Elizabeth LaCount Canada Elizabeth LaCount Canada

Henrietta Elizabeth (LaCount) Canada
a.k.a. Lizzie, Granny

Compiled and copyright by Linda Sparks Starr 2014

Lizzie in the 1950s

Elizabeth went by many names. Adults referred to her as “Lizzie”; the older grandchildren called her “grandmother“; but, we younger ones called her “Granny.” She was everything that name implies and more. Elizabeth never used the name Henrietta, and it was a surprise to some of her children when they learned her full name. Like Archie’s narrative, this is based on letters, interviews shared by family and friends and my own personal memories.

“Reta Lizzie LaCount”, as written in her father’s Bible, was born December 22, 1879 on her grandfather’s farm near Edinburg, Missouri. She was the second of five children born to Benjamin Carter LaCount and Olivia Belle (Brandom).

bibleliz 1881
Lizzie's birth as recorded in the family bible.1881 tintype.

Etta (Baker) Mitchell, daughter of Lizzie’s older sister Alvia, March 31, 1993: “And another thing I Remember My Mother and Grandpa all ways telling, the night Aunt Lizzie was Borned Uncle Fred [LaCount] was staying with Grandpa and Grand mother. [He] Was Sleeping up Stairs and When Aunt Lizzie Was Borned, Aunt Katie said ‘listen Fred I hear a cat.’ Uncle Fred says ‘Oh Kate, that’s the Baby.’ For long time Uncle Fred Called Aunt Lizzie the Cat. They had lots Laughter about that. "

EttaKate and Fred
Etta Baker MitchellKate and Fred LaCount
Among items given to grandson Vance McClain was the newspaper clipping of her great-grandfather’s obituary. She also included a list of identities of her Missouri family. “William Brandom was my great grandfather; C. P. Brandom was my mother’s father. Her name was Olivia Belle Brandom. Mama married Benjamin Carter LaCount. When I was a baby they moved on the farm where [great] Grandfather died. Both he and “Grandma Kitty” (we called her) were old and the folks taken care of them, Great-Grandpa giving Mama the home place at his death. Mama’s father C. P. Brandom owned several farms. While Judge he lived in Trenton Mo. I remember him on the farm with cattle and families on the different places working for him. They then later moved to Trenton. He was Banker at the time of his death in 1902. I can remember the good times I used to have going in Great Grandpa’s room. I was only 6 years old but so much I can remember of them. Grandma Kitty always had some ‘mollases cookies’ she called them and Alvia and I always got our share.”

Linda: my mother, Lena Hazel, talking about the trip in the early 1930s to visit the Brandoms in Missouri: “… the large house – more like an apartment house – where Charles Brandom lived. We ate home made ice cream under the shade of tall cedar trees while visiting with various cousins. She always added she wanted to show me this house, and the even larger barn that was built with wooden pegs instead of nails.”

In 1958 my parents took Granny back to Missouri to visit her childhood home site. Driving the country roads near Edinburgh, we spotted a ‘Brandom’ mailbox; Daddy turned into the drive. Once introductions were made, we were invited inside to visit. Luckily the farm with the large house and barn was still owned by family, but both had burned before our visit. Even so, Granny wanted to see the grounds. They gave us directions along with the warning that it was a mile hike through corn fields (stalks taller than my 10 year old head) to where the house and barn had stood.

chas home

Later, searching for Granny’s childhood home near Jamesport, I remember her excitedly pointing to the schoolhouse she had attended. I remember it as white clapboard sides with a little porch in front, and one or two steps. Standing on tiptoes to peer through a window, I could see wooden desks and the blackboard. Bales of hay inside showed it was no longer used as a schoolhouse. Granny then spied a farmhouse down the road, and declared it ‘hadn’t changed a bit’. She added it was where her boyfriend had lived. The name on the mailbox was the same so Daddy mischievously drove into the drive. A lady, working in her flowerbed, walked over and he explained all this. It turned out, she had inherited the farm from her uncle, the said boyfriend. From there, it was easy to direct us to William Brandom’s farm. Along the way Granny pointed to a farm pond where kids had ice-skated after school and on Saturdays in the winter. Where the house once stood, was now a field of stalks of recently cut corn / maize crop. A creek where the family got their water ran nearby.

In interview with granddaughter Elizabeth McClain, Lizzie spoke of her trip, at the age of 10 or 11, to Lafayette, Indiana. She spent the nine month school year with her Great Aunt Meg (sister to Elizabeth White, Charles Brandom’s first wife.) According to the back of a photo of his medical office, Lizzie’s tonsils were removed by ‘cousin’ George Keiper.

