Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: February 23, 1938
Name: Mr. B.W. Watson
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: June 26, 1865
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: George Watson, born in Mississippi
Mother: Sarah Jane Munn, born in Mississippi
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.