When Reva Stoner of Marion was growing up at Medicine Lodge, her parents, John and Ethel Ford, owned a farm near the site of the U.S. government’s signing of a peace treaty in 1867 with the five tribes of Plains Native Americans — the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Arapaho, and Cheyenne.
Beginning in 1927, Medicine Lodge held historical pageants to commemorate the event. The Fords, along with other Medicine Lodge residents, became involved. Their six horses were used in the pageant. Stoner’s father was the master of a covered-wagon train, and Stoner herself was a “flower girl” dancer. She also was a wagon rider.
The last five years the Fords lived at Medicine Lodge, they lived in the former home of Carrie Nation, the famed leader of the temperance movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The home is now a National Historic Landmark.
Stoner said Howard Ford, a member of the James gang and killer of Jesse James, was her father’s ancestor. Furthermore, she claims her husband’s father ran with the James gang in Missouri in the 1860s and 70s. His name was Jesse James Stoner.
Reva Stoner was living at Doniphan, Mo., when her husband of 63 years died. She decided to move to Marion to be near her daughter, Paula Wyss. When Stoner broke her foot in February and had to keep her leg elevated for weeks, she made a 27x40-inch latch hook rug of a portrait of Jesus. She said the 150 square inches in the rug is made of 1,000 two-inch lengths of yarn. Lee Shipman of Florence, the husband of her caregiver Amy Shipman, made a frame for it so she could display it on her living room wall.
She said it took her three weeks to complete the project, some days working from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The mother of 12 children, 54 grandchildren, and almost 70 great-great grandchildren said the hanging is the greatest latch hook project she has ever done. She has made many other smaller projects for family members.
“When people ask me why we had so many children, I tell them we had too many cold nights,” she said smiling.
She noted they lived for many years without electricity. She cooked on a wood-burning stove until 1985.
Her cozy apartment at Hilltop Manor is a fitting place for someone who lived such a busy, fulfilled life.
“Hilltop Manor is a good place to live,” she said. “They have different things for us to do, like potlucks and birthday parties. I’ve lived here nearly eight years.”