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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 5, No. 1
March, 1927

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Oklahoma has suffered the loss of some of her private citizens, her public officials and some of her gracious women, but in no respect is this loss so keenly felt as in the thinning ranks of the pioneers and early settlers, for whom all have formed quite an attachment. To mention the names, or do justice to the achievements of all these various individuals would be impossible at this time; so we mention a few, only a few in the space allotted.



On January 2, 1927, there passed one of our best citizens from the pages of Oklahoma’s history, State Senator, D. A. Shaw. Born in Waldron, Arkansas, December 31, 1875, he emigrated to Texas in 1895, where he took special training along educational lines. He first read law as a student under the direction of Col. K. K. Leggett, in Abilene, Texas. He returned to Oklahoma the year of statehood, where he resided until the time of his death. From the year 1917 to 1920 Mr. Shaw served as county judge of LeFlore County. In April 1925 he was elected mayor of Poteau; in 1926, at the state election, he was elected state senator. From 1914 to 1919 he was editor of the LeFlore County Sun, and was a writer of marked ability. Mr. Shaw was a worthy citizen of this state and will be missed in public, as well as in private life.


The subject of this sketch was born and reared in Choctaw County. The year of his birth was 1844, in the little town of Fort Towson, which at this time was a military post, occupied by federal troops. Mr. Gooding’s father owned and operated a commissary at the Fort, where the son, Henry L. lived until he reached manhood.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in a company of soldiers and was mustered into the Confederate army.

At the close of the war he moved to Goodland where he

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resided until his death, which occurred Monday, October 18, 1926.

He married early in life, a Miss LeFlore, daughter of Governor Basil LeFlore, to whom several children were born, four of whom were living at the time of his death; two daughters, Mrs. W. R. Spring, of McAlester, and Mrs. E. J. Plank, of Hugo, with two sons, Charles Gooding, of California, and B. L. of Grant, Oklahoma, with a fifth child, a daughter by a second marriage, Mrs. Leonard Lewis, with residence in California.

Mr. Gooding for nearly half a century has been a member of the Doaksville Lodge No. 2, A. F. and A. M., which is one of the oldest Masonic lodges in the state. Mr. Gooding at one time served the lodge as Worshipful master. The master of this lodge at the time of Mr. Gooding’s death, and the one who conducted the services at the grave, was a grandson of the deceased. Mr. Gooding was one of the great men of the Indian Territory; a community builder, a leader in all movements for the betterment of conditions among his own people, as well as among all classes. Mr. Gooding took a great interest in the Goodland school, one of the oldest in the Choctaw Nation, and one of the most successful. From its walls have gone out men and women to bless humanity; in their lives the spirit of fidelity, characteristic of Mr. Gooding, will continue for years to come as a mighty force for righteousness.


An old pioneer of this country passed to her reward January 14, 1927, at 8:30 a. m. Mrs. Fannie Starr, was born in the Indian Terirtory, January 1st, 1855, in the old Flint District, Cherokee Nation. She was married to Mr. Frost Starr the year 1877, to this union eight children were born, four of them, with the father, having died several years ago. Mrs. Starr was a charter member of the Methodist church at Porum, in which community she spent most of her eventful life. She was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation by blood, and was considered one of the most prominent and useful of the tribe.

The children surviving her are Mr. Spy Starr, Mrs. Will Robinson, Mrs. Mary Johnson, and Mrs. A. M. Rush. Funeral services were held by Rev. L. C. Craig at the Methodist church the following Saturday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, after

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which the remains were laid to rest in the old Fields cemetery. Mrs. Starr was a born pioneer of this great country, and her life was spent in behalf of members of her tribe and those with whom she came in contact. It can be truthfully said that hers was a life of usefulness on the out-posts of civilization, where things were not always as one might wish them to be.


Of Colbert, Oklahoma, died in Sherman, Texas, November 19, 1926.

Born in Virginia on February 24, 1857. His father John Z. Ramsey, was also born in Virginia, was a farmer and merchant and a Confederate soldier. At the close of the war having lost his slaves and being financially a wreck, his property being located in the wake of the contending armies, he moved to Texas, and located on a farm in Fannin County, near Honey Grove, where he resided until 1874 when he moved to Bells, Grayson County, Texas. His faithful wife, who was the mother of Gustavus A. Ramsey, was Miss Judith E. Gilbert, born in Virginia. Gustavus A. Ramsey was nine years old when he came to Texas with his father and had been to school some in Virginia and afterwards attended the schools in Fannin and Grayson counties. In 1885 when he was 28 years old he removed to Panola County in the Chickasaw Nation, and in 1892 located at Colbert, which was his home when he died. During his entire life after reaching manhood he was engaged in farming and the cattle business. On December 24, 1891, he was married to Miss Amanda P. Potts, a member of the Chickasaw Tribe, and had, one child, a daughter, Mable Ramsey, who is now married and lives in California. Gustavus A. Ramsey was a member of the Baptist Church, a Mason and an Odd Fellow and an earnest Christian. In politics he was a Democrat, at various times being a member of the county or district central committee. In 1914 he was elected to the Legislature (serving as a member of the 5th Legislature 1915-1917) . He was a modest unassuming but useful citizen.


Ephraim H. Foster was born in Courtland, Ala., on July 4, 1871, and died in Okmulgee, Okla., on December 2, 1926.

