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Garvin County

County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



John C. Starnes


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


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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 gambling places.

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 there today.

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.


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