|Charles and Caldona Leffel|
I love this picture of my great-grandparents, Charles and Caldona Box Leffel. It is kept it next to my computer so I can view it often. Charles has a kind face and a twinkle in his eye. Both Charles and Caldona died way before I was born but I wished I had known them.
Grandma Mabel Leffel Baldwin called her father Charles Leffel, "Papa". She told me that "Her Papa" was the kindest, sweetest, most gentle man she had ever known. She felt that he would do anything to make her and the rest of his children happy. Grandma Mabel was the youngest of nine children born to Charles and Caldona Leffel. The grandchildren remember the Leffel family as a "happy people". They were nice, friendly, always laughing and joking.
But, Charles' life was not always easy or happy. He experienced a lot of sorrow and grief in his younger life. Charles was born in Ohio and moved with his family to the Texas frontier as a young boy of seven. In 1862, when Charles was only eleven years old, his father was murdered by a Confederate mob in what is called the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. The confederate vigilantes kept attacking and harassing the Leffel family for many years after the Civil War. In 1869, Charles' mother, Susan Leffel, wrote a letter to the Governor of Texas, describing their sad experiences.
In May 1869, Charles married his first wife, a young widow named Sarah Ann Burkham Chapman. Sarah died just a year later in 1870 after giving birth to their first child; a son, they named David after Charles' deceased father. Charles was left a widower with a small son to raise alone for the next five years until he married again. In 1875, Charles married Caldona Jane Box, who is our great-grandmother. They had a large family of nine children.
The Charles Leffel lived in Texas until moving to Oklahoma in 1901. Charles was a deeply religious man and would often preach at their church meetings. He told his children to call him "Papa" because he felt the name "Father" was reserved for only one person -- Our "Father" in Heaven.