Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 18, No. 2
June, 1940

Page 206


Born October 8, 1865 at Harrison, Boone County, Arkansas, son of Andrew N. Dearing and Barbara Caroline Dearing, nee Wilson, both born in Tennessee, whose paternal and maternal grandfathers, Sims Dearing, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Daniel Wilson, Harrison, Arkansas, were both born in Tennessee and early settlers in what is now Boone County, Arkansas.

William Samuel Dearing was educated in the common and high schools of Arkansas, with Normal training in the teachers' assemblies or institutes in both Arkansas and Oklahoma Territory, and beginning when 19 years old taught for 13 years.

Retiring from teaching in Oklahoma Territory after the opening of the Arapahoe and Cheyenne reservation, he engaged in the mercantile business at Independence, in Custer County, and there so continued until the construction of the railroad through that part of the county, when he removed to Thomas, a nearby railroad station, and so continued, the business later being restricted to furniture and undertaking. In 1924, after a successful career, he retired from active business.

A member of the Methodist Church and a local preacher so licensed in 1896, he continued in the work of the church until his death on the 8th day of January, 1940.

In what was thought to be a strong Republican district, he was nominated as a Democrat from the 44th District, composed of about three-fourths of Custer County, and elected by a good majority as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1906-7), under the provisions of the Enabling Act (June 16, 1906), to frame a Constitution for the proposed state of Oklahoma.

He was a member of the Board of Control of the insane asylum at Fort Supply, during the gubernatorial administration of the late Charles N. Haskell (1907-10), and later a member of the House of Representatives of the Fourth Legislature (1913-14).

A successful business man, actively identified with the affairs of the church, and the development of the community, county, and state, and the promotion of education, he continued to reside at Thomas until his death.

He was married to Sarah Blount Lamb on February 26, 1888, who with their two daughters, Mrs. Allie Combs of Thomas, and Mrs. R. O. Greene of Wewoka, survive him.

An upright citizen, devoted to his family, community, church, state and country, has passed from this earthly sphere.

R. L. Williams

Durant, Oklahoma

William Dearing


Alva Nathan Wilcox, born December 8, 1856 at Courtland, DeKalb County, Illinois, was the son of William Nathan Wilcox, who was born in Montgomery County, New York on October 2, 1828 and who died in Champaign County, Illinois March 4, 1871, being buried at Urbana in said state, as

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Alva Wilcox

was his first wife, Elizabeth Jane Meeker. A first son by said marriage was Wallace Hoze Wilcox, born in 1853 and died April 2, 1938 at Burlington, Kit Carson County, Colorado, whose widow, Mary Seward, survives him and resides in said town.

William Nathan Wilcox, after the death of his first wife, married Miss Jane Winchester, to which marriage came three children, all born in Champaign County, Illinois, to-wit:

(1) Jennie Elizabeth Wilcox, born 1866 and died in 1927 at Chicago. She married a man named Douglas.

(2) William Ezban Wilcox, born 1868, died in 1905 at New York City.

(3) Betsy May Wilcox, born 1869, still living in Chicago. She married a man named Connor.

Alva Nathan Wilcox after the death of his mother grew to manhood in Champaign County, Illinois, and went to Dayton, Ohio, there being employed by the Ohio Hedge Company, and after the termination of said employment returned to Champaign County, remaining there a short time, in 1886, he migrated to Eastern Colorado, settling in Elbert County. In 1887 the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad line was graded through said county, the steel being laid in 1888. In 1889 Kit Carson County was organized out of a part of Elbert County, Burlington becoming the county seat, Alva Nathan Wilcox being appointed sheriff, and in the election held on November 5, 1889 was unanimously elected to said office, his term to extend until January, 1890, and until his successor was elected. An early homestead settler, final proof thereof was made December 10, 1890, covering the Southwest Quarter of Section 15, Township 8 South, Range Forty-three, West 6th P. Meridian, in Kit Carson County, Colorado.

