Creek County, Oklahoma


One of the sterling pioneer citizens of Oklahoma, Mr. Beard is a well known and highly esteemed citizen of Sapulpa, Creek County, and his is the distinction of being one of the gallant patriots who served as soldiers of the Union in the Civil war and did well their part in preserving the integrity of the nation.

Mr. Beard was born in White County, Illinois, on the 13th of August, 1840, and, as the date indicates, he is a representative of a pioneer family of that section of the state. He is a son of Thomas and Jane (Ogburn) Beard, the former of whom was born in Maury County, Tennessee, and the latter of whom was a native of North Carolina. Their marriage was solemnized in Marion County, Illinois, where Mr. Beard established his residence as a young man of twenty-two years and where his wife had accompanied her parents on their removal from North Carolina to number themselves among the pioneer settlers of Illinois. Thomas Beard was a resident of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, at the time of his death, in May, 1884, and attained to the age of sixty-seven years. His wife passed the closing period of her life at Fredonia, Kansas, where she died in 1875, at the age of fifty-four years, the greater part of their lives having been passed in Illinois and Kansas. After the close of the Civil war Thomas Beard removed with his family to Pleasant Hill, Missouri, the trip from Illinois having been made with team and wagon, and from that locality they later removed to Wilson County, Kansas, where occurred the death of the devoted wife and mother, the active career of Thomas Beard having been one of close and effective association with the fundamental industries of agriculture and stock-growing. Of the family of five sons and three daughters Alfred B., of this review, is the eldest; Harriet became the wife of Pliny Chapman, of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and later they became pioneer settlers in Oklahoma; William Henry, of Neosho, Newton County, Missouri, served three years as a soldier in the Civil war, he having been a member of the One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry and having been held as a prisoner for some time prior to the close of the war, his capture having been effected in connection with one of the engagements in which he had taken part; John W. died in 1866, as a young man; Sarah became the wife of Albert Troxel and both are now deceased; Philip is a resident of Coffeyville, Kansas; and Lee, who is the widow of David H. Cowls, resides at Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Alfred B. Beard remained with his parents and continued his association with the work and management of the home farm until there came to him the call of higher duty, with the outbreak of the Civil war, his educational advantages in the meanwhile having been those afforded in the common schools of his native state. In response to President Lincoln's first call for volunteers, he enlisted, in July, 1861, as a private in Company I, Fortieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and with this valiant command he continued in active service until 186,'i, when he was honorably discharged, on account of physical disability. He took part in numerous eugagements, including the memorable battles of Shiloh and Corinth, and after his discharge he returned to his home in Illinois. In the autumn of 1865 he accompanied his wife and her parents to Kansas and established his residence on a pioneer farm two miles distant from Fredonia, the county scat, which now thriving little city then had only five houses to denote its being. He continued as one of the representative agriculturists and stock-growers of that section of the Sunflower State until after his sons had numbered themselves among the pioneers of Oklahoma City, soon after the opening of Oklahoma Territory to settlement, in 1889, when he joined them in the new territory and became associated with the two sons, Henry and John, in their industrial operations. Later he removed to Shawnee, prior to the opening of that section to settlement, and there he continued his identification with agricultural pursuits until the line of the Frisco Railroad was extended through that section, when he became associated with the location and development of town sites along the railroad. He was virtually the fouuder of the Town of Woodville, Marshall County, and became its first settler. He was associated in the organization of the First National Bank of Woodville, was one of its original board of directors and erected the building in which it initiated business. In 1911, Mr. Beard established his residence at Sapulpa, where he has since lived practically retired, as one of the sterling pioneers of the vigorous young state of his adoption. He did the first drilling for oil in Marshall County and developed there the first two productive oil wells of importance. He has been worthily concerned with the civic and industrial progress of Oklahoma and is a citizen to whom is accorded the fullest measure of popular esteem.

In politics Mr. Beard accords unfaltering allegiance to the republican party, and he cast his first presidential vote for President Lincoln, he having been at the time a soldier in the field. He is affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic, and both he and his wife are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which they have been connected during the period of their residence in Oklahoma.

