STORY OF JOHN TOLIVER KILLOUGH
John Toliver Killough was born in 1860 in White Co., Arkansas, to William and Betsie Killough. At nineteen, he married Pocahantas Griggs Ligon, 33 years old, who had four children by a former marriage. Their children were Clay, Catherine and Joe. They divorced. At 45, when his three children were grown, he married Bertha Jane Choate, 20 years old. They had Ila Zona, Daisy, Roxie, Johnny and Julia. When asked to write about her father in 1982, Ila Zona (Killough) Cook, 75, wrote:
"Papa was a farmer he would rent a farm & house with it, but he moved pretty often. He had good deal with his landlord, but he must been restless. They lived in Ark. Until 1915 when Bro Joe Killough,  my ½ brother wrote Papa to come to Texas to drive a team and haul material to black top a road by his house. Joe had 2 teams so we took a train at Higdon, Ark. Went to Temple, Texas. The other ½ brother Clay  & family lived near Joe. It was the most beautiful country I ever lived in. When they were not on road working they farmed. Was fine land & grew lots cotton, corn & oats.
"But Papa said the big land owners rather have black men as they would do their dirty jobs. So Papa & Joe made plans to move back to Arkansas at Guy. So they loaded 2 wagons. Made what they called ‘Over Jets’ a frame that rested over top wagon then put bed for us to sleep on. Course had bows and sheet over wagon. Bro Joe, wife & 3 kids in 1 wagon and Papa & Mama (Bertha) & us 3 kids in our wagon. I was 8 years then. We stopped at night, built log fire to warm us & give light & Mama & Roxie had cast iron skillets & Iron lids to bake our bread & cook our food, but we just snacked at noon. Now here it comes, it took us 26 days to make the trip. Bro Joe & family rented a farm above Guy, a small town, & we rented a farm south of Guy. We were back with old friends we had lived by in 1913. This was 1916. Ever thing went OK until June 6 when a tornado hit that section. We were in the house, Papa had his arms hugged around us 3 children & Mama. It blew house all down but 1 wall between big room & kitchen, loft floor. Then was raining hard on us, Papa looked up the road at our neighbor’s house, it wasn’t down but pulled off the foundation. So Papa took us up there.
"Several homes were destroyed but no one killed. We moved to Uncle George Killough’s & still worked our crop. That Sept. we sold crop to Bro Joe and we went by train to Locust Grove, Okla. to Mama’s folks. She hadn’t saw them for few years. We picked cotton. Papa made cross ties for rail roads. He rented a farm, dug us a storm cellar for we were so scared after the tornado hit us. We put straw on floor, put quilts on that and slept in cellar if looked stormy. 1 day Mama wanted to air her quilts, she hung on clothes line. I thought they were so pretty. I counted them, 25.
"The World War I was on boys had to leave for camps. We farmed, we had fine river bottom land near Grand River.
"Julia was borned in June 27, 1919 and she was sick a lot and one day Papa told Mama if Lord would let us keep her [Julia] till he could get his business all done we take her back to Ark. Where their little girl (Roxie) Viola was buried (at two years of age). So in Dec. of 1919 we took a train from Oklahoma to Higdon, Ark. We got in Higdon in the last night of 1919. So Papa hired a man with a wagon to take us about 15 miles to friends. They had done rented us a farm so we were soon settled. Not far from the church & cemetery where Papa & Mama and baby Viola is resting. We lived there till Jan 1926. Papa had a friend living up here in Searcy County, so we left Van Buren County and moved up here near Marshall. . . .
He worked after he was too old to work & frail but there wasn’t any Social Security for Old people then. So finally welfare gave them a little help. They were living in Chataw [possibly Chouteau, Okla., near Locust Grove] but Papa went to Julia’s & told Earl that he & Mama wasn’t able to live alone any longer. So Earl told him he was welcome to come to their house so they did. And he died there. I don’t know how long they were there. Papa was drawing $12 welfare when he died [in 1941 at 81 years of age] & he gave Julia part of it to feed them. Earl was kind to them.
After Papa was gone Mama would stay a while at a time
with us kids. . . The last three years Mama was with me. . . " [She died in
1955 at age 70.]