Interview # 8790
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: September 30, 1937
Name: Mr. Tom Holt
Residence: Maysville, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: February 19, 1879
Place of Birth: Indian Territory
Father: John Holt, born in North Carolina
Mother: Alice Morris, born in Fort Washington, Indian Territory
My grandfather, Jonathan Morris, came to the Indian Territory in 1845 and
went to work for the United States Government as a blacksmith at Fort Washita in the
Chickasaw Nation, near Tishomingo.
He had to fix wagons and plows for the Chickasaw Indians but was paid by
the United States Government. He received $995.00 a year with everything furnished.
In that day and time they burned charcoal to heat irons with. One
day while Grandfather had nothing to do, he went up into the mountains on a hunting trip
and while there he came across an outcrop of coal. At that time he didn't know anything
about coal, didn't even know what it was for, but when he returned to Fort Washita, he
carried a piece of this coal back with him and the next day he put this piece of 'black
rock; as he called it, on the fire and found that it would burn and make a hot fire, so
the next day he took his two wheeled wagon and a yoke of steers and brought a load of coal
to his shop. He worked for the Government until 1856 and after finding this coal he
never used anything else to heat his irons with. According to Grandfather's story he
was the first white man to find this coal.
In 1856, Grandfather went back to Texas and when the war broke out he
served through it. Right after the war one day at a town in Texas, he met a man
named Smith Paul who was there after a load of supplied and by making the acquaintance of
Mr. Paul, who told my grandfather that he was from the Indian Territory, my grandfather
made a deal with Smith Paul to come to the valley and farm. This was in the latter
part of 1865.
There was an old Negro woman living in that part of Texas, named Harris,
who had eight children. At the close of the war she was set free without anything
but these children, so after making this deal with Smith Paul, Grandfather, with my
grandmother and this old Negro woman and her children, loaded up and pulled out for the
Smith Paul Valley.
This Negro woman's oldest boy was about fourteen years old and was named
Nathan Harris. Nathan, being big enough to work, my grandfather made him mule
boy and Nathan's job was to drive the mules through, as my grandfather had several mules
at that time. The reason Mr. Paul made that deal with Grandfather was because
Grandfather had mules and Mr. Paul hired Grandfather to break up his valley and put it in
On arriving at the valley, Nathan helped my grandfather to build his log
house. At that time, Smith Paul was living in his wagon. But after my grandfather's
house was built, Nathan helped Smith Paul build his willow log house. My grandfather
and this Negro boy, Nathan Harris, turned the sod under and planted three hundred acres of
corn the first year, and this corn was sold to the Government at Fort Sill.
Grandfather farmed in the valley for Mr. Paul for two years then moved to
the place where Alex is now located and went to farming for himself, and the Negro boy
Nathan Harris, stayed with Smith Paul.
My father, John Holt, came to the Indian Territory in 1873 with a wagon
train made up of farmers living in Texas. There was about fifteen wagons in all.
My father came from Texas to the Indian Territory long before I was born but I have
often heard him say that Coffee Randolph, Tommie Shannon, Joe Myers, Lyman Friend, Sam
Friend, Austin Hart and G.W. Randolph were in this wagon train and when it stopped every
man went to work building a log house. This party settled about three miles
northeast of where Maysville is now located.
At that time my father was a young man and in the early 70's he was
married to Miss Alice Morris, the daughter of Jonathan Morris, and on the 19th day of
February 1879, I was born in the Randolph Community.
In my early boyhood days I have seen deer and turkey go by in droves.
By the time I was big enough to remember things, the Randolph Community had broken
up, that is, the people who came with the wagon train had scattered around over the
country and some of them became our largest ranch owners. The school and the
surrounding community still went by the name of Randolph.
I remember in 1884 that the people had built a big brush arbor near the
cemetery at Whitebead and a young preacher came from Missouri to hold a big meeting.
The meeting had been going on for three or four nights and my father and mother had
been attending it every night. As we were on our way to church one night, I remember
hearing my father tell Mother not to be alarmed at what she would see that night, as some
of the boys were going to introduce the new preacher into their circle. Of course,
we children didn't know what was going to take place, but after the preacher was through
preaching and everyone was getting ready to start home, a gang of cowboys from the Sam
Garvin Ranch and I believe, some from the Jack Florence Ranch began shooting. They
shot out the lights and everything was in an uproar. I remember children were crying
and women screaming. I have heard my father talk about it and he said after things
quieted down they went out looking for the preacher and it was about three hours before
they found him and when they did find him he was about a half a mile from the arbor hidden
under a brush pile. The preacher wanted to leave the next day for the state of
Missouri but by promising him they would appoint deputies and there wouldn't be anymore
disturbance, he stayed on and I have heard my father say there were about a hundred or
more people saved in that meeting.
Riley Bandy owned the hotel and boarding house at Whitebead. I
remember it was at his boarding house that I drank my first iced tea. In the winter
time people would haul ice from the river and store it in a house they had fixed for that
purpose and cover the ice with sawdust, and in this way they would have ice all summer.
My father bought one of the first mowing machines shipped to Pauls Valley
in 1889, and my brother owns that mowing machine today and used it in putting up hay.
Since 1879, Whitebead is as far east and Maysville is as far west as I
have lived. I lived on the farm until 1904 and at that time I moved to Maysville and
put in a blacksmith shop. I worked on the first automobile that came to Maysville
and on the first airplane.
I still own my blacksmith ship at Maysville where I have lived since 1904.