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The History of Oklahoma Biographies Vol. II
by Luther B. Hill
Page 25


HE has been a resident of Tahlequah since 1883, and has during that length of time been in the active practice of his profession. He was born in Cedar County, Missouri, February 22, 1845, and is a son of Dr. W. G. and Sarah (Pennington) Blake. The family are of Irish descent, and the progenitor came to South Carolina before the Revolution. His grandfather Blake died in Tennessee in I860, and was then in his one hundredth year.

Dr. Blake, Sr., was born in Fairfield District, South Carolina, in 1800, and left that state with his father, Thomas Blake, when a child. Thomas Blake located in eastern Tennessee, where the son married, and from whence ho came west as one of the pioneers of southwestern Missouri. He prepared for his profession in the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis, from which institution three of his sons and one grandson have taken diplomas. He made his home in Stockton, where he reared his family; he passed away in that town in 1885, and his widow survived him five years. Upon settling in Cedar County. Missouri, Dr. Blake found himself on the borders of civilization and the fringe of western settlements. He built the first house on the town site of Stockton, and helped in building up a community of homes and public institutions, from which beginning the present civilization of the community has developed. He lived a life of work and usefulness, and had very pronounced views on moral questions, being a great friend of education and in sympathy with the work of the church. In political views he was a strong Democrat. He married Sarah, daughter of Benajah Pennington, from which union the following children were born: Mrs. Kate Hunter, deceased, who passed her life in Nevada, Missouri; Fannie, the wife of Henry Hunter, of Nevada, Missouri; Dr. Joel H., who died in Eufaula, Oklahoma: James M., of Stockton, Missouri; Dr. William G.; and Josie, who married Lafayette Cummings, of Milo, Missouri.

Dr. W. G. Blake, Jr., was living in Cedar County, Missouri, at the beginning of the Civil war. He received his primary education at Stockton, and took a literary course in the Carlton Academy at Kentuckytown, Texas, after the close of the war. He entered the military service of the Confederate army in the Missouri Department, entering as a private and at the close of the war was an adjutant. He first became a member of the State Guard and later joined the regular troops. He took part in the battle of Oak Hill, also the battle of Jenkins Ferry, and served under General Jo Shelby in Missouri and Arkansas; he took part in the Price Raid of Missouri, being wounded at Westport, a suburb of Kansas City.

In 1867 he returned to Missouri where he taught in the public schools of Cedar County, and afterward he moved to Benton County, Arkansas, teaching one of the first public schools of that state. Following this he joined his brother in Nevada. Missouri, where he pursued his course of reading until prepared for college. He then entered the famous Missouri Medical College, from which institution he graduated in 1881, having previously spent some time in practice. He set up his first office in Madison county, Arkansas, and spent ten years in Arkansas before removing to the Cherokee Nation, where he took up his residence in Tahlequah. Dr. Blake has always continued to advance in his knowledge of the profession chosen as his life work, and has taken several advanced courses at eastern colleges, at St. Louis, Chicago and at New York: in the summer of 1909 he took a course in Chicago covering surgical gynecology and electrical therapeutics. He is president of the Cherokee County Medical Society and counselor of the Seventh District of the State Medical Society; he is also former president of the Tahlequah Board of Health, and superintendent of the County Board of Public Health. In politics he is a Democrat, and although taking great interest in public affairs, desires no political honors for himself. However, he is ready to help the cause of his friends. He is high priest of the chapter of Masons in Tahlequah, in which office he has served fifteen years. Dr. Blake has a large and constantly growing practice, and is universally esteemed and respected, having a host of friends.

Dr. Blake married, April 13, 1869, in Benton County, Arkansas, Bettie, daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Huff) Odell. Mrs. Blake was born near Warrensburg, Missouri, and is a granddaughter of Dr. William Huff, of a family prominent in that community. The children born to Dr. and Mrs. Blake are: Dr. Edward W., his father's partner, a graduate of the Missouri Medical College in the class of 1897, and unmarried; Burrus, who died in Tahlequah in 1893, at the age of twenty-one years; and Sadie, who died in the same year, two years younger. Dr. Edward W. Blake is a Royal Arch Mason.


HE IS essentially a man of affairs, is well carrying on his part in financial and civic circles, being president of the Vinita National Bank of Vinita, and an active factor in promoting the city's growth and prosperity. A son of George W. Hill, he was born, September 21, 1863, in Walker county, Georgia, near LaFayette, and was there reared and educated. His grandfather. Adam Hill, was an Irishman, who settled in South Carolina on coming to this country, and was one of the "Nullifiers" of 1832, He subsequently' moved to Georgia, and spent his last years in that state, dying in Bartow county.

George W. Hill was born in South Carolina, and during the Civil war served as a soldier in the Confederate army. He subsequently embarked in mercantile pursuits in his native state, remaining there until 1888. when he removed to Vinita. Oklahoma, where he is still a resident. He married a Cherokee, Rachel Davis, a daughter of Martin Davis, of the Cherokee country. She died in Vinita in 1907, leaving two children, namely: Davis, the special subject of this personal narrative; and Robert, a business man in Claremont, Oklahoma.

After leaving the public schools of his native district, Davis Hill began his business career as a general merchant in his home community. Coming from there to Vinita in 1886, he was here similarly engaged for a number of years, being quite successful as a merchant. In 1897, realizing the city's need of a financial institution, he organized the Vinita National Bank, with the management of which he has since been actively identified in an official capacity. The bank was capitalized at fifty thousand dollars, and had as its first officers William Little, president; L. W. Buffington, vice-president; and Mr. Hill, cashier. In 1902 the concern was recaptured with a capital of one hundred and ten thousand dollars, and three years later Mr. Hill was chosen its president, L. W. Buffington being made vice-president and J. E. Buffington, cashier. The bank's statement made in the summer of 1909 showed deposits amounting to one hundred and twenty-seven thousand dollars, with a surplus and profits of seventeen thousand dollars. During the year 1904 Mr. Hill was manager of the Ratcliff-Sanders Wholesale Grocery Company, of which he is a stockholder and director, but returned to the bank the following year.

