Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: November 11, 1937
Name: Mrs. John W. Gibson
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: June 12, 1877
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: Jesse Reaves, born in Arkansas
Mother: Emma Wilburn, born in Texas
I was born in 1877 in Texas and came to the Indian Territory with my
father and mother from Texas in 1888. My father settled at Thackerville
in the Chickasaw nation and went to farming and raising cattle. We lived there two
years, then we moved nine miles northeast of Pauls Valley and my father
leased a large farm and continued his farming and raising of cattle. That part
of the country was a fine place to raise cattle. there were very few fences at that
time and it was open range. Some of the cultivated land, of course, was fenced.
We lived on the farm about two years when my father bought a hotel in
Pauls Valley from C.J. Grant. It had been owned and operated before
then by Colonel Hopkins and today it is called the Rice Hotel.
While we operated this hotel there were no dances given in it as my mother didn't believe
in dancing, but according to stories told by old settlers who lived here when Colonel
Hopkins operated the hotel some of the largest dances given in that vicinity were
held at the Hopkins Hotel. My father took care of his ranch and farm,
and my mother operated the hotel and boarding house. When the Federal Court was
established at Pauls Valley all the court officials boarded at our hotel and among them
was Judge Townsend, who was the first judge of the first court held at
Before the court was established here court was held at Paris,
Texas, and Fort Smith, Arkansas.
When we moved to Pauls Valley there was a subscription school and two
small church houses. One was the Presbyterian Church and the other was used by the
Methodists and Baptists and it was called the Community Church.
The only fun we children would have would be on Sunday and we would look
forward to Sunday, for nearly every Sunday our Mothers would fix a big basket lunch and we
would all meet at the Gardner Mill on the river east of Pauls Valley
where there was a fine shady grove and playground, and there would be large crowds of
people out there nearly every Sunday.
There were several weddings held at our hotel and I was married there to John
W. Gibson in 1897. My father sold the hotel to Mr. Wade Hampton.
Several years before John Gibson and I were married, my
husband, his father and brother had come from Arkansas, bringing with them several buggies
and horses and they had started a livery barn at Pauls Valley.
When we came to Pauls Valley there were only about three or four nice
homes, Mr. Paul's home, Zach Gardner's
home and Mr. Kimberlin's home.
Pauls Valley had no paved streets when we first came and only had board
side walks. Each man who owned a place of business would build a board side walk in
front of his place and some of the side walks were lower than the others and when you went
from one store to the other you would have to go up some steps or down some steps.
The town was the first town in Indian Territory to incorporate but it
wasn't incorporated until 1898.
The first free school was established in 1899 and this was the first free
school in the Indian Territory.
I now live in Pauls Valley which has been my home since 1892.