Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: November 12, 1937
Name: Mrs. E.G. Hightower
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 24, 1874
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Father: C.A. Allen, born in Virginia
Mother: Mary Fields, born in Texas
I came to the Indian Territory in 1895, and settled at Pauls Valley in the
Chickasaw Nation. My husband and I went into the general mercantile business here
and remained in this business until 1914. Mr. James Rennie was postmaster
when we came to Pauls Valley. Mr. C.J. Grant was the first
banker. There was a subscription school here then, and two church houses,
Presbyterian and Methodist. Dr. Burks was the leading doctor.
There was a grist mill east of Pauls Valley on the river owned by Zack
Gardner and it was run by water power and was the only mill in this part of the
country at that time. The old mill and Mr. Gardner's home were
beautiful places to see and there was a fine shady grove there where we held picnics.
Mr. Gardner's home was painted white with a white picket fence
around it. At that time there were very few nice homes and Mr. Gardner's
home was the finest looking house in this part of the country.
Every Sunday there would be a large crowd of people visiting there, and at
apple gathering time. Mr. Paul's place on the hill just south of
Pauls Valley was a beautiful place. He owned the finest apple orchard in this part
of the country.
Pauls Valley was the first town in the Indian Territory to incorporate and
this took place in 1898, and in January 1899 there was opened at the little trading center
of Pauls Valley the first public school for white children in the Indian Territory.
Previous to this a school of semi-public nature had been maintained, the salaries of the
teachers being paid through tuition fees. This first free school had its beginning
in the building already in use by the tuition school, a building purchased through popular
subscription. This building, remodeled several times, is still in use as the Stufflebean
Funeral home. The first public school board was, Claude Weaver,
ex-postmaster of Oklahoma City, C.A. (Al) Williams, R.W.
Humphrey, W.T. Hightower, J.C. Goodlie and J.B. Thompson
as chairman. W.J. Sims was the first principal of the school and John
Wilkinson it's first superintendent. At the closing exercises of the first
term of the "first free school of the Indian Territory", Miss Eugenia
Tippitt received her diploma that night, the only graduate. In 1900 the
graduating class again consisted of one girl, Miss Savanna Kinnebrew; in
1901, J.M. Osborn succeeded Superintendent
Wilkinson and a high school building was erected on the north side of the school
grounds. This first high school building was little more than a box shanty with two
rooms, one room of which served a double purpose, that of office of the superintendent and
class room for the ninth and tenth grades. The seventh and eigth grades were in the
other room of the shack. In 1901 the graduating class was of six girls. In
1902 there were no graduates, but in 1903 there was a class of three, among who was Miss
Beulah Conner, now the wife of the States Attorney General, Mr. Mac
Q. Williamson. From this humble beginning in 1899 has grown the
magnificent institute of which we are all so proud.
In 1908 the Washita River was higher than I have ever seen it since I have
lived here. In that year people rowed up and down the streets in boats.
It was at this same time the fight was on to see who got the county seat
between Elmore City, Wynnewood and Pauls Valley; that was the biggest election fight I
have ever seen at Pauls Valley.
My husband, E.G. Hightower, served one term as Mayor of
Pauls Valley. I have lived in Pauls Valley continuously since 1895.