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Fern Brooks

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Drusilla Dunjee Houston, submitted April 16, 1938

The Wreath of Laurel

One of Oklahomaâ??s Greatest Women, Mrs. Fern Brooks

â??One of the greatest women of this state,â? said the representative of the Governor at the funeral of Fern Brooks, chief clerk of the Orphanage at Taft. She was well named Fern. She put you I mind of flowers, coolness and harmony all shone from her fine face.â?

She had been for long years at the Orphanage and the girls loved her as a mother. She was first matron and then chief clerk; it was partly because of my indignation at the loss of so fine a woman that I wrote all those articles about the orphanage. I exposed sins for which she became the precious sacrifice.

The daughter said to me several times, â??But I cannot understand why my mother should have died that way.â? I did not tell her why. When God is angry he takes the most precious often. The matrons said that the children crushed with her were of the better grade of children.

Mrs. Brooks never flattered the children and she never complained with them over sin. In spite of this they understood her and loved her. At her death it seemed that they could not be consoled. This might be a lesson to some of us who make excuses for our childrenâ??s sins.

On the morning of the day that she was crushed in the big red truck, she had asked several on the grounds to take her in on business. You could not explain her death to the white people in Muskogee. Somehow they felt that she should still be out there. It ought to have been an honor for any man to have carried that fine black woman in his car. They all loved and admired her, but we are a careless people.

When Christmas time came, it was Mrs. Brooks who led the committee into the city to ask for donations for the children. We were treated with the greatest courtesy. In the group were five other women, two of them beautiful and fair, but those big white men did not see any of us; they were intrigued by the fascinating personality of this wonderful black woman, a woman beautiful from development of soul.

The system by which the institutional books are kept in white and black institutions of the state is very complicated. The clerk at Boley had to be given lessons on how to keep the books by the auditorâ??s son, but this young man had been taught to keep books by Fern Brooks. She was often called to white institutions when things were in a tangle.

At the funeral so many came to do her honor that I did not think of taking down the beautiful ceremony. I was sure that the eulogists would send the report to the Black Dispatch. Nothing was sent and in this way I am paying tribute which is quite inadequate to make you understand or see this woman who impressed me as one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

In the hallway at the Orphanage hangs her lovely picture. Look at it, the work of the fine artist, Mr. Green of Muskogee, when you go to the home. This Uncrowned Queen was identified by Drusilla Dunjee Houston in 1938. Black Dispatch.