On the 12th of March, 1865, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Beard to Miss Catherine C. (Ice, who was born in Marion County, Illinois, on the 27th of May, 1842, and who there continued to reside until the time of her marriage. She is a daughter of John W. and Lucy (Roby) Gee. Mr. Gee was born in Kentucky, where his parents established their home upon their removal from Virginia, but he was reared and educated in Indiana, where his father was a pioneer farmer. His wife was born in Massachusetts and they were pioneer settlers in Washington County, Indiana, whonce they later removed to Marion County, Illinois, where they passed the remainder of their lives. Mr. Gee was a first cousin of the maternal grandfather of Hon. William Jennings Bryan, whose mother was a Jennings. John and James Jennings, maternal uncles of Mr. Gee, were patriot soldiers in the War of the Revolution, and William Ogburn, maternal grandfather of Mr. Gee, likewise was a valiant soldier of the Continental line in the great conflict for national independence. John W. Gee, a brother of Mrs. Beard, is now a resident of Jefferson, Oklahoma, and in the Civil war he served as a member of Company C, One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, from 1862 until the close of the war, it having been his privilege to participate in the gTand review, in the City of Washington, after victory had thus crowned the Union arms. Mr. Beard perpetuates his vital interest in his old comrades of the Civil war through his association with the Grand Army of the Republic, and his unequivocal popularity in its ranks is indicated by the fact that at the time of this writing, in 1915, he is serving as commander of John A. Logan Post, No. 49, at Sapulpa. In the concluding paragraph of this article is entered a brief record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Beard.

Henry G., the eldest of the number, is individually mentioned on other pages of this work. John W. is a representative citizen of Ada, the judicial center of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, and he served as a soldier in the Spanish-American war, in which he was a member of a volunteer regiment from Oklahoma Territory. Lola is the wife of Samuel R. Wilson, of Watsonville, Colorado. Lyman F., who served with the celebrated Roosevelt Rough Riders in tho Spanish-American war, is now a resident of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Laura B. is the wife of David A. Spears and they maintain their homo at Billings, Montana. Claude R. died in July, 1907, at the age of twenty-seven years. Oliver is cashier of the First National Bank of Lehigh, Oklahoma. Hersehel, the youngest of the children, died in infancy. [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

BEARD, HENRY G., oil producer and abstracter, Sapulpa, was born in Sweet Springs, Mo., March 16, 1866, son of Alfred and Cathrine Beard. Was educated in the public schools of Kansas, having lived in Fredonia for several years. Is a Republican, and served as chief enrolling and engrossing clerk of the first legislature in Oklahoma Territory. He was the first mayor of Shawnee, and has served as a member of the board of regents of the A. and M. College, Stillwater. Mr. Beard promoted the town of Henryetta, and the town is named after the first names of Mr. Beard and his wife Etta. He also promoted the Frisco railroad from Sapulpa to Denison, Texas, and also promoted the towns of Ada, Roff and Woodville. He is an Elk, K. of P. and A. O. U. W.

[Source: "Men of Affairs and Representative Institutions of Oklahoma", 1916; A Newspaper Reference Work, The World Publishing Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Submitted by Vicki Hartman]

 In connection with the history of the State of Oklahoma Mr. Beard is with all consistency to be designated not only as a pioneer but also as a founder and builder. He came to Oklahoma Territory in the year that it was thrown open to settlement and during the intervening years he has been a prominent and influential factor in the developing and upbuilding of cities and towns, in the furthering of civic and industrial advancement, in the building of railroads in the promotion of educational interests and in all those activities that make for normal and legitimate progress. Since 1910 he has been one of the honored and influential citizens of Sapulpa, the fine metropolis and judicial center of Creek County, and it is a matter of specific consistency as well as of historic interest to accord to him a tribute in this publication.

