Monday, October 29, 2012

Pauls Valley Beginnings

Pauls Valley is a little town in south central Oklahoma. It was born as a farming community, and later there was a little oil boom there, but for the last 30 or 40 years it's been getting smaller instead of larger. When you drive down Paul Avenue, the main drag, you don't see any new buildings. If people stop there, it's usually just to get gas or a snack on their way to Dallas.


Pauls Valley is still a pretty little town though. It's one of those towns where the tree branches form an arch over the streets which are still paved with bricks in some areas. I never lived in Pauls Valley, but I visited my grandmother there every other weekend for most of my childhood, so I feel at home there. The other reason it's special to me is because it was named after my great great grandfather, Smith Paul.


I think I've told the story of Smith Paul before, how he ran away from home and joined the Chickasaws, and then came with them from their homeland in what is now Mississippi on their "Trail of Tears" in 1837. In about 1844 he married my great great grandmother, a full blood Indian woman named Ela-teecha.


The Chickasaw settlers were threatened by the "wild" Plains Indian tribes who thought of them as invaders, so they lived close to forts for protection. In 1845 they moved next to Fort Washita, and when Fort Arbuckle was built in 1851 they moved close to it. It was in about 1858 or 9 when Smith and Ellen - that's how Ela-teecha was known in the family - moved to the present location of Pauls Valley.


Pauls Valley is located where Rush Creek flows into the Washita River, which was large enough in Smith Paul's day to float a pretty large boat. Smith Paul had always wanted to farm on a large scale, and the land in the Valley was the best he had ever seen. The grass on the prairie was so tall it could hide a man on horseback, and Smith's farm yielded 30 to 40 bushels of corn per acre without cultivation. More recent studies have shown that the topsoil there is 17 to 20 feet thick.


Smith and Ellen spent the Civil War years in the valley, without much company other than the friendly Indian tribes who would supply them with meat in exchange for corn. After the War others came to the valley and formed a settlement there which became known as Smith Paul's Valley. The main road west went through the town and carried supplies to Fort Cobb and Fort Sill.


Ellen Paul had been married before, to a man named Jason McClure who had died in 1843 of hydrophobia, or rabies, and she had two children by McClure: a boy, Tecumseh, and a girl, Kathrine. She and Smith Paul had three children together: a boy Jesse, who died as a young man; a girl, Mississippia, and my great grandfather, Sam. They all remained in the valley after they married and raised their families there.


In the early days Smith Pauls Valley was part of the Chickasaw Nation, which had its own government and its own laws. The main issue of the time was over whether or not to allow intermarried white settlers the right to vote. Many of the Chickasaws were not happy with the changes that the whites had brought. They preferred to live as they had always lived, in small family groups, using only what they needed. They saw the desire of the white man for wealth and possessions as a threat to their way of life.


Smith and Ellen's children were split over the issue. Sam Paul was a Progressive, in favor of welcoming the white man, and working toward eventual statehood for the territory with a joint Indian - white government. His older half-brother Tecumseh, on the other hand, was a member of the "Pull-back" Party, and was dead set against allowing whites any more influence.


The issue came to a head with the coming of the railroad. Most Indians were against building a railroad across the Territory, because it represented more whites, more businesses, and more towns. They were already outnumbered seven to one by whites in their own country. After the Civil War, the U.S. Government used the fact that most of the Indians had supported the Confederacy as an excuse to demand reparations. It didn't make any difference that the Indians were more or less forced into the War by being occupied by Confederate Troops. One of the concessions demanded of the Chickasaws and Choctaws was that railroad lines be built across their Nations. One line would cross east to west and the other north to south.


Footnote: The Chickasaws, Arrell Gibson, P 276 describes the post Civil War treaty , and p 284 gives the dates, names, and locations of the railroads.  


The first line, the M.K. & T. was built in 1872. It crossed the southern part of the Nation, and although it brought with it more settlers, laborers, gamblers, prostitutes, and liquor, just as the Indians had feared, it was a long way from Smith Pauls Valley. The real problem came in 1887 when the north - south line was built by the Santa Fe Company. It was to come right through the Valley.


Naturally the railroad wanted to locate a depot in Smith Paul's Valley, now a major settlement, but Tecumseh McClure refused to release the land. According to Chickasaw law, a person could not own land, but he could use all the land that he needed, and the place selected for the depot was on land that Tecumseh controlled.


