Creek County, Oklahoma


Lawyer Moman Pruiett, born Moorman Pruiett on July 12, 1872, on a steamboat headed up the Ohio River, hailed from Leitchfield, Kentucky. At an early age he moved with his family to Arkansas, and by age sixteen Pruiett had been convicted of forgery and incarcerated. Continuous appeals to the Arkansas governor by his mother, Betty, Moorman Pruiett, gained him a pardon after six months. The family moved to Paris, Texas, and Pruiett gained access to law books by cleaning attorney Jake Hodges's office. Again in trouble, the young man was sentenced to five years for theft. Pruiett swore his innocence, and legend claims he vowed in that courtroom that he would "empty your damn jails and turn the murderers and thieves loose in your midst." Again his mother pleaded with a governor, and Pruiett served only two years. On his return to Paris he received a letter from his grandmother denouncing him for shaming the Moorman name; he changed his name to Moman.

In 1895 U.S. District Judge David Bryant licensed Pruiett to practice law in Oklahoma and Indian territories. By 1896 he established his practice at Pauls Valley. Recognized for his fiery oratory, large temper, and heavy drinking, he earned a reputation in the style of frontier lawyers such as Temple Houston, with whom he once had a confrontation. A superb criminal lawyer, Pruiett boasted that he defended 343 murder cases, and in 303 of those, the accused was acquitted. No client lost his life to execution, and only one received a death sentence, which U.S. Pres. William McKinley commuted. Pruiett's clients ranged from poor to rich, African Americans to Ku Klux Klan members, U.S. Senators to communists. In 1914 Pruiett successfully defended Sen. Thomas P. Gore in a sexual harassment case.

Pruiett attended the 1906 Oklahoma Constitutional Convention as a special delegate, representing the Democratic Executive Committee. At the convention he had the honor of naming a county, which, predictably, he called Moman. Although bitterly opposed to William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, Pruiett ran afoul of Charles Haskell, and in a political rebuke the county's designation was changed to Creek County. Pruiett had political ambitions, declaring campaigns for state senator, governor, and later Oklahoma County attorney, but he never attained an office. The lawyer also had a violent side. In 1899 he pistol-whipped attorney Leonidos C. Andrews, in 1902 he shot drifter Charley Wiseman, in 1903 he shot Dr. Waller Threldkeld, in 1909 Fred Carwell, counselor for Haskell charged him with assault, in 1921 he shot and killed bootlegger Joe Patterson, and in 1922 Frank Eckerly accused him of assault with a gun. Pruiett was also arrested many times on liquor-related charges.

He accrued a large amount of wealth and bought a mansion and moved to Miami, Florida, in the early 1920s. In September 1926 a violent hurricane destroyed his home. He returned to Oklahoma and continued his law career, but not as ferociously as in the past. In 1935 disbarment proceedings by the Oklahoma Bar Association brought him a one-year suspension by the State Supreme Court. In 1942 he represented his last murder defendant.

Howard K. Berry, with Pruiett's sanction, authored a biography of the defender in the late 1930s. While Berry was stationed overseas, during World War II, Pruiett excised many parts of the manuscript and published it as Moman Pruiett, Criminal Lawyer. The Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa Tribune affix December 12, 1945, as the date of Moman Pruiett's death. In his last years the famed lawyer had relied on an old-age pension. In the 1950s the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that Berry was the owner to the rights of Pruiett's biography. The original manuscript was reprinted in 2001. Novelist Jim Thompson used Pruiett as the model for many of the lawyers in his books. In his book, Me and My Big Mouth, Walter Harrison, formerly of the Daily Oklahoman, proclaimed Pruiett "the greatest master of backwoods psychology, actor, hypocrite, fakir, lawyer, showman, and publicity expert the courts of Oklahoma ever will look upon." [Source: Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture"]


A resident of Sapulpa since 1896, George Washington Ripley is not only entitled to consideration as one of the sterling pioneers who have been prominent and influential in the upbuilding of this fine little capital city of Creek County, but also as a man who has achieved large and worthy success through his own ability and well ordered endeavors. He is now living virtually retired from active business, as one of the substantial capitalists of his home town, and his achievement and personal influence and popularity in Creek County well entitle him to representation in this history.