Mr. Beard was born at Sweet Springs, Saline County. Missouri, on the 6th of March, 1866, and is a son of Alfred B. and Catherine C. (Gee) Beard, both of whom were born and reared in Illinois, where their marriage was solemnized and whence they removed to Missouri soon after the close of the Civil war, in which the father had served three years as a gallant soldier of the Union; he was a member of Company I, Fortieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, with which he took part in many engagements and lived up to the full tension of the great internecine conflict through which the integrity of the nation was perpetuated. After residing about two years in Missouri the family removed to Southeastern Kansas and settled on a pioneer farm near Fredonia, Wilson County. There Alfred B. Beard obtained a tract of Government land and set to himself the task of reclaiming the same to cultivation. He endured his full quota of the hardships and vicissitudes incidental to pioneer life in a section that suffered greatly from droughts and the scourge of grasshoppers, and in the course of years prosperity attended his efforts. He continued his residence in Wilson County until 1890, when he removed from the Sunflower State to Oklahoma Territory. After remaining for a time in Oklahoma City he established his residence near Woodville, Marshall County, where he continued his activities as an agriculturist and stock-raiser until 1910, when he sold his property in that county and secured a tract of land in Creek County. Here he has since lived retired, however, in the City of Sapulpa. He is a man of sterling character, a loyal and broad-minded citizen and a staunch advocate of the principles of the republican party. He and his wife are citizens who have secure place in popular esteem and they are well entitled to the gracious peace and prosperity that attends them in the gentle twilight of their lives. Of their eight children the subject of this review is the eldest; John W. resides at Ada, Pontotoc County; Lola G. is the wife of Samuel R. Wilson and they reside in the State of California; Lyman F. resides at Siloam Springs, Arkansas; Laura B. is the wife of Benjamin A. Spear, of Billings, Montana; Claude R. is deceased; Oliver L. is cashier of the Merchants' Nntional Bank of Tishomingo, Oklahoma.; and Leroy died in infancy.

Henry G. Beard, whose name initiates this article, was a child at the time of the family removal to Wilson County, Kansas, where he was reared under the sturdy discipline of the pioneer farm and afforded the advantages of the public schools of Fredonia, the county seat. He continued to be associated with the work and management of his father's farm until he had attained to his legal majority, and in 1889 he became one of those who took part in the opening of Oklahoma Territory to settlement. He entered claim to a homestead five miles southeast of Oklahoma City, and after remaining on the place one year and making definite improvements, he sold the homestead and engaged in the produce business in Oklahoma City. About two years later, in 1891, he became the promoter and founder of the now thriving City of Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, He platted the townsite, gave to the village its name, in honor of the Shawnee tribe of Indians, and had the distinction of being chosen the first mayor of the place. One of the principal streets of the city was named in his honor, and thus there will be an enduring memorial to the founder of the now populous and important municipality. He was a member of the first board of commissioners of Pottawatomie County, and it was mainly due to his influence that the county received its name. Mr. Beard was a member of the directorate of the Bank of Shawnee, which was later reorganized as the First National Bank, and this was the first banking institution in the ambitious young town. His initiative and constructive ability has seemed to be without limit, and was shown distinctively in his association with the founding and upbuilding of Shawnee, where he continued to be engaged in the hardware business for a period of about ten years, besides having been actively identified with other lines of enterprise and with all things tending to advance the civic and material development of the city. He was largely instrumental in giving railroad facilities to Shawnee and in securing to the city the shops of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad.

In connection with governmental affairs in Oklahoma Mr. Beard served as chief enrolling clerk of the first Territorial Legislature, and later he served with characteristic efficiency as a member of the board of regents of the Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College, at Stillwater, during the administration of Governor Ferguson. His political allegiance is given unreservedly to the republican party and he has been influential in its councils in Oklahoma.

In 1910 Mr. Beard removed from Shawnee to Sapulpa, the judicial center of Creek County, where he engaged in the real-estate and abstract business, with which lines of enterprise he is still actively and prominently identified. In 1910 he erected, on South Main Street, the Beard Building, and he has been otherwise prominent in the physical development and upbuilding of the city. He was one of the promoters of the St. Louis, Oklahoma & Southern Railroad, and in this important enterprise he was associated with George Brown and Pleasant P. Porter, of the Creek Indian Nation; John C. Williamson, of St. Louis, Missouri; and William H. P. Trudgen, of Oklahoma City. A charter for the road was obtained from the United States Congress, but this charter expired before construction work on the new line had been initiated. Under these conditions Mr. Beard went to the national capital and obtained a renewal of the charter, after which he and his associates interested the Mississippi Valley Trust Company, of St. Louis, in the furtherance of the project, with the result that construction work was instituted and the road pushed forward from Sapulpa to Denison, Texas, the line being now a part of the Frisco Railroad system. Mr. Beard was a director of the company until the line was completed between Sapulpa and Denison, Texas. The earnest and untiring efforts that Mr. Beard put forth in connection with railroad promotion and construction have proved of vast and enduring value to Oklahoma, and his success in bringing the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf, now a part of the Rock Island system, through Shawnee virtually made that city eventually assume its present position of importance, as one of the leading municipalities and commercial centers of the state. Mr. Beard devoted five years of his time and energy to bringing about these railroad improvements, and the state will owe to him perpetual honor and gratitude for his effective services in this and other important capacities that have marked him as a man of great initiative and unbounded civic loyalty.