When Tecumseh's brother Sam found out about the dilemma, he contacted the railroad and offered to let them use his land for the depot, so the Santa Fe engineers took him up on his offer. Sam Paul's land was three miles south of the town so locating the depot there meant that the town had to be moved. Sam Paul, a true businessmen, immediately began selling town lots. By the time the depot was built, he owned the town. They say that it was the railroad that was responsible for shortening the town's name to Pauls Valley. The name Smith Pauls Valley was too long to go on the sign. 


Sam Paul's vision of the future eventually came to pass, even though the rift between him and his brother eventually led to Sam's death. Pauls Valley was a thriving and prosperous town for the next fifty years.  


Footnote: Uncle Haskell's notes tell about the conflict between Sam Paul and Tecumseh McClure.


                                      Santa Fe locomotive - Pauls Valley


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sam Paul and the Chickasaw Light Horse Police

Back in Indian Territory before 1898 when the Indian governments were abolished, the Chickasaws had their own police force, known as the "Light Horse Police." The Chickasaw Nation, reborn in 1983, now has a modern police force called by the same name, so the Chickasaw Light Horse Police still ride, though now in cars instead of horses.  

The Chickasaws' first police force was organized in 1829, in the Chickasaw homeland in what is now the state of Mississippi. The Chickasaw laws were few, but the punishments were swift. Theft was punished by 39 lashes and the offender had to restore the property. Whiskey was banned. There was no need for jails. An offender was honor bound to submit to his punishment. Murder was punished outside the law by revenge killing, and a member of the victim's family would mete out the punishment. If a killer fled, a member of his family would be executed in his stead, and afterward he would be shunned by the tribe, a fate considered worse than death.

The Chickasaws, by Arrell Gibson, P 153, describes the first laws of the Chickasaw 

After 1837, when the Chickasaw were forced to migrate to Indian Territory, they were for several years considered citizens of the Choctaw Nation.The two tribes shared a similar language, and they had many customs in common, but the Chickasaw were not happy living under Choctaw rule. In 1857, just before the Civil War, the Chickasaw broke away and formed their own nation under their own laws. It was around that time when the Light Horse Police Force was created.   

After the Civil War, there was a flood of settlers into Indian Territory, and because there were few federal marshals to police the vast area, many outlaws sought refuge there. The job of the Light Horse Policeman was difficult and dangerous. Their charge was to:  

…with or without warrant, arrest all outlaws, thieves, and murderers in your section, and if they resist, you will shoot them on the spot. And you will aide and assist all U.S. Marshals in the enforcement of the laws and make yourself a terror to evildoers. If afraid, turn in your resignation and I'll appoint better men in your place.  

The Outlaw Statesman, Mike Tower, P 82 

It was during this time that my great grandfather, Sam Paul, became a Light Horse Policeman. Sam Paul was perfectly suited for this job. According to all accounts, he was fearless and ruthless. My great grandmother estimated once that he had killed 15 men.  

The Chickasaw themselves were little threat to the community. Even during the late 1800's the Chickasaw Nation had no jails, and the guilty still reported to the appointed place of punishment, whether it be for lashes or for execution. It was the white men who posed a threat to law and order.  

The Light Horse Police were placed in a difficult situation. They had no jurisdiction over U.S. citizens, so they were expected to sit by passively and wait for a federal marshal to deal with white criminals. Also there was the practical problem of bringing a criminal to trial. The nearest federal court was in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which was 200 miles from the Chickasaw Nation. So if a Chickasaw policeman apprehended a criminal, he was expected to hold him in custody while a U.S. marshal was summoned. Then he had to convince witnesses to travel all the way to Fort Smith to testify.  

My great grandfather and other Chickasaw policemen decided that this was too much to ask, so they often dispensed justice to whites as they saw fit without bothering to contact a federal marshal.  

In 1882, my great grandfather was arrested and sent to Fort Smith to be tried for manslaughter. He had killed a white prisoner, well actually two, and the federal marshal James Mershon decided to make an example of him. Sam then faced an ordeal that would have broken a lesser man. First he was marched to Ft Smith with the other prisoners, who included Sam=s half brother Tecumseh, his nephew Fred Waite, and other members of the posse that had arrested Harkins, one of the men he was accused of killing. On the 200 mile trek, the prisoners were shackled to a log which they were compelled to carry between them as they walked. In Ft. Smith they were put in the filthy jail which housed as many as 6 men per cell. It was June so they also suffered from the sweltering heat.  

Within a couple of weeks the charges against Fred, Tecumseh, and most of the other members of the posse were dropped, and they were allowed to return home, but Sam wasn=t tried until December. Time passed slowly in these hideous conditions. Many men in the Ft Smith jail became ill or malnourished, and several died before they could be brought to trial. My great grandmother, Sarah, took my grandfather Billy and his brother Buck, 6 and 8 years old at the time, to visit their father in jail. She had to lift them up so that they could kiss their father through the bars.  

