Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: January 4, 1938
Name: Mr. John H. Hall
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: November 23, 1884
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: J.G. Hall, born in Arkansas
Mother: Betty Parion, born in Arkansas
I was born in 1884, in Arkansas and came to the Indian Territory with my
father and mother in the fall of 1890, and settled near a place called Spiro,
in the Choctaw Nation. My father leased some land from a Choctaw Indian.
People only had small farms in that part of the country and they lived in dug-outs and log
houses. The country was open range then and the first year my father did not fence
his corn crop and the wild hogs and horses almost ate his crop up, so in the winter of
1891, he fenced ten acres with rails.
Father brought the first strawberries to that part of the country and in
two years we had a fine crop of berries, but there was no marked for them. I have
sold strawberries for 10 cents a gallon at Spiro.
I have gone to many a Choctaw Indian ball game with my father. About
two or three weeks before the Choctaws would have a game, there would be three or four
Indian men dressed in ball suits who would go around the country telling about the game
and where it was to be played. Their ball suits were only breech-clouts with
animals' tails hanging down behind them. These Choctaws would carry their ball club
and on the day set for the game there would be a big brush arbor built near where the fame
was to be held and if there was anything you wanted to bet on either side, all you had to
do was to bring it to the arbor. The Indians would bet ponies, wagons, and anything
they could get. I have seen them end up in a free-for-all fight, but when this
started, Dad and I left for home.
There was a small log school house near where we lived but I only got to
go to school about two months in six years. This was a subscription school but the
people couldn't get anyone to teach. There was a man teacher who stayed there two
months but the people didn't all pay him and he left. He charged $2.00 a month and
the money was hard to get.
People tried to raise what they lived on.
My father bought ponies from the Indians and broke them to work, then he
would take them into Arkansas. He never made very much off of them. He would buy
ponies weighing seven or eight hundred pounds for $5.00 or $6.00 a head and after
breaking them to ride and to work he would only get from $8.00 to $10.00 a head.
The Indians would raise only small patches of corn and the Indian women
did them. The Indian men would hunt and fish and there was plenty of wild game to
hunt for then.
My father made a rug out of deer skins large enough to cover our front
room. We lived in a two-room log house and when we first moved into this house it
had a dirt floor and my father hauled enough lumber from Fort Smith to build a floor in
There were only United States Marshals in those days and court was held at
Fort Smith. The Choctaw Indians were very religious in that day and time.
There was no church house there, only the school house but the Choctaws would have church
at someone's house every Sunday.
I now live at Pauls Valley, where I have lived for a number of years.