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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 18, No. 3
September, 1940

Page 309


Arthur Severance

Arthur Leason Severance, son of Byron Severance and Charlotte (Arthur) Severance, and grandson of Elisha and Phoebe B. (Tracy) Morgan Severance, and great-grandson of Samuel and Auzba Severance, and great2-grandson of Martin and Patience Fairfield Severance, and great3-grandson of Joseph and Anna (Kelloge) Severance, was born at Troy Mills, Ohio, in the "Western Reserve" district on July 14, 1860, and died in his seventy-fifth year at Durant, Oklahoma, on May 10, 1935. One of his family line took part in the battle of Lexington and Concord and another, to-wit, John Severance, Boston, 1635, was named commissioner to construct the highway leading to the new settlements along the Charles River, and was later a lieutenant of militia to guard the settlements.1

Arthur Leason Severance was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, his number in the national organization being 31609 and that of the state of Oklahoma, 109. His membership in said organization was through his ancestor, Samuel Severance, (Private, Capt. Green's Co. and Col. Varnum's Regiment, Mass. Militia),2 born in Shelburn, Mass., June 12, 1761 and died in Springfield, Mass. on August 28, 1833.

Arthur Leason Severance attended the common schools of his native county and enrolled as a first year student in the preparatory department of Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, for the year 1882-1883. The regular work taken by him as such student included courses in Latin, English, American History, with reviews of arithmetic and geography.

After he left Oberlin he resided at Wakeman, Ohio for five years.

On January 7, 1885, he was united in marriage with Mary E. West of North Fairfield, Ohio. They celebrated their fiftieth anniversary at their home in Durant in January, 1935.

In 1888 he removed from Ohio to Hope, Arkansas, where for twelve years he was not only actively engaged as a lumber dealer, but also interested in its manufacture. He was Secretary of the Hope Lumber Company and manager of the Saginaw-Arkansas Lumber Mill, and a director of the Hempstead County Bank of Hope, Arkansas, and the senior member of the firm of Severance and McRae Hardware Company of Hope, Arkansas.

After the beginning of the construction of the Hope (Ark.)-Ardmore (Indian Territory) branch of the Frisco (then the Arkansas & Choctaw), he removed to Durant, then in Indian Territory, and having acquired the business of the Malone Hardware Company, which had succeeded the Hale Hardware or Implement Company, organized the A. L. Severance Hardware Company, which he conducted until his retirement on account of the infirmities of age.

For years he was a director in the Durant National Bank and a member of the board of directors of the Durant Building and Loan Association, of which he was one of the original organizers. Prior to the erection of the State of Oklahoma when public schools were established in Durant, he was elected a member of the first Public School Board, becoming chairman thereof. This membership and activity continued until some time

Page 310

after the erection of the state. Until the election of a state superintendent and the organization of the state board of education and creation of state normal schools which supplied such function, he acted as examiner for the local school board. He took an important part in securing the location and the building of the Presbyterian School for Boys and Girls at Durant, which after statehood was merged into the Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls.

He was interested in the movement which brought Southeastern State College to said city and a friend of the churches and fraternal orders, for years being an active member of the Woodmen of the World. He was a leader in these early pioneer and territorial days in the promotion of the construction of public improvements, including school buildings, churches, streets, sidewalks, and paving.

The Convention that framed the Constitution for the State of Oklahoma under provisions of the Enabling Act of June 16, 1906, in providing for the holding of an election as to the ratification of the proposed Constitution and selection of state and county officers in its unorganized territory created preliminary county commissioners for such purpose, and he was appointed in the ordinance for such election3 as one of such commissioners for Bryan County.

His grandfather, in 1802, as preliminary to the admission of the State of Ohio into the Union performed a similar service in holding an election at which delegates to the Ohio Constitutional Convention were elected.4

As a member and president of the board of freeholders of the city of Durant, elected May 15, 1912, he aided in preparing a special charter for the government of said city which was submitted to the electors thereof on August 12, 1912.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Mary E. (West) Severance, and a daughter, Miss Marion Severance, a member of the faculty of the Southeastern State College at Durant. Three other daughters, Alma, Beulah, and Mary, died in young girlhood and are buried at Hope, Arkansas. He was also survived by a brother, E. E. Severance, of Willard, Ohio, a niece, Mrs. S. E. Newcomb of Antlers, Oklahoma, and a nephew, H. L. Severance, of Akron, Ohio.

Funeral services were conducted at his home on Third Avenue fn Durant, Dr. E. Hotchkin, a former president of the Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls, and Dr. R. C. Miller, pastor of the First Baptist Church being in charge. Interment took place on Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock, May 12, 1935 at Hope, Arkansas.5

A cultured, progressive, and outstanding citizen and a considerate and devoted husband and father and friend has passed from these earthly surroundings.

—R. L. Williams

Durant, Oklahoma

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