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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: January 26, 1938
Name: W. B. Riling
Post Office: 502 Arlington, Lawton, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Information on father: 
Place of Birth: 
Information on mother: 
Field Worker: Ophelia D. Vestal
Interview # 9789

I came to Lawton on the morning of August 6, 1901, from Kansas. I had been working in town in a grocery store, when my boss heard of the town and he thought we might start a business here.

After I had been here awhile I kept hearing of people being robbed, but never thought so much of it. I went back to Kansas and my boss came back with me. As we were going down the dusty road talking of this new country, I saw three men coming toward us. I said, "Well, that might be robbers coming." My boss replied, "You know there aren't any robbers out here." As the men came nearer and met us they spoke, passing us then turned around quickly and told us to hold up our hands and hand over our money. I was so excited I gladly handed over about $50.00, a $5.00 gold piece my mother had given me when I was a boy, and my watch. My boss was being searched at the same time and they found $100.00 on him. The robbers said, "Now we want every bit of your money." I said, "That's every cent I have, but my mother gave me that gold piece and I'd like to have it." They handed it back to me. One of the men said, "Off with your shoes", talking to my boss. He pulled his shoes off and had four one hundred dollar bills in one shoe and one one hundred dollar bill in the other shoe. Then I said, "Guess I just as well pull my shoes off", so off came my shoes but I didn't have any money.

I started out without any money here and prospered, I managed around and bought a tent from a woman who was having to take her husband away on account of his health. From that day on I started to trading, buying and selling. I worked up to eight dollars, then that eight made me seventeen and so on.

I started my first second-hand store in just a small tent and my last days of business I had a nice big frame building. I had lots of Indian business. My store was called "The Pioneer Second-hand Curio Shop". Many Indians have put up their saddles, blankets and many valuable things for money, when they were in need of money and couldn't get their payments for a while. I have had Indian's hacks, saddles, sometimes as many as fifty saddles at one time.

I registered at Enid for the opening but my name and number were never called. After I had been here several months, a young man came in my store and asked me if I remembered him. I could not remember him; so many people came to the store. He had bought a stove and some second-hand things to start out with, when he went to his claim. He had brought the things back for me to buy from him. He had drawn a 160-acre farm about fifty miles southwest from here, and he was homesick, so was leaving. I tried to get him to keep the place, live on it a few months out of each year and hire someone to plow it and improve it for him. Nothing I could say would keep him. I told him to go to McKnight, the land agent here, and get a bid and come back and I'd try to pay more. He went to the land office and returned saying he could not give it away. I counted my money; I had seventy-two dollars on me and a good business from my store. I told him that I'd give him all the money I had if he'd see that I got a clear title, less the filing charge which was near fourteen dollars. Both of us went to McKnight, then the next question was he had to be identified. He didn't know a man here. Finally he said, "Oh yes, I hit at one of your clerks here, when I drew the new papers for this place and I'm sure that person can identify me, even though we did have an argument". The clerk heard this conversation and said, "Yes, Mr. McKnight, I remember him very plainly. He is J. A. Walton". We got this business straightened up and I went out to the farm one Saturday later, looking it over. It was just as Mr. Walton said it was. I had told him there would someday be a railroad through. I went over to talk with a neighbor and they asked me to have dinner with them. As we were eating I kept hearing some kind of a whistle; he heard it also. After lunch I asked him what it was and he did not know, though he had been hearing it for some time. We decided to go over the hill and try to locate it. We walked over and saw the men working on a railroad. That railroad was almost completed into the then little town of Frederick. I told Mr. Walton I would keep that as long as I lived. I have it now. It pays me good every year, and today or tomorrow an oil well is to brought in about three miles from there.

One thing I made a profit on in the early day was a real Kiowa tomahawk that I paid $2.50 for; the Indian needed money. A woman came from the East to take Indian trinkets back and gave me $400.00 for it.

Transcribed for OKGenWeb by Lola Crane coolbreze@cybertrails.com  November 6, 2001.