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Garvin County

County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



W.C. Southern


Interview #8612
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


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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 houses.

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.

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