Culture & the Arts, Muscogee Government & Politics

Adeline Griffin Feathers Celebrates 100 Years of Life

By Sandy Fife Wilson
Edward F. Mouss II

Adeline Feathers

The birthday girl, Adeline Griffin Feathers, at her 100th birthday party in Loomis, California. April 12, 2014.

On April 12, 2014, 95 guests—which included five generations of kin—joined Adeline Griffin Feathers in the celebration of her 100th birthday at the home of her son, Larry Feathers, in Loomis, CA. Adeline is a Creek citizen and was born April 11, 1914, on her mother’s Creek allotment in Northfork Community located near the North Canadian River between Dustin and Weleetka, OK.

Adeline’s parents were Fannie Watson Griffin and William C. Griffin. Adeline, the oldest child, had a sister, Carmen Griffin Fife and a brother, William Silas Griffin—called Billy Tok’se or Junior Bill. She was named “Sweet Adeline” by Grandpa Josiah Randolph Watson after his daughter. Their mother died on May 30, 1918 during a flu epidemic after contracting the disease while caring for her sister Jane Evans who also died, leaving an infant son, Gaines. Adeline was 4, Carmen 3, and Junior Bill was 4 months. When their mother died, Willow Griffin Carlisle, called “Aunt Wid,” took the children to raise her own young children. For a brief time she nursed three infants, Gaines, Junior Bill, and her own child. Not long after, Aunt Liza Kanard and her daughter Polly, fullblood Creek relatives on their mother’s side, came after Junior Bill to raise. They taught him Creek, his first language. He had fair skin, freckles, and red hair. Adeline recalls her cousin John Watson telling about a man pointing out Bill and saying, John Watson said a man pointed out Bill and said, “See that red headed kid? He says he’s Creek.” John said, “He is, he’s my kin.”

Adeline has fond childhood memories which involve her Uncle Buckner McGirt from Yeager and Uncle Dan Watson from Northfork. Uncle Buckner was a Methodist minister, and she and Carmen would stay with his family during the summers. He had three boys, John Bill, and Tom, and three girls, Fannie, Nellie, and Lizzie. Adeline said he tried to teach them Creek, but she only learned two words, pen’wv (turkey) and tol’ose (chicken).

Adeline and Buford "Runt" Feathers.

Adeline and Buford “Runt” Feathers.

By the time Adeline and Carmen were ready to enter high school, their father had remarried and the family had grown: Esther (older stepsister), Grettah, Hazel, Rubalee, Grettah, Bob, and Joan. Their father had brought Junior Bill home from Aunt Liza’s several years earlier.

Her beloved Uncle Dan Watson lived just down the road from her own home. He was her mother’s brother, and their allotments were adjacent. He asked the two girls if they would like to go to boarding school. He and Aunt Hannah,his wife, always had nice cars, and they drove them to Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Kay County near the Kansas border.. Aunt Hannah, who spoke only Creek, did most of the driving. They loved Chilocco and all the teachers. She worked in the sewing room the first nine months with Mrs. Thompkins. Adeline spent three years there, along with her sister Carmen, brother Bill, and cousin Gaines Evans. .

In the 1933-34 academic year, Carmen returned to Chilocco. However, Adeline had fallen so in love with Buford “Runt” Feathers that she stayed at home and graduated at Graham (which had replaced the Northfork school). Carmen graduated as Valedictorian at Chilocco. At graduation time at Graham, it flooded and all roads were closed. There was no graduation or end-of-year program. Three to four weeks later, Adeline received her diploma in the mail with anote from Supt. Graham which said he was glad to have another Griffin graduate at Graham.

Adeline Feathers with her sons.

Adeline Griffin Feathers with her sons (standing L to R) Stanley, Larry, and Roger (sitting) at her 100th birthday party.

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Today, Adeline is very independent. She likes to eat and says she is a meat and potatoes girl. She has seven sewing machines. For years, she made all her own and her boys’ clothes. She has been using the same dress pattern for 1090 years (ha). She makes quilts—about a dozen a year. She sings “Oh, Chilocco” at the beginning of her day and other songs her Papa taught her. She also recites poetry and reads books. “ Heaven is for Real was good,” she says , and she likes to read John Grisham.

Adeline married Buford “Runt “ Feathers in 1934. In 1936 their son Randolph “Randy” was born. On his 13th birthday, they arrived in California. They had two other sons by then: Roger and Larry. Her Papa, W. C. Griffin, who had moved to California during the aftermath of the Dust Bowl. Papa was 64 years old when he died. Runt and Adeline lived in a tent for 13 months after they arrived in California. In 1953 their son, Stanley, was born.

In California, Adeline worked at John Engles Frozen Foods and then at a cannery. Runt worked at the Magnesium plant in Montinigra and then in a cannery. His brother was his foreman.

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