Mr. Ripley was born at Huntsville, Madison County, Arkansas, on the 10th of May, 1850, and is a son of James Perry Ripley and Nancy (Phillips) Ripley, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of Kentucky. James P. Ripley was a lad of about seven years at the time of the family removal to Illinois, about the year 1820, and his parents became pioneer settlers near Murphysboro, Jackson County, that state, where he was reared to adult age. About the year 1840 he left'Illinois and made his way to Huntsville, Arkansas, where his marriage was solemnized, and where he became well known as a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker, besides having owned and operated a farm, under the invigorating discipline of which his sons were reared.

Though he was about fifty years of age at the inception of the Civil war, he promptly manifested his loyalty to the Union by enlisting in Company E, First Arkansas Cavalry, his oldest two sons, Francis Seaman and Pleasant Hilary, having enlisted at the same time and in the same command. The father and sons served with their regiment at Springfield, Missouri, and after a period of six months the father received an honorable discharge, on account of physical disability. His eldest son, Francis Seaman, was killed in the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March, 1862, and the younger of the two sons continued in active service for a period of three years and three months, or virtually during the entire course of the great conflict through which the national integrity was preserved. This gallant young soldier, Pleasant H. Ripley, returned home from the war three months prior to his twenty-first birthday anniversary, and in the meanwhile the family home had been established in Missouri. The legislature passed a law that all young men who had entered the Union service before attaining to their legal majority should be entitled to the advantages of the public schools of Missouri free of charge for a period equal to that in which they had served in the army. Thus young Ripley was enabled to attend the schools of Missouri three years and three months free of tuition. That he made good use of these advantages is indicated by the fact that he became a successful and popular school teacher, besides which he served twenty years as justice of the peace in Barry County, Missouri. He is now a resident of the State of Texas. The parents passed the residue of their lives in Missouri and their remains rest in the cemetery at Pierce City, Lawrence County, that state, where the father died April 25, 1876, at the age of sixty-three years, and where the mother was summoned to eternal rest on the 22nd of June, 1889, at the age of seventy-four years, four months and twenty-three days. The father achieved high reputation for his exceptional skill as an artisan in wood and could do the best kind of work along architectural lines of construction as well as in the capacity of cabinet maker. He was also a successful exponent of agricultural industry and, as before stated, his children were reared on the farm. James P. Ripley was a Jacksonian democrat up to the time of the Civil war, when he transferred his allegiance to the republican party, as a staunch admirer and supporter of its great standard-bearer, Abraham Lincoln. Both he and his wife were earnest and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and their lives were marked by righteousness and unfailing tolerance and kindliness. Of their two elder sons, Francis S. and Pleasant H., definite mention has already been made; Susan, the third child, is the widow of John D. Stephenson and maintains her home at Purdy, Barry County, Missouri; John A. is a resident of the State of Colorado; George W., subject of this review, was the next in order of birth; James D. resides at Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Septimus L. is a resident of Frederick, Tillman County, Oklahoma.

George W. Ripley acquired his early education in subscription and public schools in Arkansas and Missouri, and his discipline included that of the high school at Pierce City, Missouri. For fourteen years he was found numbered among the successful teachers in the district or rural schools of Missouri, in Barry and Newton counties. From 1874 to 1881 he lived upon a farm which he had purchased in Barry County and upon which he made excellent improvements. After selling this property he engaged in the drug business in the Village of Purdy, that county, and three years later he sold out and there engaged in the lumber business, his connection with this line of industry continuing four years.

On the 10th of August, 1896, Mr. Ripley came to what is now Creek County, Oklahoma, and established his residence in the embryonic Town of Sapulpa, where he has since maintained his home. When he first knew the town it was represented by three stores, and houses sufficient to lodge its little population of about fifty persons. He has witnessed the development of Sapulpa into a thriving and metropolitan little city of about 14,000 population, and it has been his to do much in furthering the civic and material development and upbuilding of the city. When he established his residence in Sapulpa Mr. Ripley purchased the principal hotel in the ambitious young town. He thus conducted the pioneer Gladstone Hotel about six years, and in the meanwhile he changed its name to the Ripley Hotel, which it still bears, the hotel having been the first stone building erected in the town. He continued to operate the hotel, as a successful and popular boniface, until 1907, since which time he has lived practically retired, in the enjoyment of the rewards of former years of earnest and fruitful endeavor. Mr. Ripley is the owner of a number of excellent improved properties in Sapulpa, and these yield to him a good income.

