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
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
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
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.