Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 13, No. 4
December, 1935

Page 494



Mrs. Myra Ware Chouteau was born near Richmond, Va., June 5, 1861, and died May 26, 1935, at Vinita, Okla. She was an old settler of Indian Territory, having moved to Vinita in the early eighties from Louisiana, Mo., her home after leaving Virginia.

Mrs. Chouteau's ancestors were among the first permanent English settlers in America. She was a direct descendant of Lord Thomas West De la Ware, first governor of Virginia, after whom the state of Delaware, the Delaware Indians, Delaware River and Delaware Bay were named. Ware church, one of the oldest parishes in Virginia, was established by others of the Ware family in 1862.

Mrs. Chouteau was the wife of Edmond Chouteau, a blind musician to whom she proved a lifelong helpmate. She was a devoted member of the Methodist church and her life was an exemplification of the high ideals that were her birthright. Because of her devotion to her family and her willingness to help those, around her, she became affectionately known as "Mother" Chouteau by those who knew her best.

Her death was caused by a heart ailment that troubled her for the last three years of her life. She is survived by two sons, Corbett Chouteau of Oklahoma City and Byron Chouteau of Vinita, as well as four sisters and two brothers. Another son, Lonnie, died in infancy.

Page 495



Edmond Chouteau was born in May, 1866, at Chouteau Station, Kansas, a town that was named after his famous grandfather, Frederick Chouteau, the founder of Kansas City. When he was only four years old, he suffered a severe attack of typhoid fever which left him totally blind. He was undaunted by this grave affliction, however, his handicap seeming only to strengthen his determination to excel in intellectual attainments. He received the greater part of his education at the Kansas State School for the Blind at Kansas City, Kan., where he specialized in music, mathematics, philosophy and the sciences, graduating with honors.

After leaving school, Mr. Chouteau went to Vinita in Indian Territory, the home of his father, William Myers Chouteau. In 1892, he married Myra Fields Ware, descendant of a pioneer Virginia family, who proved a wonderful and indispensable helpmate. Her efforts in his behalf seemed tireless and she spent many hours every day reading to him. As a result, he became far better informed than the average person around him.

Mr. Chouteau spent the remainder of his life at Vinita. During this time, he taught music for nearly 30 years and established a reputation as one of the best musicians and teachers of music in northeastern Oklahoma. He also conducted an orchestra for several years and made several concert tours. In his later years, he composed a great number of pieces but never attempted to publish any of his compositions.

Mr. Chouteau did not seem to recognize his tremendous handicap and he often deplored the fact that so many people with eyesight spend so little time in study and constructive thought.

Mr. Chouteau was half French and half Shawnee Indian. He was a direct descendant of one of the most prominent commercial dynasties in middlewestern history. Major Jean Pierre Chouteau, merchant prince, explorer and founder of Salina, first white settlement in Oklahoma, was his great grandfather. Jean Pierre's brother, Auguste Chouteau, founded the city of St. Louis.

Edmond Chouteau died May 15, 1923, at the age of 57 years, his death resulting from complications after he had stumbled into a parked automobile and bruised his chin. He was survived by his wife, who has since passed away, and two sons, Corbett E. Chouteau of Oklahoma City and Byron W. Chouteau of Vinita, as well as several brothers and sisters.

Page 496



Mrs. Frank C. Orner died at her home in southern Payne County, Tuesday, November 26, 1935. The funeral services were held at Perkins, Thursday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Burial was in Memorial park, Oklahoma City.

Officiating at the funeral services was Rev. Virtes Williams, assisted by Rev. John Garner. Reverend Garner was the officiating clergyman when Mr. and Mrs. Orner were married 35 years ago.

Nancy Lenora Main was born in Moravia, Iowa, December 16, 1867. She moved with her family to Oklahoma in 1894, locating in the vicinity of Perkins. She was married to, Frank C. Orner June 3, 1900. They made their home in the Perkins community ever since that time, excepting for 12 years when they resided in Stillwater for the purpose of educating their children. Mrs. Orner was a member of the Christian Church for more than fifty years.

Survivors include her husband, Frank C. Orner, a well known pioneer citizen of Oklahoma and a life member of the Oklahoma Historical Society; four daughters, Mrs. Zephyr L. Cross, Guthrie, Miss Sophia J. Orner, Oklahoma City, Mrs. Oretha Swartz, Edmond, and Miss Leone Orner, Oklahoma City; her mother, Mrs. Sophia Main, Stillwater; one sister; Mrs. Bert Wiley, Oklahoma City; a brother, George Main, tSillwater, and one grandchild.

Page 497



In the June number of Chronicles of Oklahoma, pages 223-224, there appeared an article concerning a former Oklahoman, the Hon. L. M. Keys. In the introduction to a biographical sketch taken from a California paper, the Chronicles said: "Most every one who lived in the old Territory of Oklahoma remembers L. M. Keys. He practiced law in Oklahoma City for several years, but at the opening of the Kiowa and Comanche reservation he located in Hobart the county seat of Kiowa County. He held many positions of honor and trust while a resident of Oklahoma. He was a modest, unassuming gentleman and was recognized as an able lawyer and a man of honor who respected the ethics of his profession. His many old friends will be glad to know that this pioneer is still living and enjoying the blessings of health in that land of sun shine and flowers."

Now comes the sad news that Mr. Keys has passed away. This old pioneer whom the early settlers will remember with kindness, has left us. His passing came at a time when living seemed to be a real pleasure after the business cares and responsibilities of life no longer rested on his shoulders. He was, spending much of his time in writing reminiscences and in contemplating the events of a well spent life.

Judge Keys was a real pioneer—an '89-er in the settlement of Oklahoma, and his passing will be regretted by those early settlers who remember him as an honorable man and a good lawyer.

The following from the Long Beach Legal News will be of interest:

"Last rites were said for Luther Morton Keys, 76, of 237 Magnolia Avenue, this morning at Mottell's Chapel, Third street and Alamitos Avenue, with Rev. Ralph Jensen officiating. Entombment was made at Sunnyside Mausoleum.

"The deceased was well known in legal circles here, being a member of the American and State Bar associations in addition to the local organization. He also was distinguished as a poet and a writer, many of his works appearing in newspapers and periodicals here. In 1934 his poems were chosen to represent the California section of the American States Anthology.

"For the past ten years he had practiced law here and was admired and respected by his fellow barristers and various Long Beach, attaches.

"His earlier career in the Middle West was a varied and colorful one. For three terms he was Municipal Judge at Emporia, Kansas, and also served as City Attorney and later United States District Attorney at Oklahoma City, Okla. (O. T.) He also held the office of County Attorney of Kiowa County, Okla., and at one time was a member of the Supreme Court Commission of Oklahoma.

"Attorney Keys was a member of the Oklahoma Historical Society, The Pacific Woodmen of America, B. P. O. E., I. O. O. F., the following bodies of the Masonic Order; Blue Lodge, Commandery and India Shrine, and of the Friends Church.

Page 498

"His birthplace was Noblesville, Ind.

"Survivors include the widow, Elfleda N., two sons, Norton, Long Beach and Leon, Los Angeles; a brother, Albert V., Boulder, Colo.; four granddaughters and one great grand child."

The Oklahoma Historical Society has received a large collection of valuable historic material which belonged to Mr. Keys, including many Indian relics, which is a. valuable addition to the museum, as well as to the Historical Society. This collection was sent by Mr. Norton Keys, son of the late L. M. Keys. It was his father's wish that this material should be deposited with the Oklahoma Historical Society.

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