Politically a Democrat, Mr. Hill was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention held at Kansas City in 1900, and was one of the original Bryan men from the Cherokee nation. He was a member of the City Council in 1893 and 1894, when the water works was built and the sewer system established, and since 1898 has been a member of the Vinita Board of Education, being now its president. During that time the educational progress of the city has been marked, while the corps of teachers carrying on the regular work of the schools has been increased from eight to twenty.

On November 29, 1888, Mr. Hill married Fannie Parks, who was born near Southwest City, Missouri, in the Cherokee Nation, in 1872, a daughter of Jefferson Parks, a pioneer of the Cherokee nation, and into their pleasant household nine children have been born, namely: George Robert. James J., William T., Rachel, John R., Maria A., Frances Elizabeth, Mary Davis, and Orville H. Mr. Hill is a member of the Knights of Pythias of Vinita. He has devoted his attention to the serious matters of everyday life, and in his quiet, unostentatious way has built up a reputation for those substantial qualities that mark the true man and worthy citizen.


The postmaster of Tahlequah, was reared on a farm less than two miles south of the city. He was born July 21, 1866, in Cherokee county, North Carolina, a son of D. A. Gray and grandson of Anderson Gray, a farmer who died in North Carolina some twenty years ago. He passed a portion of his life in Tennessee, and his son, D. A. Gray, was born in that state seventy-nine years ago, but he moved into North Carolina before the Civil war, in which he served for the cause of the Union.

D. A. Gray married Ann E. Phillips, whose people were of the Tarheel state, and their children were: Alice, wife of John L. Springston, of Vian, Oklahoma; William L. and Horace, of Cherokee county; Boone, of Owasso, Oklahoma; Emma, wife of Thomas M. Buffington, ex-chief of the Cherokees; Misses Bessie and Sonora, on the farm near Tahlequah; Victoria, who married Oliver Hedges, of Welling, Oklahoma; Spencer, a clerk in the Tahlequah post office. and widow of Toll Blackard; and James, a farmer living near Tahlequah.

As he had no Cherokee antecedents, Horace Gray was not allowed to attend the public schools along with his playmates, but for his education was dependent upon the Baptist Mission School in Tahlequah. His parents were not in such circumstances as would warrant them in giving their children a liberal education, so the young boy was perforce obliged to be content with only a mediocre education. At the age of twenty years he sought a wider field for his abilities, and began his business career as clerk in the mercantile house of Thomas J. Adair, one of the foremost business men of the capital. He remained there seven years, and then spent two years in the employ of J. W. Stapler and Son. He was then appointed district revenue inspector by the United States government, and in this capacity was on the lookout for infractions of the regulations providing for the payment of royalties to the Cherokees, and filled this position two years. He was next made deputy United States marshal, being office man at Tahlequah for Lee E. Bennett. He was appointed by Mr. Bennett's successor, W. H. Darrough, and was elected mayor of Tahlequah on the Republican ticket, being the first Republican elected to that office in Tahlequah on a straight Republican ticket. He was holding this position when statehood changed the responsibility of these matters.

Mr. Gray has held the office of postmaster since a few months after statehood began, his appointment being dated July 31, 1908. Like the remainder of his family, Mr. Gray is an earnest adherent of the Republican party. He is a conscientious, upright citizen, and has always filled the offices entrusted to him with ability and distinction. He is past chancellor of the Tahlequah Lodge of Knights of Pythias, and has a wide circle of friends. He is a tall man, with an easy, graceful bearing, of a dignified manner, and universally esteemed. His business training is of the best, and he is well fitted for the position of trust held by him.

Mr. Gray married, February 12, 1896. near Tahlequah, Mat-tie Whitewater, a young woman three-quarter Cherokee, who was left an orphan in childhood. She became mother of one son, Carleton, born December 25, 1899, and Mrs. Gray died January of 1909.


The builder and owner of the Niceley mill and elevator plant at Miami, has been a prominent figure in the affairs of Ottawa's county-seat for nearly a generation. He was born January 18, 1859, in Saint Clair county. Missouri, where his father, Jacob J. Niceley, lived with his family for a few years.

Coming from German lineage. Jacob J. Niceley was born in the Shenandoah valley. Virginia, in 1828. A millwright by trade, he moved from Virginia to Tennessee, from there migrating to Missouri in the fifties. Returning to Tennessee prior to the Civil war, he served for three years in that conflict as captain of the Ninth Tennessee Cavalry of Union troops. He was subsequently prominently identified with construction work in his line of work in Knox county, Tennessee. He was a stanch Republican in politics, and was chosen magistrate of his community east of Knoxville, where he resided until his death in 1900. He was one of a large family of children of Jacob Niceley, a lifelong resident of Virginia, who reared several daughters and two sons, Jacob J. and Andrew.

Jacob J. Niceley married Annie R. Neff, a daughter of Captain David Neff, a planter and slave owner, who served as a captain in the Confederate army during the Civil war. Five children were born of their union, namely: William A., of Tulsa, Oklahoma; George W., of this sketch; Samuel, a miller in Knox county, Tennessee; Hugh, in the lumber business in that county; and Lucy, wife of Dr. Wormington, of Miami.

Acquiring a practical education in the graded and high schools of Dandridge, Tennessee, George W. Niceley began his active career in the west, becoming interested in a company engaged in the manufacture of lumber near Buena Vista, Colorado, and subsequently becoming connected with mill operations in Salida, Colorado, where he remained four years. Returning east then as far as Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Niceley there spent two years as a contractor, doing the grading of many of its streets and other similar work as opportunity presented itself. Coming from Kansas City to the Indian Territory in 1889 Mr. Niceley began the active career which has led to his present standing as a citizen and as a man. Limited in means, he turned his attention to the only available industry at that time, and began farming on Tar creek as a tenant of Charles Labadie. The following year he rented land of the widow of Dick Williams, on the Cherokee side of Neosho river. At the end of the year, having made some advance in finances, Mr. Niceley contracted for a saw mill, for he could not have bought one, and the next few years was an operator along the timber belt of the Neosho river, cutting lumber for the Indian homes and for the erection of the first residences and other structures in Miami, which was then making its initial bow as an urban quantity.