At the present time Mr. Beard is prominently interested in three important oil developing and producing companies in Oklahoma fields, besides which he is a stockholder in a company engaged in tho drilling of oil wells and is president of the National Abstract Company, at Sapulpa. He is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and Knights of Pythias.

On the 9th of November, 1891, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Beard to Miss Etta B. Ray, a daughter of Philip H. Ray, at that time a resident of Oklahoma City. No children have been born of this union. Mr. and Mrs. Beard donated to the City of Shawnee the beautiful park now known as Woodland Park, and the valuation of the property is now placed at about $100,000, the name having been given to the park by Mr. Beard. He erected the first house in Shawnee, and this was a true pioneer structure of hewed logs. Mr. Beard promoted and instituted the development of many towns along the Red River division of the Frisco Railroad, including the now flourishing little City of Henryetta, Okmulgee County, the name of the town being a combination of the Christian or personal names of himself and his wife. To secure the land on which the Town of Ada, Pontotoc County, is situated, Mr. Beard agreed to name the new town in honor of a daughter of one of the old and honored citizens of that locality. In the same county he purchased and platted the Town of Roff, which he named in honor of Joseph Roff, a sterling pioneer citizen. He assisted also in the establishing of other towns along the railroad line mentioned, and in Shawnee he erected a number of business blocks and dwelling houses of the better grade.

Mrs. Beard is an artist of much talent and has received a number of first prizes for her work displayed at various art exhibits. She has her beautiful home adorned with many fine oil paintings that attest her skill, and one of these is a depicture of tho first house built at Shawnee, by her husband, as previously noted. She has been a gracious and popular factor in the social life of the communities in which she has lived, and has been zealous in the promotion of those things that represent the higher and finer civic ideals.

[Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

George L. Burke

 BURKE, GEORGE L., lawyer, Sapulpa, was born in McMinn county, Tenn., December 8, 1858. Is a graduate of East Tennessee Wesleyan University, now the University of Chattanooga, in the class of 1879. Is a Republican and for a number of years was mayor of Kingston, Tenn.; was member of Tennessee legislature in 1887-8; was district judge of the 4th judicial circuit of Tennessee from 1902 to 1910. Born on a farm, for several years he taught school after leaving college. Entered the general practice of law at Kingston, Tenn., in 1885. Married Miss Varina D. Wardlaw, of Shelbyville, Tenn., December 5, 1888; located in Sapulpa, September 17, 1910. Mason.


The secretary of the Sapulpa Commercial Club and one of the present county commissioners of Creek County has had a variety and length and breadth of experience such as fall to the lot of very few men. He was born in old Virginia a few years before the outbreak of the war between the states. He was a member of a large family of children, and his parents were hard working and self respecting people who never reached a completely independent stage of prosperity. These facts indicate what the environment of Mr. Cobb was as a boy. He worked for all he got in the way of education, and it may be said that he has supported himself since he entered his teens. In spite of such handicaps, he educated himself for work as a successful teacher, has for about a quarter of a century been identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church as a preacher and missionary, and in other official work, gained admission to the Oklahoma Bar some years ago, has been active in politics, and has other enviable distinctions.

He was born in McDowell, Virginia, December 14, 1858, a son of John Augustus and Elizabeth Anne (Pullin) Cobb. Both parents were natives of Virginia, his father born July 26, 1826, and his mother about 1830. Both died in Virginia, his father in 1877 and his mother in 1892. John A. Cobb was a farmer all his life, and saw four years of active service in the Confederate army under the noted cavalryman J. E. B. Stuart. He was taken prisoner near Beverly, West Virginia, and for three months languished in a prison at Wheeling until paroled. He was tho father of a family of twelve children, four sons and eight daughters, two of the sons having died in infancy while all the rest are still living.

