1910 my grandpa Ela Swift left Missouri and came to Bluejacket, Ok. looking for work. He happened to see a pretty girl named Gertie Taylor who had moved with her family in a covered wagon to Oklahoma. Ela (we pronounce it E-lee) wanted to court Gertie but she wouldn’t go with him unless he was a Christian.
Ela was working in the hayfield with some other men. The men were talking about all the good things God was doing at the revival meeting that was taking place, so Ela said, “If your God is so good, will He heal my lungs?” The men gathered around him, prayed for him, and God healed him.
Ela went to the revival meeting that night and gave his heart to the Lord Jesus. His life was totally changed. He said the Lord delivered him from drinking, smoking, gambling, and a hard life, and he told everyone he came in contact with about what the Lord had done for him. The story was told that Ela would preach to a fencepost if there was no one else around to listen. Everyone loved to hear Brother Ela Swift testify. He’d get happy and start dancing a little. He’d holler, “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord.” You could tell by the way he talked he was a changed man.
Gertie Taylor started going with Ela Swift and soon they were married, with 8 kids—4 boys and 4 girls. My mother Eunice Swift Hightower is the 4th child of eight.
Gertie and Ela raised their children in the ways of the Lord. All they knew was going to school and going to church. They drove a wagon pulled by mules with all the kids in the back. He told the girls, “You can fix your hair in the wagon on the way to church.” They all were well-thought of as adults and each one loved the Lord.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
God had a good plan for Ela and Gertie and as a result, the whole family has served the Lord.