Mr. Ripley served as city clerk at the time when Sapulpa was formally platted by the town surveyor, and after the establishing of the first public school he was elected a director of the school hoard, as president of which body he served three years, with characteristic loyalty and efficiency. The city had no funds with which to erect and equip a school building, but the school board was fortunate in obtaining the use of a three-story frame building owned by J. H. Land, an Indian, with an agreement to purchase the property for $3,000, the while private citizens agreed to provide stoves, fuel, etc. The board succeeded in having a personal-property assessment made to aid in the purchase of the school property, and all the while the citizens were paying also, and with marked loyalty and liberality, the regular school tax. Two Indian residents protested against the tax on the ground that they were wards of the Government and not citizens, but the Federal court made a ruling to the effect that in incorporated towns the Indians must pay their proportionate share of taxes, as members of the civic body receiving the advantages of the town. No further trouble occurred and the new school began operations with a corps of three teachers. The change which the years have wrought is shown by the fact that forty-five teachers are now employed in the carrying forward of the work of the public schools of Sapulpa, with about 3,500 children, and that an annual expenditure of $50,000 is made for the support of the schools. Mr. Ripley served as a member of the first Federal grand jury that was convened at Sapulpa, and within its two days' session thirty-two indictments were found, the jury having been discharged at 6 o'clock P. M. of the second day; and he was foreman of the last grand jury held before statehood.

Mr. Ripley assisted in the organization and is a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Sapulpa, and has aided also is the establishing of other church organizations in his home city. He served several years as a member of the official board of the local Methodist Church and in this connection was instrumental in raising a larger sum of money for church work than did any other member of the board of stewards. He is a charter member of Sapulpa Lodge, No. 10?, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the original charter of the same having borne the number 66. Mr. Ripley was one of the organizers also of the first Sapulpa Lodge, No. 117, of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he served six years as secretary and of which he is a past master, besides having received the thirty-second degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and having received all degrees in both bodies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, and though he has not been imbued with ambition for public office of political order, his civic loyalty caused him to give most effective service during his four years' incumbency of the position of city assessor.

Mr. Ripley was a delegate from Creek County to the first republican congressional convention held in Indian Territory, and had the distinction of placing in nomination Hon. J. H. N. Cobb, of Sapulpa, this nominating speech having given to him a lasting reputation as an orator of no little ability. On the 4th of July, 1915, Mr. Ripley delivered a most patriotic and interesting address on the character and achievement of Abraham Lincoln, this speech boing given in connection with the celebration held in Sapulpa.

On the 29th of December, 1881, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Ripley to Miss Alice Poor, who was called to the lifo eternal on the 3rd of March, 1899, and who is survived by three children, all residents of Sapulpa: Jesse J., Pearl and Grace. The eldest daughter, Pearl, is the wife of Michael J. Connor, and the. youngest daughter remains at the paternal home. On the 29th of December, 1901, Mr. Ripley contracted a second marriage, when Mrs. Ada Huselton became his wife. No children were born of this union, and Mrs. Ripley, a devoted member of the Methodist Church, passed away on the 22d of September, 1913.  [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

SMITH, Hon. Sandy John

The present mayor of Sapulpa under the commission charter came to Oklahoma about the time of statehood, and has been one of the real leaders in politics in Creek County ever since. Mr. Smith is a business man, having had a wide range of experience both in Oklahoma and in his native State of Pennsylvania, where he was also actively identified with politics and was known among the political leaders of the Keystone State, both in respect to his individual qualifications and as the leader of a strong independent faction.

Born in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, March 23, 1871, Mr. Smith is a son of Thomas and Rebecca (Campbell) Smith. His father was born in New York City, November 25, 1840, and is still living in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, as a retired farmer. The mother was born August 15, 1850. Mayor Smith was the second in a family of seven children, three sons and four daughters. His youth up to the age of sixteen was spent on the home farm with his parents, where he attended tho country schools, and also took a two year course in the County Academy. His entrance upon a business career was preceded by six years of successful work as a teacher in Indiana County. For a time he conducted a general merchandise business at Glen Campbell in his native county and later was in the lumber and coal business at the same place. Almost from the time he cast his first vote he took an active interest in politics. He served on the school board and as president of the village council, and was a member of various political committees and a delegate to state conventions. He was an uninstructed delegate to the most exciting state convention ever held in Pennsylvania when the control of the republican party in that state was an object of contest between the late Matthew Stanley Quay and Dan Hastings, who was at that time governor. Quay won out by five votes, but Mr. Smith was a Hastings man. He also served two regular terms and an extra session in the Pennsylvania Legislature, from 1900 to 1906.

On November 7, 1907, a few days before Oklahoma became a state, Mr. Smith located in Sapulpa. He established there a bakery and confectionery business and has also acquired some extensive interests in oil and gas, both as an individual and in connection with several operating companies.

