Creek County, Oklahoma
Biographies

STERRETT, WILLIAM STONE, journalist, Drum right, Okla., was born at Hawesville, Ky., December 10, 1873, son of C. J. and Eliza (McAdams) Sterrett. Public school education. Is a Republican, and was mayor of Hawesville; also United States Commissioner of Oklahoma. Formerly resided at Durant. and is one of the forceful writers of the state. Member B. P. O. Elks [Source: "Men of Affairs and Representative Institutions of Oklahoma", 1916; A Newspaper Reference Work, The World Publishing Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Submitted by Vicki Hartman]

THRIFT, J. E.

Few lawyers at the Creek County Bar are generally acknowledged to have a more sound and ready judgment in broad and intricate matters of civil jurisprudence than J. E. Thrift, who since 1909 has been engaged in practice at Sapulpa and since 1912 has been the representative of the great Jones oil interests here. Mr. Thrift's mastery of the law is remarkable alike for its accuracy and comprehensiveness, and in its application he is forceful, concise and logical, which accounts for the high and substantial position he occupies in public opinion, as well as for the professional standing that has elevated him to the presidency of the Creek County Bar Association.

J. E. Thrift was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, January 26, 1872, and is a son of J. E. and Sally (Bowcock) Thrift. His parents were natives of Virginia, members of old families of that state, the father being of Scotch-English and the mother of Scotch-Irish stock, and members of both families took part in the Revolutionary war as soldiers of the Continental line. At the outbreak of the war between the states, the father, then a lad of sixteen years, joined a Virginia volunteer cavalry regiment, and fought throughout the entire period of the war. seeing much hard service, participating in numerous hard-fought battles and being wounded three times. When the war had ended he returned to his home in the Old Dominion and there continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits for the remainder of his life, the mother also dying there. They were the parents of four sons and two daughters.

J. E. Thrift received his early education in the public schools and remained at home until he was sixteen years of age, at which time his independence asserted itself and he began to shift for himself. After following various occupations, at the age of nineteen years he applied himself to the study of telegraphy, an occupation which received his attention until he was twenty-six. In the meantime he had become interested in law, and after some preparation entered Washington .and Lee University, from which old and distinguished institution he was graduated in 1897 with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He at once engaged in practice in Madison County, Virginia, where he secured recognition in a short time, and was elected prosecuting attorney, the duties of which office he discharged for ten years. He also served one term in the West Virginia Legislature. In January, 1909, Mr. Thrift sought the comparatively new regions of the West, taking up his residence at Sapulpa, where he has since continued in a constantly growing practice. He became assistant county attorney under L. B. Jackson, the first county attorney under statehood, and served for eighteen months in that office, his labors therein attracting favorable attention to him. In 1912 he was given the position of attorney for the interests of B. B. Jones & Brother, generally accounted to be the largest individual oil owners in the world. Mr. Thrift is known as an attorney of broad legal information, engaged in the successful handling of involved and important litigation; a man of scholarly tastes and thoughtful disposition, and a logical and forceful speaker. Among his professional brethren he is held in the highest esteem, a fact emphasized by his election, in 1914, to the presidency of the Creek County Bar Association. Politically he is a democrat. His fraternal connection is with the Masons, while his religious belief is that of the Presbyterian Church, which he attends with the members of his family.

Mr. Thrift was married in 1898 to Miss Carrie M. Bell, a native of Virginia, and daughter of John W. Bell. To this union there have been born five children: James E., Jr., Izzie B., John Marshall, Constant A. and Mildred B.  [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

 VAN ORMAN, B. M., flour and feed, Sapulpa, born Schell county, Mo., july 4, 1872, son of Charles and Martha J. (Patton) Van Orman. Was educated in public schools of Melvern, Kansas; is a Republican and was member of Sapulpa city council for one year, and secretary of Commercial Club for two years. Was secretary for four years of the O. R. C.; was married in 1900 to Miss Jessie C. Shearer, in Kansas City. Is a Blue Lodge Mason, Elk, O. R. C. and M. W. A. [Source: "Men of Affairs and Representative Institutions of Oklahoma", 1916; A Newspaper Reference Work, The World Publishing Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Submitted by Vicki Hartman]

VAUGHN, CHARLES A.

Before coming to Oklahoma thirteen years ago, in 1903, Mr. Vaughn was a very successful farmer and stock raiser in Southern Illinois, and his first intention on coming to Oklahoma was to continue in the live stock industry. His attention was diverted to other lines, and he has been one of the factors in the development of oil interests in and about Sapulpa. At the same time he has taken an active part in democratic politics both in his county and state, and is serving as the present postmaster of Sapulpa.