In 1897 Mr. Niceley took up his residence in Miami and built his one hundred barrel per day flour mill, which was the first mill in Miami. Ten years later, in 1907, his milling property down the river was destroyed by fire, making it necessary for him to rebuild. Locating this time on the Frisco track, he erected a mill with an elevator capacity of twenty-five thousand bushels, and with a grinding capacity of fifty barrels of flour per day. This plant has become one of the important industrial institutions of Miami, and to its management Mr. Niceley gives his daily attention. He is a stockholder in the Miami State Bank, which he assisted in organizing, and owns his modest home adjacent to his mill site, and other city real estate.

Politically affiliated with the Republicans, Mr. Niceley has served in the city council many terms, and was a member when the franchise for electric light was granted and when the contract for the sewer system was let. Fraternally he belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is a thirty-second degree Mason and a Shriner.

On December 27, 1898, in Lincoln County, Kansas, Mr. Niceley married Daisy E. Ferguson, who was born in Jefferson County, Kansas, in 1877, a daughter of Harvey Ferguson, a native of Indiana. Two children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Niceley namely: Georgia and Glenn.


He has been for nearly twelve years a resident of Miami, has during that time been actively identified with its mercantile growth and prosperity, and has contributed his full share in advancing the material welfare of this part of Ottawa county. A native of Ohio, he was born December 16, 1864, near Wooster, Wayne county, a son of the late Isaac Harned.

Born in 1824 in Coshocton county, Ohio, the son of a sturdy Scotchman who emigrated from Scotland to Ohio and located in Coshocton county, Isaac Harned, lived there during his earlier years. He enlisted in a regiment of Ohio cavalry during the Civil war, and spent nine months of his service of four years in Andersonville as a prisoner of the Confederate government. Subsequently settling in Wayne county, Ohio, he was engaged in general farming near Wooster until his death in 1902. He was a pioneer thresher of that locality, for nearly thirty years operating a threshing machine.

Isaac Harned married Mary Arnold, who died in May, 1903. Her father, John Arnold, moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio, becoming an early settler of Wayne county, where he took up a Government claim, from which he cleared the heavy timber and improved a good homestead. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Harned, as follows: William S., of whom we write in this biographical sketch; Ella, wife of Thomas McAfee, of Wayne County, Ohio: Amos, of Cleveland, Ohio, who, as superintendent of construction for the Severy-Morgan Iron Company is filling a heavy government contract in Seattle, Washington; and Ohio Harned, of Shreve, Ohio.

Acquiring his early education in the district schools, William S. Harned remained on the home farm until reaching man's estate. Turning his steps westward in 1888, he located in Tribune, Kansas, where for two years he was engaged in the lumber business. Going thence south, he spent eight years in Arkansas City, Kansas, five years of the time being employed as a brakeman on the Santa Fe Railway. While on a trip from Arkansas City to Purcell he was accidentally run over and his left foot was cut off. This misfortune putting an end to his railroad work, Mr. Harned operated a flour mill at Cedarville, Kansas, for two years, from there, coming to Miami in 1898.

Immediately embarking in mercantile pursuits, Mr. Harned associated himself with Lau Wade, and they subsequently erected a handsome stone and brick business building, fifty feet by one hundred and twenty feet. Recently the firm of Harned and Wade has been changed to Wade, Harned and Malone by the entrance of Mr. Malone to the firm, and is carrying on a substantial business, the company being enterprising and progressive in its methods.
As a loyal citizen of Miami, Mr. Harned has ever been willing to bear his share of the burden of public service. He has-frequently been and is at the present time a member of the city council, and as such aided in granting the franchise for the water works, in carrying to completion the sewerage system, and in the building of the City Hall. He is president of the Miami Commercial Club, and, although a Republican on national and state issues, is liberal as a voter on county matters.

Mr. Harned married, in Wichita, Kansas. September 24, 1890. Jennie Griffin, who was born in Illinois in 1862, a daughter of John Griffin, now a resident of Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Mr. and Mrs. Harned are the parents of four children, namely: Glenn, Harold, Earl and Margaret. He owns his pleasant home at the corner of Fourth and Pine streets, and has other city property of value.


HE is the first sheriff of Cherokee County under statehood. He is a Cherokee citizen, a man of education and influence, and has been identified with his people and the general citizenship of this part of Oklahoma in a manner worthy of recognition in local history.

The family was founded here by his grandfather, Jesse Sanders, who was born in Alabama, a full-blood Cherokee, and died near Tahlequah in 1890, when past seventy years of age. He was well educated, and served in the national legislature as senator and in 1880 took the Cherokee census, always performing his duties with modesty and efficiency. He married a Miss Catron, and their children were: Madison; Clemmie, wife of Thomas Blair, of Akins, Oklahoma; Wuttie, who married Michael Mayfield and is now deceased; John C., of Wauhillau; and Henry, deceased.

Madison Sanders, the father, was born in Tahlequah district, December 10, 1848, and has lived the quiet life of a farmer and dealer in stock. He once served as sheriff of his district and in Indian politics belonged to the National party, but since statehood has acted with the Democrats, who elected his son the first sheriff of Cherokee County. He married Louisa Holland, a Cherokee, and daughter of James Holland. Their children are: Callie, wife of E. R. Alberty; Cynthia, wife of William Johnson: Jesse L.: James S.; Henry, of California; Lizzie, deceased; Geneva, wife of Thomas Johnson; Carl; and Sue.

James 8. Sanders grew up on his father's farm and completed his education in the Tahlequah Male Seminary, where he was graduated June 10, 1903. His first duties in independent citizenship were as teacher in the public schools, and he followed this vocation three years, being connected with the Orphans Home one year. In 1007 he became a candidate for the nomination of sheriff, and won the nomination at the primaries against three rivals. He was elected by a majority of one hundred forty-six votes, and on statehood day became the first sheriff of the county. A large amount of unfinished business was left to him from the U. S. marshal's office, and his official career has been a busy one. Mr. Sanders is a Knight of Pythias, and his family belong to the Methodist church.

