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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

King Family

Charlie King Sr. and his wife Matilda came from Okmulgee County south of Tulsa, Oklahoma to Keystone, Alberta in 1911. They brought their children and in-laws: Charlie Jr. and his wife Emma; Sam and his wife Mattie; John, Nellie, and Willy Mae; Odessa and her husband Henry Brooks; Lucy and her husband Dave Gist; and Iola. They arrived with about 35 other families from Oklahoma which had been recruited by Keystone pioneer William Allen.

Charlie Sr., Charlie Jr., John, Sam, Dave, and Henry each had his own homestead. While houses were being built on the homesteads, the women and children stayed in Edmonton. Every winter, the men would come to Edmonton to work; Charlie King Sr. hauled coal in the city.

The Kings were very active in the life of the community. Once they had settled in Keystone, Charlie Sr. organized and helped build the Good Hope Baptist Church. His son, Charlie Jr., was named secretary of the church board. Charlie Sr.’s son-in-law, Henry Brooks, was the first preacher at the church, while Charlie’s daughters were secretaries of the Sunday school. The Kings also helped establish and build Funnell School, where Charlie’s daughter Odessa taught. In addition, the Kings participated in setting up Keystone Cemetery. Charlie King Sr., who was living in Edmonton at the time of his death, was not buried in the cemetery he helped set up although his wife Matilda was.

Charlie King Jr. was especially active in the community, and, in 1918, he became the secretary-treasurer of Funnell School. A school trustee until the school closed in 1954, he was also president of the Breton Farmers Union of Alberta and an active member of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). Charlie worked hard as a UFA member to secure an official holiday for farmers known as “Farmers’ Day.” He and his wife Emma often attended UFA rallies and conventions. The UFA sponsored picnics in Keystone.

Charlie Jr. was active politically and supported the political party known as the Cooperative Commonwealth Confederation (CCF), the precursor to the New Democrat Party (NDP). In addition to holding these important positions, Charlie Jr. was also the chairman of the Community Club and the Commissioner for Oaths for Keystone.

Charlie and Emma were active farmers, but Charlie often worked out of town to supplement the household income. By the 1940s, the Kings were quite well to do and they were the first in Keystone to own a car. But Emma and Charlie were also known for their generosity: they often boarded Keystone’s teachers, as well the RCMP when they were passing by on their way to Berrymoor. Although she and Charlie never had children, Emma often took care of other children in the community.

Charlie King Jr. died in 1970 and was buried in Keystone Cemetery. Emma continued to live in Keystone into the 1970s.

Charlie King Jr.’s brother, John King, married a woman named Stella. While living in Calgary, they had a child, Violet King, who, upon graduating from the University of Alberta Law School, became the second woman, and the first Black woman, to be admitted to the Alberta Bar.

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