OKLAHOMA GOVERNORS SINCE STATEHOOD

Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer


 
  Charles Nathaniel Haskell , Democrat. Served from 1907 to 1911. Oklahoma's first State Governor was born March 13, 1860, in Putman County, Ohio. He was educated as a lawyer, admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1881, and began practice in Ottawa, Ohio. In 1910, he moved to Muskogee, Indian Territory, where he added to his law practice the promotion of railroads. He was a leader in the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906. After his term as Governor, from November 16, 1907 to January 9, 1911, he engaged in the oil business. He died July 5, 1933, and is buried in Muskogee.
 
 
  Lee Cruce, Democrat. Served form 1911 to 1915. Born July 8, 1863, near Marion, Kentucky. Although he was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1887, he never practiced until he joined his older brother's law firm in 1891, in Ardmore, Indian Territory. Ten years later he became cashier of the Ardmore National Bank. In time he advanced to be its president. He served as Oklahoma's second Governor from January 9, 1911, to January 11, 1915. In 1930, he was defeated in the primary for the United States Senate. He died January 16, 1933, in Los Angeles, California.

 
  Robert Lee Williams, Democrat. Served from 1915 to 1919. Oklahoma's third Governor was born December 20, 1868, at Brundidge, Alabama. He earned a number of college degrees including LL.D., was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1891, and began his practice in Troy, Alabama. In 1896, he went to Atoka, Indian Territory. His long years of public service included: Member of the Constitutional Convention, 1906-1907; Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, 1907-1914; Governor of Oklahoma, January 11, 1915 to January 13, 1919; United States District Judge; Eastern District of Oklahoma, 1919 to 1937; United States Circuit Judge, Tenth Circuit, 1937-1939. He retired in 1939, but continued to serve as needed. He died at his home in Durant,Oklahoma, April 10, 1948.

 
  James Brooks Ayers Robertson, Democrat. Served 1919 to 1923. Born March15, 1871, in Keokuk County, Iowa, and was educated in the public schools. In 1893, he moved to Oklahoma and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1898. He held the following political offices; Lincoln County Attorney, 1900-1902; Judge of the Tenth Judicial District Of Oklahoma, 1909-1910; Member of the State Capitol Commission, 1911; Member of the Supreme Court Commission, 1911-1914; Governor of Oklahoma, January 13, 1919 to January 8, 1923; Democratic Presidential Elector-at-Large, 1932. He died at his home in Oklahoma City, March 7, 1938.

 
  Jack Callaway Walton, Democrat. Served from January 1923 to November 1923, when he was impeached. Born March 6, 1881, on a farm near Indianapolis, Indiana. After a ten-year stay in Lincoln, Nebraska, he joined the Army in 1897. Although he saw no foreign service during the Spanish-American War, he did live in Mexico before coming to Oklahoma City in 1903, as a sales engineer. He was Commissioner of Public Works in 1917; Mayor of Oklahoma City, 1919-1923; elected Governor in 1922; and impeached within the year, serving from January 8, to November 19, 1923; served in the State Corporation Commission from 1932 until 1939, when he retired to enter private law practice. He died November 25, 1949, and is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

 
  Martin Edwin Trapp, Democrat. Served from 1923 to 1927. Born April 18, 1887, in Robinson, Kansas, he was educated almost entirely by association and study with Mr. McDaniel, a neighbor. He served as County Clerk of Logan County, 1905-1907; State Auditor, 1907-1911; Lieutenant Governor, 1915-1927. After the impeachment of Gov. Walton, he served as Governor of the State from November 19, 1923, until January 10, 1927. Following this, he was a dealer in investment securities until his death July 26, 1951, in Oklahoma City.

 
  Henry Simpson Johnston, Democrat. Served from January 1927 to March 20, 1929, when he was impeached. Born December 20, 1867, near Evansville, Indiana, he migrated to Colorado at the age of twenty-four where he studied law and was admitted to the Colorado Bar in1891. Later he came to Perry, Oklahoma, to practice. He was a member, and temporary presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention in 1906. He was elected Governor in 1926 and took office January 10, 1927. Later impeached, he maintained a law practice in his home town of Perry until his death January 7, 1965.

 
  William Judson Holloway, Democrat. Served from 1929 to 1931. He succeeded Gov. Johnston in office and completed the term. He was a native of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, born December 15, 1888. After graduation from Ouachita College in 1910, he attended the University of Chicago for a time. While he was living in Hugo and working as a high school principal he began to read law. He later completed his course to Cumberland University and was admitted to the practice of law at Hugo. He was elected county attorney in 1916 was a State Senator from 1920 to 1924, serving as President pro Tempore; in 1926, he was elected Lieutenant Governor and advanced to the Governor's office upon the impeachment of Gov. Johnston. He practiced law in Oklahoma City until his death January 28, 1970.

