Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 9, No. 2
June, 1931

Page 212


Edward Overholser, always called "Ed," died April 21st, 1931, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At the time of his death he was President and General Manager of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, a position he had filled, with great distinction, for several years; in this position he became the recognized leader in all plans for the development and improvement of this City; he became a first rate public speaker, being witty, concise, and to the point; his talks were always appropriate to the occasion, and his repartee added charm to his remarks, but was never calculated to offend even the most sensitive. Because of these qualities, he was known, liked, and in demand as a booster and public speaker, all over this State.

Edward Overholser was born at Sullivan, Indiana, June 20th, 1869. He was a son of the late Henry Overholser, one of this City's pioneers, and best known town builders, and in 1890, after completing four years as a student at the University of Wisconsin, Ed followed his father to this City, and began a career of public service, which made him, for the last 20 years of his life an outstanding public leader. His oldest friends will all tell you that Ed worked best in the lead.

The following is an enumeration of his most important services:

Shortly after coming to this state he organized a Company of Militia. In 1897-8, when the 'Frisco R.R. was building into Oklahoma City, he was in charge of townsites at Stroud, Wellston, Luther and Jones. In an early day he built a long-distance telephone line along the 'Frisco right-of-way; also one at Shawnee; these lines were later sold to, and became a part of the Pioneer Telephone Company's system, now known as the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. He at one time served as Manager of the City Waterworks, and was first Secretary of the State Fair Association; he served one term on the School Board, and one term as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners; during this term the present County Court House and Jail were built. He was chiefly responsible for the present water supply works, and the large lake west of the city, was named Lake Overholser in recognition of his services.

Although a life-long Republican in politics, he made the race for Mayor, and was elected over Will Gault, Jr., a Democrat, at the time Oklahoma City was strongly Democratic in politics. This election recalled to old-timers that in the early days the father of Will Gault, Jr., had defeated Henry Overholser, Ed's father, for this same office. Ed Overholser served four years as Mayor, and his administration had the confidence of all the people, regardless of politics, and is remembered as an honest, fair and efficient administration; in fact, his success as Mayor, and his general popularity, caused him to be frequently, and very seriously mentioned by friends, and in state newspapers, as an available candidate for Governor. He did not seem to care for partisan politics, and never seemed to encourage the use of his name as such candidate.

His service as Mayor, for four years, and as President of the Chamber of Commerce during the great building and expansion period of Oklahoma City, was the real foundation upon which his Statewide acquaintance and popularity rests.

Ed Overholser was an optimist, a booster, and in many ways, a Showman; he knew how to attract and mold the public mind; in fact,

Edward Overholser

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for a number of years he owned and operated the Overholser Opera House, which furnished high class shows and other entertainment for the people of this City. (This Theater has been rebuilt and is now the Warner.)

He was a member of the English Lutheran Church; a Mason, member of the Oklahoma Club; Men's Dinner Club, the Lion's Club, and perhaps others. At request of the City Mayor, all activities of this City were suspended at the sound of whistles, for a moment of silent tribute to Ed Overholser, as the services at his funeral began, in St. Luke's Methodist Church, where a vast display of flowers had been sent from friends in the City and throughout the state, including many from other states. Dr. Forney Hutchinson and Dr. E. C. Mobley, two of the state's outstanding Ministers, conducted the services. His funeral services were attended by a vast number of people, including the Mayor, Councilmen, and other City Officers, the Chief of Police and fifty Policemen in a body; all officials of the Chamber of Commerce; the officials and delegation from all Civic clubs, and organizations, also delegations from a number of the larger cities of the State.

When a young man, he married Miss Allie Garrison, the daughter of George Garrison, the last elected Sheriff of Oklahoma County, prior to Statehood. Two children were born to them; one died in infancy, the other, a son, Edward Jr., now 22 years of age, and his widow, survive him, residing in the family residence, 1001 Northwest 17th Street, Oklahoma City.

Ed Overholser was a good citizen, fair, honest, frank and straightforward in all his dealings and relations with other people.

His death is a real loss to this city; his place will be hard to fill.



Rev. Calvin James Ralston born June 7, 1850, near Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County, Virginia. The Ralstons were of Scotch descent, his great grandfather from Scotland having been one of the early settlers in that county. He was brought up under the influence of Cook's Creek Presbyterian Church near his home, joining that church on his eighteenth birthday under the preaching of Dr. Handy. From his early childhood he was impressed with the idea to preach the Gospel and, as he grew older, this impression became a conviction. His opportunities for an education at that period were meager owing to the Civil War. He attended the Polytechnic Institute at New Market, Virginia, and Richmond College, at Richmond, Virginia. Having taught for several years in 1873 he entered Union Theological Seminary from which he graduated in 1875.

