Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 15, No. 4
December, 1937

Page 498


Robert H. Wilson was born near Scottsville, Allen County, Kentucky, August 25, 1873. He died at his home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, October 4, 1937, at the age of sixty-four years. His father, John A., and his mother, Mary E. (Briley) Wilson, moved to Texas in 1891. They settled near Whitewright, in Grayson County. Robert was the eldest of eight children, five sons and three daughters.

His early education was in the rural schools in Kentucky, and was mostly on his own initiative. At the age of twenty he had the opportunity of entering Grayson College, Whitewright, Texas. In order to remain in school it became necessary for him to borrow money to meet his expenses. His determination and longing for an education caused him to do this. He attended college for three terms and then taught school for one year, returning to college the next fall. He was unable to finish the term mostly by reason of his limited financial resources. He taught in the rural schools of Texas, spending his vacation periods upon the farm.

On September 17, 1899, he married Miss Grace Womack, daughter of William M. and Maggie (Blanton) Womack, of Whitewright, Texas, and they have two children: Robert Lee, who was born January 6, 1901, and Mary Grace, who was born October 16, 1909, who is now Mrs. Fred Bogle. Mr. Wilson was a member of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City.

In December, 1903, he moved to Chickasha, Indian Territory, or what is now Grady County, Oklahoma. He was elected as principal of one of the grade schools of that city, and with the coming of Statehood in 1907, he was elected as the first County Superintendent of Grady County, without opposition. He held his position until January, 1911, when he assumed the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction to which he had been elected.

As County Superintendent of Grady County he demonstrated his ability as a school man and as an organizer. He at once began the organization of seventy-one school districts, many of them in the old Indian Territory where no schools had been prior to that date. Many new buildings were erected under his supervision, and he was one of the first County Superintendents in Oklahoma to organize and establish consolidated and graded schools for rural children. When he finished his term of office only three counties in Oklahoma could claim a greater number of first grade teachers than Grady County. During the time he was County Superintendent he served two and one-half years as a member of the Board of Education of the City of Chickasha and assisted in the establishment of a splendid school system. In 1908 he was elected President of the Oklahoma School Officers' Association and in 1909 he was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Oklahoma Teachers' Association. In November, 1910, he was elected State Superintendent, was re-elected in 1914, and elected for a third term in 1918. In November, 1914, he was elected President of the Oklahoma State Teachers' Association by an overwhelming majority. The Oklahoma Teacher, in its November, 1937, issue, in giving notice of his passing, says:

Robert H. Wilson

Page 499

"A great deal of credit for the organization and building of Oklahoma's school system should go to R. H. Wilson who died in Oklahoma City October 4. He served as State Superintendent for 12 years, while the state was very young. He was a vigorous school executive and was an ardent supporter of the rural schools. He pushed through many consolidations. He organized the Department of Rural School Supervision and sponsored the law which made state appropriations for the erection of consolidated school buildings.
Wilson made a determined effort to reduce the illiteracy in the state,—through Wilson's efforts illiteracy in the state was materially reduced.
Higher education also received his earnest attention. During the time he was State Superintendent he was also President of the Board of Regents for the University and of the six normal schools. Credit should go to him for bringing Stratton D. Brooks to the presidency of the University of Oklahoma and for raising the six normal schools to teachers' colleges.
He sponsored the bill which set up the Department of High School Inspection and appointed the first inspectors.
Wilson was one of the first three to become a life member of the Oklahoma Education Association and served as its president in 1915. He courageously supported those things which he thought were right and his influence on the schools of Oklahoma will never be forgotten."

His career shows steadfastness of character and purity of principle. His record during his life displayed a patriotic and abiding faith in the principles of our Government, a correct sense of justice and a deep and generous sympathy for those who struggled for the betterment of themselves and their children. He believed that the foundation of a wise and enduring Government was the education of its people and if there was any one course more than another which appealed to his sympathy and enthusiasm it was for the education of the rural children of this state.

