Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: October 21, 1937
Name: Mrs. J.S. Mitchell
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1871
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: J.H. Mitchell, born in Tennessee
Mother: Rebecca Keys, born in Tennessee
I was born in 1871 in Arkansas, but came to the Indian Territory in 1895.
It was in the Summer of 1895 when I got to Pauls Valley and I got a job
from Jim Crawford, helping put up hay and was paid 75 cents a day. That was
considered high wages at that time but everything was cheap.
In the Fall I gathered corn for Mr. Crawford. Corn sold for 15 cents
a bushel delivered to the barn and if one wanted to do his own gathering, it was only 10
cents a bushel. I have seen more corn left in the fields that there is raised now.
There was some cotton raised but not like there is today, for most people
just raised what they could gather with their own family as there were not very many
people living around Pauls Valley at that time.
There were some large cattle owners living around there for at that time
it was more of a cattle town than an agricultural town. There were several large
feeding pens along the Washita River here then for Pauls Valley was a fine place to feed
out cattle as there was lots of corn raised here and it was cheap and the Washita River
had plenty of water in it. Then, too, there were very few fences at that time in
this part of the country and the prairie land around here had the finest grass which in
the Summer looked like a large wheat field. Another thing that made this part of the
country a fine place to raise stock were the short mild winters and long summers.
There were a few turkeys and deer around here when I first came and they
woods were full of quail. There were also plenty of fish in the creeks around here
which at that time were running streams but today are dry.
There was lots of wild fruit growing around here; plums, berries and
grapes, and one could go along the banks of these small creeks and gather a wagon load of
pecans if you wanted them for there was no market at that time for pecans and people did
not pay any attention to them.
On the west side of the place where Pauls Valley is now there was nothing
but briar thicket, right where my home is now located. Then, I could have bought the
land for $1.00 an acre, but could not get a clear title to it then and I was afraid to
take a chance on any of this land. Today the lots around where I live are worth
around $150,00 each.
There were only a few stores and a bank at Pauls Valley then. The
courthouse was built in 1895. The old courthouse building is now occupied by the
Ford Motor Company. Before this court was established, court was held at Ardmore or
at Paris, Texas.
Nearly all the business places faced the railroad at that time and what is
Paul Avenue now was called Smoky Row then and it was considered a very tough place.
There were small eating places, drinking places, and gambling dives on Smoky Row and it
was nothing at all to see a shooting scrape there. Men with plenty of money in their
pockets would get drunk and lie out behind these drinking places all night and would not
A. Mr. Zach Gardner owned the first mill and gin located on the Washita
River, east of Pauls Valley and this gin and mill was run by water power.
At that time one could buy a good farming team for $40.00 to $50.00.
The post office was placed in a building by itself in 1898 and Mr. J.M.
Dorchester was appointed postmaster. Before that it had been located in Miller and
Green's store and in Mr. Rennie's store, I believe.