Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: October 28, 1937
Name: Mr. J. D. Baker
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: September 20, 1858
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: F. Baker, killed in the Civil War
Mother: Elmira Burk
I was born 1858 in Arkansas.
I came from Arkansas to the Indian Territory in 1886 and settled on Sleepy Hollow Creek
near a place called Shake Rag, in the Choctaw Nation. Sleepy Hollow was a large
valley surrounded by redoak timber with a running stream of water through it. when I
settled there there were four families in that valley.
My wife, children and myself lived under a wagon sheet until I got a one-room log house
built. With plenty of timber it didn't take but about a week to build a log house
with a dirt floor.
There were no large farms then in that part of the country. If you farmed fifteen
to twenty acres you were counted a large farmer.
There was a gin and grist mill at a place called Needmore where I took my corn to mill
and after the cotton was ginned I would have to have it hauled to Denison, Texas, to sell
it as there was no market at Needmore.
There was plenty of deer, turkey and wild hogs. At corn gathering time I would
pen up three or four of these wild hogs and pile corn into them and they would make enough
meat and lard to run my family until next killing time.
Cornbread was our main bread.
There was no church or school anywhere close to Sleepy Hollow so what
schooling our children got was what their mother taught them.
Then in that part of the country we used one horse to a six-inch turning
plow to break our land and a Georgia stock to lay off the rows with and planted our cotton
My wife made the clothes for our family. Every member of the
family that was big enough to wear shoes got one pair each year.
There wasn't much money in that time but we didn't need much. We
raised nearly everything we lived on.
When I would take my cotton to Denison, Texas, once a year, I would get
a barrel of flour and this would do our family until the next year. My wife would
use the flour to bake with and we would have biscuits every Sunday morning.
The gin at Needmore was run by steam, but I would have to unload my
cotton into baskets and then carry it inside the gin where there was a pair of scales and
weigh each basket full. The cotton was then carried back to the gin stands.
After the lint was cut from the seeds it was carried in baskets to the
press. The press was run by hand. Eight to ten bales was a good days run.
In 1890, I moved to the Cherokee Nation and leased twenty acres of land
from Joe Headrick, a Cherokee Indian. He gave me all I made on the
land for five years for clearing it up and putting it in cultivation. There was no
house on this piece of ground but in a short while I had a one-room house. I raised
corn and sugar cane and we had plenty of milk and butter. There was no market for
cream and if you got twenty-five cents for a fat hen you would be doing well. I
raised plenty of chickens.
We were happy to be making a living. We didn't think about getting
rich, just thought of making a good living.
I never had a doctor in my house until in later years. When
some of the family were sick we used home remedies and put more trust in God.
After my five years lease was up I moved to Garvin Springs, west of
Pauls Valley in the Chickasaw Nation and rented a farm from Sam Garvin. This
farm had a one-room house on it and the first year my wife, eight children and myself
lived in this one-room house and made a crop. That year I raised five bales of
cotton and several hundred bushels of corn.
There was a gin at Pauls Valley and a cotton market, corn was cheap.
I have sold my corn after hauling it to Pauls Valley for fifteen cents a bushel.
The nearest grist mill was east of Pauls Valley on the Washita River,
owned by a Chickasaw Indian, Zack Gardner.
I farmed on the Garvin farm until the branch railroad was built from
Pauls Valley to Lindsay in 1902. At that time I sold out and moved to Maysville and
put in a wagon yard and livery stable. Maysville had just begun to build up.
My wife is eighty years old and I am seventy-nine. We have reared
ten children. We now live at our home in Maysville in the same house where we have
lived since 1902.