "She felt that since she didn't have money to purchase what they needed, she would give of her talents, instead," Johnson said. "Whatever she had she would share. They were literally gifts from her heart." Martha May Berryhill, the state's oldest person and the last original allottee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation listed on the federal Dawes Rolls, died Saturday. She was 110. A wake will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Creek Nation Mound Building auditorium. A funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the same location under the direction of McClendon-Winters Funeral Home. Berryhill remained as independent as she could. Until two months ago, she still got out of bed every morning, made her own bed and dressed herself, family members said. She continued to sew and make quilts, a lifelong hobby, until her eyesight failed. And she still walked, preferably without any aids, and better still without any admonishment. "Oh, she didn't like to be reminded," Johnson said, laughing. "She would pick her walker up and carry it to the other side of the room and then set it down hard on her wood floor. Then she'd say 'There. I used it.' " One of Berryhill's earliest memories was walking to church with her father, a Methodist minister. He always carried his Bible, and he took along a lantern to light the way because they left very early. The family came to Oklahoma Territory as part of one of the Trail of Tears removals. One of 12 children, Berryhill was 1 when she was added to the federal government's Dawes Commission Rolls, one of 18,712 Creek Indians to be listed on the rolls, which established tribal citizenship and qualified them for land allotments. Berryhill was No. 9,671. Berryhill married John Haynes in 1919, and they raised four children. A widow for more than 40 years, she credited her long life to her faith. "Talk to God, and do his will," she would say. Berryhill continued talking to God till the end of her life. Known to many as Sister Martha, she prayed aloud daily and greeted all good news by raising her hands and proclaiming, "Thank you, Jesus." Berryhill kept up her nursing home visits until she was in her late 80s. She treated the tribal elders to sofkey - a sour cornbread - fried salt pork, chicken and dumplings and her famous fruit cobblers. Berryhill also fulfilled occasional requests for snuff and, for one old woman, chewing tobacco. "She didn't mind their little habits," Johnson said. "She never brought cigarettes, though." Since she became the state's oldest person about three years ago, Berryhill's birthdays had become big celebrations. "I'm not sure it ever registered with her how important everyone thought she was," Johnson said. "She enjoyed the attention but never made a big deal of it." Tribal leaders were happy to do that for her, Principal Chief A.D. Ellis said. "Someday I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I had the pleasure of knowing Martha," Ellis said. "I'll tell them she was a proud Creek woman, one who totally trusted and praised her Lord." Berryhill is survived by one daughter, Ruby Mauk; eight grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; 13 great-great-grandchildren; and three great-great-great-grandchildren. (Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK, Tim Stanley, Writer, Dec. 22, 2010)

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  • Created by: MillieBelle
  • Added: 18 Dec 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 63063128
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Martha May Berryhill (12 Jul 1900–18 Dec 2010), Find a Grave Memorial no. 63063128, citing Tallahassee Church Cemetery, Okmulgee, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by MillieBelle (contributor 46628380) .