By Robert L. Williams
Jasper Sipes, son of Lawson J. Sipes and his wife, Lucinda Sipes, nee Wright, was born in Batavia, Jefferson County, Iowa on June 30, 1860. When he was a little more than a year old, the father with his family moved from this point to Virginia City, Montana, traveling overland in a covered wagon, a part of the way being in company with Jim Bridger, the noted guide and Indian fighter. The father engaged in mining and later in ranching; the son, whilst not attending the local schools, worked with the father, except during the Nez Perce Indian uprising when he joined volunteers in defense of the settlers.
From Montana Jasper Sipes came to Western Kansas and became interested in farm lands and wheat raising in McPherson and Pratt Counties, and used a timber claim right in Stanton County, Kansas. He then came to Oklahoma Territory, and in the run on April 22, 1889 exercised a homestead right, selecting same in Oklahoma County about five miles east of Oklahoma City, now a part of what is known as the "Crutcho Farm" and owned by him at the time of his death. With the opening he maintained his residence on said homestead during the period necessary to secure title thereto. At the same time he carried on an established business in Oklahoma City, traveling thereto practically daily from his residence.
In Kansas for some time he had been engaged in school and church equipment and furniture business, which he reestablished and expanded in Oklahoma City. In 1915 he organized a wholesale outlet for distribution of state textbooks, which he continued until 1937 when he retired, which was thereafter continued under the same corporate name though he had neither connection therewith nor interest therein.
With no school houses in which to place furniture, no school boards to purchase same, and no pupils, for a time he carried his samples for display over the territory, aiding in the organization of school boards and planning to finance school buildings and equip them with everything from desks and wall maps to heating plants. He published copies of the first school laws enacted by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature and distributed them at his own expense and equipped the first school building erected in Oklahoma City (Emerson). His equipment was installed not only in the laboratories of the University of Oklahoma at its beginning but also in most of the other state school buildings.
He was married to Miss Anna E. Johnston of Valley Center, Kansas, April 7, 1884, who as his wife accompanied him when he came to Oklahoma Territory in 1889.
At one time he was offered the Daily Oklahoman for his Crutcho farm which offer he rejected. In 1893 he began publication of the Oklahoma Territory School Herald, which was by him continued for 14 years and is now the Oklahoma Teacher, a monthly magazine.
"Good, up to date schools," he said "will induce people to move to a community having them in order that they may give to their children an education in accord with the times."
One run wasn't enough for him. To the Sac and Fox and Pottawatomie reservations in 1891, to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe in 1892, to the Cherokee Outlet (riding on the cowcatcher on the first train into Perry from the south) in 1893, to the Kiowa and Comanche lottery in 1901, he went each time, not to acquire land or a homestead but to begin preparation to organize school districts and aid in the financing of school houses and to supply school house equipment and school supplies.
He was the last surviving charter member of the Oklahoma Territory State Teachers' Association and had been a member of the Oklahoma Historical Society since 1894, when it had been organized only about a year. In 1900 he became a member of its board of directors, its vice president in 1904, serving in that capacity until he became president in June, 1906, and continuing as such until January, 1926, when he became president emeritus and so remained until the date of his death on July 12, 1941.
He became a Master Mason in Oklahoma Lodge No. 3 of Oklahoma City on July 15, 1895, now Oklahoma City Lodge No. 36, A. F. & A. M., and was not only a member but also treasurer thereof from December 21, 1903 until called to service in the lodge on High. He was a Royal Arch Mason, becoming a member of Cyrus Chapter No. 7, R. A. M. on November 26, 1920 and received the Council degrees in Alpha Council No. 18, R. & S. M. on October 27, 1922, created a Knight Templar in Oklahoma Commandery No. 3, K. T. on October 26, 1921, and a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of Oklahoma Consistory Scottish Rite Masons at Guthrie, Oklahoma for many years, until the time of his death, and was created a Noble of the Mystic Shrine on October 13, 1898 in India Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. of Oklahoma City, and active until his death at Oklahoma City July 12, 1941 at the age of 81 years and 12 days, the funeral being at the First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Dr. John R. Abernathy officiating, and a Masonic funeral service was conducted over his remains at the Mausoleum in Fairlawn Cemetery on July 15, 1941, conducted by Oklahoma City Lodge No. 36, A. F. & A. M., July 15, A. D. 1941, A. L. 5941.
As a young man in a new country he experienced many of its pleasures and hardships, aggressively active in such period, such as ranching, riding the range, and engaging in placer gold mining.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Western National Bank, when it was absorbed by the American-First National Bank, of Oklahoma City and becoming a director, served until retirement on account of failing health.
He was a Rotarian and attended many of the district meetings as well as an international meeting.
He served several years as president of the library board of the Carnegie library of Oklahoma City, and for more than thirty years was active in upbuilding Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory, and the state. He was a member of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce from its original beginning.
In politics he was a Democrat and interested and active in the party and chairman of the Territorial Central Committee in 1900. At the convention which convened at El Reno in the early part of June of that year, his friends presented him as a candidate for National Committeeman and the contest resulted in two conventions. Freeman Miller of Stillwater and Ben Clardy were respectively chairman and secretary of the one supporting Jim Jacobs, and A. J. Jones of Garfield and A. W. Power of Blaine respectively chairman and secretary of the one supporting Jasper Sipes.
The former convention selected delegates as follows: C. J. Wrightsman of Pawnee, A. M. Mackey of Grant, T. L. Hill of Kay, J. C. Scruggs of Noble, H. S. Emerson of Lincoln, J. S. Burns of Woods, and D. H. Patton of Woodward, with the following alternates: L. P. Ross of Cleveland, A. W. Swope of Payne, D. R. Gravett of Osage Nation, W. P. Hickok of Washita, Robert Galbreath of Oklahoma City, and E. G. Newell of Payne.
The other convention selected the following delegates: Jasper Sipes and Allan Hall of Oklahoma City, Dan W. Peery of Canadian, W. M. Newell of Cleveland, W. S. Whittinghill of Garfield, J. W. Little of Washita, and Joseph Wisby of Logan, with the following alternates: Roger Hall of Grant, J. C. Caldwell of Custer, Paul Nesbitt of Blaine, Frank Stevens of Garfield, W. P. French of Roger Mills.
The National Convention which convened at Kansas City in the early part of July seated both delegations, the result being that the delegations as seated did not agree on a national committeeman and none was selected at that time.1
During the early history of Oklahoma, Sipes for fourteen years was editor of the Oklahoma School Herald. Through this entire period, his was the only educational paper published in the territory. He caused the first fourteen volumes to be bound and donated same for the archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society,
which forms perhaps the only authentic educational history of Oklahoma Territory preserved during these early days. He also published many educational pamphlets and school aids and spent a part of each year in travel; some of the most interesting trips being a tour through Europe, accompanied by his family, and to Alaska and through old Mexico, visiting the principal places of interest in that republic.
He is survived by his wife of 701 NW Fourteenth Street, Oklahoma City, and two children: Dr. Glen J. Sipes of San Francisco, California and Gail J. Sipes, now Mrs. Curtis Wright, Berkeley, California. A fine citizen, and devoted husband, father, and friend has passed from us, except in appreciative memory.