Dated May 29, 1893. On the back, "Cousin Geo. Keipers
office where I had my tonsils removed.  Lafayette, Indiana"

Continuing with this interview: “After [Olivia and Benjamin] married, they lived on her grandfather’s farm near Trenton, Mo. They shared the same house, which was like an apartment house. In early days of 1894, she [Olivia] taken sick with TB and had to move to Okla. Last day of February 1894, her brother-in-law, Sam Whitten, and her daughter Julia, 10 years old, took a train to Noble, Okla. She stayed three days with Tom Standifer, father-in-law to her Uncle Fred LaCount. Once she gained enough strength, she was moved by wagon to Fred’s house to wait the arrival of the rest of her family. The others, Alvia 18, Lizzie 14, Willie 8 and Freddie 4, arrived with their father about March 10th. The farm tools, three horses and household goods came by rail car three days later. They soon rented a house and without unpacking everything they fixed up a bedroom. On March 15th they brought Olivia Belle the 2 or 3 miles home. The next morning about 8 a.m. she asked to be raised up in bed to see her children for the last time. She said she never wanted to be removed from the ground once she was put into it. But her wish was not granted. Not long after her death, the town council of Noble decided they did not want a cemetery where only 5 or 6 graves were then located. Tom Stufflebean [a Standifer son-in-law] gave land for a larger cemetery and she and the others were moved to it.” There is no marker for her grave.

Among photos given to grandson Vance McClain is one taken in Jamesport, MO March 9, 1894, the day the LaCounts left for Oklahoma. It’s of four girls, Alvia and Lizzie LaCount and Blanche and May Payne. Blanche and May are identified by Lizzie as ‘friend’ but we’ve wondered if they could be distant cousins. Fred and Benjamin’s Aunt Charlotte LaCount married Elkanah Payne. It’s possible the girls are their granddaughters. Even though Elkanah and Charlotte met in Ohio and lived in Indiana, they settled in the Edinburg, Missouri area near the Brandoms.

Mar. 29, 1894  L-R:  Blanche Payne, Elizabeth
LaCount, May Payne, Alva LaCount

Continuing with Elizabeth McClain’s interview: Lizzie moved to Noble, Okla. in 1894 at the age of 14 and “was married that winter to Archie Canada, who she first saw at her mother’s funeral. They homesteaded a farm 6 miles north west of Shawnee, when the Kickapoo Territory was opened by a ‘Run’ in 1895. They lived in a dug-out and tent until 1903 when they built the two story house (where their son Bill now lives) with the $400 she inherited from her great-grandfather, William Brandom. Of their nine children, seven were born in this house. Lizzie has lived on the farm and in Shawnee some 75 years and has seen lots of changes since her husband worked from sun up to sun down for 80 cents a day.”

Research identifies this inheritance as coming from Lizzie’s grandfather, Charles Brandom’s estate. His will left money to the children of his deceased daughter; each of the five children received $400 in 1903. William Brandom’s will said his daughter was to receive his farm, etc. after both he and his second wife (Grandma Kitty) died. Final settlement of his estate wasn’t until 1938.

Continuing the interview: Lizzie and Archie “were married on Christmas day 1894 and lived on a farm across the road from his Aunt Betsy [Standifer] Davis, near Noble, Okla. Archie made the ‘Run’ in 1895 during the opening of Indian Territory and homesteaded a farm six miles north west of Shawnee, Okla. They lived in a dug-out and tent until they could build their two story house in 1903; however, in 1896 they built a three story barn that’s still a land mark in the county.” Linda’s note: The neighborhood south of Noble was then made up of adjoining homesteads owned by Standifer-kin. Aunt Betsy’s home wasn’t all that far from Archie’s parents.

Letter from Lizzie to great-niece Sharron Standifer Ashton: “Your Grandmother Julia and I married so young 14-15 both married own cousins, Archie by name. We came to Shawnee in May 1895, in a covered wagon. It was our house, it and a tent, and dugout, about a year. A house in Shawnee, a log cabin which is still there, was only house; everyone else lived in tents and dugouts. I never got to see my folks often as only way had to go was walk or with some one in wagon. We had 2 horses but had one stolen didn’t have the money to buy another. I guess you know of the Runs in Okla. Your Uncle Archie got our House in one of those runs and now my youngest Son owns it. … I cooked for 10 men that fall when they bailed hay for an Uncle Tom Peavler. (This was) out on the ground in dutch ovens just an iron skillet with heavy iron lid. (We’d) put live fire coals on ground, set skillet on them and put live coals on lid for oven. … “

