Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: May 21, 1937
Name: Mr. J.T. French
Residence: Pauls Valley Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1861
Place of Birth: Kentucky
Father: W.H. French
I came to the Indian Territory in the fall of 1886. A young man
named Billie Klingesmith and myself left Denison, Texas, in a wagon working a span of
mules. We were headed for Pauls Valley, to gather corn.
As soon as we got to Pauls Valley, we went to work for Ab Cochel,
gathering corn for one dollar and twenty-five cents a day and board. We worked six
Pauls Valley then was located about a mile south of where it is now.
At that time it consisted of one store, a blacksmith shop and a stage stand.
Miller and Green ran the store and the post office was in this store. Mr.
Miller was the postmaster and where Pauls Valley is now located, that land was in corn.
I gathered corn right were the new post office not stands. Zach
Gardner owned a cotton gin and corn mill on the east side of the Washita River about two
miles east of where Pauls Valley now stands. That year he had six hundred acres of
corn and the farms in this valley then were making around a hundred bushels per acre.
Billie Klingesmith and I liked this valley and we talked about renting us
a farm, but Billie thought it best to go back to Texas. We hauled two bales of
cotton from the Zach Gardner gin to Denison, Texas, for Miller and Green. We were
paid five dollars a bale.
I lived in Texas until the first of 1890. Then I came to Pauls
Valley, but this time I brought my family with me. I owned at that time four horses,
seventeen head of milk cows, three fat hogs and a flock of chickens. On arriving at
Pauls Valley, I found the town had been moved after the railroad came through.
I rented some land from Sam Paul and I leased a lot from him in Pauls
Valley. I paid him twenty-five dollars a year for this lease. I built a
one-room house on this lot and moved in. I went to farming and my wife took care of
the cows and chickens. Everybody let their cattle and hogs run out. My wife
sold milk and butter. What she couldn't sell she gave away.
The first year I raised two thousand bushel of corn and sold it for
fifteen cents a bushel. Corn was piled up here in big log piles and many a morning I
would have to go drive my cows off of somebody's pile of corn.
There was plenty of work. Anybody could get a job.
Sam Paul, at that time wouldn't let anyone build a house on the east side
of the railroad, but after his son, Joe, killed him, people went to building there.
When the U.S. Court was established here I happened to have a lease on
four acres of land where they had picked for the Court House, so I swapped the lease to
Calvin Grant for another lease and up went the Court House.
I was one of the first jurors to sit on the first grand jury held in this
Court House. That three week's session we found one hundred and eighty indictments.
Judge Shackleford was the first Judge to sit on the bench at Pauls Valley.
There were lost of killings in this part of the country. Charley
Strickland killed West Harris, Bill Lewis killed Charley Strickland, John Walner, a U.S.
Deputy Marshal, killed Bill Lewis at Wynnewood, and Bob Walner killed John Walner.
Bob was a nephew of John Walner. Joe Paul killed his father, Sam Paul,
Jamison McClure was found on the railroad track, dead. The train had run over him,
some people believed, but I had my own belief about it.
I made the Cheyenne run and staked a place but never went to file on it.
I live in Pauls Valley where I have lived since 1890.