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Garvin County

County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



J.E. Suggs, Jr.


Interview #8294
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: August 10, 1937
Name:   Mr. J.E. Suggs, Jr.
Residence: Wynnewood, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:  1861
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: L.S. Suggs, born in South Carolina
Mother: Martha Traylor, born in South Carolina 


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I came to the Indian Territory in 1890 and settled at Wynnewood in the Chickasaw Nation.  I went to work for W.H. Swinford, who owned a dry goods store at Wynnewood.

There were just a few houses at Wynnewood at that time.  The land on which the largest part of the town stands now was in corn at the time I came here.

Pauls Valley and Wynnewood, at that time, were trading points for people for miles around,  People from as far east as Old Stonewall did their trading at Wynnewood.  I have kept the store open some nights until midnight waiting on people from Stonewall who would get into Wynnewood late and would want to start home that night.

During the summer when it was hot, people from far off would travel at night.

There was a little town about five miles south of Wynnewood called Washita, where there were two stores, a blacksmith shop and a few houses.  I have heard old settlers say that the little town called Washita did a good business before the railroad came through this part of the country.  That was before they started building Wynnewood.

John Walner was the first man to put in a store at Wynnewood.  He owned a store at Cherokee Town about four miles north of Wynnewood.  After the railroad came through, Cherokee Town was done away with. 

The Masons at Pauls Valley bought one of the buildings and moved it to Pauls Valley.  John Walner moved his store to Wynnewood and the name of the post office at Cherokee Town was changed to the name of Wynnewood.

It was called Wynnewood for two surveying engineers who surveyed the railroad through here. 

When I came to Wynnewood there was lost of corn and small grain raised, but very little cotton.  It was in 1893 that the first big cotton crop was raised.   There were about three thousand bales ginned at Wynnewood.  Corn was selling from ten to fifteen cents a bushel and cotton was about five cents a pound after it was ginned.

There was a regiment of Chickasaw Militia which would come around once a year and charge five dollars for a permit to live in the Indian Territory.

I was a good friend to John Walner and he was a United States Marshal and the Indian police were at Wynnewood.  So he told me how to keep from paying the whole five dollars a year.  He said, "When the militia come around just pay them one dollar and get a two month's permit.  They will not come back again until the next year."  Mr. Walner said that it did not make much difference as the Government did not get very much of the money anyway.

Before the court was established at Pauls Valley, court was held at Paris, Texas.

There were several killings in the early days at Wynnewood and in that day and time if we saw that there was gong to be a killing, we would walk off so that we would not have to be a witness, but when John Walner killed Bill Lewis, I did not have time to get away and had to be a witness to the killing.  That was when the court was being held at Pauls Valley.  John Walner was later killed by his nephew, Bob Walner.

Jimmie Gardner, Matt Wolfe and Noah Lael were big cattle owners when I came to Wynnewood.

I now live at Wynnewood, where I am the Justice of Peace.

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