In January of 1883 Sam Paul was brought before the notorious Judge Isaac Parker, known as "the hanging judge" because he had sent 88 men to the gallows. Sam=s trial resulted in a hung jury, so he remained in jail. His second trial wasn't held until April of 1883, so he languished in the Fort Smith jail for a total of ten months! When his case came to trial, Sam was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to ten years at hard labor in the federal penitentiary at Detroit, Michigan
The story doesn't end there, however. After Sam Paul's conviction, the Chickasaw legislature sent a petition, signed by the legislators and other prominent citizens of the Chickasaw Nation, to the President of the United States, Chester Arthur, requesting a pardon, and in March, 1884, the pardon was granted. 

It read:  

Whereas the Chickasaw Council, and a large number of officers and citizens of Indian Territory have petitioned for the defendant's pardon, representing that he committed the offense while endeavoring, as an officer of the United States and of the Territory, to enforce the law, and was excusable. 

And whereas, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs are of the opinion that the conviction in this case tends to impair the efficiency of the Indian Police, and that a pardon would be in the interest of law and order, and earnestly recommend it; … 

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, divers and other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving, do hereby grant to the said Sam Paul a full and unconditional pardon.  

National Archives 

Sam Paul's pardon set an historic precedent giving the Chickasaw Light Horse Police the authority to maintain law and order in their territory.  

As for Sam Paul, he went on to be elected senator representing Pickens County in the Chickasaw legislature; he practiced law in the Chickasaw courts, and he owned two newspapers, the Chickasaw Enterprise and the Chickasaw Chieftain. Sam testified in Washington, D.C. before the Joint Committee on Indian Affairs of the U.S. Congress, and he later ran for governor of the Chickasaw Nation. Sam Paul was one of the most progressive and farsighted men in the Chickasaw Nation.


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Furniture Catalogue, 4

I thought I'd share another one of the Uncle Wiggly stories my grandmother, Victoria Rosser Paul, clipped out of the newspaper to save to read to her children. Howard Garis, the author, together with his wife, Lillian Garis, wrote over 15000 Uncle Wiggly stories between 1910 and 1947. The stories were originally written as a daily column in the Newark Daily News and were later synicated and published nationally. Mr. Garis also wrote some of the Tom Swift stories, under the pseudonym of Victor appleton, Bobbsey Twin stories as Laura Lee Hope, Motor Boys stories as Clarence Young, and Basketball Joe stories as Lester Chadwick, and too many more to list. He might be the most prolific writer of children's fiction of all time. I would guess this story was from the twenties, since that's when most of Grandmother's scrapbook entries were made.  
                                      A Bedtime Story, by Howard R Garis

                                         Uncle Wiggly and the Stove Ashes


Woozie Wolf


          "Uncle Wiggly, oh Uncle Wiggly! called Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy in the hollow stump bungalo one morning. "Will you please take them out? Take them out as soon as you can!"

          "Eh! What's that? What's the matter?" asked the bunny gentleman, jumping up from the easy chair where he was reading the cabbage leaf newspaper. "Are the Pipsisewah and Skeezicks in my bungalo, making trouble for you? "Indeed I'll take them out at once, Nurse Jane! Hi there, you Pip and Skee!" cried Uncle Wiggly, as he made his pink nose twinkle upside down. "Let Nurse Jane alone!"

          "Oh, they aren't bothering me. They aren't even here!" said the muskrat lady with a laugh. "What I want you to take out, Uncle Wiggly, are the stove ashes, and you might shovel some on the front walk, as it is very slippery with ice this morning."

          "Oh, the stove ashes," laughed Uncle Wiggly when he had heard what Nurse Jane said. "So you want me to take out the stove ashes? And I thought you were calling me to drive out the Pip and Skee! Well I'm glad those bad chaps aren't in my hollow stump bungalo."

          "So am I," said Nurse Jane, and then Uncle Wiggly put on his oldest, tall silk hat to take out the stove ashes.

          The bunny rabbit gentleman put the ashes in a box, and then taking the fire shovel, he started out to sprinkle some of the ashes on the slippery sidewalk in front of his hollow stump bungalo.

          Up and down on the places Uncle Wiggly scattered the ashes, and now and then, the wind blew some of them on his pink twinkling nose, and he had to sneeze.