Later he removed to San Antonio, Texas and met the late George A. Winter, of Durant, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, with whom he became associated, and engaged in the nursery and fruit-tree business at Durant and adjacent territory, where he continued to reside, except the years that he was officially at the capital of the state at Oklahoma City from January 11, 1915 until January 13, 1919. Under the administration of the late Ben F. Hackett, United States Marshal for the Central District of the Indian Territory, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, Wilcox was appointed United States Deputy Marshal with headquarters at Durant, and served in that capacity until the erection of the state of Oklahoma on November 16, 1907.

On January 11, 1915 he was appointed by the Governor of the state of Oklahoma as a (Republican) member of the State Board of Affairs, serving in the capacity of Vice-Chairman, the two Democratic members being the late James M. Aydelotte, Chairman, and Samuel L. Morley, Secretary.

Whilst a resident of Colorado, Wilcox was a delegate to the Republican state convention held in Denver in 1890, at which the late Hosea Townsend was nominated as a candidate for, re-election as & representative at large from said state to the Congress of the United States, later being Judge of the United States Court for the Southern District of the Indian Territory, 1897-1907.

After honest and faithful public service, he died at Durant, Oklahoma on the 5th day of June, 1919, and was buried in Highland Cemetery.

His wife, formerly Miss Anna Hoard, now of Durant, Oklahoma, and daughter, Mrs. Anne Louise Buxton, of 2230 Northwest 19th Street, Oklahoma City, survive him.

—R. L. Williams

Page 208


A. Edward Perry, the son of Edward Perry and Melanie Sophronie Perry nee Bruette was born in Montreal, Canada, July 23, 1867, and died in Denver, Colorado, July 29, 1939; he was buried at Rush Springs, Oklahoma.

His father, Edward Perry, was in charge of construction of the M. K. & T. Railroad through the Indian Territory for his brother-in-law, John Scullin, of St. Louis. He brought his family to Denison, Texas, while the road was constructing, camping in the Indian Territory.

Ed. was one of a family of eight boys and one girl. His early years were spent in Denison, where he attended school afterwards going to Montreal, Canada, to the Jesuits where he finished the regulation course of studies. He then went on the road as a "drummer" for several years.

Many of his vacations were spent in the Indian Territory at the home of the late Governor Johnston, and on the ranches of the Colberts and the Loves. Thus Ed. grew to manhood with a knowledge and love of the old Indian Territory.

Robert L. Owen was a great friend of the family, he and Will Perry having married Daisy and Fanny, the only daughters of Captain G. B. Hester of Boggy Depot.

In 1888 Ed. his brother, H. T. V. Perry, and John Hodges opened a large store in Atoka.

During these early years he formed the enduring ties of friendship with Governor Green McCurtain, Bill Durant, Peter Hudson. Governor Bird (Chickasaw), Captain Charles LeFlore and many other prominent men.

In 1889 and 1890, Ed. and H. T. V. made the move to the town of Cottonwood, afterwards known as Coalgate, where they opened a general merchandise store and coal mines. A year later Ed. decided to continue his education and enrolled in Holy Cross College, Worchester, Mass.

He resumed his work in Coalgate in 1895 and on July 27, 1896, was married at Boggy Depot to Carrie LeFlore, daughter of Colonel Forbis LeFlore and Anne Mary LeFlore nee Maurer.

Ed. Perry and H. T. V. Perry of Perry Brothers were the first mine operators to sign the union scale.

My first acquaintance with Ed. Perry, known in political parlance as "Dynamite Ed." (to say the least he was dynamic) was more than 40 years ago. At the meeting of the Constitutional Convention in Guthrie, he spent most of his time at my room and office. My confidence in him was such that I was not afraid of betrayal of a secret. The year of statehood he was vice-chairman, and was made manager, and his Republican associates insisted that he knew "something on Murray," because of his close connection during the Convention, and Perry's character is expressed in his reply: "I know nothing unconscionable, and if I did, I wouldn't tell you as it would be a betrayal of a friend." He and I had up to the time of his death a steadfast, unbroken friendship, and I am delighted when requested to write this observation, and only wish I had more space than The Chronicles can allow.

