Interview # 1156
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: March 29, 1937
Name: Mr. W.L. Mills
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 20, 1865
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: J.C. Mills, born in Illinois
Mother: Jane Courthers, born in Missouri
I came from Texas to the Indian Territory in 1883. I started farming
on the Franklin farm at Leon, which is about thirty-five miles from Gainesville, Texas.
Six miles east of Leon was a small town named Burneyville, and five miles southwest
from Leon was Jim Town.
I raised lots of corn and have sold corn for fifteen cents a bushel.
I raised some cattle but the cattle thieves were so bad around Leon that we farmers
couldn't raise many. We could have raised them all right if the cattle thieves had
not stolen nearly all of them. Two of the rustlers were Frank Nation and Melvin
Brown but I couldn't catch them stealing. In later years Frank Nation was caught and
sent to the penitentiary at McAlester. I think Melvin Brown was killed while he was
stealing some cattle.
There were lots of turkeys and deer around that country.
When I was just a young man about eighteen, I married a girl in Texas and
a week after we were married we started out in a wagon with two mules for the Indian
Territory. My wife was only seventeen years old then. It was the same as two
kids starting out, but I had been making my own living since I was ten years old, so I
knew what to expect in making a living for a family.
After staying on the farm of Mr. Franklin for seven years, I had save some
money and owned a fine span of mules, a wagon, and several cows. I left Leon in 1890
and moved to old McGee, two miles north of where Stratford is now. I leased a farm
there and started farming again. I raised corn and garden vegetables. We
always had plenty to eat. I raised my own meat hogs and when we moved from
Leon I sold all my cows except two. They were the best milk cows in that part of the
country. I had sold a lot of milk and butter to the people around Leon. After
leasing this place at old McGee I farmed there one year and made one crop. I didn't
like that part of the country very well. The people I knew were friendly but there
were not very many white people. Most of the population were Indians and my wife was
afraid of them. I loaded up and left McGee.
I came through Pauls Valley and stayed a few days. I intended to
settle at Pauls Valley but changed my mind. My wife wanted to go back to Texas where
her people lived. I liked the country around Pauls Valley. I met Zack Gardner,
who owned a mill east of Pauls Valley on the Washita River. Mr. Gardner owned lots
of land and wanted to lease some to me, but my wife wanted to go back to Texas, so back to
Texas we went.
I farmed in Texas till 1907, then moved to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma and have
farmed and lived here ever since then.