Robert Guilford Flanagin
(28 Oct 1862 - Sep 1951)

Robert Guilford Flanagin, ca. 1900?

"He favored his mother in looks, with red hair and blue eyes. He was educated in the country schools and then his father sent him to "pay" school to learn penmanship. Considering the limitations of education at that time he had a good education. He was a rather wild sort, loved rowdy living but did not indulge often in liquor. He had a likeable personality, good humor, enjoyed the telling of tall tales and jokes and was always a happy go lucky person."

I tried to write my own description of Robert but in the end I felt it was best to use the one above. Robert's life was full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and what seemed to be an incurable sense of wonder lust. His fourth marriage, to Mollie Chrisman, seemed to be a major turning point for Robert.

No statement could be more correct than "...enjoyed the telling of tales and jokes..." I have inserted an interview Robert gave in 1937 from his home in Oklahoma. It is the type of story that one likes to hear when they are sitting around a campfire with a big pot of coffee, and surrounded by friends. Factually, the story is full of holes with a considerable amount of information left out. For whatever reason, or reasons, Robert told the story in his own way - a way which definitely catches the readers' eye and attention. Very little is said about his life in Tennessee, and nothing is said regarding his family. He had his reasons for telling the story as he did, but (as I have said before) "What right do I have to pass judgment ...?" So, read the interview and enjoy it.

The following interview has been copied exactly as it appeared in the Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers - Oklahoma.
Interview # 6016895
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: March 23, 1937
Name: Mr. Robert G. Flanagan (note spelling)
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: October 28, 1862
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Father: T.G. Flanagan, born in Tennessee
Mother: Nancy Bolling, born in Tennessee

I came to the Indian Territory in 1879. I was a young man, seventeen years old. I came from CADDO, to PAULS VALLEY on the stage coach. It cost me ten dollars to ride from CADDO to PAULS VALLEY. The stage was drawn by four horses and the driver sat on the top of the coach.

PAULS VALLEY was a wild-looking place. SMITH PAUL owned or leased nearly all of the valley. He was a big cattle dealer. I went to work for him helping with the cattle as soon as I got there. We drove cattle and hogs from PAULS VALLEY to RUSH SPRINGS on a regular cattle and hog trail, called the NORTHWESTERN TRAIL. At RUSH SPRINGS this trail joined the CHISOLM TRAIL and we drove over the CHISOLM TRAIL to KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI. There were times when there would be eight to ten cowboys on the drive and we drove as many as two thousand head of cattle at one time. MR. PAUL'S ability to stop a stampede of the cattle was marvelous and he always went with us on the drives.

In those days lots of people thought MR. PAUL was a tough man; he was in a way, but I have seen him stop his horse and pick up a rabbit that the cattle had stepped on and pet it and then turn it loose. MR. PAUL was a fine man but if anyone was making trouble he did not hesitate to take his part in the affair. I have known him to carry thirty to forty thousand dollars in a sack tied to his saddle lots of times when he was making cattle deals. All of the area from PAULS VALLEY around the WASHITA RIVER and across by BEEF CREEK (now MAYSVILLE) past GARVIN SPRINGS, through to the WASHITA RIVER; west of WYNNEWOOD and around the river to PAULS VALLEY was called "THE SMITH PAULS RESERVATION."

There was a band of INDIANS and MEXICANS, settled on the WASHITA RIVER southeast of PAULS VALLEY. The cowboys spoke of it as the MEXICAN RENDE-VOUS.* There was a big log shack and several tents at this place. I was never there but I have heard people talk about the MEXICANS and INDIANS. They said that SMITH PAUL was the leader of the band, but they were careful never to make that statement in MR. PAUL'S presence. In the talk I heard about the band, it appeared that they were bringing gold sand in here on burros and washing it out in the river. I saw MR. PAUL buy one thousand head of cattle at one time and he paid for them in gold coins. I have seen the time when this river bottom land around PAULS VALLEY yielded one hundred to one hundred and fifty bushels of corn per acre. The prairie land around PAULS VALLEY yielded fifty to sixty bushels of corn per acre. It was no trouble at all to make money when I came to this valley. I have helped bury lots of men in the old PAULS VALLEY CEMETERY who died "with their boots on" and no one knew them or knew where they came from. About a mile northwest of where PAULS VALLEY is now, there is a log house that was a saloon and a gambling place. I believe SMITH PAUL owned this place, anyway that was the general impression. About a mile or two west of this saloon was a creek next to the river known as "DEAD MAN'S HOLLOW". This is where most of the men whom I helped bury were killed. It was dangerous to go into the saloon and gambling den, get drunk and flash your money around. If you did it was just the same as suicide. MEXICANS, INDIANS, and cowboys made the saloon their regular hangout. I never drank much nor gambled either but I have been there several times and witnessed shooting and killing scrapes. Once a cowboy from the WILLIAMS RANCH twenty miles west of PAULS VALLEY got into an argument with three MEXICANS over a card game. He was about my age, wore a large white hat, high-heeled boots and two pistols. It seemed that these three men were trying to cheat him out of his winnings in the game. He jumped up, kicked the table over and began shooting with his guns. When the smoke cleared away, there were three dead MEXICANS on the floor. I don't know what they did with the dead men but I couldn't help admiring the way the young man handled his guns.

I paid five dollars for a permit to live in the INDIAN TERRITORY to a CHOCTAW INDIAN MILITIA. I stayed at PAULS VALLEY about three years, then I went to RUSH SPRINGS. RUSH SPRINGS was a rough place then. I stayed around there a short while then got a job helping drive a bunch of steers to KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI. When we arrived in KANSAS CITY, I sold my horse and saddle to a man for sixty dollars, then I left for COLORADO where I stayed for several years. That did not suit me so I went back to TENNESSEE where my mother and father lived. I lived there until 1907 and came back to PAULS VALLEY where I have lived ever since.

There surely had been a great change at PAULS VALLEY. Where I had herded cattle and seen droves of wild turkeys and grass waist-high, I now saw brick buildings, fine residences, and beautiful lawns and flower gardens.

Transcribed and submitted by David M. Willis from Indian Pioneer Interviews, V30, #6016895
- Submitted to Clan Flanagan by Phil Flanagan

* Probably Cherokee Town, about 2 miles south and 4 miles east of Pauls Valley, DMW.