He was born near the bank of the Mississippi River at Jerseyville, Illinois, December 25, 1867, a son of Josiah and Mary (Pruitt) Vaughn. Both parents were born in Madison County, Illinois, near the City of Alton, his father on December 5, 1822, and his mother on March 2, 1830. His parents were married in 1846, on her birthday, and soon afterwards moved from Madison to Jersey County, where they spent the rest of their lives. His mother died there June 6, 1874, and the father on July 10, 1890. The latter was a farmer all his career, and a very successful and energetic one, and at one time owned about 600 acres. He was a lifelong democrat and filled various places of trust and responsibility, chiefly on the town board and in township affairs. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and were the parents of twelve children, four of whom reached maturity. Josiah, the oldest of these, died in 1914, at Gregory, South Dakota. James F. died in Kansas. Edward J., the youngest, is an attorney at law at Granite City, Illinois.

Charles A. Vaughn lived on the old home place in Southern Illinois until about two years before he came to Oklahoma. After his father gave up the heavy responsibilities of the farm the son took charge, and continued the farming operations for about ten years. In 1902 he came to Sapulpa, and he had planned to acquire some extensive tracts of land and raise shorthorn cattle in connection with farming. However, he entered the real estate business instead, and his activities soon included the handling and development of oil leases. He finally sold out the real estate department and has been interested in oil and particularly in the manufacture of gasoline. He is a director in the Fidelity Gasoline Company of Sapulpa, which he helped to organize and which he named in honor of his old home town in Illinois.

He was reared in a democratic home and has espoused the cause of that party since casting his first ballot.

Since coming to Sapulpa he served a term as city clerk, and on February 6, 1914, was appointed postmaster. Sapulpa is a second class post office, and Mr. Vaughn's administration has gained many favorable commendations from the local patrons of the office. He has also served on the board of education and as justice of the peace, and for two terms was a member of the State Central Committee. His church home is the Presbyterian.

On March 2, 1896, he married Miss Lulu Shimmel, who was born at Brighton, Jersey County, Illinois, May 20, 1874, a daughter of Henry and Marie (Reinstadtler) Shimmel. The parents were both natives of Germany and came to the United States as young people. They were married in St. Louis and later went to Illinois. They wore farming people. There Mr. Shimmel died at the age of seventy-two years and his widow passed away aged sixty-nine. They were members of the German Lutheran Church. Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn are the parents of two children: Marie, who was born in the same house as her father on December 30, 1898, and Pauline, born at Jerseyville, Illinois, September 9, 1901.  [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

 WATCHORN, HENRY M.

A resident of Sapulpa, Creek County, Oklahoma, since 1901, Henry M. Watchorn is the type of successful business man who gives his energies and time freely to promote every movement connected with the best welfare of his home city. He was the third incumbent of the office of mayor at Sapulpa and has been a most prominent and influential factor in its material and civic upbuilding.

Under the guiding of an ambitious mind and spirit he has for years been one of the world's productive workers, and wherever found has proved a loyal and useful citizen. There are many facts about his career which may be read with interest, and his individual history has its proper place in the history of Oklahoma.

He was born in Queens County, Ireland, May 27, 1860, a son of Thomas and Mary (Diamond) Watchorn. His father was lodge keeper in Ireland for a wealthy widow and land owner, Mrs. Margaret Gibson. Having no children of her own, she legally adopted Henry M. Watchorn when he was about three years of age. She wanted to make him a Presbyterian minister, and personally together with a governess assisted in instructing him. He received all his education while in Ireland, and although only about thirteen years of age when he came with his parents to the United States he did not attend school in this country. Mrs. Gibson furnished the money for his parents to emigrate to the United States in 187:,, when Henry was thirteen years of age. She also gave her consent for her adopted son to accompany them, but with the understanding that he was to return to take up his studies and eventually inherit the large estate. Up to that time Henry Watchorn had enjoyed the companionship only of a governess, his adopted mother and other elderly ladies. He played no boys' games and had no boy companions. It was perhaps only natural therefore that when he arrived in the New World he soon decided that he would rather remain here and make his own way than to return and inherit eventually a fortune. Thus he had to disappoint the old Irish lady who had such cherished plans for his future.

He is in fact one of those vital and progressive sons of Ireland to whom success comes as a natural prerogative though his earnest and well directed personal efforts have also been a conspicuous part in his advancement. His parents on coming to America in 1873 first established their home near Detroit, Michigan, but later moved to Tuscola County in the same state, and made a home on a farm not far from Bay City. When about sixteen years of age Henry M. Watchorn went into the lumber camps in Northern Michigan, saved his money and helped his father pay for the Michigan farm. His mother died on the farm in 1884 at the age of forty-four, and his father spent the rest of his days there until his death in 1904 at the age of seventy-two. Henry was the second among three sons and three daughters.