He married, December 26, 190J, Miss Minnie L. Holland, of a Cherokee family, her brother and sisters being: Louisa, wife of W. W. Lowry, Fannie and Robert Holland. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders have two children: Cherry 0. and Robert Owen.


He is not only one of the leading practitioners of Checotah, in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, but also a prominent Democrat who during the first state legislature originated considerable legislation whose wisdom is now being endorsed and incorporated into the body politic of the commonwealth. The Doctor is a native of Johnson County, Arkansas, born January 1st. 1862, and is a son of John and Cynthia (Davis) Snelson. The family is of Scandinavian origin, settling in the south after the Revolutionary war. It is known that James Snelson, grandfather of Andrew J., lost the sight of both his eyes in the war of 1812. The parents were both natives of Tennessee, who came to Arkansas with their parents and were married in Johnson County prior to the Civil war. John Snelson, the father, left his Arkansas farm, joined the Confederate army in 1862, and belonged to the company commanded by Captain J. W. May. of Clarksville, Arkansas. He participated in numerous battles in the Trans-Mississippi department. His death was the direct result of a wound which he received at the battle of Camden. Arkansas, and he left a widow and one son-the latter being Andrew J., of this biography.

Mrs. John Snelson was again married, her second husband being Lawrence W. Pitts, of Johnson County. Eight of the nine children born of this union reached mature years. Rev. Charles E. Pitts is a Presbyterian minister at Pauls Valley, Oklahoma; U. D. resides in Oktaha, Oklahoma; Zalgar Pitts and Samuel R. live in Checotah; and Dilla is also a resident of Oklahoma. Mrs. Pitts, the mother of this family and of the Doctor, passed away in 1907. Her father died of pneumonia in Texas in the year 1875.

Andrew J. Snelson received his early education in the country schools of his native state, and at the age of eighteen began to teach school in Johnson County. He thus continued in the same County from 1880 to the fall of 1897, when he matriculated in the medical department of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. For some time he had been a close medical student, in the midst of his labors as a teacher, so that he was well qualified to begin the practice of medicine when he moved to Wister, Choctaw nation, before the end of 1897. But he did not engage in active professional work until 1899, and after practicing three years at Wister located at Oktaha, Oklahoma, then Indian Territory, where he remained until 1908.

While residing at Oktaha Dr. Snelson was elected by the Democracy of Muskogee County to the first legislature of the state of Oklahoma, being one of the most prominent members of the lower house during the session of 1907-8. The legislature formally convened on the 2nd of December, 1907, and the Doctor served energetically and efficiently as chairman of the committee on Manufactures and Commerce, and as a member of the committees on Charities and Corrections Pharmacy and House Expense and Accounts and of Investigations of the Judicial and Executive Departments of the state government. He was soon recognized as an aggressive, independent and brave member who liked nothing better than to come out into the open of debate, strike from the shoulder and engage in a lively, warm and manly contest. Notwithstanding his enthusiasm and force of argument several of the important bills which he introduced and advocated were blocked from passage-measures which were demanded by the public and became a law at the second session of the legislature. The Doctor voted for the prohibition bill as it stands, but supported it as a compromise, being then as now a firm believer in local option.

The Doctor's noteworthy service in Oklahoma's first legislature was not his first experience in public and official life. While still living in Arkansas he served as surveyor of Johnson County four years or two terms, being elected by the people. He was the first mayor of Wister, Oklahoma, in 1900, and in 1905 was at the head of the local government of Oktaha, Oklahoma. He located at Checotah in 1908, and since his return from the legislature has been actively engaged in professional practice. He takes an active part in school and church affairs, and is widely known as an enthusiastic fraternalist. He is a member of the Checotah lodge of Odd Fellows and of the encampment at 'Muskogee; belongs to the Knights of Pythias and is identified with the Checotah lodge of Masons No. 86 and also with the Royal Arch chapter. Both he and his family are members of the Presbyterian church, of which the Doctor is an elder and a trustee.

On February 25, 1885, Dr. A. J. Snelson and Miss Frankie Laster were united in matrimony at Harmony in Johnson County, Arkansas. Mrs. Snelson is a daughter of Robert F. and Margarette B. (Hyten) Laster. Her father was a farmer, and moved to Arkansas in the forties. He also joined the Confederate army at the beginning of the Civil war and was selected as first lieutenant, which place he filled with honor until his death, which occurred at the battle of Camden, Arkansas, while at the head of his command leading a charge. A very strange coincidence was that the Doctor's father and Mrs. Snelson's father were both killed in the same battle, but of this fact they knew nothing until after their marriage in 1885.

The two children born to Robert F. Laster and his wife were Laura A., who became the wife of Dr. J. M. McPherson. of Sasakwa. Oklahoma, and Frankie, Mrs. Snelson. Mrs. Laster married William Jones for her second husband, and their daughter Zora is now the wife of James Gains, of Oklahoma. To the marriage of Dr. and Mrs. Snelson nine children have been born, as follows: Arthur, deceased; A. L., a bookkeeper in a Checotah store; Robert M., Grover M., Fay, Lawrence, R, Page, Charley and Andrew P. Snelson.


Agent of the Saint Louis and San Francisco Railway Company at Vinita, Craig County, has been associated with the railroad work of Oklahoma since 1888, more than a score of years, and since beginning his present line of business has the distinction of having had his name appear on the pay roll of no other company than this, his first lessons in railroading having been received in an office of this corporation. A native of the central west, he was born, December 22, 1865, in Clinton County, Ohio, which was likewise the birthplace of his father, John Deck. His grandfather, Jonathan Deck, whose emigrant ancestor came from Holland to the United States, spent his early life in Virginia, from there moving to Ohio in the early part of the nineteenth century.