Although Robert H. Wilson devoted most of his life to education, particularly to the organization and betterment of rural schools and for equal educational opportunity for all children of the state, and by these he will best be known for his outstanding work in the field of education, his duties as State Superintendent and as a member of the School Land Commission, held by virtue of his office as Superintendent, and as President of the State Board of Education, and Chairman of the State Text Book Commission, gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his ability as an executive and as a business man. With the Governors of the State, and other members of the commission he met the duties and responsibilities imposed upon him, and today the magnificent sum of money now to the credit of the common schools of this state is a reality due to his and his associates' integrity and sound business judgment. After his retirement from public office his advice and judgment were often sought by many in public life. His close friends therefore think of him not only as a leader in establishing the educational system of this state but as one of Oklahoma's outstanding pioneers, a public officer whose honesty and integrity were never questioned, and whose life was devoted to the welfare of the state and the perservation of the republic. He was a man of positive convictions and was always moved by those convictions.

Page 500

Although positive and firm in his views on public questions, he was kind and gentle. Everyone who knew him and watched his career pointed to him as an upright man, able, conscientious, an honest public official. No one ever questioned his integrity. His life is a lesson to the youth of Oklahoma, whom he loved and served.

A poem written by Mr. Wilson himself well expressed the purpose of his life.

My creed is work; to follow duty's call
However far it leads across the plains
Through trackless woods, or ringing on the hills;
To seek pleasure in the realms of toil.
Still ever striving for a larger self
     With which to do a service for the rest.

To lay a new path through the unknown way,
And leave some heritage e'en though so small
No other hand would love or care to leave.

Rejoicing ever in my brother's craft,
     To follow system in the perfect law.
Be what I am, and do my very best
     To lead a life that towers above the hills,
And points the way across the plains to God."   —R. H. Wilson.

He welcomed the final summons and when it came he bade farewell to earthly things and in the quiet way so characteristic of his earthly life he journeyed to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler ever returns and in the words of the poet:

"I am restless still; twill soon be over; for down the west
Life's sun is setting; and I see the shore where I shall rest."

—Bert B. Barefoot.

Criminal Court of Appeals.

Page 501


Rev. Ringland

Reverend Evan Bernard Ringland, born 1846, in Amity, Pennsylvania, died October 10, 1937, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In 1851 his parents removed to Iowa, where within six months his father died. His mother reared and educated the four little children to fine adult age in church, civic, and social citizenship. One son, Rev. A. W. Ringland, McAlester, was of the Presbyterian ministry; Thomas, a successful farmer and citizen in Iowa; a daughter who was the devoted companion and home keeper for her mother; while Evan Bernard was of several interests. When seventeen years of age, he enlisted in the federal cause in the Civil War; was assigned to the medical staff and served until January, 1866. A kindly physician of the staff encouraged him to the medical profession, which he practiced for thirty-two years, establishing a sanatorium at Hamilton, Illinois. Here he developed paralysis, and in 1905 sought a new climate in the southwest. In 1912, under the guidance and friendship of Dr. Phil Baird, he was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry, and served three mission churches and two mission Sunday Schools in Oklahoma City. In 1920 paralysis again laid him aside. In 1926 Governor M. E. Trapp appointed him curator of the Union Soldiers Memorial Hall, belonging to the State Historical Society. Here he served continuously until the time of his death.

Although of frail health which limited his activities, he was ever warmly interested in affairs of state, church, and city.

The visitors who came and went to the Memorial Hall were an inspiration to him. The Grand Army Post and the Relief Corps organizations were his friendly support and guidance, while his Confederate co-workers and friends gave him unqualified pleasure; the Oklahoma Memorial Association was ever a wonder to him; once he remarked, "If there is a 'humble pride,' I feel it for this Association." These interests along with his beloved church, his home and friends crowned the many years with service and joy.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son.

Page 502


Charles L. Moore was born June 2, 1868, Bernadotta, Fulton County, Illinois. Died in Oklahoma City, October 14, 1937 at the age of 69. His paternal grandparents were natives of Ohio; his maternal grandparents were natives of New York. His paternal grandfather was a Captain in the Mexican War, and was a United States Brigadier General in the Civil War. The maternal grandfather served in the Black Hawk War from Illinois.