In another letter from Lizzie to Sharron Ashton: “… I have written to your [great] Aunt Zilpha for Grandma Standifers age [at] death and I think her maiden name was Peavler. She was called Aunt Lizz by friends. I was talking to my oldest daughter and I said I know there was a Bull in the family. Wish you could of heard her laugh. Tom Bull staid with Archie and me quit some time but I don’t know which side he was on. Wait and see what your Aunt Zilpha says. Now your Grandmother my sister. Our mother’s name Olivia Belle Brandom LaCount. Father’s name Benjamin Carter LaCount. Our Mother’s mother was killed by lightening when Mother was a child etc. etc. Our mother had 5 children Alvia, Elizabeth (me), Julia (your grandmother) Willie and Freddie."

Alvia Baker and Julia Standifer in 1920s

"When Freddie was 3 years old our Mother had T. B. in those days was called consumption of lungs. The only help for it change of country so Dr. said go west. We lived in Mo. so your grandmother Julia came to Noble Okla. with her and the rest stayed 10 days longer renting the home selling stock and packing to come to Okla. We got here the 10th of Mch 1894. Got her moved from Father’s Bro Fred house to a house we had rented . We chartered a R. R. cab had 3 horses furniture etc. etc. was 15 Mch but she taken bad that nite next A.M. at 8 a.m. she asked Father raise her up in bed she was choking. He sat in the bed, her in his arms, she passed away.”

Lizzie to granddaughter Elizabeth McClain: “History of the Sugar Bowl. My Great-Grandfather William Brandom and his wife Elizabeth first owned the sugar bowl. After her death he married again and when I was 8 years old he died, and Grandmother gave me the sugar bowl when she went to live with her folks. … I was named Elizabeth; I named a daughter Elizabeth. I gave her the sugar bowl, but after her death I give the sugar bowl to you. Let’s call it the ‘Elizabeth sugar bowl.’ Your Grandmother Elizabeth Canada”
Linda’s note: The grandmother who gave the sugar bowl must have been William’s second wife, Grandma Kitty. William’s first wife was named “Nancy”; his son Charles Brandom’s first wife and mother of Olivia Belle was “Elizabeth.” Before her death Elizabeth McClain gave the sugar bowl to my daughter, Laura Elizabeth Starr thus keeping the bowl within the hands of an ‘Elizabeth’. I wonder if the sugar bowl traveled with William and his first wife from Virginia to Missouri. I also wonder if it had been a wedding gift to them.  
sugar bowl

Lena Hazel’s story: “Eldest daughter Marie learned of Lizzie’s pregnancy after she and Eddie Logan had decided to get married. Lizzie was 40 years old and her eldest child was then 23; son Bill, surely thought the last child, was five years old. The pregnancy must have been a surprise to everyone, and Lizzie may have had misgivings; but Marie was decidedly not happy about it. She didn’t want a very pregnant mother at her wedding. They put off their wedding until February 1920; Lena Hazel was born August 1919.”

Lizzie and Lena Hazel, 1919

Granddaughter Linda: “Mother spoke of the large wood-fired cook stove in the kitchen on which Granny cooked three meals a day for her growing family plus hired hands during the summer months. She canned the produce from the garden. There was always laundry to do and ironing. Irons had to be heated on the cook stove. Archie wanted and got biscuits and gravy every morning. She also made pies and cakes and fried two or three fryers at a meal during the summer. Mother said there was rivalry among the kids for the white meat, particularly the wish bone. I remember Granny preferred the bony pieces, such as necks and backs, herself. Another job was churning butter in the wooden churn. Each spring and fall Granny insisted the house be cleaned from top to bottom and this entailed the one job Mother hated most – scrubbing the walls down. Kerosene lanterns make smoke and the walls were sooty from it.”

Daughter Elnora McClain, September 1984: “My Mother’s Dad lived with us for some time. He could make any thing he wanted to with boards or wood. He made a baby cradle for my sister Elizabeth or “Beth” when she was born (1905) and it is in one of the rooms of Bill’s house.”

benj  cr
Lizzie's father, Benjamin LaCount, and the horse and cradle he made for granddaughter Beth in 1905

Daughter Sarah Gentry: “We all worked. We didn’t have toys like the children today. We had dolls. Santa always brought us a doll until we were 7 or 8 years old. We was all loved and loved one another. Most every girl had short hair. Dad wouldn’t let us cut ours – I was a junior in high school and wanted my hair cut real bad. A boy neighbor was at our house, (he stayed there & helped with the work and drove the school truck, Dad liked him very much). One Sunday afternoon he said he would cut it. Beth & her boy friend was there. She was ill then with T. B. She said, ‘Don’t do it, Dad will get you.’ He cut it anyway. … Dad did get very upset … Dad let [Lena Hazel] cut her hair for her 8th grade graduation.”
LH 1926
Lena Hazel in 1926