          "But I shouldn't mind a little thing like that," said Uncle Wiggly. "For I am helping Nurse Jane by taking out the stove ashes for her. And I am also making the walk so it isn't so slippery. I don't want any of my friends to fall down and get hurt."

          And, just as he said this to himself, Uncle Wiggly looked up toward the end of the walk, and he saw his dear old friend, Grandfather Goosey Gander, come stepping carefully along, slipping and sliding on places where, as yet, Uncle Wiggly had spread no ashes.

          "Wait a moment, Grandpa Goosey. Wait a moment!" called Uncle Wiggley. "Stand where you are, and I'll scatter some ashes under your webbed feet so you won't slip."

          "Ah, that is very kind of you," quacked the old gentleman gander, as he stepped on the ash-covered ice which wasn't slippery any more. "You are very kind, Uncle Wiggly. I wish everyone would put ashes on their slippery walks."

          "Yes, it would be a good thing," said the bunny.

          "Did you see anything of the Woozie Wolf or the Fuzzy Fox today, Uncle Wiggly?" asked Grandpa Goosey, as he waddled on, taking little short steps, so he wouldn't fall.

          "The Fox and the Wolf? Gracious sakes alive! I should hope not!" cried Uncle Wiggley. "Why do you ask?"

          "Because," answered Grandpa Goosey, "on my way here I caught the sound of howling and yowling in the woods, and I think it may have been those bad animals."

          "I hope not," said Uncle Wiggley, and he kept on putting ashes over the slippery places on the walk in front of his hollow stump bungalo.

          There were still many slippery spots to be covered on the walk, and Uncle Wiggly was going in his bungalo to get more ashes when, all of a sudden, he saw at the top end of his path, a big animal in a fur coat coming slowly along taking short steps in order not to slip.

          "I wonder if that is my old friend, Mr. Stubtail, the bear gentleman?" thought Uncle Wiggly.

          The bunny uncle was just going to hurry to sprinkle what few ashes he had left in his box on the ice near the big animal when all of a sudden this animal cried:

          "Ah, ha! Now I have you, Uncle Wiggly!"

          And then, instead of being good Mr. Stubtail, it was only the bad Woozie Wolf. He had wrapped himself in his biggest fur coat to look like Mr. Stubtail.

          "I want you! Uncle Wiggly, I want you!" cried the Woozie Wolf, "I want to nibble your ears for my New Year's dinner!"

          But, just as he said that the Wolf's paws slipped on the ice covered walk, and he would have fallen only that he caught hold of the fence.

          "My! how slippery it is!" howled the Wolf. "You didn't put any stove ashes here, Uncle Wiggly!"

          "No, I missed that place!" laughed the bunny, and he had to laugh and twinkle his pink nose as he saw the paws of the bad wolf slipping out from under him.

          "Here! You stop laughing at me!" Howled the wolf. "Come and put some ashes under my paws as you did for Grandpa Goosey! Then I won't slip."

          "Well, the very idea," cried Uncle Wiggly. "As if I would put ashes on slippery places for you, so you can get to me to nibble on my ears! I guess not!"

          "Well, I'll eat you anyhow - ashes or no ashes!" Howled the Woozie Wolf. Well he tried to walk along to get Uncle Wiggly, but the next moment the paws of the Wolf slipped on the ice and he went down ker-bunk and ker-bang, and he bumped his nose and skinned his toes and he felt so ashamed of himself that he turned a back somersault and a front peppersault, and slid on the back of his head away down to the end of the street, where he couldn't get Uncle Wiggly.

          "It's a good thing I didn't have ashes all over my walk when the Wolf came along," laughed the bunny gentleman. And then, with the Wolf out of the way, Mr. Longears sprinkled more ashes, until all his walk was covered, and no one else slipped down that day.

          And if the Jumping Jack doesn't take the legs off the dining room table to fasten them on the kitchen stove so it can run along the boardwalk, I'll tell you next about Uncle Wiggly and the barn owl.
These are the stories Grandmother read to my mother when she was little. I think it's interesting that the wolf is trying to eat Uncle Wiggly, but not the bear, and I thought Geese honked instead of quacking, but little children aren't that critical. I remember begging my mother to tell me stories. I think that she was a little shy about making up stories because it took a lot of begging sometimes to get her started. The stories my mother told were about the adventures of a character she made up by the name of "Elfy." I loved them.
This story is obviously set in an early day. Uncle Wiggly wears a stove top hat, and his housekeeper, Nurse Jane, cooks on a wood burning stove. My mother told me she used to have the job of gathering kindling and taking out the ashes from Grandmother's stove. She said that she especially hated the job in the winter.