Interview # 4486
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: June 17, 1937
Name: Mr. E.H. Tarwater
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1869
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: J.S. Tarwater, born in Kentucky
Mother: Martha, born in Tennnessee
I was born in 1869 in Texas.
In 1899 I moved from Arkansas to the Indian
Territory and located at old Ada. I leased a small farm
and went to farming. I lived in a log house with a dirt floor. I did shoe work
in my spare time and at nights. My father had taught me how to fix shoes back in
Arkansas. We used to put half soles on shoes with wooden pegs and do our sewing by
hand. I tried to farm and do shoe work on the side.
After I got acquainted with several people I had to quit farming and do
shoe repair altogether. I heard that a railroad was going to be built through that
part of the country, so in my spare time, and on Sundays, I would cut and make ties.
I knew if the railroad was to be built I would be able to sell the cross ties, and
if it was not to be built I would use them for wood.
One evening in 1900, I came home from a days hard work making ties and my
wife said, "There are lots of people gathered about a half mile from our house".
I ate supper and walked down there and right in the middle of a large cotton patch
there was a tent and two men were selling town lots. I could have bought a lot for
almost nothing but I didn't want any lots. I couldn't see how two towns as close
together as old Ada and this new town were, would ever amount to anything
so I went back to making cross ties.
In a few days some of the stores at old Ada were moved to
the new townsite, but I had a good trade where I was. My shop was in one room where
I lived and I had a good business and was making a good living for my family so I was
satisfied. In a short time someone put in a shoe repair shop at the new townsite and my
business began to fail and the next thing we knew the post office at old Ada
was moved to the new site one night and this tore up old Ada.
I had good luck in selling my cross ties and I also went to work for the
railroad company, so I quit repairing shoes, except for a few shoes that some of my old
neighbors would bring in to be fixed.
Word got out that "Old Snake", a Creek Indian,
and his band were going to wreck a bridge on the railroad. "Old Snake"
as he was called, used to be a chief at one time. I was put on guard at this bridge
and for three days and nights I watched the bridge, but Old Snake never
showed up. The first night I was on guard several Indians came to the bridge but
they did not try to do any damage. I told one of them who could speak English that
my orders were to shoot anyone trying to do any damage to the bridge. They talked
among themselves a while and left. I was given the rifle which I used in guarding the
bridge. The man told me it was full of shells so I did not examine it until I was
called in and told the danger was over, but before turning the gun in I thought that I
would unload it, so I worked the lever, and to my surprise, there wasn't a shell in the
fun. I had been guarding a bridge for three days and nights without any ammunition.
I was living near Ada when a mob took three men out and
hung them in an old shack. I remember the names of two of the men were Miller
and Allen. They had killed Guss Bobett and from what I
could find out about it someone had had it in for Guss Bobett and had
given the three men $500.00 to kill him. A mob went to the fail and tied up the
sheriff and put ropes around the necks of these three men and led them to an old shack and
hung them. I have heard men say that if you had it in for anyone and wanted him to
be killed, all it would cost was about $100.00
I have heard Jeff Reed say that he used to carry the mail
from old Ada to old Center on foot. Mr.
Reed established the post office at old Ada in 1890.
I now live in Pauls Valley where I own a shoe repair