Perry engaged in many enterprises, among which was manager of the Concho Gravel and Sand Company, dealing with the state. Never was there one whisper of dishonest course in his many deals with the state under several Governors of the State. He was always ready "to bid."

I may observe that Perry's influence in the carving of counties was more potent than the delegate, as he got the county seat.

Wm. H. Murray

Adolphus Perry

Page 209


Leander Pitman

The news came to me over the radio a little while ago of the death of L. G. Pitman at Tecumseh. Pitman was 86 years old and had been a resident of Oklahoma since 1889. To the most of the people now living in this State but little thought was given to this announcement, but to the early settlers in Oklahoma County and Oklahoma City it came as a shock and one that made sad their hearts. The more recent writers, who have tried to tell of the early history of Oklahoma Territory, and especially that of Oklahoma City, have failed to even mention Judge Pitman, although he was one of the most public spirited citizens and one who helped in developing this great Commonwealth. He was identified with every move made to bring about the passage by Congress of the Organic Act that would enable the people of the new territory to organize a Territorial Government.

Judge Pitman was a Democrat and was present at the convention held March 11, 1890, in the Boon and McKennon Building, corner Broadway and California, at which the Democratic Party in the Territory was organized. He was also a delegate to the Territorial convention in August 1890, held at Norman, at which Joe G. McCoy, "Cow Counter McCoy" was nominated for the long term and J. L. Mathews the short term as delegates to Congress.

Although Judge Pitman was never Governor, Congressman, nor United States Senator, yet he was in public life in Oklahoma for more than forty years, holding positions of honor, trust and responsibility, and no one could cast an aspersion upon his character or question his integrity. His innate modesty kept him from seeking the highest places in either territorial or state government, yet he could have filled with credit to himself and honor to the State the highest office within the gift of the people.

L. G. Pitman was elected to the Council of the first Territorial Legislature, representing Oklahoma County. There were but thirteen members of the Council, or Senate, and Pitman was recognized as one of the leaders in that branch of the legislature. He took an active part in the work of that body. He assisted in the enactment of a code of laws,seventeen years before the constitutional convention, that was well adapted to the needs of the people of the new territory. Representing Oklahoma County,he made a hard fight to locate the Capitol at Oklahoma City. He had much to do with harmonizing the discordant and conflicting interests and perfecting an organization, that would have made Oklahoma City the Capitol of the Territory in 1890, except for the veto of Governor George W. Steele, and which did locate and establish the University at Norman, the Territorial Normal School at Edmond and the Agricultural College at Stillwater. Judge Pitman was a member of, the first board of regents of the Territorial University and was the secretary of the Board. It was while a member of the Board that this great state school had its beginning and the first building was constructed in 1892. Judge Pitman was re-elected to the Council of the second legislature from Oklahoma County and served through the term from January to March 1893.

With possibly one exception, he was the last living member of the Council of the first Territorial Legislature. I believe there is now but one man living who served in the House in that legislature.

Judge Pitman was a lawyer and practiced his profession in Oklahoma City, sometimes associated with R. J. Ray and Charles Wrightsman.

Soon after the opening of the Sac and Fox and the Pottawatomie reservations he located in Pottawatomie County, where he resided until the close of his life. He was recognized and honored by the citizens of

Page 210

that County and was soon elected county attorney. He served the people as Superior Judge for many years, making his home at Tecumseh and later at Shawnee.

L. G. Pitman was a man in whom the people confided and respected. He was always considerate of the rights of others and was altogether unselfish. He was affable and congenial. He loved his friends and had few enemies. The fact that a man might differ from him in politics or other questions did not in the least affect his friendship for him. But with all his affability there was none of the "goody-goody," "holy Willie," about him. He was a man's man and played the man's part. He loved the great outdoors and liked to go camping, hunting and fishing with his friends.