 
  William Henry "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, Democrat. Served from 1931 to 1935. Probably Oklahoma's most colorful political figure, William Murray was born November 21,1869, in Collinsville, Texas. At twenty years of age he graduated from College Hill Institute in Springtown, Texas. For the next six years he held various jobs, including day laborer, teacher, editor of a Dallas farm magazine, and of a Corsicana daily newspaper. Admitted to the Bar in 1895, he practiced at Fort Worth before moving to Tishomingo, Indian Territory, in 1898. There he became legal advisor to the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. He was President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906; Speaker of the House of Representatives, 1907-1908; Member of the Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth United States Congresses; and Governor of the State from January 12, 1931, to January 15, 1935. At his urging, the Legislature created the Oklahoma Tax Commission. His ranching interests spread from Oklahoma to Bolivia, South America, where he established a colony. He wrote articles and books, mostly dealing with constitutional rights. He died October 15, 1956

 
 Ernest Whitworth Marland, Democrat. Served from 1935 to 1939. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Marland was born May 8, 1874. He was educated at Park Institute of that city and received his LL.B. from the University of Michigan, in 1893. He began his law practice at Pittsburgh, but engaged in the oil production business after moving to Oklahoma. HE was president of the Marland Oil Company until its consolidation; Member of the Seventy-third United States Congress from 1933 to 1935; Governor of Oklahoma from January 15, 1935, to January 9, 1939. Before Marland left office, nearly 90,000 Oklahomans were working on 1,300 WPA projects. Marland provided leadership in the development of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Interstate Oil Compact. He died October 3, 1941. His civic contributions to Ponca City included the Pioneer Woman Statue.
 
 
 Leon Chase Phillips, Democrat. Served from 1939 to 1943. Born December 9, 1890, in Worth County Missouri, Phillips moved to Oklahoma at an early age. While a student at Epworth University in Oklahoma City, he studied for the ministry, but changed to law and received his LL.B. from the University of Oklahoma in 1916. He was admitted to the State Bar in that year and to practice before the United States Supreme Court later. After service in World War I, he returned to Okemah, where he practiced law. He was a member of the State Legislature from 1933 to 1938; Speaker of the House in 1935; Governor from January 9, 1939, to January 11, 1943. He was a practicing attorney in his home of Okemah until his death March 27, 1958. He is buried in Weleetka.

 
 Robert Samuel Kerr, Democrat. Served from 1943-1947. Oklahoma's first native-born governor, was born near Ada, Indian Territory, September 11, 1896. His college work was done at East Central Normal School, and Oklahoma Baptist University. He was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1922, and practiced in Ada. Beginning as a drilling contractor in 1926, he built up a large oil producing company and at the time of his death was President of the Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Inc. He served as Governor of Oklahoma from January 13, 1943, to January 13, 1947. He was elected U.S. Senator on November 2, 1948, and served until his death January 1, 1963. While governor, Kerr's administration liquidated the state debt. During his tenure as U.S. Senator, he worked to get the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System developed, changing much of Oklahoma's landscape. He is buried at his birthplace near Ada.

 
 Roy Joseph Turner, Democrat. Served from 1947 to 1951. Turner was born November 6, 1894, in Lincoln County, Oklahoma Territory. Upon completion of his high school education, he attended Hill's Business College in Oklahoma City. He was a bookkeeper for Morris Parking Company in Oklahoma City from 1911-1915; a salesman for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company there and after his service in World War I, he was a dealer in real estate, principally in Oklahoma, Florida and Texas. By 1928, he established the Turner Ranch at Sulphur, but he maintained a residence in Oklahoma city where he served on the Board of Education from 1939 to 1946. His term as Governor of Oklahoma was from January 13, 1947, to January 8, 1951. He lived in Oklahoma City until his death June 11, 1973 and he is buried in Rose Hill Burial Park there.

 
 Johnston Murray, Democrat. Served from 1951 to 1955. He was born July 21, 1902, in the mansion of the Chickasaw Nation's Governor at Emet, Johnston County, Indian Territory. His early education was governed by the location of the work of his famous father, former Gov. William H. Murray. After graduation from the Murray State School of Agriculture, in 1924, he went to Bolivia where he lived for four years trying to make a success of his father's colonization expedition there. He received his law degree in 1946, having studied and worked at other things for a number of years. He served as Governor from January 8, 1951, to January 1955. He served as an attorney with the State Department of Welfare until his death April 16, 1974. He is buried at Tishomingo along with his father.

