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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 3
September, 1934


By Campbell Russell

Page 372

J. E. Lemon, second son of Dr. William B. and Fannie R. Lemon, was born in Shady Grove, Kentucky on February 19, 1870 and died in Miami, Florida on December 12, 1933.

"Jack" as he was always known to his friends, homesteaded in the Cherokee Strip five miles southwest of Nash in 1894.

Fourteen years were devoted to farming and school teaching, after which he moved into the town of Nash and engaged in business there.

In 1912 and again in 1914 the people of Grant County selected Jack Lemon to represent them in the Fourth and Fifth sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature.

No part of Oklahoma has ever had a more independent, self-reliant citizenship than has Grant County. Nomination and election have never been synonymous terms in that county. To be nominated and elected in Grant County has always been recognized a double compliment.

When Jack Lemon arose to speak in the legislature, no one ever doubted that his message was from and for the farmers of Oklahoma.

Jack believed in a square deal for all classes and for every individual.

He made it his particular business to see that his constituents were among those who got a square deal.

Jack was one of the leaders in the successful fight to set aside the remainder of the Section 33 fund for consolidated rural schools.

He actively supported every move to equitably apportion tax burdens; to put effective teeth in an anti-usury law; to provide a graduated land tax that should discourage and ultimately prevent excessive holdings of agricultural land, thereby improving the opportunity for home owners.

Jack was for or against. He never straddled.

He was for protecting bank deposits. He was against booze, whether it came from a grog shop or a bootlegger.

The Oklahoma bank guaranty law having failed and been repealed, I can see Jack looking down with pleasant smile as Uncle Sam stepped in to see that depositors are protected.

Jack Lemon was one of the few members of the Fourth Legislature who spoke against, voted against, and then refused to accept "mileage" for an untravelled trip home when the Fourth Legislature adjourned its regular session one night and convened in extra session next morning.

No words of mine can so clearly portray the character of this Oklahoma statesman as did the closing paragraph in a letter that he sent to his constituents when he was a candidate for his second term:

"My opponent on the Republican ticket is a good man; capable, and in every way worthy. To be defeated by such a man will bring no sting. It is harder to bear success without vanity than to bear defeat without chagrin. He most nearly measures up to the full stature of a man, who can do both successfully."

Jack's health compelled him to spend much of his last years in Florida, but his heart was always in Oklahoma.

The collection plate in the First Baptist Church at Enid never failed to receive his weekly contribution, to the last week of his life.

J. E. Lemon

Page 373

Jack was a 32nd degree Mason, but first he was a friend and a brother to every American patriot.

One sister and four brothers remain. They are Mrs. D. F. Coldiron of Perry; R. F. Lemon of Providence, Kentucky; G. E. Lemon of Booker, Texas; E. L. Lemon of Dighton, Kansas; R. A. Lemon of Enid, Oklahoma.

In addition to these Jack has many, many friends in Oklahoma who are confidently expecting to be greeted by his happy smile when they step out on the sandbar on the other side of the river.

Page 374



Born at Troy, Ohio in 1869; died at Miami, Oklahoma, January 28, 1932, aged 63 years. Entered school at Washington, D. C. at age 12 years, and later obtained position in the Department of the Interior. While in this department he studied law at Geeorge Washington University and Georgetown University, and from both schools he secured law degrees. He came to the Quapaw Indian Agency at Wyandotte, Indian Territory, in 1898 as chief clerk, and was made agent in 1901, which office he held until 1907. At that time he moved to Miami, opened a law office, and practiced law until his death. He spent one year as Indian agent in Michigan. He was U. S. Commissioner for several years. He was a Republican in politics and was elected to the State Senate in 1921, from the district composed of Ottawa, Cherokee and Delaware Counties, and served one four-year term in the Ninth Legislature.

He was a friend to the boys and took a great interest in organizing the first boy scout troop in Miami. He had a camp on Cow Skin (Elk) River, which was known by all as the sportsman's paradise.

—Mrs. Dorothy Tidwell, Miami, Okla.