On October 20, 1876, he and Miss Sallie V. Cline, of Rockingham County, Virginia, were married, and as a result of this union three children were born, to-wit: Ava Lillian, Thomas L. and Calvin.

His first pastoral charge was at Clinton, Kentucky; the second at Mossy Creek, Tennessee; and then at Denton, Texas. From this station he was called by the Committee on Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church to take charge of Armstrong Academy, an Indian school in the Choctaw Nation, in 1889, succeeding the late Rev. W. J. B. Lloyd as Superintendent.

At Presbytery held at Tishhoktok in September, 1894, the Rev. Ralston urged the Presbytery to purchase a lot in Durant to establish a

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school, as the Indian Schools were to be taken over by the Indian Government thereby displacing the church management. The Indians misinterpreted this speech as advocating allotment and at the Council meeting the following October a bill was introduced before the Council to eject him from the Territory for advocating allotment of the Indian lands. With permission from Governor W. N. Jones to be heard by the Council with an efficient interpreter he was able to correct the erroneous impression. While yet speaking Alex Durant handed him a telegram which was as follows: "Calvin was drowned this morning at eleven o'clock," signed by C. A. Hancock. Many of the Indians present rushed to him expressing their sympathy and confidence, and the controversy then and there ended, the bill not being pressed further. He left at once for his home and the body of his son Calvin was taken to Denton, Texas for burial. On his return he stopped in Durant and attended a school meeting. At this meeting a controversy arose as to the management of the school which could not be reconciled. The Grandmother of his son Calvin had willed the sum of $256.56 for her grandson's education when he reached the sophomore class, or if he died before such period then this money was to be put in some institution of learning as a memorial. Not being able to reconcile the factions in the school controversy the Rev. Ralston proposed to buy the property and establish a school within twenty days. The offer was accepted, the money paid that day and school opened in ten days, being named Calvin Institute by the Indian Presbytery, out of which grew the present Oklahoma Presbyterian College at Durant.

The following year he moved to Durant to be near the school and engaged in evangelistic work. In 1896 on account of his wife's failing health he moved to Standing Rock, about 9 miles west of Atoka, but she only survived for a short time.

In the Ralston home, three Indian orphans, Jesse Nail, Alfred Tupper and Efrena Harley were reared and given the same privileges his own children enjoyed.

Whilst he resided at Caney his eyesight was seriously impaired in endeavoring to rescue an Indian child from a burning dwelling.

In 1899 he was married to Miss L. Janie Francis, who came from Tennessee to teach in the Indian schools. She died on May 21, 1923.

In 1915 he was appointed by Governor Williams as an assistant custodian at the State Capitol, holding said position until January, 1919.

The names of his father and mother were Benjamin Franklin Ralston and Nancy Burkholder, both born in Virginia. His mother's people were of Scotch-Irish descent.

During the Civil Mar the Rev. Ralston was a drummer boy on the side of the Confederacy, during the latter days assisting in the hospital work.

For forty years he was a missionary to the Indians. He died January 8, 1929, and is buried at Caney, Oklahoma.

He left surviving his daughter Ava Lillian (Mrs. W. L. Poole) of Wewoka, Oklahoma and his son Thomas L. Ralston, of Wapanucka, Oklahoma.


The subject of this sketch, who had been more or less actively associated with the Oklahoma Historical Society for twenty years past, passed away at Long Island City, N. Y., February 1, 1931.

Curtis J. Phillips

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Curtis J. Phillips was born in Crawford County, Illinois, August 15, 1856. His parents moved to Southern Nebraska and settled on a Government homestead, in 1865. The education which had been begun, in the public schools of Illinois was continued in a hillside "dugout" schoolroom on the Nebraska prairies. Like other pioneers of that period and region, with his father's family, he experienced all of the vicissitudes and hardships of frontier life.

At the age of twenty, he began operating a small wagon-freight outfit between Sydney, Nebraska and Deadwood, Dakota, continuing while the gold mining craze was at its height in the Black Hills. In 1882, he went to the southern border towns of Kansas and thence into the Indian Territory, spending some time in the service of a trading house in the Osage country. Then followed two years in newspaper work on the Sherman Journal, at Sherman, Texas, in 1884-5. Thence he returned to the Osage country where he remained in trading work until 1888, when he journeyed to California to again engage in newspaper work as associate editor and advertising manager of the Ventura Free Press, for a year or more.