In 1884, shortly after the death of his mother and as a young man of twenty-four, Mr. Watchorn left home and drifted into Missouri, and later his activities extended into Louisiana and Texas and finally into Oklahoma. In 1886 he took up railroad work and continued in that line until after coming to Oklahoma. He was first in Oklahoma in 1901, and until 1905 served as roadmaster for the Frisco Railroad System. At the same time he also was interested in the lumber business. On first going to Missouri he constructed twenty-two miles of narrow gauge and fourteen miles of standard gauge railroad, which he afterwards operated as general superintendent of construction for the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad. Incidentally he assumed charge of the extensive timber interests of the company in Southwest Missouri, and while maintaining his headquarters at Willow Springs in Howell County of that state, served two years as mayor. During his administration an electric light plant and water system were installed.

When he gained information in 1905 that the Frisco Railroad was to make Sapulpa a prominent division terminal Mr. Watchorn took a long sight ahead, foresaw the splendid opportunities in store for the city, and soon afterwards resigned his position with the railroad and entered the real estate business. As rapidly as he could he purchased land and is credited with the platting and development of a number of excellent additions and subdivisions to the city, including the Forest Park Addition, the principal street of which bears his name. His real estate operations have done more than make him individually prosperous, and has contributed in large measure to the development and upbuilding of the city and its tributary territory.

In 1905 he was elected mayor of Sapulpa as the third mayor after the municipal government was established. His was a most efficient administration. That was not the only public service he has rendered. He was one of the men who led the campaign at statehood and brought success to the movement for making Sapulpa the county seat of Creek County, and whether as a business man or as a citizen he is liberal minded, keen, energetic and progressive.

In 1910 he erected the Watchorn apartment building 60 by 150 feet and two stories in height, the ground floor being used for business purposes and the upper floor fitted up as some of the most attractive and modern apartments in Sapulpa. He owns other valuable realty in Sapulpa.

Long prominent in politics, he is a democrat and assisted in the organization of the democratic forces in Oklahoma. He was treasurer of the Third Congressional District Campaign Committee when that body so effectually maneuvered the political forces for the election of Hon. James Davenport to his first term in the United States Congress. In Masonry he has attained the thirtysecond degree of Scottish Rite and is a member of India Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Oklahoma City. He and his wife belong to the order of the Eastern Star, Mrs. Watchorn being worthy matron of the chapter in which she holds membership. She is also active in the Presbyterian Church, and one of the very active members and an ex-president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

In 1885 Mr. Watchorn married Mrs. Lou (West) Myers, a native of Tennessee. At the time of her marriage she was a widow with one son, Edson H. Myers. The latter is now a farmer in Creek County and his son Harry since infancy has lived in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Watchorn, who have reared him, and while never legally adopting him his home has been their home and he is known by the name Watchorn. In fact Mr. Watchorn plans to make him his legal heir. Young Harry Watchorn since early childhood has had a mania for firefighting apparatus, and worked with the local firemen without pay until given a regular position in the department. He is now only eighteen years of age, and is regarded as one of the best drivers of fire engines in the state, and is absolutely devoted to his work. [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]

WATKINS, MAZIE D.

One of those women of Oklahoma who have taken part extensively in work of great social significance is Mazie D. Watkins, who in 1913 began her activity of caring for orphan Indian children and exposing cases of fraud practiced by their guardians to the proper authorities in Washington District of Columbia. She has taken care of these children in her own home, and has done everything in her power for improvement and safe guarding of their interests, with the result that she has won the praises of many important statesmen and public leaders. Mrs. Watkins also has found time to devote to the financial management of farms and oil lands.

Mrs. Watkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri, a daughter of James P. and Mazie D. Hanna. Her father practiced law in Missouri for a number of years, and was a highly gifted and educated man. In 1898 he decided to give up his chosen profession and renter the ministry, and came to the Indian Territory, where he was a minister in the Baptist Church of Stillwell. There he served for many years, and was prominent in church affairs. He was a true servant of his cause and wielded a remarkable influence for good, being especially interested in work among the poor. He was aided at every turn by his devoted wife, whose unselfish spirit was the inspiration of all who knew her.

As a girl, Mazie D. Hanna, the daughter, attended grammar and high school. She was the youngest of her family, and found it necessary to remain at home. Each day she devoted a part of her time, however, to studying with her mother, who had enjoyed the benefits of advanced education.

