Interview # 8343
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: December 22, 1937
Name: Mr. Marion Henderson
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 25, 1872
Place of Birth: Kentucky
Father: J.C. Henderson, born in Virginia
Mother: Margaret Jackson, born in Kentucky
I was born in Kentucky, December 25, 1872.
I came to the Indian Territory in 1896 and settled at Pauls Valley, in the
Chickasaw Nation. I opened a law office there.
The court was established in Pauls Valley in 1895 and had a jurisdiction
over almost fifty miles of surrounding territory. I remember hearing some of the
lawyers say at the first term of court that twenty-two men went on trial for murder.
Judge Thomas presided during my first term in court in 1896. He
delighted in sending bootleggers to prison, and sent two carloads of men to prison for
Governor Johnson was the governor of the Chickasaw Nation at that time.
Before statehood, anyone dealing in cattle in the Chickasaw Nation had to
have a permit from the Governor. Tishomingo was the capital.
In my early days here, the horse and buggy was our main transportation and
when you had to go very far out in the country, the horse and saddle was the safest way to
I remember when I first came to Pauls Valley. There was only one
fence between that place and Elmore. There were very few farms in cultivation
between the two towns but the prairie grass was knee-high.
I handled many Indian cases, such as law suits and appointment of
guardians. When I was handling these cases I would have to go to Tishomingo, as that
was where the Indian Court was held. I remember on several trips, I sometimes had to
ride eight or ten miles out in the country after reaching Tishomingo, to find some of the
Indian officials, before I could get a guardian appointed.
There have been more killings in Pauls Valley since the town started up to
this date than any other town in Oklahoma, according to its size. It was a hard
looking place when I came here and wasn't much of a town. There were only a few
stores. When it rained, mud was half knee deep. Rush Creek would overflow
every time it came a hard rain. Despite all of this, it was the main trading point
for miles around. It was a shipping and receiving point for freight, coming in from
Texas and Kansas and for places like McGee, Old Center and Elmore.
Pauls Valley had the first free school in the Chickasaw Nation.
People living around here taxed themselves and started it. The tax was only
on town property but children of people who did not own property were allowed to attend
free of charge.
Mr. C.J. Grant and Sam Garvin owned the first bank in Pauls Valley.