I first met Ernest Garrels when visiting his wife Betty, while gathering information for my upcoming book "Zane Grey's Forgotten Ranch: Tales from the Boles Homestead." He had a couple good stories and the hospitality that he and Betty provided while I gathered information, was terrific.
Unfortunately I can't say that I knew the man well, I didn't. But I knew who he was. Ernest represented something very important related to my research -- a direct connection to Sampson Elam Boles, homesteader of the land I live on. Ernest's father was Henry Garrels, whose stepfather was Elam Boles and whose mother was Ida Adeline Simmons, one of the toughest ladies in her own right. Ernest's mother was Ida Bell "Sis" Haught, one of Henry "Pappy" Haught's kids, and a legendary lady who ‘til the day she died, had fond remembrances of being married in Payson's Tammany Hall.
Ernest was the last living child of Henry Garrels, and the third-to-last living child of "Sis" who had two children with Dave Martin after Henry Garrels died in 1924. He was living history -- old black and white photos of the family show him as a child with Elam and Ida. And unfortunately, living history like Ernest continues to pass on more and more as the seasons change.
One story that Ernest told me will always make me smile. We were going through old pictures and came across the one seen with this story, of Bill McCord, Henry Garrels, and Eddie Boles. These were the three sons of Elam Boles, two being stepsons, the latter his own. Ernest told me that he remembers the vase on the table. He was real little then, and when they put him on the table, he knocked over the vase and got yelled at. I got a real kick out of that.
At some point in the near future, Betty Garrels will finally write her husband's story and I have no doubt that it will appear here. I look forward to reading it. Many people don't know it, but Betty has written some incredible history pieces. She's been working hard at genealogy for over 20 years, piecing together much Haught family history. The information that she gave me proved invaluable for my book and has opened some other lines of research related to old Payson.
My heart goes out to Betty. She has lost her longtime love and I can only hope that she will survive the way my Grandma Hayes has. My Grandma Hayes lost her husband to cancer nearly 22 years ago. She's lived as a widow since and at the age of 91, still crosses the road on the old family farm to feed the cats in the milk house. So I hope that for Betty, and I hope that she will keep after the research as well. She has preserved a lot of great information for future generations, and whenever I find something that I consider neat, related to the Haughts, Garrels, or Boles, part of my excitement comes out of the fact that I know that she will be happy to see it.