Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Name: Johnson Cates
Date: December 11, 1937
Post Office: Chickasha, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 24, 1862
Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Jasper H. Mead
My name is Johnson Cates. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, December 24, 1862, seventy five years ago.
I came to the Indian Territory when I was thirty years old and the first place I landed was where Pauls Valley is now.
Pauls Valley was a very small place with two stores and a little jack leg blacksmith shop; there were four or five houses which were anywhere from one block to a quarter of a mile apart.
There was little farming around there; in fact, there wasnít any, just small patches here and there; Tom Fuller patches as they called them then.
Most of the land around there was ranch land, with lots of cattle and what they called wild horses; these horses were just small Indian ponies that had run loose for two or three years and some of them were claimed by different men but had never been ridden.
The main water supply came from dug wells and the Washita River; we used to take a post hole digger and dig a well nearly anywhere we wanted to, because it was just a few feet to water.
There were a few Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians around there but they never did cause any trouble, but I have seen them dressed in their native clothes, eating raw meat lots of time.
If an Indian ever got into trouble or got on the warpath some white man was always the cause of it.
Everybody in these days wore big hats and pistols and a manís word was his bond.
I have seen the grass around Pauls Valley so tall and thick that it was very easy for a tall man to get lost, unless he could tell where he was going by looking at certain trees.
The cowboys who drove big herds of cattle across the territory were always glad when they came to the Washita River because they and their cattle both could get all of the cold sweet water they wanted to drink.
The Washita River used to be a clear running stream and the reason it is so muddy now is because there is so much of the land broken out; the heavily sodded hills and pastures held back the red mud that now flows into the river. I have seen the Washita River when you could follow the wild turkey tracks for miles and miles up it and never get your feet wet; there was just a small channel that you could jump across almost anywhere you wanted to, it was rather like the South Canadian River only not as big.
I have lived in Chickasha for nine years; I am the father of eleven children and have been a farmer all my life until I got too old. I now receive a small pension from the state.
Transcribed for OKGenWeb by Pat Gee, September 2001.