Queer Places:
Celestine Barby House #1, 114 Avenue N, Beaver, OK 73932
Celestine Barby House #2, 711 N Camino de Fosforo, Tucson, AZ 85718
Knowles Cemetery, Gate, OK 73844

Celestine Barby, born January 27, 1903 in Cordell, OK, to her parents, James and Louisa Pearson, who named her Anna Celestine Pearson. When a year old, she and her brother, James Rolland Pearson, moved with their parents to Washtucna, WA. A few years later, after her sister, Marie, was born, their mother, terminally ill, returned by train with her children to her parents' home a mile and a half east of the old town of Balko, her father staying in Washington State. Lestie recalled the tag her mother put around their necks to make sure they got to the right place if their mother did not make it. Then, the ride in her Uncle John's surrey wagon in the night when he met them at the train in Liberal, KS. She was raised on that farm near Balko by her grandmother, Priscilla Lawson, and two uncles, Green Berry Lawson and John Lawson.

Following her graduation as a member of the first Balko High School class, she lived for a brief time with her Uncle John's family who had moved to Tuscon, AZ, becoming quite close to her 10 cousins. Through her sister, Marie, who had married Ralph Barby, she was introduced to Lloyd J. Barby, brother of Ralph and a widower with two children.

On April 26, 1931, Celestine married Lloyd at the Lawson home near Balko and spent her married life on the Barby Ranch, living 10 miles east of Beaver. During that time she raised her two stepchildren, Bonita Barby Speer and Lloyd R. Barby, Jr., and bore three children, Paul Marion Barby of Woodward, Norma Barby Cafky of Woodward and Stanley Barby of Beaver. After being widowed by Lloyd's death in 1955, and while still living on the Barby Ranch, a new world opened to her through art classes with Dord Fitz of Arnett and travel that resulted from that association, visiting much of Europe, Israel, Egypt and many places in the United States. That art group was the source of much inspiration and excitement for her life bringing new experiences with people and places she explored and the opportunity to study with world-famous artists. Many wonderful friendships resulted from those art classes and experiences with Dord and his students from across Western Oklahoma and the Panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas in addition to her accomplishments as an artist. One of the friends she made during that time was Nyla Johnson, another art student and a registered nurse, who cared for her during her later years until her death.

In 1964 she built and moved into her Beaver home designed by world-known architect, Bruce Goff, that she filled with an impressive collection of contemporary art. To be near her Lawson cousins, in 1974 she built and moved to another Bruce Goff home in Tuscon, AZ, living there for 10 years or so, followed by a few years in Golden, CO, close to her daughter, Norma, and then back to her home in Beaver. In 1995 she moved to Woodward to be near her son, Paul, and cared for by Nyla Johnson, and Connie McGinnis, a dedicated caregiver who became a close friend. She moved to Grace Living Center in Woodward, in April, 2001. Although a member of the Baptist Church for many years from childhood, in later years she chose not to be affiliated with institutional religion as she continued her life's journey in the discovery of spiritual truths and God-consciousness.

During her life she was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, the Riverside Home Demonstration Club, Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Cowbelles and other farm/ranch-related organizations.

She is buried next to her husband in the Knowles Cemetery (West of Knowles, Oklahoma on the south side of Highway 64, Gate, OK 73844).


  1. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19779149