Interview # 4475
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: June 15, 1937
Name: Mr. Sam Dee Erwin
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1868
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: T.J. Erwin, born in Texas
Mother: Louisa Hall, born in Texas
I was born in Texas in 1868 and my first trip to the Indian
Territory was in 1887. I came with my father from Dallas County, Texas, to Pauls
Valley in the Chickasaw Nation to gather corn. We were driving a span of mules to a
covered wagon and it took us about ten days to make the trip.
When we would stop and camp, while Father was making the fire, I
would take the Winchester and kill a rabbit or a squirrel for supper. We killed
several deer on our first trip and took the skins back to Texas with us. We drove
into Pauls Valley about the middle of the afternoon. The railroad has just been put
through Pauls Valley and there was one store and a blacksmith shop and a stage stand
My father talked to the man who ran the store and he told us to go to
Zach Gardner and we could get a job. So we drove on to Mr. Gardner's place east of
Pauls Valley, on the Washita River. Mr. Gardner owned a large farm and at that time
had about five or six hundred acres of corn and we went to work for him the next day.
We worked for him by the day and boarded ourselves. Corn was cheap that year.
Mr. Gardner owned a grist mill and ground corn for the soldiers at Fort Sill.
We stayed and worked for Mr. Gardner for six weeks.
I liked this country fine, but my father had been raised in Texas and
this part of the country was very thinly settled. There was some of the finest farming
land I had ever seen around Pauls Valley and it yielded one hundred to a hundred and fifty
bushels of corn to the acre.
We went back to Texas and in 1900, I loaded up my family and headed for
Pauls Valley. As soon as I got to Pauls Valley I rented a sixty acre farm from Mr.
Gardner and went to farming for myself. Mr. Gardner had a two room box house on the
bank of the river about a quarter of a mile from his mill and gin. He had built a
gin at this old mill since I was here in 1887. I had a hard time the first year.
We ate corn bread three times a day and worked hard to make a crop.
After my wife had done her house work she would help me in the filed but
at corn gathering time, we got paid for our hard work. I made about a hundred
bushels of corn to the acre and a bale of cotton to the acre. I raised lots of wheat
and oats the second year I farmed on Mr. Gardner's place.
Banks were being opened about this time and you could borrow money from a
bank if you had good security and would pay about 15 per cent interest on the $1.00.