Again returning to the Osage country, he became a licensed Indian trader, at Pawhuska, the site of the tribal agency. There, in 1890, he was married to Rose Tracy Turner, of the Osage Methodist Mission School. The loss of cattle by Texas fever resulted in business reverses that caused him to leave the Osage Nation. He then spent four years in Louisiana, where he worked as a timber cruiser and engaged in mercantile operations. Returning to Pawhuska, in 1909, he established the 'Osage Magazine,' which was later published in Oklahoma City and, still later, merged with the 'Wild West Magazine," which he edited. From 1912 on, for fifteen years, he was an oil and gas producer, with headquarters at Sapulpa. Mrs. Phillips died in May, 1925.

Although Mr. Phillips' educational advantages had been limited, he had made splendid use of what opportunities he did have. He was a great reader and was accounted an intelligent and well posted man. He was especially interested in local history and Indian lore. He was a life member of the Oklahoma Historical Society and had served two terms as a member of its board of directors. For several years past, he had spent much of his time at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. D. Wade, Jr., at Long Island City, where his death occurred after a brief illness. His remains were laid to rest in a cemetery at Flushing, Long Island.

J. B. T.


Philip G. Phelps was born in Genesis, Tennessee, on March 14th, 1884. He came to Benger, Okla., in 1907. Shortly afterwards, he entered Kingfisher College. He lived for a while in Kingfisher, Norman, Oklahoma City, and Chicago, Ill. He received his high school and college training at Kingfisher College, receiving his degree in 1915. He had an active interest in athletics, a student paper, Y. M. C. A. oratory, and glee club. He won state championship in oratory.

He later assisted in the Extension Department of the State University as financial director of Kingfisher College. He engaged in real estate business in Oak Park, Ill., and in Oklahoma City.

He was married in 1919, to Miss Ethel Frances Purdy, in Durant,

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Okla. To this union, five children were born, two of whom died during the last three years. They were Austin Lee, who was killed in an accident, and Carter Bulkley, who died from pneumonia. Norman, Phyllis, and Edna Frances are now living.

Mr. Phelps was always actively engaged in religious work. He was a member of churches in Kingfisher, Oklahoma City and Oak Park. He held membership in the Masons, Consistory, Eastern Star, and Woodmen. He leaves to mourn his death his wife and three children and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. B. Phelps, of Riverside, California, and three brothers and six sisters. He died April 21, 1931, in Oklahoma City.

Funeral services were held at the Presbyterian Church in Edmond, April 24. The Scottish Rite Lodge in charge. Rev. Frank M. Sheldon preached the sermon. Interment was at Oak Park, Ill.

PHILIP BERNARD HOPKINS: Attorney, Oil Producer; Born June 1, 1862, Binghamton, N. Y.; died December 14, 1921, Muskogee, Okla.; buried Green Hill Cemetery, Muskogee, Okla. . . . Son of Philip A. and Mary (Kelly) Hopkins. Married Rosa Theresa Hains April 28, 1885, in St. Mary's Church, Wyandotte, Wyanadotte County, Kansas. Survived by Mrs. Rosa Theresa (Hains) Hopkins and two sons, Francis Joseph Hopkins, Kansas City, Mo., (November 14, 1886) and Charles Hains Hopkins, Muskogee, Okla., (September 21, 1893), Philip Anthony Hopkins, born March 3, 1889, died March 29, 1891. Religion, Roman Catholic. Fraternal affiliations, none. Club, Muskogee Town and Country.


Philip B. Hopkins of Muskogee was the only member of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention to be elected to that historical body independent of any party affiliation.

He was drafted by Muskogee business interests to become one of the two Muskogee representatives in the Convention, the other being Charles N. Haskell, later to become first governor of the State.

Mr. Hopkins represented the 75th District, lying South of Okmulgee Avenue in Muskogee, while Mr. Haskell represented the 76th district. The two men had been very active in civic affairs in Muskogee in the years just preceding the Convention, and the ballots of business men were chiefly responsible for the election of both.

Mr. Hopkins had been president of the Muskogee Commercial Club through 1904 and 1905, the period of Muskogee's greatest strides toward commercial supremacy in Eastern Oklahoma. He had made the solution of the city's transportation problem his personal concern, with the result that Muskogee is the only city in the Oklahoma of today which possesses a made-to-order rail network serving its trade territory in all directions.

