Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: September 24, 1937
Name: Mr. W.C. Southern
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1864
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Father: Isaac Southern, born in Tennessee
Mother: Nancy Mullins, born in Tennessee
I was born in 1864, in Tennessee. I came to the Indian Territory in
1889. I came from Texas in a covered wagon with my family and settled at Pauls
Valley in the Chickasaw Nation.
There were not many roads at that time. The section lines were
marked off and some of them were where you could get over them and some have never been
opened yet and never will be.
There was some of the finest farming land I had ever seen at Pauls
Valley when I came here and before this prairie land was cut up into farms it was
the finest prairie land. The grass was knee high and was a fine place to raise
cattle. On my trip through from Texas to Pauls Valley, I didn't have to buy any feed
for my mules. I would drive all day and when we found a place where we could get
eater and wood we would make camp and stake the mules out and they could get all they
wanted to eat in no time.
There were lots of horses and cattle thieves in those days and people
coming into the Indian Territory had to be on the lookout or they would wake up some
morning and their horse or team would be gone. Although I wasn't bothered on my
trip, I have heard men say that they did lose their team and had to borrow a team from
some settler to get their family to where they were going. People were very
accommodating in those days and if you needed help they would help you.
In settling up this country it was very hard on some families for lots of
people would arrive without any money and maybe not know where the next meal was coming
from. However, it wasn't so difficult to get something to eat then, as there was
lots of wild game and wild hogs. If a family had corn meal for bread they could get
by until they made a crop, al all they had to do was kill a deer, turkey, or wild hog.
In the summer the woods were full of wild plums, grapes and berries.
One could get all the land they wanted to farm, but in most cases they
would have to build a log house on the place or live in a tent or dugout. In those
days more people would be found living in dugouts and tents than there was living in
When I settled at Pauls Valley it wasn't anything but a
mudhole, surrounded on the north by the Washita River and on the west and
south by Rush Creek. When it rained Rush Creek would overflow and
mud would be knee high in the street.
In the 'nineties' Pauls Valley was a large trading point. After the Santa
Fe Railroad came through Pauls Valley, Whitebead
soon died out.
Amos and Fred Waite were large cattle and land owners
when I came to Pauls Valley. Amos Waite built the first school
house in Pauls Valley.
When I came here the prairie land looked like wheat fields with the finest
grass, about knee high. Corn was the largest crops raised then and it was so cheap
that the cattlemen fed out their cattle with it.
John Hill was a large cattle raiser and he had a regular
feeding pen where he fed out his beef cattle.
There were two cotton gins in this valley when I came here, one at Pauls
Valley, on the river, run by steam, and one owned by Zach Gardner, on the
river east of Pauls Valley, run by water power.
I have lived at Pauls Valley since 1889 and I have seen it at different
times when you could ride up and down the streets in a boat. In 1908, the Washita
River was the highest I have ever seen it and people had to go around town in boats.