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Mamie and Ezra Mitchell

Theirs was a marriage "of convenience," planned by an older brother and her mother, And even 60 years later, they both recall they were "not even sure we liked each other."

Mamie and Ezra Mitchell married, they say, to save her from an orphan's home (Her mother was seriously ill), and to provide Ezra his first home since he was orphaned as a child seven years old.

The Albany couple, now living at 410 S. Denver St. noted their 60th wedding anniversary very quietly at their home, April 25th. When they married in 1909 she was 14 years of age. He was 19. They were "just a couple of teen-agers," but "teen-agers a lot different" than those today.

They married at Aubrey, near Dallas, Texas, and lived there and in Oklahoma, until 1936, when they moved to Oregon. To this marriage was born six sons and five daughters, all living, and all married except one son. There are 33 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Ezra doesn't recall his age when he entered the orphanage. But he remembers he ran away twice. He says the orphanage, located in Dallas, Texas, had "no facilities," and this included, "no plumbing." It was "just a hang-out."

The first time he left, he was returned. "I was just a mean, little kid," he recalls. And the second time, he was given a job and "taken in" by Mamie Brumley's brother, who later urged their marriage. At the orphanage, Ezra had gotten an eighth grade education. But in those days," if you could count to ten," it was considered an education, his wife says now.

Mrs. Mitchell went to school "as much as I could," and mostly because a step father, who died when she was 13, had urged her attendance. Yet, she had only completed the third grade by that age.

She married a year later. The couple lived on the family farm, and Ezra farmed with her brother. Their first son, Francis, was born in Texas. In 1912, they moved to Oklahoma, and later to the western part of the state. All except their youngest, Dorothy was born in Oklahoma.

They raised cotton and corn, on rented land. When they attempted to buy a farm, it was lost during crop failures of the '30s, when dust storms hit that part of the south. One season they gathered no crops at all due to boll weevil restriction of cotton. There was no escape from dust storms, and no insecticides to kill harmful insects. The family was fed because they were able to raise a garden and livestock for meat.

In 1936, they came to Sheridan, Oregon, the location given in a real estate advertisement for "homestead for sale." The homestead was in Alaska, however, not western Oregon.

Mamie Mitchell announced she would travel no further, " 'less it would be a return to Oklahoma." They were advised to attend a land auction. Here they bought a 160-acre farm for $170.

Oregon was a greener and a better land for farming, on the hills near Willamina. Within a year they were joined by their two older children who had remained in the south, and their 11 child was born to them in the home.

They raised raspberries and strawberries. Later, during World War II, Ezra worked as a carpenter in construction of camp Adair northwest of Albany.

Their family grown, they sold the farm in 1958, and moved to Albany. The couple first owned a home north of Albany, on the old pacific highway. About the same time, Ezra underwent surgery for cancer in a Portland Hospital.

Several years later, it was discovered he is a diabetic. Because of sight impairment, the couple bought their home in east Albany, so Mrs. Mitchell could walk or obtain easy transportation. She doesn't drive, and Ezra had to give up driving.

The couple lives in an isolated neighborhood, near the end of a "dead end" street.


The above article was transcribed from a newspaper article by Connie Petty, "Democrat-Herald" Writer.
Published sometime after April 25th 1969.

Submitted by Dennis Mitchell, Grandson of Ezra & Mamie Lee Mitchell

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Published and Copyrighted © Betty Naff Mitchell
September 5, 2002.