John Henry Stufflebean had fourteen children and I decided earlier this year to see if I could find current day living cousins of my husband. Thankfully, only ten of John Henry’s children lived to adulthood and married and had children and most of them had 2-4 children. That makes my search a lot simpler!
Nolan Kay Stufflebean was the eighth child and sixth son of John Henry Stufflebean and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Hollen. He went by his middle name, so was called Kay his whole life.
Kay Stufflebean with Brothers and Father
Kay was born 15 March 1900 in Linn County, Missouri, which had been the Stufflebean home for sixty years. Just before Kay’s fifth birthday on 2 January 1905, his mother, Mary Elizabeth, died. I’ve found no death certificate, but I suspect, given the timing that she might have died giving birth and that the baby also died.
Four months later on 21 May 1905, John Henry remarried to Addie Lucinda Belcher. With seven surviving children (daughter Lila Hazel died at the age of ten months), he needed a wife and mother to care for all those little ones.
My father-in-law, Ed, shared some stories about his aunts and uncles, but I don’t know how much he knew about those relatives as they were growing up.
However, we do know that about 1905 or 1906, John Henry decided to move to the fairly new Oklahoma Territory and he went into the grocery and general store business. His sons were put to work, helping out.
I imagine that all those sons might have been somewhat of a handful at times, but Kay Stufflebean crossed the line of being just a handful. While browsing through old Oklahoma newspapers, I came across this article in the Norman Daily Transcript, dated 12 September 1918:
FIVE BOYS HELD FOR ROBBERIES AT NOBLE
Hearing on Charge of Burglaries
Last Few Months Set for
Charged with being implicated in a
series of petty robberies extending
over a period of several months, five
young men of Noble, ranging from 17
to 20 years of age, are now under
bonds to appear for hearing on Sep-
tember 17 before Justice J.D. Grigs-
by. The young men, all of whom
come from prominent families of No-
ble, were arraigned Tuesday evening
before Justice Grigsby and bonds for
their appearance next Tuesday at 9
o’clock set at $500 each.
The five boys are all charged with
burglarizing stores and dwelling
houses in Noble, but not all of them
were involved in the same robberies,
according to the complaint. The ar-
ticles alleged to have been taken were
of a miscellaneous character, includ-
ing watches, fobs, knives, revolvers,
whiskey and money. The five boys
named in the complaints are Kay
Stufflebean, Edgar Dilbeck, Charles
Filson, Benton Petty and Raymond
Seven Complaints Made
The complaints filed against the
boys cover the seven alleged robber-
ies. In some cases the supposed dates
of the acts are not given, but all have
taken place within the year, accord-
ing to the allegations. Briefly stated
the charges made in the various
complaints are as follows:
That on date not given Benton Petty
and Kay Stufflebean, turning the latch
of the outer door, entered the house of
J.A. Shriver in Noble and took one
double-action pistol, one pair of pin-
cers and $1.10 in money, total value
of all property, $15.
That in April, 1918, Benton Petty,
entering through the basement of the
home of R.F. Ellinger in Noble, ob-
tained one $10 gold piece and one
quart of whisky, valued at $2.
That in August, 1918, Benton Pet-
ty, by turning the latch of the outer
door, entered the house of A.L. Lew-
is in Noble and took five quarts of
whisky, valued at $10, and one watch,
valued at $10.
That in August, 1918, Benton Pet-
ty and Kay Stufflebean, by breaking
the plate-glass window at night, en-
tered the store building of Benton &
Bradley, known as the Palace drug
store, in Noble, and took $60 in gold
coin, $12 in silver and currency and
a smoking pipe and case, valued at $5.
That on the night of September 2,
Kay Stufflebean, Ed Dilbeck, Charles
Filson, Benton Petty and Raymond
Lewis, by prying out a screen and
opening a window, entered the house
of P.O. Sandle in Noble and took a
watch worth $10, a fob worth $8, a
small aluminum knife worth $1.50
and $1.10 in money.
That on the night of September 5,
Kay Stufflebean, Benton Petty and
Raymond Lewis, by removing wind-
dow glass, entered the store building
of Ike Graham in Noble and took two
watches, valued at $50, one six-
shooter valued at $20 and one box of
shells, valued at 25 cents.
Benton Petty appears to have been the “ring leader,” as he was named in all six of these complaints, including two where he alone was charged. However, Kay was more than a one-time participant, being named in four of the six complaints.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a follow up story to determine what happened to each of the young men.
Whatever happened in terms of court punishment, Kay was living at home with his parents and siblings on 2 January 1920. However, that was soon to change.
On 25 June 1920, Nolan and Hattie Reeves, 17, went up to Norman to get married. He gave his age as 21, but he was only 20 years old. Given that the family was all based in Noble and Hattie was only 17, I have to wonder if his parents were aware of what he was doing.
Hattie Reeves, the daughter of James and Epsy Reeves, was born 21 September 1901 in Oklahoma. She died on 13 August 1979 in Noble.
By 1930, Hattie stated she was married, but she was the head of household consisting of herself and two daughters. They were living in Noble.
Kay was living in Norman, working as a store clerk. He also reported that he was married.
I haven’t been able to find Kay Stufflebean in the 1940 census, but Hattie and daughters were again enumerated in Noble on 4 April 1940. I mention the date because daughter Billie is listed with the occupation of “Public Informant” with the “Extension Division,” whatever that might have been. She was 18 years old (born 23 April 1921) and that seems to be an odd occupation for anyone. However, the last mention of Billie Jo was her death, only six weeks later on 21 May 1940. She is buried in the IOOF Cemetery.
Kay married a second time, on 14 January 1941 in Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma to “Leon Smith.” She was 29 years old and he was 40. It should probably be “Leona,” but that name isn’t unusual in that time period in Oklahoma.
I have no further information on Kay and his new wife, but Kay died on 9 November 1970 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and is buried at Rose Hill Burial Park, the same cemetery where his brother, Henry Sylvan, had been buried in 1940. They are the only two Stufflebeans buried there.