Joseph A. Gill

Page 375



Joseph Albert Gill was born at Wheeling, West Virginia on February 17, 1854. He was a son of John W. Gill and Rhoda (Smith) Gill who was a daughter of Judge David Smith of Columbus, Ohio. The family subsequently removed to Springfield, Illinois where young Gill attended college, and later entered the University of Illinois. He read law in the law office of Gen. John A. McClernand and Charles Keyes at Springfield and was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1880. After three years practice of his profession at Springfield, he removed to Portland, Oregon and for seven years lived in the Northwest where he was variously engaged in his law practice at Astoria, Oregon and in editing a weekly newspaper at Oysterville, Washington. In 1887, young Gill came East and in March of that year, settled at Colby, Thomas County, Kansas, where he began in earnest the active practice of his life's profession which culminated in his elevation to the Federal Bench in the old Indian Territory. Politics, so often a corollary of the legal profession, claimed much of his attention and Joseph A. Gill became identified with the political life of Kansas. He was an uncompromising republican and in June 1896, attended the Republican National Convention at St. Louis, as one of the delegates of his party from Kansas. At this convention, his friend Major William, McKinley was nominated for the presidency. In the hectic campaign of 1896, Mr. Gill took an active interest and made numerous addresses throughout Kansas in the interest of his party and its nominees.

President William McKinley, in December 1899, appointed Mr. Gill as United States Judge for the Northern District of the Indian Territory and on December 27th of that year, the newly appointed Judge arrived at Muskogee and on the 29th opened his initial term of Court in that city. By operation of law, Judge Gill also became a member of the Indian Territory Court of Appeals, which, at that time was composed of Judges W. H. H. Clayton, Hosea Townsend, John R. Thomas and Joseph A. Gill. It was a distinguished and most highly capable group of jurists who convened twice yearly at McAlester to give consideration to matters of litigation which had been appealed.

In the Northern District, Judge Gill was quite uniquely supreme in all civil, criminal and probate matters. No parallel in the administration of judicial affairs as they obtained in the old Indian Territory, can be found in the annals of our political life. The high character and known ability of the so-called "carpet bag" judges who were sent into the Territory, speaks volumes for the security of life and property which was preserved by their efforts. Judge Gill was a man of the highest and purest character and brought to the Northern District a most unselfish and efficient service. The court towns of the Northern District were Muskogee, Tahlequah, Sallisaw, Wagoner, Pryor Creek, Vinita, Miami, Nowata, Bartlesville and Claremore. During the first years of his service and before a separate district was created, he also held court at Wewoka and Okmulgee. To the novel Indian questions with which his court was confronted were added the many legal entanglements occasioned by the discovery of oil in the Territory in 1902.

In recognition of a splendid service, Judge Gill was reappointed to his judicial position by President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904 and continued to serve until the advent of statehood dissolved his position. When

Page 376

the Enabling Act was passed, it became necessary to set up the election machinery in the Indian Territory preparatory for the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention. President Roosevelt appointed Judges Gill and Clayton and Hon. Tams Bixby of Muskogee, to promulgate the plan for the election and undertake the laborious task of subdividing the Territory into districts and election precincts. To the cosmopolitan citizenship of the old Indian Territory, the matter of participation in a popular election was an untried and unknown equation. Outside of the incorporated towns in the Territory, no precinct subdivisions had ever been established and the task which confronted the committee was one of huge proportions and yet so thorough and effective was the labor accomplished that the initial exercise of the elective franchise by the new voters on the "East Side", was made with little or no confusion and few if any contests.

During the years of the faithful service of Judge Gill upon the bench, he resided at Vinita and after the coming of statehood, continued his residence there. He served as a member of the Board of Education of Vinita, was a delegate to the National Conference of Charities at St. Louis in 1910 and a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1912. In 1920, Judge Gill removed to Tulsa where he engaged in the practice of law and at once interested himself in civic, public, religious and political affairs of the community. He was ever a faithful and active member of the Baptist Church, a 32nd degree Mason and a Knight of Pythias.

At Omaha, Nebraska, on December 27, 1887, Judge Gill married Miss Nannie Donahue, a daughter of Hon. M. Donahue of Clinton, Illinois and to them three children were born and still survive, to-wit: Mrs. R. M, McClintock of Oklahoma City, Mrs. C. A. Border of Tulsa and Joseph A. Gill Jr., a practicing attorney at Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Death closed the faithful service of Judge Gill at Tulsa, on March 23, 1933. His last will and testament is reflective of his high notion of the enduring value of things in that he solemnly bequeathed to his only son, "an honorable name." Could he have left a more priceless legacy?

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