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
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.