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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



A.B. Bridges


Interview #9969
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: February 11, 1938
Name: Mr. A.B. Bridges
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:  November 29, 1859
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: W.W. Bridges, born in North Carolina
Mother: Lucy Ann Adair, born in Tennessee


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I was born in 1859, in Mississippi, and came to the Indian Territory with my family in 1884.  We came on the train to Gainesville, Texas, and were met there by my uncle Watson Wells, who lived at old Thackerville in the Chickasaw Nation

There was no railroad from Gainesville to Thackerville at that time so my uncle met us in a wagon and hauled what few things we brought with us to his home and my family stayed at his home until I was able to lease a farm.

The first year I farmed my uncle loaned me a pair of mules and by borrowing a few plow tools from neighbors I made my first crop in the Indian Territory.   Farming wasn't new to me for I had been raised on a farm back in Mississippi.

I only had a turning plow to break the land with and a Georgia stock to lay off the tows and I had to drop the corn by hand.  I raised more corn that year than I ever did at one time back in Mississippi.  I had to haul my cotton Gainesville, Texas, to market it, as there was no market for cotton in that time at Thackerville.

We lived in log houses and there were very few barns to put what we raised in.  We would pile our corn up and build a rail fence around it to keep the stock off.  We didn't have roads then to speak of, only cattle trails, and there were no bridges to cross the creeks or rivers.  We would have to drive twenty to theiry miles farther in going from Thackerville to Gainesville than one would have to go today, as we would have to keep to the open country all we could so we could dodge all the creeks that we could.  There were no bridges across Red River at that time but there was a ferry crossing and it costs $1.00 for a wagon and team.  If the river was low we would ford it to save the dollar.

I bought and traded for cattle and in a few years I owned quite a herd of cattle.  In 1885 I remember I helped my uncle drive about a hundred head of cattle ot White Bead Hill and he sold them to James Rennie, who at that time owned a store at White Bead and also was a cattle buyer.

There was only one store at Pauls Valley at that time so White Bead was the main trading poing for that part of the country.  There were a few stores, a church house, a boarding house at White Bead and a stage line went through there from Caddo to Fort Sill.

The Territory at that time was more of a cattle country than a farming country. From White Bead Hill to Thackerville about all one could see then was cattle. There were no fences and the cattle grazed where they wanted to.  They wouldn't have to go far to find grass as there was plenty of it.

There were plenty of deer then and turkeys went in droves like cattle.   We never thought anything about them and when we wanted a turkey we didn't have to go far to get one.  People lived good in the part of the country I lived in for we always had plenty to eat.  There were very few doctors in those days nor was there much need of a doctor then, as there was not much sickness.  I know we only had the doctor in our house one time in four years.

The railroad was built from Gainesville through the part of the coutnry where I lived in 1886, and old Thackerville was moved nearer to the railroad as the railroad missed the old townsite about two miles.  After the railroad was built it was a great help to the farmers and merchants for before that we had to freight all our things by wagon from Gainesville and the mail was carried on a horse and only came into Thackerville once a week.

In 1889 I sold out my cattle and put in a general store at Thackerville with Mr. Davis.  The store was known as Bridges and Davis and we operated this store until it burned down in 1892.

School conditions at Thackerville were very poor then, so I moved my family to Gainesville, Texas, where they had very good schools and I went in the grocery business at Gainesville.

I now live in Pauls Valley.

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