The writer became acquainted with L. G. Pitman a short time after the opening in 1889 and a friendship was formed that lasted until his passing. Both of our names were on the first tickets ever printed for members of the legislature in Oklahoma: he, a candidate for the Territorial Council; and I, a candidate for the House. We made our campaign together and were both elected. (This election was held August 5, 1890 and the first Territorial Legislature convened August 27 and adjourned December 24 of the same year.) We represented the same people and worked together in the interests of our constituency.

In the election in 1892, we were both re-elected by the people of Oklahoma County and served in the second Territorial Legislature, which met in January 1893. If you were to call the roll of the first legislature; in the Council there would be no one to answer, with possibly one exception. In the House there would be only one to answer, "Here."

—Dan W. Peery

Carnegie, Oklahoma.


Recently, Oklahoma people were called upon to mourn the passing of three notable pioneers in the course of a few days; namely, Dennis T. Flynn, Dick Quinn and Grant Harris. All three had been printers and newspaper men. Of the three, Grant Harris alone remained printer and newspaper man all his life, the other two being largely interested in other phases of life and its activities. It may truly be said of Grant Harris that he was born a pioneer, his birth having occurred near Vinton, Iowa, where his parents had paused for a time in the course of their migration from Pennsylvania to Kansas, their journey both before and after that event, having been made in a covered wagon. The date of his birth was September 13, 1865. A few months later found the Harris family located and settled at Independence, the county seat of Montgomery County, in Southeastern Kansas. There he attended the public schools until, at the age of fourteen, he entered the office of the old Independence Courier as an apprentice in the printing office. The fourteen-year-old boy went from his home in Independence to Caldwell to take a position in the printing office of the Caldwell Post, in May, 1884. In those days, Caldwell was a wild, frontier "cow-town," where shooting scrapes were more or less frequent and where men were sometimes killed as the result of personal misunderstandings.

Grant Harris met Capt. David L. Payne, the noted leader of the Oklahoma boomers. Accidentally, Captain Payne learned that the youngster was a printer and he immediately sought to enlist the interest of the youth in his movement to effect the settlement of homesteaders on vacant

Grant Harris

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lands in the Indian Territory and closed the deal by offering him employment in the print shop of the Oklahoma War Chief, the official organ of the settlement which the Oklahoma boomers were just then trying to plant at Rock Falls, on the Chikaskia River, only a few miles distant from Caldwell. Young Harris hesitated at first but the wages offered seemed too tempting to be passed up, just then, so he decided to accept it, so he packed his few belongings, mounted his pony and set forth on the brief journey to Rock Falls.

Grant Harris eventually made his way to Wichita, Kansas, where he found an opportunity to set type on the Wichita Eagle which is still the leading newspaper in that city. In the years that followed he continued to work at the printer's trade, in Wichita, in Topeka, in Lincoln, Nebraska; Leadville, Colorado, Sioux City, Iowa, and in Kansas City. In 1905, he quit the service of the Kansas City Star, where he had operated one of the first linotype machines ever installed west of the Mississippi River, moved to Lahoma, west of Enid, to edit and publish the Lahoma Sun. Subsequently, he published papers at Wakita and at Hennessey. In 1912 he went to Wagoner, where, with Ursel Finch, he took over the publication of the Wagoner Tribune, acquiring sole ownership, later. In 1930, the Tribune and the Wagoner Record-Democrat, published by Jim Biggerstaff, were merged under the corporate name of the Wagoner Publishing Company, both papers being published by the same plant, but with each paper retaining its separate editorial management with independent editorial policy and opinion.

Harris married his wife in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1891 and is survived by her and by three daughters and two sons.