Although giving freely of his time, means and leadership in sponsoring Muskogees early-day building program, Mr. Hopkins had no political ambitions, and refused to become a partisan candidate for Constitutional Convention. The nomination of his own party, the Republican, was won by C. W. Raymon, former United States District judge. Convinced that "Phil" Hopkins was sincere in his refusal to become a partisan candidate for the convention, his associates in the Commercial Club and other friends named him as an independent candidate, campaigned for him, and elected him.

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Once in the Convention, Mr. Hopkins was classified as an "independent" in politics. Since he belonged neither to the Democratic nor Republican representation, he was not eligible to the caucuses of either party. In recognition of his leadership, the convention created an office for him, designating him as "minority leader." Thus he became eligible to caucuses, executive group meetings and other deliberations incident to the organization of the body. He never took part in party affairs, confining his work in the convention to assisting in the preparation and passage of constructive legislation from whatever source.

Because of his non-partisan attitude toward Convention business, he enjoyed the confidence of both parties and all factions. Frequently, he was called upon to sponsor legislation requiring the support of conflicting interests. His outstanding service to the constituency which elected him was his delineation of the boundaries of Muskogee County to include more square miles of fertile river-bottom land than any other county in the state. Realizing that Muskogee, because of its geographical location and railroad facilities, would require more general revenue from taxation than most other counties, he contended for and won the generous allotment of territory to his home county which is represented on the map of Oklahoma by an irregular empire including within its borders the watersheds of four great rivers.

He supported general legislation for the public good without fear or favor. While a Republican and a former Government official, he fearlessly supported the Oklahoma "Jim Crow" law. He also supported the state school land program, the fish and game code, and many other majority measures of no political significance to himself, but of great future value to the State which he chose to call his homeland. Many of his staunchest friends of later years were his associates of both major parties in the Constitutional Convention.

"Phil" Hopkins, as he was known to intimates, was born June 1, 1862, in Binghamton, N. Y. His lineage was the same Colonial American family which produced Stephen Hopkins, Esek Hopkins, and other great American patriots of the Revolutionary period. His father, Philip A. Hopkins, was a business associate of Prof. S. F. B. Morse, and established his residence in Binghamton in order to assume personal direction of the building of the old Morse telegraph lines from New York City to upstate points such as Albany and Buffalo. Previously, he had made his home in Massachusetts and in Vermont.

The marriage of Philip A. Hopkins to Mary Kelly, born in County Mayo, Ireland, and an immigrant with her parents to America, marked the first departure from the Colonial American in the marital relationships of the Hopkins family in many generations. To her influence was due the acceptance by "Phil" Hopkins of the Roman Catholic religion, of which he was a staunch communicant.

Upon his graduation from the parochial schools in Binghamton, Mr. Hopkins elected to serve an apprenticeship in business administration rather than to attend college. He went to Wyandotte County, Kansas, where an uncle had established large lumber mill interests, and took a place in the mill organization. One of the periodic floods in the Kaw River eventually destroyed the mill, releasing "Phil" Hopkins to the pursuit of a career which he felt would lie better suited to his talents than manufacturing.

During this period he had married Rosa Theresa Hains, daughter of Charles Hains, Wyandotte County pioneer and capitalist. Three sons were born to them—Francis Joseph, on November 14, 1886; Philip

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Anthony, on March 3, 1889; and Charles Hains, on September 21, 1893. Philip Anthony died in infancy. Frank and Charles Hopkins were associated with their father in his later career as an independent oil producer, and are well known in the industry.

The career upon which Mr. Hopkins decided was that of the law. Having assumed the responsibilities of married life at the age of 23, he chose to read law in the office of a Wyandotte County attorney, meanwhile acting as associate editor of The Kansas City Times in charge of Kansas news and politics. He took up newspaper work at the instance of the owners of the Times, who were personal friends, accepting it as the means to producing an income while he worked for his legal education. He assumed militant leadership of many civic and political crusades in Kansas City and in the state of Kansas during his association with The Times, and almost abandoned his legal aspirations as a result of the lure of a journalistic career.

His friends sold the paper, however, to new owners of more conservative tendencies, and "Phil" Hopkins turned again to his law books with a determination not to be further distracted from his ambition.

In 1896, with several years of legal experience behind him, he felt qualified to seek new fields of greater opportunity for a young lawyer. He was 34 years old when, early in 1896, he went to Fort Smith, Ark., lured there by the tremendous vloume of business that had been transacted in the historical Federal court of Judge Isaac Parker. By this time, however, the establishment of the United States courts in Indian Territory had robbed the Arkansas courts of much of their legal grist, and so the budding barrister followed in the wake of justice into the land of the Five Civilized Tribes.