 
 Raymond Dancel Gary, Democrat. Served from 1955 to 1959. He was the first Governor to be born in Oklahoma sine statehood. His birth date was January 21, 1908, and his birthplace, a farm midway between Madill and Kingston. He was educated in the local schools and Southeastern State College. After five years of teaching he was elected County Superintendent of Schools and served for four years. In 1936, he began his business career, first in school and office supplies, later as President of the Sooner Oil Company. He was a State Senator from 1941 until he became Governor January 10, 1955, for a four-year-term. He died December 11, 1993, and is buried in Madill.

 
 James Howard Edmondson, Democrat. Served from 1959 to 1963. The youngest governor in the history of the State, Edmondson was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, September 27, 1925. He attended elementary and secondary schools in that city and enrolled in the University of Oklahoma after high school graduation. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in March 1942, and served until December 5 ,1945. He returned to the University and completed his law degree in August, 1948. After practicing law in Muskogee, he moved to Tulsa to become the chief prosecutor in the office of the county attorney of Tulsa County. He was elected county attorney in 1954 and was re-elected in 1956. J. Howard Edmondson was inaugurated Governor of Oklahoma January 8, 1959, after having been elected to that post by the largest majority ever given a gubernatorial candidate in the state. He resigned from office of Governor January 6, 1963, and was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the position left vacant by the death of Robert S. Kerr. At the time of his death on November 17, 1971, he was a practicing attorney in Oklahoma City.(George Nigh served from January 6, until January 14, 1963, when Bellmon assumed office.)

 
 Henry Louis Bellmon, Republican. Served from 1963 to 1967. The first Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, September 3, 1921. He is the son of Goerge and Edith Caskey Bellmon. He attended Colorado State University, later transferring to Oklahoma State University where he was granted the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Henry Bellmon served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 through 1946, received the Silver Star for Action on Saipan and the Legion of Merit for action on Iwo Jima. He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in farming at Billings, Oklahoma, at the time of his election as Governor. He served from January 14, 1963, to January 9, 1967, and was elected U.S. Senator in 1968 and again in 1974. He chose not to run in 1980. He was later elected to a second term in 1986.

 
 Dewey Follett Barlett, Republican. Served from 1967 to 1971. The second Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma, Barlett was born in Marietta, Ohio, March 28, 1919. He was the son of David A. and Jessie Follett Barlett. He attended Princeton University where he served in the Marine Corps during World War II as a combat dive bomber pilot. He received the Air Medal. He was a partner in Keener Oil Company, one of Oklahoma's oldest, small independent oil companies he was first elected ot the State Senate in 1962 and was re-elected in 1964. He served as Governor from January 9, 1967, to January 11, 1971, and was elected to the U.S. Senate November 7, 1972. He died March 1, 1979.


 David Hall, Democrat. Served from 1971 to 1975. HE was born October 20, 1930 in Oklahoma City. He is the son of Mr and Mrs. William A. "Red" Hall. He was a Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Oklahoma where he received a bAchelor of Arts degree in 1952. David Hall served in the U.S. Air 2 Force from 1952 to 1954. He continued his education at the University of Tulsa ,where he received his law degree in 1959. He served as Assistant County Attorney of Tulsa County from 1959 to 1962 and as County Attorney from 1962 to 1966. In 1968 he returned to the University of Tulsa where he served as Professor of Law. He was inaugurated January 11, 1971, following the closest gubernatorial election in the state's history. Hall as indicted by a federal grand jury three days after leaving office. He later served 19 months of a three-year sentence for extortion and conspiracy convictions.  
 
 
 David Lyle Boren, Democrat. Served from 1975 to 1979. Boren was born in Washington D.C., April 21, 1941, the son of Lyle H. and Christine McKown Boren. He graduated from Yale University Summa Cum Laude, receiving a B.A. degree in 1963, graduated with honors with a M.A. degree from Oxford University, England in 1965, and received his J.D. degree in 1968 from the University of Oklahoma where he was class president of the College of Law. He was an outstanding law graduate and scholar and was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. In addition to his profession as an attorney, he was a Chairman of the Division of Social Sciences and professor of political science at Oklahoma Baptist University and also Company Commander of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He was elected ot the House of Representatives in 1967 and served until his election as Governor in November, 1974. He was inaugurated January 13, 1975, and made his home in Seminole before moving into the Governor's mansion. He is the father of two children, Carrie Christine and David Daniel. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, and served successive terms until he became president of the University of Oklahoma in Norman in November 1994.

