I like to think that my heritage has something to do with the person I am
and what I do. Long before my great-grandfather left North Carolina, his
great-great-great-great-grandfather came to North Carolina from England.
He had a land grant from the King of England and lived in colonial America.
A few generations later, some of my kin fought in the Revolutionary War
and another generation fought the British again in the War of 1812.
About fifty years later, conflict divided the North and South. Most of my kin
lived in the South. Some of them, on my mother's side, however, lived in
the North. During the Civil War, some wore blue and some wore grey.
They were Rebels and Yankees, marching under different flags. But after
the war, one nation rose from the ashes. My ancestors who survived,
helped heal and rebuild the war-torn land.
My kin was there in World War I and I remember the ones who came back
after World War II. (My husband served in Korea, my brother served
during Viet Nam, and our son, during the Cold War.)
I attended Mt. Park school, the
same school my parents attended.
(My grand-parents probably helped
build the school building, they were
pioneers in the town.) Throughout
my school years, I did well on essay
tests, loved science, and enjoyed
history. Art was one of my favorite
pastimes. Maybe that is the reason
I chose to write about two men who
loved art as kids. Maybe you can
find my books, THE IMPORTANCE
OF JIM HENSON and THE
IMPORTANCE OF NORMAN
ROCKWELL in your library.
|Why is it
to remember all
Because of him
This picture was in a box of family photos that belonged to my
grandmother. She is gone. No one else knows anything about this young
I want to know! Who is he? What uniform is he wearing? Was he a
soldier or is this a costume he wore for the photo? Is he a relative? Or,
grandmother's old flame? Maybe I will never know.
I played on the girls basketball team
in junior high and high school. At
Mt. Park, basketball was the only
sport for girls. For that matter, it
was the only extracurricular activity.
I transferred to the school in a
neighboring town early in my junior
year and graduated salutatorian of
my class from Roosevelt High
School, Roosevelt, Oklahoma, in
Freedom isn't free and America's wars seem to mark the milestones of
history. Besides serving during wartime, the people of my heritage
walked all the roads of life. They were farmers, cattlemen, bankers,
doctors, teachers, secretaries, merchants, and politicians. One was a
local TV star and one gave birth to a Comanche chief. They were
builders of homes, churches, schools, and communities. Some of these
people played a significant role in building America; all of them helped
form our society.
I enrolled at Southwestern State
College, Weatherford, Oklahoma
that fall. I met the guy who would
become my husband that winter and
we were married the next summer.
My education was put on hold after
he accepted a job that required
continuous travel. Once we settled
down I focused on a writing career
and took various courses at San
Diego State University and the
University of California at San
Diego. I am continuously
researching and always learning. I
do not expect to stop learning, ever.
And, I will never consider my
Because of this unidentified photo, I want to remember the people on my
family tree and how they impacted my life. What did they do? How did
they do it? What mistakes did them make? What can I learn from
knowing about them? Much of our family history is lost but I can learn
something from reading about others who lived in and near their place and
time. I want to preserve this information for future generations.
I am a mix of my kin and my life's experience. I am an author (cursed or blessed) with a hunger for knowledge and a
ravenous appetite to know about everything (past, present, and future). I want to know about people who are not on my family
tree - the ones who made great accomplishments and those who did little things that mean a lot. While I am devouring this
information, I will find new books to write. I hope you will want to read them.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, I grew up on the land my great-grandfather
received as an allotment before the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache
Reservation was opened to white settlement, August 6, 1901. My great-
grandfather, grandfather, and father farmed this land where the Kiowa and
Comanche roamed, built council fires, and sometimes settled disputes.
When we were kids, my brother and I hunted arrow heads in freshly
plowed cotton fields near our home. Today that rich farmland lies under
the waters of Lake Tom Steed and that part of our heritage is only a
My great-grandfather, David A. Grantham came to Indian Territory from
North Carolina when he was 18 years old. He made his home with the
Comanches for about 20 years. They adopted him into the tribe and his
friendship with the Comanches lasted long after Oklahoma gained
statehood. Although I did not know my great-grandfather, I like to think
that I inherited my respect for Native Americans and fascination with their
culture from him. By virtue of his adoption, according to Comanche
records, I am "1/8 degree Indian Blood of the Comanche Nation" and I am
an enrolled member of the tribe.
This is part of the answer, when people ask me where I get the ideas for
my books. Maybe you would enjoy reading:
UNSUNG HEROES OR WORLD WAR II: THE STORY OF THE NAVAJO
CODE TALKERS (Hardback - Facts On File, 1998; Paperback - University
of Nebraska Press, 2009)
HEALERS (Facts On File, 1997).
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Copyright 2002 - 2010 Deanne Durrett
Last update 7/23/2010