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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



John Parks


Microfiche #6016889 Vol 81 Page 303 308
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: January 31, 1938
Name: Mr. John Parks
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: May 8, 1860
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: W.L. Parks, born in Alabama
Mother: Elizabeth Walker, born in Arkansas


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I was born in 1860, in Arkansas. I came to the Indian Territory in the Fall of 1885, form Texas, alone. I was working a span of mules to a wagon.

My father and mother died when I was small I was raised by grandfather on his ranch in Texas. After I was large enough to do ranch work my grandfather paid me to work on the ranch just like he did the other cowhands.

In 1875, when I was fifteen years old, I helped drive two thousand head of beef cattle to Kansas for Grandfather. I remember we crossed the Indian Territory west where Chickasha is now. Our hardest work on this drive was crossing the Red River and the Washita River. We crossed the Washita River somewhere between Chickasha and Anadarko. We started the first bunch of cattle across the river early one morning and it was late that evening before we got the last bunch across. We lost several cattle in making this crossing; some got bogged down. Some of them broke their legs and we had to shoot them. We were several months making this trip. You see, when making a drive like that you can’t just keep in the go all the time. We camped in one place five days, letting the cattle feed up. There was plenty of grass and it was free range, no fences to bother with. We would drive the cattle hard one day and the next day let them graze. There was one man who rode on ahead on the lookout for water and a good place to camp.

After reaching Kansas and selling the cattle, Grandfather paid off the cowhands. There were twenty- three men on this drive; ten of them had been working for Grandfather on the ranch before we started with this bunch of cattle to the market. The rest were just hired for the trip. After Grandfather paid them all off he and I and four of his cowhands started back to Texas. Grandfather carried the money from his cattle in two saddle bags. I remember his saying it was all in gold. We made the trip back to Texas but the other cowhands that had been working for him never showed up.

I came to the Indian Territory and leased some land from John Walner at Cherokee Town, in 1885. One day I was at the store at Cherokee Town and two United States Marshals had stayed all night there with five prisoners on their way to Fort Smith to court. That morning some of us men were looking at the prisoners while they were being loaded into a wagon and hand-cuffed to a log chain that ran down the center of the wagon and I recognized one of the men. He was one of Grandfather’s cowhands that had made the big drive with us in 1875. His last name was Turner. He told me he had gone to work on a ranch near Dodge City. After the big drive he had gotten mixed up with a bad bunch and was to stand trial for murder in Fort Smith. I learned later that three men out of the five the United States Marshals took on that trip were hanged. I never learned if Turner was hanged or not.

I cleared up some land for Mr. Walner and farmed one year, then I went to work on the railroad that was being built through this part of the country. I worked on the railroad until it was built into Pauls Valley. At that time there was only one store, a blacksmith shop and a stage stop at Pauls Valley. They were located a short distance south of where the town is now located. And the post office was in the general store. Cherokee Town was done away with after the railroad came through this country and the town of Wynnewood was started. John Walner moved his store to Wynnewood and one of the buildings was moved to Pauls Valley.

There were not many Indians living around Cherokee Town when I moved there; there were more negroes than white settlers living there then. The white people living there were Vick Florence and Mr. Lael and they were large cattle owners.

The nearest grist mill was on the river east of Pauls Valley.

There was very little cotton raised then, as there was no market around there for cotton and what was raised had to be hauled to Texas. Later, a gin was built at Wynnewood and people began to raise cotton.

I believe it was in 1893 they raised the first big cotton crop. I sold out everything I owned that year and went back to Texas to take care of my grandmother’s farm, as my grandfather had died and grandmother was left all alone to look after the farm.

I was married in Texas and raised a family and never came back to the Indian Territory until after the Territory became the state of Oklahoma.

Submitted by: Barbara Giddens


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