Friend Marie Tyson, January 1986: “I spent a lot of nights at the Canada home but one has always stood out in my memory. There were several of us girls there that night. We had gone home with Lena Hazel from school. When we walked in the door Mrs. Canada was baking mincemeat pies. Some of them were already baked and setting out on a table. More were in the oven. It took a lot of pies for the crowd that was there that night. Those pies smelled the best and tasted the best of any I had ever eaten in my life. I can almost taste them now. After we had finished eating the party began. Sarah seated all us kids around in the front room and started playing games with us. Talk about exciting – we had the time of our lives. At Lena Hazel’s was truly the fun place to be. Another time when I spent the night (it was only me that time) it must have been summer. The windows were open as we lay in bed and now and then we could hear a sheep bleating. That was a new sound to me as I had never been around sheep. … on another occasion .. Mr. Canada loaded us up in the car and took us to an Indian Stomp Dance. I was a little scared because I had never been to one before that time. Lena Hazel assured me there was no reason to fear – she’d seen them before and nothing happened. I still gave a sigh of relief when Mr. Canada cranked up the car and we headed back to their house. “

Elizabeth McClain, June 1985 talking about the 1936 hunting trip: “It was north of Williams, AZ on the way to Grand Canyon that early in the morning, while Grandma and Mother fixed breakfast, Hazel, Vance and I took a stroll up a hill and got lost. Vance wanted to go one way and Hazel another. Don’t remember who won, but we finally found a road and got back to camp. Meanwhile, back at camp they missed us; however, Grandpa, Dad and Bill had to eat before going looking for us. They told the story --- Grandma started off in a different direction from where we went and kept calling: “Hazel, oh Hazel! If you don’t answer me, I will whip you.” After a few minutes Grandpa told Bill he had better go get his Mother before she got lost. …”

From Lena Hazel’s notes for a speech class about the trip: “We had to go two miles after the water and then had to get it out of a pond but it was good when you was real thirsty. One morning we found some water lice in the water, but it was still good. A man in a camp next to us came over and wanted some water so Mama gave him half of a gallon. He offered her some money and she wouldn’t take any. He laid a dollar down and walked off. …”

Linda: “Others have said that Lizzie was always ready to attend the bedside of ill grandchildren except for those stricken with mumps. It was the one disease she hadn't had as a child and she avoided it now. I remember when I had the two-week measles. A side effect is damage to the eyes commonly thought due to exposure to sunlight or strain from trying to do close-up work. She watched me like a hawk making sure I didn’t peak out windows or even watch TV more than an occasional turning to see what was happening. Reading was not allowed either.

In the early 1940s she accompanied my mother to Temple, Texas where mother endured several surgeries. Lizzie rented a room across from the hospital and spent her days doing things for mother that nurses didn’t have the time to do. How devastated she must have been when told there was no hope; it was her duty to write Daddy the news. He received the letter telling him to “come as quickly as you can” and he left the morning after receiving it. Mother, when telling this story, would say she took one look at Daddy as he walked through the door – never a large man, but now rail thin – and decided he needed a woman to take care of him. She didn’t want that woman to be another so she rallied.

lizzie 49
Lizzie and granddaughter Linda Sparks, 1949

Granny lived with us until I was around six years old. One of my earliest memories of her is not a pleasant one. A friend, Clayton Lewis, was spending the afternoon with me when we were around four years old. We wanted something that was at Clayton’s house, never mind his house was three miles away. We set out, dragging my red wagon behind us. Granny saw the wagon as it disappeared over the hill and came after us in a run. We were near the bottom of the hill when she caught up with us. Along the way she had cut a switch, and proceeded to slap our bare legs with the switch, while telling us how bad we were for running away. Even worse – she flatly refused to help pull the wagon back up the hill!

As I remember the story, Lizzie overheard a conversation between my parents about attending a school event. Daddy said he didn’t want to leave Lizzie home alone, so he’d stay with her. Granny moved to a two-room apartment with shared bathroom down the hall in Shawnee within the week. She was too independent to think Daddy felt he had to stay home with her. I spent the night with her from time to time. She’d take me to the nearby ‘Mom and Pop’ store for popsicles in the summer. One time she kept my puppy while we went on vacation. Mother was horrified to find the puppy had chewed on the wooden rockers of her chair, but Granny assured her it was alright. Granny was the one who taught me to embroider as she had more patience than Mother. I remember her sitting in her rocker doing something with quilting pieces – either cutting them out or sewing them together. She was also the one with time to play board games. One of my favorites was Chinese Checkers.

