Interview # 10446
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: April 13, 1938
Name: Mr. John C. Starnes
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: March 8, 1861
Place of Birth: Missouri
Father: J.K. Starnes, born in Tennessee
Mother: Millie Coffman, born in Tennessee
I was born in 1861 in Missouri. I settled on a farm near Mangum in
1888 and built a dugout. Mangum at that time was only a cow camp. Just a small
place with a few stores.
After settling there I hauled freight for the stores there and have helped
drive cattle from there to Kansas, in which way I made money so I could improve my farm.
Mangum then belonged to Texas or Texas claimed that part of the country
but later it was taken over by the Government and became part of the Indian Territory.
I improved my farm and lived there about eight years when I sold out and
came and settled on a farm I rented from Amos Waite on Rush Creek near Pauls Valley.
Then Pauls Valley was nothing but a mud hole but it was the trading point
for many miles around, people from as far east as old Stonewall coming to Pauls Valley to
do their trading.
The Federal Court was established at Pauls Valley in 1895. I
remember in the first term of court held here there were about fifty men sent to prison at
Leavenworth, Kansas. These men were driven down the street like a bunch of cattle
and loaded on the train.
The main street in Pauls Valley then was called Smoky Row. There
were no brick buildings then, only wooden shacks and there were eating places and many
There was not very much cattle stealing then but here was plenty of horse
staling. I lost several good horses that I never heard tell of again.
The first telephone system was established in Pauls Valley about 1899 and
Cam Gault was in charge of it. There had been a telephone line run from Pauls Valley
to Center before that date. After the railroad was built through Pauls Valley it
became a shipping point for the little inland towns and that was why the telephone line
was built from Pauls Valley to center so the merchants could call up and find out if their
freight had come in. Before that they had to come to Pauls Valley and sometimes stay
three or four days waiting for it to arrive.
A place called McGee then located about two miles north of where Stratford
in now was a nice little town in the early days. After the branch railroad line was
built from Purcell through where Stratford is, the town of McGee died and there is nothing
According to the old settlers who lived around here when I came here, old
Cherokee Town was a nice little place having a hotel, two stores and a blacksmith shop,
and the stageline that went through here had a barn to keep their horses in, as the horses
that were worked on the stage were changed at Cherokee Town, but after the railroad was
built through this country, Cherokee Town died and there is nothing there today only part
of the old rock ford.
There was still a lot of deer and turkey in this country when I came here.
Corn was the main crop raised then. It was very cheap but the
cattlemen who had large feeding pens along the river would buy all the corn we would have
to sell and this land was very rich then. I have raised from seventy to one hundred
bushels to the acre.
After settling a Pauls Valley, I married Maggie Austin, the daughter of
L.C. Austin, one of Pauls Valley's early pioneer farmers.