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Garvin County

County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



Mrs. John W. Gibson


Interview #9147
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: November 11, 1937
Name: Mrs. John W. Gibson
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: June 12, 1877
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: Jesse Reaves, born in Arkansas
Mother: Emma Wilburn, born in Texas


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I was born in 1877 in Texas and came to the Indian Territory with my father and mother from Texas in 1888.  My father settled at Thackerville in the Chickasaw nation and went to farming and raising cattle.  We lived there two years, then we moved nine miles northeast of Pauls Valley and my father leased a large farm and continued his farming and raising of cattle.   That part of the country was a fine place to raise cattle.  there were very few fences at that time and it was open range.  Some of the cultivated land, of course, was fenced.

We lived on the farm about two years when my father bought a hotel in Pauls Valley from C.J. Grant.  It had been owned and operated before then by Colonel Hopkins and today it is called the Rice Hotel. While we operated this hotel there were no dances given in it as my mother didn't believe in dancing, but according to stories told by old settlers who lived here when Colonel Hopkins operated the hotel some of the largest dances given in that vicinity were held at the Hopkins Hotel. My father took care of his ranch and farm, and my mother operated the hotel and boarding house.  When the Federal Court was established at Pauls Valley all the court officials boarded at our hotel and among them was Judge Townsend, who was the first judge of the first court held at Pauls Valley.

Before the court was established here court was held at Paris, Texas, and Fort Smith, Arkansas.

When we moved to Pauls Valley there was a subscription school and two small church houses.  One was the Presbyterian Church and the other was used by the Methodists and Baptists and it was called the Community Church.

The only fun we children would have would be on Sunday and we would look forward to Sunday, for nearly every Sunday our Mothers would fix a big basket lunch and we would all meet at the Gardner Mill on the river east of Pauls Valley where there was a fine shady grove and playground, and there would be large crowds of people out there nearly every Sunday.

There were several weddings held at our hotel and I was married there to John W. Gibson in 1897.  My father sold the hotel to Mr. Wade Hampton.

Several years before John Gibson and I were married, my husband, his father and brother had come from Arkansas, bringing with them several buggies and horses and they had started a livery barn at Pauls Valley.

When we came to Pauls Valley there were only about three or four nice homes, Mr. Paul's home, Zach Gardner's home and Mr. Kimberlin's home. 

Pauls Valley had no paved streets when we first came and only had board side walks.  Each man who owned a place of business would build a board side walk in front of his place and some of the side walks were lower than the others and when you went from one store to the other you would have to go up some steps or down some steps.

The town was the first town in Indian Territory to incorporate but it wasn't incorporated until 1898.

The first free school was established in 1899 and this was the first free school in the Indian Territory.

I now live in Pauls Valley which has been my home since 1892.

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