Half a year ago, I received the call. I was heading to Oklahoma, a place that I only knew through the stories of my grandmother. She grew up in the oil fields of the Southern Plains. Her dad moved the family from town to town, oil rig to oil rig, during the same time that Lloyd Noble was building his reputation as one of the best drilling contractors in the area. I'll never know if my great-grandfather ever worked directly with Lloyd Noble, but this summer I have found that my family is closer to the Noble Research Institute than expected.
After visiting the campus library and gaining tips for researching genealogy, I began to dig through census records, cemetery directories and historical sites to piece together my Okie roots. I found the resting site of my grandmother's parents, Willie and Jeff Laird, in Stratford, just an hour north of Ardmore. True to form, the headstone features an oil tower, paying homage to the family's lifestyle.
As I continued to research the lives of my great-grandparents, I learned that Jeff Laird's parents settled in Ardmore after a lifetime of farming in Texas. After extensive searching for death records and cemeteries, I found an answer that pulled everything together. As it turns out, my great-great-grandparents are buried in Pruitt cemetery, just a mile away from the Institute's campus, right along the route I take for my evening jogs.
Finding proof of a connection to Oklahoma is comforting and adds to the aggregate feelings of home that have developed over my time here. This summer has been a homecoming five generations in the making, proving that home is a full circle. I've also come to learn that home isn't reserved just for family. It is also for those who have offered continuous support, advice and a smile, which describes everyone at the Noble Research Institute. Even though I'll be working and learning in a different hemisphere next year, I know that I can come back to Ardmore and find a sense of home. I am forever grateful to have this comfort, and, with it, I am eager to explore beyond the Oklahoman horizon.
Anna Stehle is a 2013 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture. Originally from Denver, she has also grown up around her family's cattle ranch in Meeker, Colo. She graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle this year where she majored in economics with two minors in spanish and labor studies.