Interview # 9968
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: February 10, 1938
Name: Mr. J.A. Stokes
Residence: Pauls Valley, OK
Date of Birth: September 22, 1866
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Father: John Stokes, born in North Carolina
Mother: Mary Ann Wells, born in Mississippi
I was born in 1866, in Mississippi, and came to the Indian Territory in
1890, locating first at Thackerville in the Chickasaw Nation.
I had been raised on a farm back in Mississippi, although I had taught
school for a few years in that state before coming to the Indian Territory.
After settling at Thackerville, I went to work on a farm and had started
my first crop in the Territory when a man named Luther Mikler, whom I had known back in
Mississippi, came to me and wanted me to take over the school at Thackerville.
There wasn't much of a school at Thackerville then. They would have
trouble with the teacher and were unable to keep a teacher, as there were several boys
going to that school who made it very hard for a teacher to stay. Mr. Mikler told me
just what I would have to contend with and said if I would take the school, he would see
that my crop was taken care of. So I took over the school and being a young man and
very husky, I decided I would teach the boys who had been breaking up the school a lesson.
I found out that it wasn't so much the boys fault that they couldn't keep a
I was to receive $1.00 per month from each scholar who attended, but it
was very little I received while I was teacher, and if Mr. Mikler hadn't worked my crop
for me, I would have been broke at the close of the school.
I finished teaching there that year, then I quit and went to work as
bookkeeper for Bridges and Davis, who were in the general merchandise business.
There were no saloons at Thackerville but the men would go to Gainesville,
Texas, and get their whiskey and on Saturday there would be plenty of drunken fights.
Every man who wanted to, carried a pistol but I never saw anyone get killed.
While I was working there on Saturday nights, we would have several
robberies. There was a train that came from Gainesville at about ten o'clock on
Saturday night and men who had been in Texas after whiskey and who came in on the ten
o'clock train would get held up and robbed of what money and whiskey they had.
Several farmers had also been robbed after selling their cotton in Texas and while
bringing the money home. We only had United States Marshals in that time and they
were few. One night R.J. Nichols, one of our early day settlers at Thackerville, was
robber of quite a sum of money after he had sold some cotton in Texas and before reaching
home, he was held up and his money taken, but this didn't stop him. He unhooked one
of his horses from the wagon and followed the robbers to their hide-out and as soon as he
had located it, he came to town and organized a posse. There were ten or twelve or
The robbers hide-out was over on the Decker farm, so we rode over there
and stopped in front of the house, and R.J. Nichols went to the door and knocked.
The men ran out the back door and escaped, but after getting the door open we found
several pallets made down on the floor and one woman in the house. It turned out
that it was an old man and his four sons who had been doing the robbery, so we made a
hangman's noose out of a rope and gave it to the woman and told her that was what her
husband and sons were going to get if they were there the next night. That put a
stop to our robberies at Thackerville.
The store I was working at burned down in the fall of 1892 and I moved to
Davis and went to work for Ellis and Ferguson as clerk in their general store.
I worked for them until 1906, at which time I moved to Pauls Valley and
took the job of managing the retail store for J.C. Penny and Company, and worked at this
I still live in Pauls Valley where I have lived since 1906.