Interview # 9364
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: November 30, 1937
Name: Mrs. Jane L. Harris
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: Alex Erby
Mother: Lucinda Erby
I was born in Mississippi and was fifteen years old at the close of the
Civil War. Before the War ended I was owned by Master Erby, who owned a large farm.
The women had to plow in the field just like the men. After the War ended, my
father and mother stayed and farmed for Master Erby.
I came to the Indian Territory with my husband, Alford Mosley, in
1888. We came from Texas to Pauls Valley on the train. The railroad had been
built through here a year before we came to Pauls Valley. My husband went to work on
the farm for W.G. Kimberlin. Then there were but a few Negroes living in this part
of the country.
Pauls Valley and Whitebead were the places where we bought our groceries.
We didn't have to buy much in that day and time for there was plenty of wild game
and we always had plenty of corn to take to the mill.
The only grist mill then was on the Washita River east of Pauls Valley
about two miles. My husband would take a sack of corn to the mill every two weeks.
At that time there were several farms along the river here and the
prairies were covered with cattle. There were very few roads and no fences to speak
After my husband died I married Nathan Harris, who had come to Pauls
Valley at the close of the Civil War, with a white man named Jonathan Morris. I have
heard him say that Smith Paul was the only man living in this valley at that time and that
he lived in a two-wheeled wagon and had one saddle horse and a yoke of steers.
Nathan helped Mr. Morris turn under three hundred acres of sod for Mr. Paul and
plant it in corn. After the corn was planted, Nathan helped Mr. Paul build his first
house, a one-room willow log house without a door and the house had a dirt floor with a
deer hide hung up for the door.
Nathan told me he worked two years for Mr. Morris, farming for Mr. Paul.
Corn was all they raised and it was sold to the Government at Fort Sill and Fort
Arbuckle. The soldiers would come from both places and haul the corn. In this
way Nathan said, he got acquainted with several of the soldiers from both forts and one of
the soldiers from Fort Arbuckle gave him a sword. This soldier was later killed by
the Indians after he was sent to Fort Sill.
After Nathan and Mr. Morris had made two corn crops for Mr. Paul, Mr.
Morris moved on up the river west of where Maysville is now and Nathan stayed on and
worked for Mr. Paul. By this time there were two or three families living in this
valley. There were no stores here then. I have heard Nathan say there was a
trading post on the river later named Cherokee Town. When Nathan came here there
were lots of Indians camped on the river around where this trading post was. W.G.
Kimberlin was among one of the first to settle here after Nathan came here and after Mr.
Kimberlin settled here, Nathan went to work for him.
In the early days after Mr. Kimberlin came here I have heard Nathan say
that Frank and Jesse James visited at Mr. Kimberlin's home several times. Nathan's
job was to take care of their horses when they would visit Mr. Kimberlin and they would
always give him a plug of tobacco as Jesse always had plenty of chewing tobacco in his
saddle bag. Both Frank and Jesse carried two six shooters, one strapped on each side
of their saddle.
After Nathan and I were married, Mr. Kimberlin built us a house where West
Town of Pauls Valley is now and gave it to us and I still live in that house.