Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Interviewed by Maurice R. Anderson, at Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, February 19, 1937

(A Biography of Zach Gardner, furnished by Mrs. Jennie Campbell Reel (Choctaw)

Of her Great Uncle Zach Gardner, born August 15, 1829, in Mississippi, his father Isaac Gardner, white man, and his mother Rebecca (Johnson) Gardner, Choctaw Indian, came to Indian Territory with the Choctaw Indians in 1832. Settled in the Choctaw Nation, followed the occupation of farming. In 1850 Isaac Gardner moved o n the east side of the Washita River in what is now Murray County. Zach Gardner did not move with his father. He married Elsie Mackey, a Choctaw Indian. They had o ne child who later died and after the death of his wife he married Miss Lavinia McKinney, a Choctaw Indian, September 8, 1852; who was born in the Choctaw Nation December 25, 1836. They had four children, Joseph Nail, born October 2, 1858, Atkinson Maxwell, born December 9, 1859 and Lavinia, born 1860. Zach Gardner moved from the Choctaw nation where his father lived east of the Washita River, a short time before his father died in 1859. His father and mother were the parents of nine children all of them now deceased. Silas D. Gardner, brother of Zach Gardner, died in Yorktown, Pennsylvania where he was taken a prisoner of war during the Civil War. Zach Gardner was in the service of the Confederacy, serving under the command of Major George Washington, who was in charge of a Caddo Indian Battalion. He remained with the army through-out the period of hostilities, acting with the troops upon the plains of the territory, guarding the frontier here and in Texas. He received his education at Spencer Academy in the Choctaw Nation. In 1867, he settled o n the Washita River east of Pauls Valley. He farmed for several years there and in the early seventies he built the first grist mill. This was a turbine wheel mill run by water. He ground corn into meal for the soldiers at Fort Sill and for this surrounding community. His mother passed away at his home in 1884, east of Pauls Valley o n the Washita River. He has o nce said, Pauls Valley was o nce known as Rush Creek Valley before anyone settled in it. He was at o ne time the owner of 13 hundred acres of land. Prominent in the Masonic fraternity, Mr. Gardner was made a mason in the Electric Lodge F & A M at Warren, Texas. He became a charter member of Pauls Valley Lodge No. 6 and later in life, was the o nly original member living. Several years before his death he put aside the more arduous duties of farm life in order to enjoy a well earned rest. Mr. Gardner lived east of Pauls Valley, from 1867 until his death February 1913. He was buried in the Wynnewood Cemetery, Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

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