Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: February 23, 1938
Name: B. W. Watson
Residence Address: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: June 26, 1865
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: George Watson
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Information on father:
Mother: Sarah Jane Munn
Place of birth: Mississippi
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
I was born in 1865 in Mississippi and came to the Indian Territory from Texas in the fall of 1890 and settled near Pauls Valley.
I rented a farm from Zach Gardner, who owned the only gin and grist mill in this part of the country at that time. I was like most of the men coming to the Indian Territory in the early days with a family to support and not much money. I owned one cow and a few chickens when I settled here.
Farmers had a very hard time in settling up this country. When I came here there were not very many people living here. There were no roads to speak of and only one log school house and it was used for a church. It was a subscription school and cost one dollar a month for each child sent and this made it very hard for some of us farmers who didn't have much money.
The first winter I settled here my family lived off of corn meal bread and rabbits. Of course, we had plenty of milk and butter and the few chickens I brought with us helped. There were lots of turkeys then and some deer and the woods were full of quail and squirrels.
Zach Gardner, the man I rented land from, furnished me in corn until I made a crop. The fall I came here the fields were full of corn but they didn't make much that year. Mr. Gardner told me the boll worms had cleaned the cotton. The first crop I made, I raised about three thousand bushels of corn. Corn was cheap, only worth fifteen cents a bushel. I sold corn to Mr. Byers, who was a large cattle owner then and he had a feeding pen on the river not far from where I lived, where he fed out cattle every winter. The country was full of cattle and though there were no fences the cattle never got our crops as the cattle owners had cow-hands to herd them.
There was no court at Pauls Valley when I first came. Court being held at Ardmore. It was in 1895, when they began holding court at Pauls Valley and at that time, too, Amos White Built a school. They always had school from six to nine months each year. Before 1895, school was held about three months each year. A church house was then built at Pauls Valley.
The town of Pauls Valley didn't do much building until after 1900, although in the early days it was a main trading point. By 1900 Wynnewood was building into a nice town and it looked for awhile like it was going to best Pauls Valley for the county seat. That was the biggest election I have ever seen. At the time the Washita River overflowed and Pauls Valley had plenty of water over town. People rode around town in boats and instead of hauling people to vote in automobiles they hauled them to the polls in boats.
I moved to Gainesville, Texas, in 1902. I now live with my daughter in Pauls Valley.
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