The course of Grant Harris through life had been one of kindly interest in the welfare of his fellow men. Death came to him suddenly and unexpectedly on the evening of July 4, 1939, leaving in the hearts and minds of a legion friends sentiments of appreciation of a life that had been well lived and usefully employed. Funeral services were held the following Thursday afternoon at the home, with the Rev. A. S. Cameron, pastor of the First Methodist Church, officiating.1

Joseph B. Thoburn

Union Memorial Room,
Oklahoma Historical Society


William McIlwain

A great humanitarian, a sincerely-loved neighbor, a very distinguished World War soldier and one of the state's early-day settlers passed to the Great Beyond on November 28, 1939, when Dr. William McIlwain, age 81, died in the Detroit, Michigan veterans' hospital. Death followed two years of serious illness. Approximately two thousand neighbors, old-settlers from all parts of western Oklahoma and members of the American-Legion from all sections of the state gathered at Lone Wolf on December 3rd to pay a last tribute to their friend and comrade. Burial was in Lone Wolf cemetery, near this little town which had known him intimately for all the years since this territory was opened to settlement. Dr. McIlwain came to Lone Wolf in 1901. The post office then was called Dill and later was changed to Lone Wolf in honor of a Kiowa Chief. The life of the country doctor demanded getting out of bed at all hours of the night to attend the sick  A sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart and her children constituted Dr. McIlwain's family. He never married. Throughout the early days of western Oklahoma he treated the ill and suffering, attended

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at births and eased the dying in the half-dugouts and shacks of the early-day settlers. His fast, fine team, spinning his buggy over the prairies, was a thrill to the youngsters of old Dill township. Frank Harston, druggist of Lone Wolf, has the tiny scales which the Doctor carried on calls where the stork was expected back in those early days. Many men and women of middle age now ask to see those little scales which weighed them at birth.

Dr. McIlwain was the leader in keeping his American Legion post membership high and was post service officer. Once, when the Lone Wolf Legion post had saved $500 by hard work and closely guarded financial activity, the state department called upon the post for $265 as its share of the funds raised to build the Home School for orphans now in operation at Ponca City. Dr. McIlwain promptly induced the post to give the $265 from the hut fund and build the hut later.

It was always a mystery how Dr. McIlwain, at sixty years of age, ever got into the Army in 1917. He served as Lieutenant, Medical Corps, with the famous 77th Division. He was medical officer with the 308th Infantry, the Division which went to the rescue of the Lost Battalion. It was in this action he won the Distinguished Service Cross, second highest award for valor offered by the United States to its military heroes. The award was made at Ft. Sill in 1928, before the entire troop force and a large group of citizens.

Dr. McIlwain was the moving spirit behind the erection of the Memorial bridge over Red River near Lone Wolf, where the beautiful statues of the American Doughboy and Sailor stand guard at each end. The bridge was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1928.

The Doctor was proud of being one of Oklahoma's pioneers. He organized the Dill Township reunion in 1920 and served actively in promoting the annual meetings each summer at Harvey's Spring. In 1936 this annual reunion was dedicated to Dr. McIlwain and prominent speakers attended and paid tribute to the life and service of this "Grand Old Man." One of Dr. McIlwain's most cherished dreams was accomplished when the Legion Memorial grove, at the end of Memorial bridge, was planted and the trees grew large enough to shelter the annual old settlers reunion. Trees were contributed from all sections of Oklahoma at the Doctor's request, and a beautiful grove is now growing here in this prairie country. The land on which the Memorial grove is located was donated by C. M. Davis, himself a Kiowa pioneer, and his two sons, Charles and Ross. Dr. McIlwain, the Davises and other citizens carried water often to keep the trees from dying. The Legion post planted the trees as they were donated and the grove is now the coolest place in this section of western Oklahoma. A well is located in the grove and passers-by often stop in the heat of summer to quench their thirst and rest in the shade of the elms. Dr. McIlwain was the moving spirit in this project and devoted more time to it than any other citizen of the community.

In Dr. McIlwain's passing Oklahoma lost a fine citizen, the Historical Society lost a friend whose knowledge of the early days of this great state was a valuable asset and the people of western Oklahoma lost a sympathetic counsellor.

Rev. S. E. Henderson

Lone Wolf, Oklahoma.

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