Mr. Smith was a member of the second Oklahoma State Legislature, and is now serving his second term as mayor under the commission charter, having been elected on a nonpartisan ticket. By virtue of his position as mayor he is also police judge of the city. His work has been more than satisfactory to the local citizens, and it is largely on the element of personal efficiency that the success of the commission form of government is assured in any community.

Fraternally Mayor Smith is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. On November 10, 1900, he married Miss Della Richards, who was born in Pennsylvania, a daughter of R. W. Richards. Mrs. Smith had a business and normal school course in Pennsylvania, is active in the Presbyterian Church, and since her marriage has been devoted to the interests of her home and her children. There are two children: John and Lillian.

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

SANDY JOHN SMITH - Pioneer citizen of Sapulpa, business man widely known throughout the State for his operations at oil production, and political representative in the State House, Sandy John Smith is recalled as an outstanding figure in these several spheres by the people who were his friends. He left behind him a record of enduring inspiration, one replete of successful works which have reacted to the benefit of the community as a whole.

Sandy John Smith was born at Hartin, Pennsylvania, March 23, 1868, son of Thomas and Rebecca (Campbell) Smith. In Covode Academy, Pennsylvania, he received his education, having entered this school from elementary grades in the public system. He began his career at business without delay, as a young man working in a store. Meanwhile, as he progressed in business enterprise and came to command a position of increased importance among the people of the town, he interested himself more and more in politics, being a Republican. For two terms, 1903 to 1905, he served in the lower chamber of the Pennsylvania State House, and as a legislator proved himself a most able representative. He was a member of the Appropriations Committee, travelled extensively in official capacity and, in November of 1907, the month and year in which Oklahoma was admitted to Statehood, came to Sapulpa. Before he became interested in the oil business he was owner and proprietor of the Bon-Ton Bakery. The bakery was successful, for Mr. Smith’s experiences at trade in Pennsylvania now served him well. When he left the bakery trade to become an oil lease broker, his success was even more considerable, in proportion to the size of the field. Again he interested himself in politics, as a means to greater service. Twice elected mayor of Sapulpa, he took office in May of 1912 and served four years. After adoption of the city manager form of government, he spent two years as member of the commission, attaining to commissionership at election of the second board under the new administration of municipal affairs, 1924-26. Once more he became identified with State matters, and had two terms in State Legislature from Creek County, elected in 1910. His service to the Sapulpa area was pronounced as legislator, and his activities left no room for other than gratitude in the minds of those who had elected him. In Pennsylvania, at the age of eighteen, Mr. Smith had become a communicant of the Christian church, though reared in a Presbyterian family. After taking residence in Sapulpa he joined the Presbyterian church, and was an elder two terms, having been an elder at the time of his death. He was a director of the board of Sapulpa Public Library, a director of the Rotary Club, and former member of the Chamber of Commerce board. As an oil producer, in which industry he was concerned until the last, he was instrumental in the development of that great industry in the vicinity of Sapulpa. Interested in other business projects of this city, chief of these was the Sapulpa Industrial Finance Corporation, and the Miller Combination Bailer and Pump Company. He was secretary and treasurer of the bailer and pump firm, and in all projects with which he was identified contributed most heartily toward successes achieved.

Death came to Sandy John Smith, at Sapulpa, December 1, 1928, when he was fifty-eight years of age. Expressions in tribute were spontaneously rendered, from all walks of life, and came from points widely separated, for his friends had been legion. Services were held from the First Presbyterian Church, and the public library was closed during last rites in token of respect to one whose influence had made itself felt not only as member of the library board, but more roundly, in all circles of citizenship, in the advancement of the entire city.

Surviving her husband is Mrs. Della Smith, and her son, John, with a daughter, Mrs. James B. Cockrell, of Oklahoma City. Mrs. Smith continues to reside in Sapulpa, where associations are near and dear. She helped Mr. Smith as a true helpmate in his endeavors here, and, like him, is largely responsible for the outcome of his ventures in citizenship and philanthropy.

In every city, large or small, are a group of men who are known as leaders, who actively direct the public, economic and social polities thereof. Sandy John Smith was such a figure in Sapulpa. As mayor, member of the commission and representative to the State’s government he contributed lasting measures to the city’s welfare; as business man he added to this record; and as a man he was beloved of the people. (Source: Oklahoma, A History of the State and its People, by Joseph P. Thoburn and Muriel H. Wright, Volume IV; Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York 1929; transcribed by Glenda Stevens)

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