He went first to Tahlequah, the old capital of the Cherokees, and then on to Fort Gibson. Here he met an influential member of the Dawes Commission, just then beginning its preliminary surveys looking toward actual consummation of its alloted task of individualizing the lands of the Five Tribes. He made a favorable impression upon the representatives of the Commission, and this chance meeting played an important part in shaping his later life.

From Fort Gibson he went to Muskogee, on the "big railroad," where he formed a law partnership with Jesse H. Hill, now chief counsel for The Texas Company, in Tulsa. The new partnership had barely begun to function when he received an offer to become chief attorney for the Dawes Commission, the offer growing out of his chance meeting with the Commission personnel at Fort Gibson.

He entered into his new duties with energy, and soon won the confidence of all factions of the various tribal governments. He is credited with principal authorship of the final Creek treaty. He was the friend of Isparechar, Porter and all other leaders of the Creek tribe—even of Chitto Harjo, or "Crazy Snake," whose clan of the Creek Nation had bitterly opposed individual allotment, and who eventually died in exile as a result of the "Smoked Meat Rebellion" of later years. He had the confidence of the Cherokee Kee-too-wahs also, and acted as peacemaker in many controversies between the government agents and the tribal authorities.

He accepted personal responsibility for the field work of the Commission in enrolling the Creeks, in the affairs of which nation he had specialized. As chief of the Enrollment Division, he personally signed about four-fifths of the enrollment cards of the members of that tribe. His personal signature attested the correctness of the allotments granted

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Tommy Atkins, Barney Thlocco, and other Creeks whose allotments became fabulously valuable through the discovery of oil.

In later years, when many Oklahoma attorneys trained in Five Tribes procedure were receiving huge fees for their services in allotment and heirship cases, "Phil" Hopkins consistently refused to be retained to assist counsel in any case attacking the conclusiveness of the rolls. He had borne the brunt of the long legal battle to establish the conclusiveness of the tribal rolls in allotment contests, often at his own expense. In 1906, three years after his retirement from Federal service, he went to Washington at his own expense and enlisted the aid of his friend, the then President Roosevelt, in blocking legislation in Congress aimed at the destruction of the Government's protectorate over restricted Indians. While millions of dollars in legal fees have been expended in the attempt to set aside the Five Tribes rolls in allotment contests, the accuracy of the work of enrollment performed by the Dawes Commission under the direction of "Phil" Hopkins has never been successfully controverted. In 1903, with the major work of the Dawes Commission accomplished, Mr. Hopkins resigned to return to private practice. He soon found, however, that his health had been impaired by overwork in connection with his dual duties for the Commission, his eyes having been seriously weakened. His physicians forbade further research work. By this time thoroughly in love with the new country he had helped build from the foundation of an Indian reservation, "Phil" Hopkins elected to remain in Muskogee, and accepted the job of executive vice-president of the Canadian Valley Trust Company, a banking institution organized at Muskogee along up-to-date lines.

The institution under the management of Mr. Hopkins was very successful in the first few years of its existence, but it was caught in the money panic of 1907, and closed its doors. "Phil" Hopkins later voluntarily discharged his moral obligation of double indemnity to the depositors of the institution, even to building up an overpayment to his credit on the books of the receiver.

It was while associated with the Canadian Valley Trust Company that Mr. Hopkins was thrust by Fate into the business to which he was to devote the remainder of his life. A syndicate of five Muskogee men were drilling a test well southwest of Muskogee, and several miles from the old "townsite pool" that had been developed near the Free State Fair grounds several years before. The syndicate had sought a loan from the bank, but Mr. Hopkins had refused to make the loan except on a personal basis. The oil business, in those days, was known as a "game," and oil paper had no standing of itself at any bank.

On Good Friday of 1907, one of the members of the syndicate approached Mr. Hopkins and told him that the test well was a failure.

"We're down half-way to China, there's no coal at the rig, and there's no use of the night driller going on 'tower'," the faint-hearted wildcatter said. The well was actually about 1600 feet deep.

"Do you have to quit?" asked Mr. Hopkins.

"No, we could go on; the hole's all right. But what's the use?"

"Well, I want a showdown for my money," was "Phil" Hopkins' reply.

He picked up the telephone, called a coal dealer, and ordered a load of fuel, sent to the well, pledging his personal credit for the bill.

Six hours later, in the thick of a terrific electrical storm, the well blew in as one of the gushers of the early-day Muskogee development

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which produced the highest-grade crude west of Pennsylvania. The second well on this lease, famous as "Number Two," which filled two tank farms and was still producing after twenty years of life, made history in the oil business in Oklahoma.