Mother had always wanted to play the piano and so wanted her daughter to play. My parents didn’t have any money to spare when I came to the age where I should begin lessons. Granny paid for a piano, saying it was for her room and board after all the years she’d lived with them. Daddy would have none of that and repaid the amount with interest over the next several months."

Lizzie attended the four LaCount Family Reunions held 1947 through 1950. The 1947 picture of Lizzie with her two brothers was taken at the Stratford, Oklahoma home of her daughter Elnora McClain. Although many families came to the reunions, only the four meetings were held.

cw liz
Willie LaCount,, Lizzie, and Freddie LaCount

She next moved to a three-room duplex plus bath. It was within walking distance of a Safeway store so she was no longer dependent on rides to the store. Her sister Julia spent some time with her and taught Granny’s yellow canary, Max, to say a few words.

Granny lived by Victorian social rules. Even in winter, she kept her front door open whenever Mr. Lampy, the neighborhood handy man came into her apartment to do a minor repair or move something too heavy for her. The high school I attended was only five blocks from Granny’s apartment; I was to go there after school on the days when mother was late picking me up. I didn’t mind the walk for was always happy to spend time with her. I never tired of hearing her stories of long-ago times. Granny spent the night with us every Christmas Eve until I was married. We shared the bed and I remember her snuggling her feet against mine commenting how much warmer I was than she.


This is one of my favorite pictures of her, taken Christmas morning. The old Wesley United Church had steep stairs leading to the sanctuary and no elevators. A speaker system was connected between the sanctuary and a meeting room downstairs. Those who couldn’t manage the stairs could hear the sermon via the speakers. Granny and a few others took advantage of this. Until I became a teenager and preferred sitting with my own age group, I’d sit with her.

In 1964 at the age of 85 years Lizzie had two surgeries; one to remove her gall bladder and the second to locate a missed stone. At this time it was quite unusual for someone of her age to have surgery. She was in the hospital for several days, then came to our house to recuperate. Once she’d regained her strength, she returned to the duplex. In 1966 Uncle Bill Canada sold his dairy herd and I went off to college, a whole 60 miles away. She fretted about both of us and it’s thought this worry and stress brought on shingles. She didn’t tell anyone, fearing it was cancer. She wore her corset every day until the shingles became severe enough she couldn’t hide the pain, nor wear her corset. That’s how a daughter discovered the problem. Her health declined slowly after that. One day she fainted as she stepped off the curb near her duplex; a friend driving down the street discovered her collapsed in the street. She was rushed to the hospital; her children decided she could no longer live by herself. She went straight from the hospital to a nursing home without returning to her apartment.

liz 69
Lizzie on her 90th birthday in 1969

Lizzie in letter to Linda summer 1966: “6:30 a.m. [June 23] I have had my breakfast: 1 egg, slice of bread, sausage size of half dollar, glass of milk, weigh 106. When you get home I’ll be as tall laying down as when standing up.”

Lizzie’s letter to Linda’s other grandmother, July 5, 1967: “Dear Mrs. Sparks. I just wanted to let you know I am like you are about our grandson to be. I think we both will love him and I don’t believe we will be disappointed. I know I was not disappointed in your son being my son, and I hope I proved it to him. I did love him (I mean do). It hurts me so bad that I can not do any thing any more for any one not even my children and they all are so good to me. I know I could have a home in their house, but I love them to much to rob them of the pleasure I want them have with their family instead of staying with me and that is what they would do if I was in their home. … Well maybe we can see each other some time. I just wanted you know how I felt about our granddaughter. A Friend, Mrs. Canada”.

Linda: “My last ‘good’ memory of Granny was April 1969. Jerry and I had gone to say ‘goodbye’ as we were moving to Washington D.C. the coming week. She was lying down when we arrived and we visited in her room. When it came time for us to leave, she insisted on walking down the hall and out the back door with us. I protested the door was too heavy for her to reopen, but she assured me she'd manage. There were tears in her eyes, but she very bravely stood at the door, waving at us, until we were out of sight. This is how I want to remember her..

At the age of 90 she broke her pelvic bone; the doctor said it was too dangerous to perform surgery on someone her age; but he added, if left alone, she’d die of inflammation in a few days. Her children agreed to the surgery and she survived, but never walked again. March 12, 1971 she went into heart failure, age 91. She is buried next to her husband, Archie, in the Canada plot in Shawnee's Fairview Cemetery.”