Then, in 1913, in Sapulpa, she began her life-work of taking care of orphan Indian children and exposing frauds practiced upon them. At the time when she started this humanitarian work, she had as many as four of these children in her own home, where some of them remained as long as four years. As a result of her efforts and achievements, she has a large number of letters from Washington officials, including a communication from former President Warren G. Harding, and several notes from leading State officials.

Connected with different social organizations, Mrs. Watkins has held offices and has been recognized for her leadership in social work. But most of her accomplishments have been the result of independent work, which she continued even while cooperating with the existing social organizations; and, as a matter of fact, she is not now a member of any society. Her religious affiliation is with the Pentecostal Church. Another of the activities of Mrs. Watkins, which might be expected in view of her eminent patriotism and public- spiritedness, was her work with the American Red Cross during the period of the World War.

By her first marriage, to Mr. Watkins, she had three children; Pearl, George, and June Rose. Her second marriage took place at Muskogee, Oklahoma, March 19, 1928, when she was united in marriage with W.H. Yoas. (Oklahoma State & People, transcribed by Jackie McCarty)

WILKONSON, ARTHUR O.

Much dynamic energy has been brought to bear in the development and upbuilding of the fine City of Sapulpa, the thriving and important judicial center of Creek County, and among the popular the laudable work of advancement a place of promicitizens and progressive business men who have aided in nence must consistently be accorded to Mr. Wilkonson, who is here established successfully in the furniture and hardware business, at 309 East Dewey Avenue, and whose civic loyalty and public spirit are indicated by the fact that at the time of this writing, in 1916, he is serving as president of the Sapulpa Commercial Club.

Mr. Wilkonson was born in Germany, as were also his parents, Elias and Esther Wilkonson, who removed to Southern Russia when he was an infant. Mr. Wilkonson was two years old at the time of his mother's death and was a lad of thirteen years when he became doubly orphaned by the death of his father. He was carefully reared by his stepmother, who accorded to him the utmost kindliness and solicitude, his father having been an agriculturist and sheep-grower and the widow having reared the children on the home farm. In the family were four sons and three daughters, the subject of this review being the youngest of the number and the only one to establish a home in the United States.

In the schools of Southern Russia Mr. Wilkonson acquired his early education, and as he was born on the 22d of April, 1866, he was twenty-four years of age when he landed in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, in August, 1890. He came to America to avail himself of the better opportunities for gaining success and independence through individual effort and to avoid the restrictions of monarchical government in Europe. From Boston he made his way to New York City, where he remained thirty days, and he passed the ensuing eight months in the City of Rochester, New York, where he found employment in the establishment of the National Casket Company. From the Empire State he continued his westward journey to Chicago and Kansas City, after which he was for a time employed on a farm in Douglas County, Kansas. He finally worked his way back to Chicago, and for one year he was in the employ of the West Chicago Street Railway Company. He then returned to Kansas City, Missouri, where he was engaged in the restaurant business until November 28, 1895, when he came to Oklahoma Territory and located on a pioneer farm two miles west of Perry, now the judicial center of Noble County. There he gave his attention to farming and stock-raising for five years, at the expiration of which, in 1900, he sold his property and removed to Haileyville, Pittsburg County, becoming one of the pioneers of that town, where he continued his residence until 1909 and where he served as a member of the village council, as mayor, as a member of the board of education and as justice of the peace. He was one of the representative business men of that place until 1909, when he removed to Sapulpa and purchased a city lot on Dewey Avenue, where he erected his present business building, which is 50 by 100 feet in dimensions and in which he has built up a substantial and representative enterprise as a dealer in furniture and hardware. Mr. Wilkonson has entered fully into the progressive spirit of Sapulpa and has been a leader in the furtherance of measures and enterprises tending to advance the best interests of the city. He has been an active and influential member of the Sapulpa Commercial Club from the time of its organization and its president of the same in 1915. He served ouo year as a member of the board of education and is known and honored as a loyal and public-spirited citizen. Mr. Wilkonson gives his allegiance to the democratic party, has received the thirtysecond degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and is affiliated also with tho Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.

On the 4th of December, 1892, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Wilkonson to Miss Kate Robinson, who was at the time a resident of Kansas City, but who was born in Grodno, Russia. Mrs. Wilkonson passed to the life eternal on the 12th of February, 1915, and is survived by eight children,—Esther, Myrtle, Elias, Rose, Louise, Sarah Belle, Edward and Lester. The second daughter, Miss Myrtle, is a popular and efficient teacher in the public schools of Sapulpa, and all of the children have been afforded excellent educational advantages.  [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]




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