Interview # 8610
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: September 20, 1937
Name: Mr. E.H. Scrivner
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: January 7, 1855
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Father: B. Scrivner, born in Virginia
Mother: Mary Snyder, born in Tennessee
I was born in 1855 in Tennessee.
I came to the Indian Territory from Texas in 1888 and settled in the
Choctaw Nation, on Red River. I leased a section of land and began farming.
I had to go to Texas for my groceries and supplies.
I didn't do so good the first year, but in 1889, I raised two hundred and
fifty-bales of cotton.
There was an old horse power gin, that had been in use before I settled
there but the man that had built this gin had moved off and left it. It was either
fix this gin up or haul my cotton across Red River to a gin in Texas, so I went to
Gainesville, Texas, and got the parts I needed. This old gin was the find, that
after the lint was cut from the seeds, the lint had to be carried to the press in baskets.
That fall, with the help of three Negroes, I ginned two hundred and fifty bales of
cotton. I raised this cotton on three hundred acres.
Besides making this much cotton I raised eighteen thousand bushels of corn
that year. I got forty cents a bushel for my corn, hauled to Texas, and I sold my
cotton for eleven cents a pound.
I have been in the Choctaw Indian Ball games. They would pull off
their clothes and put on a breech clout made of the skin of some kind of animal with the
tail of the animal hanging down behind them. They would use a hickory stick about
three feet long and there would be a round end on this stick like a saucer made out of
buckskin. Instead of a ball game to me it looked like a free for all fight. I
have been at several ball games where there were some got killed by getting hit over the
head with these sticks.
The full blood Choctaw men usually had seven or eight wives.
They cooked their food in a pot and they didn't have plates to eat out of.
They had spoons made out of wood or bone and when they got hungry they would go eat
out of this pot which contained corn beat up and meat of some kind cooked together.
The Indians never did much farming. What little farming was done the
squaws did it and they usually had four or five acres of Tom Fuller corn and sometimes two
or three acres of cotton.
They lived in one-room log houses with a dirt floor or in dugouts and all
they had were a few blankets and buffalo and deer skins to sleep on.
I used to buy cattle from the Choctaw Indians and when I would buy from a
full blood Indian I would have to have gold or silver. That was all they would take.
They never did have very many cattle at a time.
I came to Pauls Valley in 1890. I leased seven hundred acres of land
from Sam Paul and took up farming again. I had all of the land where the high school
is now in Pauls Valley, in corn in 1890. At that time the government was shipping
the supplies for the Comanche and Kiowa Indians to Pauls Valley and the Indians would come
and freight those supplies over to Fort Sill, where they were camped. Sometimes they
would stay three or four days. Their squaws and children would be with them. They
wold camp on Rush Creek, south of where Pauls Valley was then, by the old cemetery and
while they were camped here the Government agent would issue steers to them for meat.
I have watched them kill and eat these steers. As soon as they killed the
steer and skinned it the Indian children and women would start eating it raw and they
never lost anything except the hide and horns. At night they would have a big fire
and barbecue the bones and eat them. They came to Pauls Valley for their freight
I was made a Deputy United States Marshal under McAlester in 1891. I
held the deputyship for six years and during that six years I arrested more men for murder
than I did for anything else. These killings happened around Pauls Valley and
Wynnewood. I arrested Bill Lewis two times for murder. He told me he had
killed fourteen men, but John Walner put a stop to Bill Lewis' killings at Wynnewood.
John Walner sent word by me one day when I was at Wynnewood to tell Bill Lewis if
he ever came to Wynnewood that he was going to kill him. I told Bill about this and
the next day Bill went to Wynnewood. He was a nervy little fellow, but John
Walner did what he said he would do. The six years I was a deputy I never killed a
man but a number of them had said they were going to kill me if I ever crossed their
trail. It was an old saying, that if you killed a man you would get killed. I
believed in that old saying for I have seen nine out of ten that had killed someone get
killed. There was John Swain, he and I got into some trouble and he swore he was going to
kill me on sight. Well, I kept out of his way for a while and it happened that I was
in Paris, Texas, where I had taken some prisoners to jail when John Swain, thinking I was
in Pauls Valley, got drunk and came to Pauls Valley to get me. However, he crossed
someone else's trail and was killed. His wife thought I had a h and in his killing
and she swore she was going to kill me if it was the last thing she ever did. I
heard a few years back that she was living over around Lawton. I don't know, she
may still have that old feeling about me. I never did get a chance to tell her that
I knew nothing about the killing of her man.
John Swain was a deputy United States Marshal at one time and while he was
a deputy he was the head of a band of cattle thieves. At that time I was deputy and
I got the proof on him and went to Paris, Texas, and showed the proof and his commission
was taken from him. That was the cause of our trouble.
There was Charley Strickland, he killed West Harris. At that time if
m en got in a quarrel the first thing they thought of was to see which one could kill the
Wade Williams killed Doctor Patterson and Wade Williams got killed and
also Charley Strickland died with his boots on.
When I came to the Choctaw Nation in 1888, Joe Edwards was a United States
Marshal and he was called the 'king bee' over the Choctaw Nation. The man who did
the hanging for Judge Parker in the Choctaw Nation had hanged ninety-seven men
before he quit his job. He had the ninety-seven nooses when he quit and he started
around over the country putting on shows and telling about his days when he was the
official hangman for Judge Parker. This didn't last long, for he went insane.
The United States Commissioners in Territorial days were like the Justices of the
Peace are now, they tried small cases. All murder cases were tired at Paris, Texas,
until the court was established at Pauls Valley in 1895. After then they began
trying murder cases at Pauls Valley.
I now live on East Charles Avenue, in Pauls Valley.