Born in 1833. John Deck grew to manhood in his native county, being reared to agricultural pursuits. During the Civil war he enlisted in Company H, Forty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served under General Grant in his campaigns west of the Mississippi river. Taken prisoner at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he was confined a few months at Tyler, Texas, after which he was exchanged and rejoined his regiment, with which he remained until being mustered out of service in ISO"(. He subsequently removed with his family to Jasper County, Missouri, and is now living retired from active business at Sarcoxie. He married, in Clinton County. Ohio. Barbara Baker, a daughter of William Baker, who immigrated to that locality from Maryland. Three children were born to them, as follows: Joseph H.. of Sarcoxie. Missouri; William H., the special subject of this personal review; and Claud M.. of Sarcoxie, Missouri.

First attending the common schools of his native district. William H. Deck completed his early studies in the public schools of Missouri. Leaving the home farm at the age of sixteen years, he became a clerk in a mercantile establishment in Sarcoxie for a time, afterwards being similarly employed at Atoka, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Tiring of that work, he returned to his Missouri home and began his railroad career in the Sarcoxie office of the Frisco road. Developing a special aptitude for the work, he was promoted from time to time, and since coming to Oklahoma Mr. Deck has served the company in the stations at Antlers, Tushkahomma, Braidwood and Fairland, from the latter place coming to his present position of importance at Vinita. Here his relations to the patrons of the road have been especially agreeable and satisfactory, while, having in the meantime entered into the spirit of things urban, and demonstrated his willingness to carry his share of the civil burden, he has rendered good service as a councilman, and is now an active member of the Vinita Board of Education. Politically he is identified with the Republican party.

Mr. Deck married, in 1885, Maud Simmons, a daughter of W. P. Simmons, who went to Missouri with his family from Tennessee. She died a few short years after their marriage, in Sarcoxie, where her wedding was solemnized, leaving one child, Herbert L. Deck. Mr. Deck married for his second wife Florence Burden, a daughter of William Burden, also of Sarcoxie, and of this union three children have been born, namely: Maurice, born in November, 1898; Mae. born in November, 1899; and Mildred, born in November, 1904.


Of Tahlequah, son of the late pioneer merchant Johnson Thompson, is a descendant of one of the original migrators of the Cherokees from Georgia to the lands allotted the nation in the Indian country. Although born in the Chickasaw nation, in southern Oklahoma. February 8, 1865, he was reared and educated in the Cherokee nation among his own people, and has passed an active and influential life under tribal and commonwealth relations.
Dr. Thompson's father was born in Cass County, Georgia, February 10, 1822, and was a son of James Allen Thompson, a white man, and Martha Lynch, a Cherokee woman. The family also included Rev. Joseph F., of Tahlequah; Martin, who died near Claremore, leaving a family; and Mrs. Van Edmunson, a resident of Maysville, Arkansas. Johnson Thompson's education was obtained in private schools maintained by the Georgia planters, in the Viniard township school of Benton County. Arkansas, and in the city schools of Bentonville, that state. In 1837, when he was fifteen years of age, his father (James Allen Thompson) migrated from Georgia to the Cherokee country and Johnson commenced business as a clerk in the store of his maternal uncle, J. M. Lynch, of Bentonville. He thus entered the commercial field at the age of eighteen, remaining with Lynch and Company until he was nearly twenty-one, or until January 5, 1843, when ho married Miss Eliza C. Taylor, daughter of Richard Taylor, second chief of the Cherokees. Mr. Taylor's wife (mother of Mrs. Johnson Thompson) was a daughter of George Fields, a prominent United States officer and on the pension rolls of his country. About four years after his marriage Mr. Thompson became an independent general merchant, and continued in active business for many years. He was in the Confederate service as quartermaster of the First Cherokee Regiment, and retired only after having been disabled in the field. Afterward, until 1868, he conducted his farm in Chickasaw (upon which the Doctor was born), and then returned to the Cherokee nation and engaged in farming and selling goods on Grand river, about two miles east of the present site of Vinita. There he remained until the building of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway and the location of the station of Vinita, when he transferred his stock to the first business building of the place. Johnson Thompson continued at that point until 1876, when he located at Tahlequah, the capital of the nation, and resumed mercantile pursuits. At his death in 1904 he had attained a position as one of the foremost merchants and citizens of the Cherokee nation. His wife, who had preceded him some years, was the mother of Thomas F., a farmer still residing near Vinita; James, who is a merchant of that place; Robert J., of Tahlequah: Dr. Joseph M., of this biography; and Jane A., who died at Los Angeles, California, in 1908, as the wife of R. M. French. The father of this family was not only one of the oldest merchants of Cherokee County, but joined one of the first Masonic lodges to be organized in the nation.

Joseph M. Thompson received a good business training in his father's store, and was thoroughly educated in the public schools, the Male Seminary at Tahlequah and the old Indian University, graduating from the latter in 1885. After reading with Dr. Allen, of Tahlequah, he completed a regular course at the Missouri Medical College, St. Louis, from which he graduated in 1889. He commenced active practice as medical superintendent of high schools and seminaries of the nation, to which position he was appointed by the government and which ho acceptably filled for four years. In his private capacity he has actively and successfully continued his professional work until the past year (1908-9), since which he has devoted more time than formerly to his personal property interests and to his artistic studies and performances. From early boyhood he has evinced marked gifts as an artist with pen and pencil, and the walls of his home abound with his striking reproductions of the human face and form. fancy also often runs riot, producing such conceits as the "development of the mushroom" and the "changeable face." The extensive grounds around his attractive home in Tahlequah also bear witness both to his line taste and his prosperity, and, as the owner and developer of business property, he evinces practical ability of a decided stamp. As a fraternalist the Doctor is a Mason and a Knight of Pythias. He is a Democrat in politics, but has never held office other than that of pension examiner-a government position, but which is more of a professional than a political nature. On February 21, 1889, Dr. Thompson married Miss Lulu Elliott, daughter of George W. Elliott (white) and Anna Carr (Cherokee) and she was born in the nation December 24, 1869. The children of this union are as follows: Anna Christine, born November 23, 1889; Edward H., born August 8, 1891; Mayme Lovenia, born April 4, 1895; and Lucile Elliott, born December 1, 1899, who died in the following year. The family adheres to the faith of the Methodist church.


