Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: June 21, 1937
Name: Tom C. Fields
Residence: Elmore City, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1880
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Father: William B. Fields, born in South Carolina
Mother: Margaret Buchanon, born in Tennessee
I came to the Indian Territory in 1881. I came from Tennessee to
Caddo, Indian Territory, on the train. At Caddo, I took the stage to Pauls Valley.
The stage left Caddo at sunup and we got to Pauls Valley at midnight. It cost
me ten cents to ride on the stage for one mile.
I stayed around Pauls Valley a few days. There was only a store and
a blacksmith shop and a stage stop there. Pauls Valley, at that time was located
about half a mile south on Rush Creek from where the present town is today.
I went to work on Colbert's ranch about sixteen miles
northwest of Erin Springs. I Worked there awhile but ranch work did not suite me.
I came back to Pauls Valley and went to clerking in the store for Mr. Grant.
I worked for Mr. L.C. Wantland near where Wynne Wood now stands.
There was an old one room log house built there, that no one lived in, so Mr.
Wantland and I cleaned this shack up and I passed the word around that
there would be Sunday School and preaching there every Sunday. The first Sunday
there were few people out, but after a few Sundays the house would not hold the people who
After the Santa Fe Railroad was built through Pauls Valley, I came back
there, and decided I would start a newspaper business. I ordered what supplies I
needed. I had been in the newspaper business back in Tennessee. It was about
three months before the supplies I ordered from St. Louis, Missouri arrived. There
was a one room log smokehouse that stood in Pauls Valley. It belonged to Sam
Paul. I set my press up in this log shack. My press was a Washington
hand press and the first copy I made I got too much ink on one side and in one corner I
didn't have enough ink; so my first copy was no good.
A Mrs. Hart, who still lives in Pauls Valley has the
At that time you had to have a permit to publish any kind of paper.
Governor William W. Guy was the governor of the Chickasaw Nation at that
time. It was in 1887 and the governor had the right to revoke that permit, if
anything was said about the Five Civilized Tribes. Someone had made a complaint
against me and I received notice to appear before the court at Tishomingo, and defend my
rights. I went to see my friend, Sam Paul. He was a part
Chickasaw Indian. Sam told me to get five gallons of whiskey and we would go to
Tishomingo and see what we could do. I managed to get the whiskey and Sam
and I went to Tishomingo.
I let Sam handle the situation and the next day when my
trial came up, there was no complaining witness, and my permit was not revoked and we
found out that it was not the full-blood Indians who were making the complaints against
me. It was the intermarried citizens. They thought they could run this country
to suit themselves.
When I first started the paper, I took Mr. Tom Martin in
with me. After a few weeks Mr. Martin wouldn't pay anything, so I
dropped his name, and took it over myself.
In 1894, I established the "Pontotoc County News" at the Old
Center. Old Center was a small place at that time and in a short time after I
started the paper there the town grew to about sixteen hundred population. I
operated that paper until in the year 1900, when new Ada started building up. I sold
the paper and came back to Wynne Wood, and started a paper there. Wynne Wood was
named after two surveying engineers, named Wynne and Wood.
I circulated a petition to have the postoffice at Cherokee Town named
Wynne Wood, spelled with two capital W's, and sent this petition to Washington and it was
approved but after I started the newspaper at Wynne Wood, I ran short on capital W's so I
started spelling Wynne Wood with one capital W. Today it is called Wynnewood.
I sold out my paper business at Wynnewood, and now live at Elmore City.