Later in the year, "Phil" Hopkins sacrificed his holdings in the original syndicate for the benefit of creditors of the trust company. But he had found a career to which he could apply his ability and energy, and which would entail the least possible use of his eyes. Chronic headaches were a constant affliction in his later years. He remained active in the Muskogee field until 1912, developing paying properties in the Timber Ridge and Prindle Pool districts.

In 1912, the price depression caused by the Cushing glut came on. There was no money in the oil industry except in big play. "Phil" Hopkins extended his activities to Healdton, and specialized in Southern Oklahoma production for four years. Then he crossed the state line into Texas, two years ahead of the "big push" in the Lone Star state which still marks the highwater mark of prosperity in the oil industry in America.

"Phil" Hopkins, in the last four years of his life, assumed a position of leadership in the industry through his operations in the Texas 'lime belt." In partnership with J. F. Darby, successful Muskogee operator and a close personal friend, he checker-boarded vast areas ahead of the big play, and then developed his acreage under the press of the extensive drilling campaigns during and immediately following the war years. In spite of the wasteful drilling and producing methods in vogue in those days, he operated his properties at a handsome profit while major oil companies, developing acreage in the same areas, lost millions of dollars. His success was due to his organizational ability and his energy. He drilled more than his share of dry holes, principally because he chose to drill more wells than the other fellow.

He was stricken with a fatal heart malady in 1919, and died two years later in the Muskogee home which he had maintained as his permanent residence from 1896. The date of his death was December 14, 1921. He was buried, by his own wish, in Green Hill Cemetery, Muskogee, which is close by the border line of the old Cherokee and Creek nations. While all others of his family sleep in the shelter of the New York and New England hills, "Phil" Hopkins chose to remain an Oklahoman in death, as he had chosen to consider himself in life.

(The above was prepared by Mrs. Rosa Theresa (Hains) Hopkins and sons Francis Joseph and Charles Hains Hopkins.)


Wilbert Lee Poole born November 23, 1866, at Amsterdam, Jefferson County, Ohio. Died January 15, 1916, and buried at Durant, Oklahoma.

Having completed his education in the public schools of Amsterdam, Jefferson County, Ohio, about the age of eighteen years he went west and completed his education at Greeley, Colorado, in the Normal School, graduating from that institution. He then removed to Milam County, Texas, teaching at Cameron the county seat. He then returned to Colorado taking up some government land and becoming principal of the schools at Granada. Subsequently he removed to Dallas, Texas, where he was employed for a time in the office of the district clerk. When Oklahoma Territory was opened for settlement in 1889 he went to that territory but after a few months coming to Indian Territory to visit

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relatives, who had previously located at Caddo, he obtained a position in the mercantile establishment of C. M. Low. He later accepted a position as teacher in Armstrong Academy, which was located about twelve miles east of Caddo. In 1891 he located at Durant and engaged in the mercantile business. In 1894 he was appointed postmaster at Durant under the administration of President Cleveland, serving four years in that capacity. On July 4, 1893, he was married to Ava Lillian Ralston, the daughter of the Rev. Calvin James Ralston and his wife Sallie V. Cline Ralston. To them the following children came, to-wit: Theresa Marie (now Mrs. Tom Huser, Wewoka, Oklahoma), Kenneth J., deceased, Maybelle C. (now Mrs. William T. Davis, Oklahoma City); and Ralston Lee Poole, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He was the son of Jerome B. Poole, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who removed to Columbus, Ohio, in the early 70's. His father was a Confederate veteran having served in the Civil War. His great-grandfather on his father's side emigrated to this country from England. His mother's name was Mary Aughey. His great-grandfather on his mother's side emigrated to this country from Scotland. Both his father and mother were natives of Kentucky.

All of his life he affiliated with the Democratic Party. In the Indian Territory he became a member of the Territorial Democratic Committee from the Choctaw Nation at the first organiation in 1892, and remained a member of the committee until 1904. At statehood he was chairman of the recording district central committee, which corresponded with the county central committee after statehood. In 1902 he was elected Mayor of the City of Durant and reelected, serving two terms. At the erection of the State of Oklahoma he was elected register of deeds for Bryan County but on account of his health failing was not reelected. In 1898 he organized a section of a troop of Rough Riders which became known as Troop M of the United States Volunteer Cavalry, and served during the campaign under Col. Wood and Lieutenant Col. Roosevelt, being mustered out at Montauk Point, Long Island, N. Y. and returning to his home at Durant.