James H. N. Cobb never attended a free school in all his life. When he was ten years of age he and his father left Virginia and made a trip to Missouri, but after a short time returned to Virginia, and he remained there five years. For about three months each year for two or three years he attended one of the old field schools of Virginia, but spent most of his time in hard labor which contributed toward the support of the numerous family of which he was a member. In 1879 Mr. Cobb went to Ohio and was employed as a farm hand at $10 a month in the winter and $16 a month in the summer.

On September 22, 1880, he enlisted in the United States army and was sent to Columbus Barracks, Ohio, and remained there five years. During part of one year he continued his studies in a night school and for part of his army service was attached to the hospital department. He was finally made overseer of the Post School in Columbus Barracks, and his major recommended him for the position of superintendent of army schools. The major unfortunately died in 1883, and the recommendation was never carried out. While overseer of the Post schools Mr. Cobb was given the rank of sergeant, and he has always been proud of the fact that he served in the army and was given that rank.

On gaining his honorable discharge he returned to Virginia, was granted a first-grade certificate and for a time taught school in the mountains of that state at $20 per month, boarding himself. He spent two years in the back districts of Virginia and West Virginia as teacher, then went out to Nebraska, taught there a year, and was an unsuccessful candidate for county superintendent of schools.

In 1890 he qualified for entrance into the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church. For fifteen years he had charge of different churches in Nebraska, but in 1893 came to Oklahoma and took the pastorate of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Tulsa. After sixteen months he was assigned to the pastorate at Sapulpa for one year. His next promotion was as presiding older of what is now the Tulsa District. While still engaged in the active work of the ministry Rev. Mr. Cobb was elected a member of the Oklahoma constitutional convention, and one feature of his work while there should be recalled, and that was in gaining the location of the county seat of Creek County for the Town xif Sapulpa. He was one of the thirteen apostles of the republican party represented in the statehood convention. However, he was not unduly bound by party ties but was willing to work for what he was convinced to be the best interests of the state. He therefore supported the enabling act and also signed and advocated the adoption of the state constitution though his party opposed it officially.

For a time Mr. Cobb was field secretary of the Anti Saloon League of Oklahoma and stumped half the state in behalf of the cause of prohibition. He was appointed district Indian agent by the secretary of the interior and served four years with supervision over Creek and Tulsa counties, with headquarters in Sapulpa. He resigned his office in 1912.

For the past two years Mr. Cobb has been secretary of the Sapulpa Commercial Club, and since January 1, 1913, has given much of his time and attention to his duties as county commissioner. With such opportunities as were presented in a life of great activity Mr. Cobb read law, and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1910, and has a license to practice in all the courts of the state. He is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and with the Masonic Order.

On November 8, 1888, he married Miss Rebecca Ellen Hooke, who was born near McDowell, Virginia, January 14,1862. They are the parents of four children: James Merrill is now a senior in the Oklahoma School of Mines at Wilburton; Virginia, who attended the University of Oklahoma, is now living at Tulsa; Marie is a senior in the Sapulpa High School; and Elmo died at the age of seven and a half years.

[Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

DECKER, VIC S., lawyer, Sapulpa, was born in Mankato, Kan., April 4. 1883, son of S. D. and Maggie (Stureis) Decker. Educated in the public schools of Guthrie and Chandler, Okla. Read law In his father's office. Was city attorney of Chandler and member of city council. Was four years county attorney of Creek county. Is a present county judge of Creek county, and has held office continuously since he was 21 years of age. He is a Republican. Member B. P. O. E. [Source: "Men of Affairs and Representative Institutions of Oklahoma", 1916; A Newspaper Reference Work, The World Publishing Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Submitted by Vicki Hartman]

Creek County is fortunate in the character and ability of its public officials, and in none more so than the present county judge, Victor S. Decker. Judge Decker has lived in this part of Oklahoma a number of years, has become known as an able lawyer, and his efficient record in every responsibility entrusted to him was the basis for the present honor which he enjoys.

The Decker family has been identified with Oklahoma since the original opening more than thirty-five years ago. Judge Decker was born in Mankato, Kansas, April 4, 1883, a son of Samuel D. and Maggie (Sturgis) Decker. His father was born in Henry County, Illinois, in 1848. His mother, who was also a native of Illinois, died when and she is herself a capable business woman as well as a lady of culture and of old Southern family stock.  [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

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