He was reared on a farm and attended the rural district schools in Fulton County, Illinois, and Wilson County, Kansas. He attended the Albany, New York, Law School, and was graduated in 1892. He practiced law for a short time in Missouri and came to Enid, Oklahoma, in 1893. He served as City Attorney of Enid for two terms; was a member of the Constitutional Convention from November 20, 1906, to the 16th day of November, 1907, when the Convention was adjourned by proclamation of Wm. H. Murray. He served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma for six years during the term of Colonel Charles West, Attorney General; he was a member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Commission. His father was the first Mayor of the town of Enid and served seven years as the President of its Board of Education.

Charles L. Moore was married on the 21st day of June, 1898, to Miss Mary L. Pitkin of Memphis, Missouri, with whom he lived a congenial and happy life in a beautiful home and pleasant surroundings in Oklahoma City until his death. They had no children.

He believed in an all-wise Creator and lived a consistent Christian life, and died standing on the promises of Him who is too wise to err and too good to be unkind.

Charles L. Moore served two terms as City Attorney of Enid, and his administration was marked with that degree of efficiency, and the enforcement of law in a sane and humanitarian manner, that he became so popular with the people, he was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1906, with no serious opposition for the democratic nomination. However the town and vicinity of Enid being largely republican, he was elected to the Constitutional Convention because of his knowledge and outstanding ability and great personal popularity.

Charles L. Moore served as a member of the Constitutional Convention. Was reserved in his manner and character. He never pushed himself forward and was known as one of the reserved and strong-working, active members of the Constitutional Convention with real ability.

He was Chairman of the Federal Relationship Committee; Chairman of the Committee on Revision, Compilation, Style and Arrangement of the Constitution. He was a member of the Judiciary and Judicial Department Committee; member of the Judicial Apportionment Committee; member of the Ordinances Committee; member of the Legal Advisory Committee; member of the Municipal Corporation Committee, and a member of a special committee appointed by President Murray to consider the advisability of inserting "Jim Crow" provision in the constitution. He was appointed on a special Legal Committee to consider the amendment

Page 503

of the election ordinance to conform to the opinion of the Oklahoma Territory Supreme Court in an injunction proceeding.

Mr. Moore presented a petition from the club women of Garfield County in reference to the employment and education of children. He also presented petitions relating to religious liberty and to woman suffrage.

Mr. Moore introduced and sponsored in the Convention a resolution relating to Public Libraries for private enterprise. Resolution No. 260 relating to construction of the Constitution; Resolution No. 261 relating to, limit corporate indebtedness; Resolution No. 263 relating to, election ordinance. He introduced a resolution inviting Professor Eberhard to address the Convention.

In all legislative or public bodies upon whom the eyes of the public are turned, many thoughts or policies are developed in private or committee rooms, and some alert member looking for newspaper headlines will, upon his own initiative introduce and father the thoughts originated by others. This happens in all public assemblies. Mr. Moore did not belong to that class of statesmen. He worked conscientiously for the common cause and for the good of all without any thought or desire to be heralded as a benefactor. All his honor came to him unsought.

After Mr. Moore retired from public work, he engaged in the private law practice first at Enid and then at Oklahoma City. He was for a number of years President of the Garfield County Bar Association, and for one year Vice-President of the Oklahoma State Bar Association.

He assisted in the organization of the Oklahoma Saving and Loan Association formerly of Enid and removed to Oklahoma City, and has been connected with this outstanding Home Loan Association for the past 22 years, during which time he has also been engaged in the private practice of law in Oklahoma City.

During his active and useful life he never became conspicuous as a headliner in the public press, but this article is written to the end that a man who has rendered such valuable service to his state shall not be forgotten. He has administered every office he has held to the highest degree of credit. He was outstanding as an adviser and advocate in the interest of the state of Oklahoma during the six years he held the office of Assistant Attorney General. His decisions while he was on the Supreme Court Commission, stand out and speak for themselves and will ever be a part of the Judicial history of the state of Oklahoma.

May He who directs the sparrow's fall, give us more men to serve society and the State of Oklahoma like Charles L. Moore.

—George A. Henshaw.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site