Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: December 21, 1937
Name: Mr. E.V. Arnn
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: March 26, 1866
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: J.W. Arnn, born in Arkansas
Mother: S.C. Arnn, born in Arkansas
I was born in 1866 in Arkansas. I came to the Indian Territory in
1900 and settled at Howe in the Choctaw Nation and went to work making ties and braces for
the coal mines and worked at this two years. In those times I had to work at
anything I could get to do to make a living, as I had a large family to feed. I have
worked many a day for 50 cents but then you could buy a sack of flour for 75 cents and
there was lots of wild game and wild hogs. I always had plenty of meat to eat and
there were berries, plums and all kinds of wild fruit and we would can everything we could
get so in this way we always had plenty to eat, but money was hard to get.
While I would be working in the woods making ties, my wife and children
would do the farming. We would raise a small patch of corn and have a garden and
during gardening season my oldest son would sell vegetables to the coal miners and in this
way we managed to make a fair living.
Churches and schools were very few in that part of the country then.
There was a school house about five miles from where I lived but my children did
not get to go more than half the time as I would have to pay $1.50 for each child so my
children received very little schooling until after the free schools were established.
I lived in a Choctaw Indian neighborhood. Those Indians only raised
small patches of corn and the Indian women did the farming and about all the Indian men
did was to hunt in the winter and fish in the summer as those creeks and the river were
full of fish.
The Indians lived like most of the white people in that part of the
country except you very seldom saw a stove in one of their log houses or half dugouts as
they cooked over fires out in the yards in the summer and in the winter they would cook
over a fireplace in the houses made out of rocks. Nearly all the Indian homes that I
have visited had what was called dutch ovens to bake their bread in. The Indians
were all very friendly and would load you anything they had. Most of them were just
poor people but there were a few who were large cattle owners. These were the
mixed-breed Indians. Most cases the father was a white man. The full-bloods
just lived from one day to the next. They did not try to lay up anything for a rainy
day, just so they had all they wanted to eat at one time they seemed satisfied.
I have attended many of the Indian dances and was always welcome.
They seemed to enjoy themselves and I have seen them go through a certain dance all
night long. One of them would beat a tom-tom while the men and women would go around
and around in a circle, stomping their feet and singing. It was worth your time to
see them play ball. They wouldn't wear anything but breech-clouts and each man would
have some kind of an animal's tail hanging down behind him fastened to the breech-clout
and I have seen them hit each other over the heads with the sticks they used to throw the
ball with and if one got knocked out another player would take his place.
In 1903 I moved to a place near Calvin and settled on a small farm and was
living on that farm when the Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma in 1907.
I now live in Pauls Valley.