Possessing faith in the industrial possibilities of the Indian Territory, and ever willing to take full-hearted issue with the future, F. G. Babcock, of Miami, has within recent years become a builder of the county-seat of Ottawa County, and was, perhaps, one of the first white men to buy land in the Peoria nation and reside on and improve the same. A son of Leicester Babcock, he was born, November 21, 1848, in Queenstown, Canada West, at the foot of General Brook's monument, which was likewise the birthplace of his mother.

A native of New York State, Leicester Babcock was born, in 1814, in Canadaigua, and received a liberal education at Mount Morris, that state, becoming identified with the legal fraternity. Moving to Saint Louis, Missouri, in the early part of his career, in 1847, he was there engaged in the active practice of his profession for many years, and died in that city in 1907, at the venerable age of eighty-nine. As one of the leading Democrats of his community he was early drawn into city politics, and served not only in the city council, but in the Recorder's office, and was one of the founders of Lafayette Park. He married Abigail Helen Guernsey, a daughter of John Guernsey, of Queenstown, Canada West, and she, too, died in Saint Louis, and is buried beside her husband in Belfountain Cemetery. Their children were F. G., the special subject of this brief personal notice; William L., of Saint Louis, a traveling salesman; and Lucy H., wife of W. H. Grayson, of Saint Louis.

Completing his early studies at Washington University in Saint Louis, F. G. Babcock when but sixteen years old, tiring of home restraints, "ran away," hiring out to Captain John S. Doyle, captain of a boat on the upper Missouri River. His first trip took him into the wilds of the far northwest, the voyage terminating at Fort Benton, Montana, and covering some three thousand miles. It was taken during the Civil war, when the upper Missouri was almost unknown to the white man. He subsequently spent three years on the river, traveling between Saint Louis and New Orleans, after which he was for four years a clerk in the hardware establishment of C. W. Burt in Omaha, Nebraska. Continuing work for the same employer, Mr. Babcock spent the ensuing two years in New Orleans, from there being transferred to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he remained four years. Locating then in Saint Louis he was for two years a traveling salesman for the Ewald Iron Company.

Beginning his career as a commercial traveler in 1876, Mr. Babcock continued in that occupation twenty-one years, during which time he obtained his first connection with the people of what is now Oklahoma, his territory while in the employ of the Sligo Iron Store Company embracing a part of the Indian Territory. Discarding the "grip" in 1897, Mr. Babcock settled upon his half section of land in the Peoria nation, near Seneca, Missouri, and was for ten years employed in the development and improvement of his ranch. Having then reached a point where a life of less strenuosity was warranted, he sold his land and took up his residence in Miami, where he invested in city property, and became, in fact, a town builder. Here he has erected several valuable residential properties, and, in company with C. W. Fribley, built a two story stone business house, of which he is now the sole owner. Like many of his fellow-townsmen, Mr. Babcock has become interested in developing the zince and lead resources of Ottawa County. As a citizen he was interested in forwarding statehood, and served as a delegate to the convention held for that purpose at Durant.

Mr. Babcock has been twice married. He married first, in 1874, in Pevely, Missouri. Belle W. Rankin, and married second, November 23, 1898, Marietta Myers. He has no living children by either union.


It was in June, 1891, that George W. Bigham identified himself with Miami, Ottawa County, and started a business career that has continued active and grown in intensity from that year until the present time. It was he who, just south of the C. P. Williams home, built the first business house of the place, and it was he who erected a store building at the corner of Fifth and Main streets, thereby establishing the business center of the new town. He has ever utilized his capabilities to full advantage and at full energy, and is numbered among the more highly esteemed and substantial men of the section of the county. A son of Robert Bigham, he was born, February 22, 1851, in Akron, Ohio, coming on both sides of the house from families long prominent in New York state.

Robert Bigham was born in 1820 in Pennsylvania, and as a young man migrated to Ohio, where he followed the trade of a carpenter and builder. Prior to the Civil war he moved with his family to Illinois, and until his death, in 1865, was a resident of Abingdon. He married, in Ohio, Mary J. Hood, a daughter of Caleb Hood, of New York state, and they became the parents of seven children, as follows: John, of Medicine Lodge, Kansas; C. S., of Kansas City, Missouri; George W., with whom this sketch is mostly concerned; Frank M., engaged in farming in Ottawa County, Oklahoma; Richard T., of Garfield, Washington; and Kate E., wife of J. W. Markey, of Danville, Kansas. The mother survived the father and married for her second husband Chester Fuller and spent the remainder of her life in Keely, Kansas.

Growing to manhood in Knox County. Illinois, George W. Bigham obtained his early education in the country schools near Oneida. Beginning the struggle of life for himself at the age of nineteen years, he joined E. B. Roberts and started for the border of settlement on the Kansas prairies. He literally worked his way across the country, his earthly possessions when he started consisting of a scant wardrobe, packed in a diminutive satchel, and two dollars in cash. Locating in Cherokee County. Mr. Roberts furnished the team which Mr. Bigham drove in breaking up the prairie land, the money thus earned being equally divided between the two. At the end of a year Mr. Bigham secured a team of his own, and from 1872 until 1884 was engaged in farming near Melrose. Selling his farm in the latter year he opened a mercantile establishment in Melrose, and conducted it successfully until 1903, having in the meantime become actively interested in Miami.

After he had been in Miami a few years Mr. Bigham combined the stocks of his two stores, which he had established in the same year, concentrating his efforts on Main street. For a long time he was an extensive dealer in grain, for a number of years hauling it to Baxter Springs, his nearest market. much of the surplus grain of the farmers living in the vicinity of Miami passing through his hands, his margins amply repaying him for his trouble. He afterwards added farm implements to his stock, handling them in a separate building, but this branch of his business was subsequently turned over to his son for a period of four years, while he, himself, devoted his entire attention to the care of his near-by farm. Returning to the counter in 1906, Mr. Bigham added lumber to his other interests, and soon organized the Bigham Lumber Company, which was incorporated with a capital of twenty-five thousand dollars, with Mr. Bigham as president. H. F. Reniker, vice-president, and W. M. Williams as secretary and treasurer. Later Peter McCullough was made vice-president, and Mr. Bigham became secretary and treasurer. In 1908 this enterprise passed by sale to the Coyne Lumber Company, the Bighams being left with the implement business only.

