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Garvin County

County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



John T. McNeely


Interview # 9589
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: January 3, 1938
Name: Mr. John T. McNeely
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: April 20, 1889
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: J.B. McNeely, born in Mississippi
Mother: Mattie Collier, born in Georgia


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I was born in 1889 in Mississippi and came to the Indian Territory with my father and mother when I was only six months old.  My father and mother came to the Indian Territory with a wagon train, consisting of six wagons and a family in each wagon.  After this wagon train crossed into the Choctaw Nation from Arkansas, the first night they camped, some trouble came up among the families so my father, with his family, left the wagon train, and after traveling for several days, settled at Boggy Depot in the Choctaw Nation.

My father leased some land and farmed at Boggy Depot for two years and in 1892 moved to Pauls Valley in the Chickasaw nation and leased land from Dr. Burks.  My father took a ten year leas on this farm of Dr. Burks and we lived there nine years and again moved, this time into Pauls Valley where my father went to work at the gin.

I have heard my father say that when he came to Pauls Valley there was a gristmill and gin owned by Zach Gardner, an Indian, part Chickasaw and part Choctaw.    This gin and mill were located on the Washita River about two miles east of Pauls Valley.  At that time there was only one store, a blacksmith shop and stage stand and a small depot at Pauls Valley and the only hotel was across the railroad track east from the depot. 

There was a stage line from Pauls Valley to Fort Sill.

The first school that I went to was a subscription school at Pauls Valley in 1895.  It was located where the Stufflebean Funeral Home is now and school was held about six months out of the year and it cost $2.00 a month.

By 1895 Pauls Valley was a busy little town although there were no paved sidewalks or paved streets.  On Saturday and nearly any day of the week there would be hundreds of people in town byt Saturday was the main trading day for people living around Pauls Valley, which has always been what we call a Saturday town since I can remember.

I have heard my father say that Wynnewood was a trading point like Pauls Valley.

In 1898 I went to my first free school at Pauls Valley.   I have heard my father say Pauls Valley had the first free school in the Indian Territory. 

The first court was held here in 1895.  I remember all of our family went to hear and see what they did in court and there were so many people there that day that there wasn't room enough to hold all of them.

I have seen plenty of deer and turkey around Pauls Valley when I was a boy and we always had turkey or deer meat for Sunday and through the week if we wanted it.  Beef was cheap them.

I remember a man would come to our place about every two weeks selling nearly anything you wanted.  He had what people called then a 'store on wheels'.   You could trade chickens for groceries or dry goods if you didn't have the money to pay for what you wanted.

My mother always made our clothes and one pair of shoes would have to last all winter.  Money was hard to get but we always had plenty to eat.   Corn and cotton were cheap but this land around Pauls Valley would raise a bale or more of cotton to the acre but there was no use in raising lots of it as there were not many people who worked by the day in Pauls Valley and my father only raised what our family could gather.

This part of the country was a great cattle country in the early days.   I can remember along the river there would be pen after pen where the stockmen would feed out cattle.

I have lived in Pauls Valley since 1892.

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