  
 George Patterson Nigh, Democrat. Served from 1979 to 1987. Nigh was born in McAlester, Oklahoma June 9, 1927, son of William R. and Irene Crockett nigh. He attended public schools in McAlester and Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College at Wilburton, Oklahoma. From Jun 1945 through September 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy. He was granted a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Central State College, Ada, Oklahoma in 1950. From 1952 to 1958, he taught at McAlester High School. George Nigh served in the House of Representatives from the Twenty-third through the twenty-sixth Oklahoma Legislatures. He was elected Lieutenant Governor, the youngest in State's history, in 1958. In 1963, Nigh became the 17th Governor in Oklahoma, filling an unexpired 9-day term following the resignation for Gov. J. Howard Edmondson. He was elected Lieutenant Governor again in 1966l, 1970, and 1974. He was elected governor November 7, 1978, and was re-swon in January 3, 1979. Nigh became the 21st Governor of Oklahoma serving five days to fill an unexpired term following the resignation of Governor David Boren. He began his term and was re-elected in 1982. Nigh served as the president of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond before retiring.

 
 Henry Louis Bellmon, Republican. Served from 1987 to 1991. Bellmon was elected the first Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma in November 1962 and then was elected November 4, 1986 to his second term as Governor of Oklahoma. Bellmon is the first governor ever to be elected to that office, then elected U.S. Senator, and then elected Governor again. He chose not to run in 1990.

 
 David Lee Walters, Democrat. Served from 1991 to 1995. Born November 20, 1951, near Canute, Oklahoma, in Washita County, Walters is the son of Harold and Evelyn Walters. He graduated as valedictorian from Canute High School in 1969, and from the University of Oklahoma in 1973, with a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering. In 1977, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. Walters served as assistant and associate provost at the OU Health Sciences Center where, at age 29, he became the youngest executive officer in the university's history. He served on the Commission for the Oklahoma State Department of Health Services in 1983, and as appointed co-chairman of the Governor's 100-member Commission on Government Reform in 1984. On November 6, 1990, Walters was elected to serve as the 24th governor of Oklahoma. During Walters' term, education funding increased by approximately 30 percent, and a $350-million bond issue for higher education-the first in 25 years- brought construction and renovation to every state college campus. While in office Gov. Walters pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor election violation. He chose not to run for re-election in 1994. He and his wife,Rhonda, have three daughters; a son died in 1991.


 Francis Anthony Keating, Republican. Elected November 1994. Born in St.Louis, Missouri, February 10, 1944, Keating's family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, before he was six months old. He was graduated from Cascia Hall High School in 1962, received a B.A. in history from Georgetown University in 1966 and earned a J.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1969. Keating served as an FBI agent and as an assistant district attorney in Tulsa. He later served as U.S. Attorney from Tulsa before becoming the highest ranking Oklahoman in the Reagan and Bush Administrations, serving at the Justice, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Departments. Governor Keating's accomplishments included overseeing the largest road construction project in Oklahoma history, the first cut in the state income tax in 50 years and a dramatic decline in the   welfare rolls. Governor Keating and his wife, Cathy, are the parents of three children, Carrie, Kelly, and Chip.
 
 
 Brad Henry, Democrat. Elected November 2002. Born in Shawnee and graduated from Shawnee High School in 1981.  Henry attended the University of Oklahoma as a President's Leadership Scholar,  receiving a bachelor's degree in economics in 1985. He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma College of Law where he received a juris doctorate degree in 1988. Henry was first elected in 1992 at the age of 29, and served in the Oklahoma State Senate for 10 years, where he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee. He also served on the Senate Appropriations, Education, and Sunset Committees, as well as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. The Governor and his family live in Shawnee where Brad established the law firm, Henry, Canavan & Hopkins, PLLC. He is a member and past President of the Pottawatomie County Bar Association, a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, and a past member of the William J. Holloway, Jr. American Inn of Court, a legal honor society for practicing attorneys and judges. Governor Henry is married to the former Kim Blain, also a graduate of Shawnee High and the University of Oklahoma. They have three daughters: Leah, age 13, Laynie, age 11 and Baylee, age 5 years.
 

Back to the Main Index Page for Oklahoma
Copyright 2009 @ Genealogy Trails

 ©2008 Genealogy Trails