Mr. Bigham has continued to handle Miami realty, and now owns some of the most valuable property in the city. If his plans carry, the home of his immense business will soon occupy quarters almost in the heart of the town, and the plant will equal anything of its kind in northeastern Oklahoma. In 1907 he became interested in mining, and during that year the "Emma Gordon" was opened up near Huttonville, and in 1908 n property embracing two hundred acres was capitalized at one hundred thousand dollars, and a four hundred-ton mill was erected. A tailing mill has since been built. and the mine is being operated according to the latest and most approved modern methods. From the opening of the first mill this property has yielded good returns, and is destined to become famous in the Miami field as a dividend earner.

Purchasing stock in the Miami State Bank almost at its founding, the name of George W. Bigham has since been frequently upon its official board. In politics a Republican, he is interested and active in urban affairs, and served as a commissioner from 1906 until the office was abolished by statehood. Fraternally Mr. Bigham is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and of the Kansas jurisdiction of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
At Melrose, Kansas, in March, 1875, Mr. Bigham married Jennie Jarrett, and to them two children have been born, namely: Elmer J., secretary and treasurer of the implement firm, married Mattie McVey; and Mary I., who was educated in Illinois, at Monticello College.


The first County Attorney of Grove, Delaware County, was born in Oregon County, Missouri, January 26, 1870. His father, a farmer, was born in Virginia and died near Greenfield, Missouri, on January 9, 1895; his mother was born in North Carolina resides in Dade County, near Greenfield, Missouri, on the same farm where the subject of this sketch spent the most of his boyhood and early manhood.

After attending the public schools, which at that time were of short duration and primitive both in equipment and instruction, Mr. Coppedge attended Ozark College at Greenfield, Missouri, and later Morrisville College at Morrisville. Missouri. He taught in the public schools of Dade County for a period ',f eight years, and was for two years principal of the public school at Everton, Missouri, and served one term of two years as school commissioner of his county, the only elective office in the county which required a teacher to fill. He was married on August 12, 1895, to Miss Nettie Buchanan, and they have four interesting children: Hugh, born June 3, 1896; James, born August 3, 1900; Lucile, born October 11, 1905; and Marjorie, born December 29, 1907. Mrs. Coppedge's father was a native of North Carolina and died at Everton, Missouri, in 1905. Her mother still resides there.

Mr. Coppedge received his legal education at the University of Missouri, graduating from the law department of that institution in 1899, after which he located at Dadeville, Missouri, and moved from there to Grove and thence to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, in 1903. While in the University he twice represented that institution in Inter State debate, once with the University of Nebraska and once with Wisconsin Law School, both debates being won by the Missourians. He was elected County Attorney of Delaware County at the first state election held, September 17, 1907, and was inducted into his present office November 16, 1907. It fell to his lot to inherit nearly one hundred old United States cases, among which were the cases against the noted Wicliffs for the murder of Isaac Gilstrap, deputy marshal several years ago. All the old inherited cases were disposed of and the new ones are taken care of as they arise, and are not allowed to accumulate. Delaware County is the only one in the First Judicial District that has any money in the court fund, though the levy for that fund has not at any time been large and the law is vigorously enforced under his administration.


One of the notable figures of Wagoner County is Luther Opry, of Wagoner, who has served as sheriff of this county since Oklahoma was admitted to statehood. Prior to that time he was for many years a typical frontier character, at the forefront in all deeds of daring, chance and sport. His transition from that especial phase of life to the diametrically opposed one which he is now living has commanded the respect of his fellow-men, who have elected him to a high official position in public affairs and are giving him their hearty support and encouragement in his endeavors to faithfully perform the duties devolving upon him in this capacity. A son of B. S. Opry, he was born, August 26, 1875, in Kimble County, Texas, where he was brought up and educated.

Born and bred in Alabama, his birth occurring in 1825, B. S. Opry went from there to Texas when a boy, and was for a number of years a farmer and miller in the eastern part of the state. During the Civil war he served as a teamster in the Confederate army. Subsequently coming to the Choctaw country he helped take out the first four loads of coal mined in the vicinity of McAlester. He subsequently lived for a time at Duncan but spent his last years in Weleetka, dying in 1902. He was three times married. None of the children born of his first union are living. By his second marriage he became the father of three children, James, who died in Titus County, Texas; Rosinda, wife of James Franklin, of Titus County, Texas; and Mollie, wife of Ben Holcomb, of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. For his third wife B. S. Opry married in Arkansas, Miss Josephine Jones, a native of Tennessee, and they became the parents of three children, namely: Luther, the special subject of this sketch; Walter, deceased; and Ollie, wife of T. J. Crowell, of Coweta, Oklahoma.

Obtaining his early education in a somewhat noted subscription school of his Texan home, Luther Opry acquired his first knowledge of practical work on a ranch in the cattle region of central Texas, and that was supplemented by a similar experience on an Oklahoma range, near Claremore, where he located in 1893. He had then scholarly ambitions, and his earnings as a ranch boy furnished funds to pay his expenses for two years at the Baptist mission school in Tahlequah. where he made substantial progress in his studies, fitting him for a successful business career.

While ranching, however, and associating with the personnel of the cow-boy fraternity, young Opry acquired habits of extravagance and sportsmanship which, for a period of years, enthralled him, threatening to wreck what promised a useful career. Card playing in the wild country threw him into the company of those who depended upon that sport for a livelihood, and he subsequently established himself at Coweta, where he fitted up a place in which men's fortunes came and went, according to their good or ill luck with cards or dice, and for a few years continued as proprietor of tables where the -'game" in all its phases was played. After a time, being aroused by the dictates of his conscience to the foolishness of his ways, Mr. Opry suddenly wished his old companions well, quit his old haunts, and appeared before the public as a loyal and faithful citizen, a position that he has firmly maintained.

