Claude Christopher Largent: Teacher in Early Oklahoma

Claude Christopher Largent, July 2, 1888-July 25, 1975.

claude as young man

Claude Largent was born to George Washington Largent and Mary Lue Smith in Booneville, Arkansas, on July 2, 1888. George Washington (GW) was a farmer and Mary Lue, who was half Indian (tribe unknown) was his third wife. She and GW had thirteen children, of which Claude was the first. His siblings were: George (November, 1889-December, 1889), Norris (Narcissie) A. (1892-1952), (Mary E, 1893-infant), Mary L. (Bettie), (1894-1960), William, (1896-1896), Evert (1898-1899), Sarah E. (1900- ?), Tommy (1902-1907), Mattie (1904-?) May (1906-?), Viola M. (1907-?,) Georgia Naoma (1909-?).

For many years Claude’s children and relations believed he was born in 1889, and indeed the 1900 U. S. Census claims as much. However, George Washington II was born in November, 1889, and died the following month. Hence what Claude recorded on his 1917 draft registration, that he was born in 1888, was true. (Strangely, however, in his 1942 draft registration, Claude listed his birth erroneously at 1889.) Claude was born a few weeks before GW, aged about 32, and Mary L, aged 17, were married. So Claude was an illegitimate, firstborn son. Perhaps the illegitimacy haunted him and he did not receive some of the benefits of the second living son, Norris.

Claude’s early life was undoubtedly a struggle, in part because he was illegitimate and ¼ Indian, he was not well educated, though he sometimes attended school (his parents were both illiterate). A family tradition has it that Mary Lue stood up to GW in support of Claude when he wanted to attend school. Of Claude’s many siblings, only two appeared to have survived childhood; hence Mary Lue was pregnant a lot and the babies and infants died regularly—death was a frequent visitor to the Largent household.

In the 1900 federal census, he was listed as 10 years old, born in July, 1889, which was an unfortunate error. His father George W. was born August, 1860, in Illinois, as were his parents, and his mother Mary L., born Oct. 1871 in Arkansas. Her father, about whom little is known, was born in Missouri, and her mother, otherwise unknown, was born in Arkansas. GW in 1900 owned his own farm, and had no mortgage. Mary was mother of 7 children, 4 living. Their place of residence was Washburn, Logan Co., Arkansas.

Claude’s draft registration in 1917 reveals that he was a self-employed farmer, was married with two children under 12. He lists himself as Caucasian. He was medium height, slender, brown eyes, black hair in June 5, 1917.

Claude married Bessie Lura Amos on Dec. 3, 1911. They lived in Booneville, Arkansas, and had four children, three daughters and one son.

In the 1920 federal census, Claude and Bessie and three children—Marie, Amos, and Joyce—were living in Center Haskell, Oklahoma. Claude was a farmer who owned his own home with a mortgage.

The 1930 census shows Claude and Bessie living in Seminole County, Econtuchka township, Oklahoma. It reveals that they did not own a farm, rather rented, that neither had an education, but both could read and write. Claude was a school teacher in Econtuchka.

At some point during the 1940s, Claude, Bess, and their four children made the trek of the Okies to California to look for work. They returned to Oklahoma then went again to California. At one point they lived in Santa Monica. In 1942, they were living in Stigler, Oklahoma; Claude was employed by Claud Frix.

The family relocated to Tulsa after the war. Claude worked for the Tulsa Public Schools as a custodian. They eventually purchased a house in West Tulsa. Claude had a large garden in the back where he grew all sorts of vegetables. He was a kind, quiet man.

claude largent 1967

 

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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