Okfuskee County

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Okemah

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The W. A. Foster Family
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Source:  The Dill Collection, courtesy of the Okfuskee County Historical Society.

W. A. Foster
Paden Founder Recalls Work
1938 News Clip
Paden

The story of a 75 year old resident of the Paden area, who came here in 1902, brings out the fact that a son and a daughter, born in the same house, were born in the Indian Territory and Oklahoma.  W. A. Foster, the father, first saw what is now Okfuskee county in 1902.

My family and I come from Missouri in two wagons with a team of black mules and a pair of gray horses. One of the wagons was a Studebaker," he said.

Reaching here almost 40 years ago, he recalled that "when we came through Okemah we did not see a thriving county seat town, but a group of tents and a few frame houses. It was not a beautiful city, as it is now, but a dirty little camp with a muddy road running through it." Continuing his story, he said: "that night we camped where Boley is now located. From Okemah to Paden we saw two houses, or rather where Paden is now located, for there was not a single building on the present Paden site.

The next day we went on two and one-half miles northwest where at Fifty-Two Springs there was a railroad camp of four tents.  Nearby was a house owned by an Indian named Thomas, and his family. He is the father of Mrs. Mary Frogge of Paden.

Three friends and their families preceded me from Missouri and were living near Fifty-Two Springs in tents and dugouts. The friends were W. H. Case, Henry Hunt, and Alf Rodebush. Mr. Hunt and Mr. Rhodebush met us at the railroad camp and I began work with them for the Moore and Good Construction Co., on digging the fill for the F. S. and W. Railroad.

We remained at Fifty-Two Springs about a month then moved to a tie camp east of Paden. The steel was not laid for the road until the following summer.

In the western part of the area there was a house about every five miles, but around Okemah, the homes were more scarce.

About Christmas my two wagons and nine more began hauling lumber from Stroud to build Paden. Before we started to work only two loads had been hauled. We hauled enough lumber to build several houses.

When this was completed, I moved to Wilzetta in Lincoln county where I farmed for two years. I returned to what is now Okfuskee County in 1904 and leased 120 acres of land. At first I built a two room log house, but decided to build a ‘lumber house’ so moved it back for a barn. I hauled oak from my farm to the saw mill to secure lumber for the home.

At that time (1905) my family consisted of my wife, three daughters, Dorothy, Loma and Marlie, and a son, Asbur.

We had a son, Orrel, born in 1905 while this was still Indian Territory, and in 1908 my daughter, Connie, was born in the same house, but she was born in Oklahoma.

We bought the farm in 1911 and have lived there since, having had three houses on the same site.

Regarding the latter years, he said, "We have seen the county and Okemah grow up from the wilderness into a prosperous city and county. I have lived here through prosperous years and drouths and earned my living by the sweat of my brow and have never starved to death.

Mr. And Mrs. Foster live on the farm today.

This page was last updated on 10/12/11

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