Davis, Sam H.
Interviewer, John F. Daugherty,
June 26, 1937
Birth Date: Oct 14, 1858
Birth Place: Tennessee
Father: Thompson A. Davis
Birth: June 9, 1834 in Tennessee
Mother: Ally Balcum
Birth: June 2, 1836 in Kentucky
My father was Thompson A. Davis, born June 9, 1834, in Tennessee.
Mother was Ally
Baucum, born June 2, 1836, in Madisonville, Kentucky. Father was
a farmer. There were
six children in our family. I was born October 14, 1858, in
In 1875 an uncle and I decided to come West. So we boarded a
steamboat at Memphis,
Tennessee, for Cairo, Illinois. Up the Mississippi we came and
changed to a train at
Cairo for Dallas, Texas. From Dallas we came in a covered wagon.
As we drove toward
the Territory we met Sam Bass, an outlaw. The road was very
muddy and we were in
ruts to the axle. We came face to face with Sam. Neither of us
knew him then. He was
in ruts as deep as we were and neither he nor uncle could pull out of the
without a lot of hard pulling. So they stopped their teams facing
each other and both
sat there for some time. Neither of them spoke. At last Sam
crawled out of his wagon
and began gathering leaves and sticks. Uncle asked him what he was
doing. He said,
"I can't get by, so I'll just camp here". Uncle recognized
him and needless to say
pulled out of the road and drove around the other team and wagon in a
settled at Harney, which is now Woodville in the Chickasaw
Nation. I ran a grocery
store there in 1882 and 1883.
I moved to Price's Falls, south of the present site of Davis in
1885 and put in a store.
I had many Indians as customers. They bought only one article at a
time and paid
for it. Many times they shopped for their neighbors. They carried
their money in
tobacco sacks and there was a sack for each person for whom they bought.
bought an article for a neighbor and paid for it out of the neighbor's
I moved my stock of general merchandise to Davis (from Washita about 4
miles north of Davis) in 1886 and served as the first Santa Fe Agent for
three years. The depot was in a box car and it was located just
across the tracks from my store. I had all my groceries hauled from
Denison, Texas, with ox teams. (Read the interview of C.
L. Moss who was a freighter for Sam Davis. He hauled freight from
Denison, TX to Washita for the store of Sam Davis.)
In 1891 there was an Indian Payment for the Chickasaws. The night
payment Nelson Chigley, who was paymaster, came to me and asked me
six thousand dollars in cash by the next day. There were no banks
here so I
went to the depot and wired the First National Bank at Gainesville to send
thousand dollars by express that night. The next morning I was all
ready to pay
the money to the Indians as they presented their checks to be cashed.
all of them took the money, went out in front of the store, counted out
they wanted for immediate use and returned the balance to me to keep until
called for it. At the end of the day I had about four thousand
dollars of that money
back. I returned it and the checks to Gainesville by express.
One day a man came into the store and asked for change for a thousand
This was the only one I had ever seen. I began to question him and
he was a cowman who had just returned from a trip over the Chisholm
Kansas City with a bunch of cattle. He brought all the cash back in
Cow ponies were our telephones in those days. That was our only
method of getting
word abroad for a doctor, or to a neighbor whom we wished to see.
Before the Santa
Fe built their road through here in 1886 the mail came on the stage from
stage line ran from Fort Smith to all the Government forts in this part of
the Territory and
ended at Fort Cobb. They hauled both mail and passengers. It
was very interesting to
watch them change horses at these stage stands, which were ten miles
harness hung on a rack and the horses were driven under it. The
harness was dropped
onto their backs. There were four or six horses to a stage and when
dropped the buckles snapped together and the horses were put to the stage.
all done in one minute.
People were very honest in those days. About the only bill I ever
lost, and I got that
back, was to a man from Roff. I had a mortgage on all he had
and he had paid that off.
Then he asked me to let him have a saddle for his tow children, a son and
He said he would return the following week and pay me. When he
didn't come I began
to investigate and I found out that he left for Arkansas the day after he
saddles. I wired to Fort Smith and in a day or so I had word from
the sheriff that he
had my man. It was rather a difficult trip to bring prisoners back
so I told him if the
man would pay for the saddles and pay him for his trouble they could turn
otherwise to keep him in jail until I arrived. But the man paid for
everything and that
settled the case.
I married Clara Taylor at Harney in 1882. We have two
children. My parents are buried
at Davis. I built the first steel bridge over the Washita River west
of Davis on the road
to Fort Arbuckle in 1893. The town of Davis bears my name.
Transcribed by Brenda Choate and Dennis
Muncrief, September, 2000.