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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers




Zed Griffin


Interview # 9587
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: December 30, 1937
Name: Mr. Zed Griffin
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: March 12, 1870
Place of Birth: Missouri
Father: Frank Griffin, born in Missouri
Mother: Eliza Haverlipe, born in Missouri


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I was born in 1870 in Missouri.  We were living on a small rocky farm in what was called the Griffin Community in Missouri in 1877.  I remember a group of farmers living around there got together and formed a wagon train and pulled out for Texas and my father, mother and I went too.  I was seven years old but large for my age.  There were eighteen wagons in all and some of the names I remember were Johnson, Wilson, Moran and Spenser.  There were only four mule teams in this wagon train and the rest of the teams were oxen.  We crossed into the Indian Territory after leaving Fort Smith, Arkansas.  We crossed the Choctaw Nation traveling west and I remember when we camped at night the men driving the wagons would put the wagons in a large circle and turn the teams loose to graze and two men would herd the horses until midnight and then two other men would relieve the first two and watch until daylight.

We all ate together.  The women folks would all do the cooking and we had deer meat every meal and that was only twice a day.  For breakfast we would have fried deer meat.  There were three big iron pots and that was what the women would fry the meat in and the bread we had to eat was cornbread and we only got cornbread for supper.  For breakfast we would have corn meal mush and fried deer meat.

I remember my uncle, Gus Baker, was called the best rifle shot in Missouri, so he and another man always rode ahead of the wagons and marked the trail for the lead wagon to follow.

There was no road and after we crossed out of Arkansas into the Indian country I never saw a fence of any kind until we crossed Red River into Texas.   One place I remember quite well, we were camped at the home of Chickasaw Indians about ten miles east of where Pauls Valley is now.  This Indian's name was James.   I didn't know it was that at that time but later after I had grown up I met an Indian man named Arthur James and in talking I found out it was his father who lived there when we camped that night and this Arthur James, then just a very small boy, still lives at this place.

My father killed a big elk early the next morning before we left there and while travelling on into Texas, my m other made me a ring out of a bone that came out of this elk's hind leg and I still have that ring. There was no Pauls Valley then, only a store about a mile south of where Pauls Valley is now.

While crossing the Choctaw and Chickasaw Country, we would pass many Indians all painted up but they never bothered this wagon train, only I have heard Father say all the Indians would want was tobacco.  I don't know where they lived as there were very few houses that we passed after crossing into the Indian Country and what few houses we did pass were one and two roomed log houses.

There was only one shooting scrape on this trip.  One night we were camped on Rock Creek south of where Sulphur is now.  we had traveled all day over rough hills and had only traveled about ten miles from where we had been camped the night before.  An Indian had told Father to always be on the watch while we were crossing the mountains as there was a band of outlaws in that part of the country.   So that night at supper Father told the men what he had been told so they doubled the guard on the stock that night and my Uncle Gus Baker took three men and stood what he called the 'grave-yard watch' from midnight until daylight and along sometime in the early part of the morning the shooting began and it woke everybody up.  I remember my father getting his old muzzleloading rifle and all the men went in the direction the shooting was coming from then.  My Uncle Gus Baker owned the only rifle that shot shells among the men on this trip and by the time the other men got out to where the stock was grazing the shooting had stopped and m y father told Mother when he came back that six men got killed and only one of the stock guards got wounded in the shoulder but he died three days later and was buried where we camped.

There were no bridges on the Washita River and we forded it some place near where Dougherty is now and we also forded Red River.  I remember five of the men on horses took their ropes and tied them to the wagon tongue and helped pull the wagons across Red River.  It took nearly all day to cross Red River as they would take one wagon across at a time. 

My father settled on a farm in Texas.  After crossing Red River this wagon train split up and my father and uncle with their families settled on the same farm.  We lived there until 1891.  At this time my father and mother and I loaded up our wagon and came back into the Indian Territory and settled near old Johnsonville on a ranch owned by a man named Byars.  My father went to work for the Byars ranch and on the Byars I learned to rope and ride.  We only lived there two years.  My father got the  'going fever' again as my mother would call it and we went back to Texas and settled on the same farm with my uncle. 

By this time one of the men who was with the wagon train when we first went to Texas named Johnson had become a large cattle owner and I went to work for him on his ranch.  My father and mother never made any more moves.   They died and were buried on the little farm where they had first settled in Texas.

(There is one more page to this interview which is on a different microfiche and I have not been able to find it as yet)

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