When making the race for sheriff of Wagoner County, Mr. Opry frankly related the story of his past, and his works have since proved that his reformation was complete and permanent. lie-asked for the votes of the Republicans at the primary for the nomination, defeated his opponent, the people pledging themselves to support him at the polls, and at the election he received a majority of four hundred and thirty votes. He assumed the office at statehood, and the record that he promised his constituents is being daily made good. When Mr. Opry took the office much of the Federal business was incomplete, but of all the cases then hanging less than half a dozen now remain, those being against fugitives from justice who have left the slate for the commonwealth's good Becoming interested in politics in Coweta, when nothing but a municipal fight was possible, Mr. Opry became identified with the Republicans long before statehood, and took the McKinley side of the contest between him and the "Great Commoner." In 1907 he was a delegate to the First State Republican Convention, which was held at Tulsa, and at that time was elected recorder of his town.

Mr. Opry is a property owner in both Coweta and Wagoner, in the former town having business houses which he erected, showing him to be one of the upbuilders of that thriving place. He is also one of the stockholders of the Citizens' State Bank of Wagoner.

Mr. Opry married, January 9, 1901. Mrs. Fannie Nash, a daughter of Doctor Smith and widow of George Nash. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Opry, Jesse and Thelma.


Distinguished as the pioneer physician of Miami, Ottawa County, William L. McWilliams, M. D., has been a resident of this city since its inception in 1891. He was given the first deed to property on the townsite, and the improvement of it provided him a home which served his family until its sale in 1908. A son of the late George W. McWilliams, he was born, April 29, 1865, in Lewis County, Missouri, coming on the paternal side from Scotch-Irish ancestry, the founder of the McWilliams family in America having settled in Virginia in early colonial days.

Born in Hardin County, in 1837, George W. McWilliams was a representative of a pioneer of that place. Subsequently moving to Lewis County, Missouri, he served as captain of a company of Missouri militia during the Civil war, his sympathies being entirely with l he north. He married Lucy M. Clapp, a daughter of Edwin Clapp, who married a lady of the same surname, both being lineal descendants of one of the Mayflower passengers that settled in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, in 1620. She was born and bred in the old Bay state, and is now living in La Belle, Missouri, a widow, her husband having been killed by a stroke of lightning in 1873. She has three children, namely: Dr. William L., the special subject of this brief biographical review; and the Misses Anna and Lula M., teachers in the public schools of La Belle County.

Growing to manhood in a modest home, supported by a small farm and the strenuous efforts of his widowed mother. William L. McWilliams acquired his rudimentary education in the nearby rural schools, fitting himself for a country school teacher, and for a short time teaching in Nebraska, in Ravenna, where he was subsequently employed in an implement store. While there he read medicine with Dr. Bentley, and afterwards entered the medical department of the University of Louisiana, from which he was graduated with the class of 1891. Locating immediately in the Indian Territory, Dr. McWilliams began the practice of his profession in Miami. Meeting with much success, he invested his earnings in city property, and from his hand arose some of the most substantial improvements of the place. He erected the Opera House block, now the county's first Court House, and was one of four men to build the city water works and electric light plant, and was, also, one of the four men to build the toll bridge crossing the river at this point. He is vice-president of the First National Bank of Miami, and has valuable farming interests in the county near by.
In his professional connections the Doctor is a member of both the County and the State Medical Societies, being an ex-president of the former; and is an ex-member of the Indian Territory Examining Board, and of the United States Pension Board of Miami.

Politically Dr. McWilliams is one of the leading Republicans of Ottawa County, having aided in organizing the party locally, and, until statehood was declared, was treasurer of the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Republican Committee. He was a delegate to the National Republican Convention at Philadelphia when, in 1900, McKinley and Roosevelt became the party's nominees, and was one of the committee appointed to notify the vice-president, a duly that was performed at Roosevelt's home, Sagamore, Oyster Bay. Dr. McWilliams was appointed postmaster at Miami by President McKinley, and served acceptably for seven years. Fraternally he is a Scottish Rite Mason, having taken the thirty-second degree, and is a member of Guthrie Consistory.

Dr. McWilliams married, March 11, 1891, Laura E. Scott, one of the nine children of Granville and Ellen Scott, and they are the parents of two children, namely: Harold Austin, born in 1892, and Leo Bruce, three years younger.


Is a native of Oklahoma, and was born in Adair County, October 19, 1855. His parents were married in the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, and came with them to Oklahoma, where they both died, the father at the age of fifty-five and the mother at eighty-one years.

Mr. Buffington engaged in farming and stock raising, and now owns land to a considerable extent. some of which abounds with oil. His chief interests are his real estate business and his oil interests. His education was received in the common schools of the eastern part of the Cherokee country, and he removed to the Delaware District in 1878. He served two terms in the Delaware District as district judge, and afterwards served two terms as senator, being elected president of the senate. By the death of Joel B. Mayes he was made chief, and he held this post two weeks, after which, an election having been ordered, C. J. Harris was elected chief by the council. Mr. Buffington was a delegate to Washington, being elected by the National Council in 1891, and he served about six months. He served four years as circuit judge of Cherokee District, and in 1879, being elected chief of the Cherokees, he served four years. Mr. Buffington was the first Mayor of Vinita, under the Arkansas Law, serving two terms under the Cherokee government and one term after statehood. In 1898 ho was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from the Third District.

Mr. Buffington has been shown many honors by his fellow-citizens, and has the confidence and respect of all who know him. He takes an active interest in the public welfare, and takes a prominent part in the administration of affairs. He married, in 1878, Susie Woodell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, and she died, childless, in 1891. In 1895 he married (second) Emma Gray, reared in Oklahoma, although a white woman, and they became the parents of children as follows: Lucile, now thirteen years of age; Sue Nell, eleven; Maxine, nine; Marie, seven; and Marguerite, four. Mrs. Buffington was born in North Carolina and came to Oklahoma when quite young.

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