William Grimes

Was born near New Lexington, Ohio November 6, 1857, and his boyhood was passed on the farm. In February, 1878, he moved to Hastings, Nebraska, where, he learned the printers trade and worked on various newspapers. In December, 1878 at Harveysberg, Ohio, he married his boyhood sweetheart, Miss Mary Cleaver, who was a member of the Society of Friends.

In the fall of 1885 he was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of Sheriff of his county and was re-elected and continued to serve in that office until April, 1889, when he resigned in order to make the run into Oklahoma.

His ancestors date from the Revolutionary War and his direct line runs through from Virginia to Ohio.

On April 22, 1889, Mr. Grimes, having left Nebraska, made the run and located a claim of 160 acres of land in Section 14 adjoining the townsite of Kingfisher.

In 1890 President Harrison appointed him United States Marshal for the Territory of Oklahoma, which position he filled with credit to his party and to the people of the Territory. The office of United States

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Marshal was no sinecure and he gathered about him as deputies such men as Bill Tilghman, Lafe Shadley, W. D. Fawcett, E. P. Kelley, Heck Thomas, C. F. Colcord, Chris Madsen, George Thornton, Bud Ledbetter, Jack Stilwell, and others. Mr. Grimes never asked his deputies to go any place that he was not willing to lead them. The names of his deputies are entitled to be classed with the Immortals and no member of France's Foreign Legion ever performed more arduous and distinguished services in the interest of mankind than were performed by Mr. Grimes and these deputies. There are, I am sorry to say, in the above mentioned list but three who have not already been called to their reward merited and prepared for their chief and themselves.

Mr. Grimes' life at Kingfisher was a busy one as a citizen. He participated in everything conducive to the upbuilding of the town. He engaged in the furniture business and in the erection of residences and stores and business blocks, one of them, the Grimes Block, was used as a court house and district court rooms until consumed by fire in August, 1900. He helped organize the Kingfisher Bank, the Guthrie & Kingfisher Railroad Company, and was the first one to contribute $1,000.00 to establish Kingfisher College, a Congregational seat of learning presided over by the Reverend J. H. Parker.

In Politics he was always an active Republican. He was Chairman of the first Executive Committee of the party which was organized at Frisco in Canadian County in July, 1889. In 1891 he was elected a member of the Territorial Committee and remained as such for many years. For ten years in that office he issued the call for Territorial Republican conventions and in 1900 was elected National Committeeman of the Republican Party for the Territory of Oklahoma. During the eighteen years of his residence in Oklahoma he was largely the guiding star of his party as was evidenced by the fact that during all of that time the party was successful in its campaigns except in 1896 when the Populists and Democrats combined and on the platform of free silver achieved their only victory.

When William Jenkins was appointed Governor of Oklahoma to succeed Honorable C. M. Barnes President McKinley appointed Mr. Grimes Secretary of the Territory of Oklahoma, which office he held for four years. He was on intimate terms with President Harrison, who first appointed him Marshal; with President McKinley, who appointed him Secretary of State; with President Roosevelt, who always admired him, and with President Taft, who had a great affection for him. He always took an active interest, even though absent, in Oklahoma affairs.

In 1907 Mr. Grimes and his family removed to Marshfield, Coos County, Oregon, where he resided for about ten years, helping build up not only its banking but its business interests. He then decided to move to Alhambra, California, where he devoted his time to entertaining his friends and the relaxation of conducting an orange grove.

In 1928 he celebrated his golden wedding at Santa Monica, California, where he had removed from Alhambra.

His house was always the rendezvous of the oldtimers. Many Oklahomans considered a visit to Mr. Grimes in California as a necessary part of a visiting tour.

For years Mr. Grimes was a nationally known character. He was always a leader of men and the most prominent, as well as the lowly, was always welcome at his board.

He died at Santa Monica, California, on April 8, 1931, leaving sur-

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viving him his wife, a son, Thayer Grimes of New York City, a widowed daughter, Mrs. Dorsey Kreitzer of Santa Monica, and a grandson, William Kreitzer, of Santa Monica.

While a Republican partisan, Mr. Grimes was admired for his fairness by all parties of the opposition. His word to them as well as to his own party, was depended upon. His life was lived as he understood the Golden Rule and while his ashes rest elsewhere, Oklahoma could point to him always as one of its outstanding citizens even though his habitation was miles away. He has left his relatives and many friends in the land of the roses and the orange blossoms to join the greater army in the skies beyond clouds and storms and rains, leaving, however, for his loved ones an illuminated path lighted by the lightening of the heavens.



