Mattie Oline: Thoughts of a Grandmother

The Texas Story Project.

This is a tribute to my grandmother, Mattie Oline (Battles) Meekins, 1899-1997.

She kept a diary from 1948 through part of 1993. I researched her entries over the years and chose the ones that have significance for society and me. My grandmother rarely missed making a daily entry in her diary during 45-plus years — an astonishing 16,000-plus entries. I was born in July of 1947, so her diaries were ongoing from when I was about six-months old through the age of 45. The entries are practical, heartfelt, and country-bred.

In the early 1900s, Mattie moved with her family to Texas in a covered wagon. Later, she got married to Bill (Willie) Meekins, and raised a family of five in Hynds City. This country village is on Farm Road 103 eight miles north of Nocona in Montague County. It was developed in 1925, when oil production began in the area, and it served local oil production workers. There were a church and three businesses there during the "boom." The Meekins (my grandparents) owned one of the businesses - a store and gasoline station. After my grandfather passed away in 1964, my grandmother moved her home to Nocona and lived there until she passed away in 1997.

There are three basic reasons for making entries in a diary: the first is to record what has transpired; the second is to make notes on future activities/events; and the third is for the entries to be kept with other diary entries to become a personal history. I  consider my grandmother's collection of 46 diaries a personal history, including family and friends, with occasional comments and reactions to societal events.

My grandmother's handwriting is used to provide an immediacy - a connection - with Mattie Oline. Notes are used to add more information. I hope that my grandmother would understand why I chose to go public with some of her diary entries: to pay tribute to an individual who helped raise me and to indicate my sense of longing for her presence. As a former educator, I also see merit in using family diaries as educational tools.

Tom R. Chambers is the grandson of Mattie Oline Meekins and a documentarian, visual artist, curator, and educator. This story originally appeared on the author's website with his grandmother's diary entries, and was exhibited at the Tales 'n' Trails Museum in Nocona, Texas, September 23-October 27, 2017. There is a link to Chambers' project on the Texas State Historical Association website.

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