John Graves Leeper was born at Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri, May 23, 1854, died at Sherman, Texas, March 2, 1931. He was the son of James Leeper and Elizabeth Graves Leeper. His father was a pioneer merchant of Chillicothe. He conducted a large general store and his trade territory extended over two or three counties. His business was established before the Civil War and continued until about 1879. He was a substantial citizen, very active in church work, and especially interested in the Methodist school at Fayette, Mo.

After finishing the course in the common schools of his home town Graves Leeper, the subject of this sketch, attended the Methodist college at Fayette in the early seventies but did not complete the course of study as he was not interested in all the abstract subjects taught in the school, and besides he had other things on his mind.

He left his home in Missouri and located in North Texas in 1879 and engaged in the lumber business. He and his brother, J. D. Leeper, established the Leeper Brothers Lumber Company and their business was soon extended over several counties in North Texas. They had yards at Denison, Gainesville, Decatur, Bowie and perhaps other towns in North Texas.

When Oklahoma was opened to settlement Graves Leeper came in at the run and was in Oklahoma City for some time after the opening. The firm of Leeper Brothers had established yards at several places along the Santa Fe in Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation. He returned to Texas and made his home at Bowie for two or three years. At the opening of the Kiowa and Comanche country in 1901, Leeper Brothers established a chain of lumber yards along the Mangum branch of the Rock Island road west of Anadarko, with Graves Leeper in charge of the business. He made his headquarters at Old Mountain View while this town was located north of the Washita River, in Washita County and was there when the railroad built west and helped move the town two miles south across the river and into Kiowa County where it is now located. After disposing of all their interests along the Rock Island they established a lumber yard in South Oklahoma City (Capitol Hill) and he was again a resident of Oklahoma City. His health having failed, he located in Sulphur, Oklahoma, were they also had business interests. Graves Leeper made his home at Sulphur until he was elected to the office of Secretary of State in the fall of 1926. He assumed the duties

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of this office in January, 1927, and served the full four year term, only retiring when his successor, his old friend, General R. A. Sneed, was sworn in to succeed him in January, 1931.

He had been in poor health for several years and had not been able to give the duties of his office his full time. Several times he thought that he would not be able to hold out until the end of his term and he only lived about six weeks after retiring from office.

Among the men of prominence whose passing we have recorded in the Chronicles none were better known, nor has there been a more unique character. There are few readers of this publication who did not know Graves Leeper at least by reputation.

Not only in Oklahoma was he well known, but if you ever lived in North Texas, where he was in business for years, or Chillicothe, Missouri, where he was born and raised, you would have known him by reputation. He was a man of strong intellectual endowment and an outstanding citizen in every place he had lived.

He was a most congenial man and as a wit and humorist he never had but one man his equal who claimed Oklahoma as his home. You have missed something if you never spent an evening with Graves Leeper and heard him tell stories and jokes on the early settlers. He needed no prompting but could entertain his friends for hours with humorous stories. His memories of the early settlers of Missouri when he was a boy were almost uncanny. If you ever lived in North Missouri he could regale you by the hour telling the ludicrous yarns of Old Sam Thompson and Bob Lauderdale, two well known characters of Livingston County, Missouri, whom Graves had known when he was a boy. Nor did he spare his own kin, two or three of whom were Methodist preachers, from his shafts of wit in telling his stories. He was related to the Ashby family, the most distinguished member of which who ever lived in Oklahoma was the Hon. Stump Ashby, who represented Pushmataha County in the second and third state legislatures. His younger brother, now deceased Cyrus S. Leeper, was a member of the Constitutional Convention.

Graves Leeper's knowledge of humanity, his happy-go-lucky manner of speaking and his ready wit made him in demand at all meetings of business or professional men. He was perhaps at his best as toastmaster for he could always think of something to please the audience even though it embarrassed the speaker he was introducing. His speeches were not of the cut-and-dried kind like those of a Chautauqua lecture, for the fact is that he seldom told the same story twice—the same way. It was worth the price of the ticket to the banquet at the sheriffs' convention to hear Graves tell of his appointment to the job as deputy sheriff the day he became of age, by his uncle, the then sheriff of Livingston County, and also how he came to resign when he learned the duties of the said office.

"He was a fellow of infinite jest." There are no end of Graves Leeper stories. If they were all published they would make a book of wit and humor better than anything Mark Twain ever wrote. His stories will be told whenever good fellows get together for the next hundred years.


John Graves Leeper

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