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Having received his legal education at the University of Alabama and been admitted to the bar, he formed a law partnership with Lawrence Cooper of Huntsville, Ala., and for a number of years enjoyed a lucrative practice.

Moving to Oklahoma in 1907, and locating at Hugo, he there practiced his profession until 1911, when he entered the Legal Department of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad with headquarters at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

For four years he served as Assistant General Attorney for Oklahoma for said railroads. In 1917, resigning from said position he removed to Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he engaged in the general practice of the law until 1921, when he opened an office at Okmulgee, Okla., where he engaged in the general practice until his death, at which time he ranked as one of the leaders of the bar of the state.

He came from a family of lawyers. His father, Ephraim E. Foster, the 2nd, born in Nashville, Tenn., moved to Alabama, and engaged in the practice of law in that state. His great uncle, Ephraim H. Foster, the 1st, born in 1795, was a member of the bar at Nashville, Tenn., a great lawyer and a noted United States Senator from Tennessee. He is survived by his wife. He was buried at Huntsville, Alabama.


Harrison Wilson Gibson, born January 28th, 1868 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. His father was John T. Gibson of Scotch descent; his mother, Barbara Sullenburger, of German extraction. Both parents were born and reared in Westmorland County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Murry Dick of the same County, November 28th, 1894. After leaving McKeesport, he resided in Kalamazoo, Mich., Chicago, Ill., Momence, Ill., Bloomington, Ill., Durant, Okla., McAlester, Okla., and Muskogee, Oklahoma.

By profession, he was a civil engineer and a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Engineers. From 1894 to 1911 he was engaged on a large scale as a Railroad Contractor. In the fall of 1911 having retired from the contracting business, he settled at Muskogee where he resided until his death. In 1913 being elected a director of the Federal Reserve Bank for the 10th District he so continued until his death. He was by appointment of the Governor of the State and Capitol Com-

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mission in 1915 a member of the Citizens’ Advisory Capitol Commission, which aided in the construction of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building, and served in that capacity with efficiency and fidelity.

He died at Muskogee, Oklahoma, November 2nd, 1926, and was buried in Green Hill cemetery in said city. He is survived by his wife, three sons, H. W., Junior, James D; and John T., a sister Miss Addie M. Gibson, and two brothers, William S., and Frank.


Mrs. Sarah Moncrief Harlan, who died in the Confederate Home, at Ardmore, December 15, 1926, was unquestionably one of the most remarkable pioneers in Oklahoma. She was born in Sumter County, Alabama, January 30th, 1829, so she lacked but a few weeks of being ninety-eight years old at the time of her death. Her parents were Sampson Moncrief, of French-English extraction and a native of Georgia, and his wife, Susan Vaughan, who was of Highland Scotch-Choctaw extraction, being of one-fourth Indian blood. Her father, who had been left an orphan early in life and who had been forced to make his own way in the world, was in independent circumstances but did not appreciate the importance of giving his children more than the most meagre and rudimentary education and it, was only the most insistent urging and pleading by the daughter, seconded by her mother, that induced him to to permit her to attend school for several additional terms. After gaining a fair education, she married Erasmus B. Hawkins, who was a native of Kentucky. Several years later, in 1851, they decided to move from Mississippi to the Choctaw country, in the Indian Territory. They traveled by steamboat, landing at Fort Coffee. Within twelve hours after arriving there, she was stricken with cholera, an epidemic which caused the death of several friends and relatives. With her husband, she selected a location near Skullyville, where they made their home. There her husband died. Several years later, she married Aaron Harlan, who was a merchant or trader. Having opened a trading establishment at Tishomingo, her husband moved the family to that place. During the Civil War, while her husband was absent from home in the Confederate service, she lived part

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of the time at Bonham, Texas, where her children and stepchildren were in school. Foreseeing that the war would last several years and that supplies of all kinds would be scarce before it ended, she laid in stocks of drygoods, coffee, etc., to tide her household through to the end of the struggle. At last peace was restored and the home life was resumed at Tishomingo. Her husband’s business, which had been demoralized and destroyed by the war, was re-organized and in due time the days of prosperity returned. However, a dishonest partner brought bankruptcy. Valiantly, Major Harlan struggled to re-establish himself in business, out at White Bead Hill, beyond the Washita. There he sickened and died, leaving Mrs. Harlan to face the world with a burden of care but with as brave a heart as ever beat in the breast of woman. She made her home at Caddo, where she became recognized as a positive factor in the life of the community. Other troubles and griefs came but she met them all with a calm courage that never could be defeated. Old age came on, only to find her ever young in spirit. The friends and dear ones of early life all passed away. Her children of the third generation grew to manhood and womanhood and still she lived with faculties unimpaired. A year before the end of life, she expressed a desire to go to the Confederate Home and be with old people, though she was ever welcome in the homes of grandchildren and other relatives and friends. There the end came. Her remains were taken back to the old home at Caddo, where the funeral services were held in the Methodist Church, of which she was the founder, and the interment was in the family burial ground, where she was laid to rest beside the grave of her husband, who had passed away more than half a century before. Many years before her death, Mrs. Harlan had been persuaded to reduce her memoirs to written form for the benefit of her descendants, the result being a manuscript of unusual historical interest.

J. B. T.


In the passing of Mrs. Mary A. McAlester, Oklahoma has suffered a loss that is keenly felt by the east-siders especially, as she has been prominently associated with all the activities of the state, socially, politically, financially, and otherwise. Mrs. McAlester came to Indian Territory in the early seven-

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ties, at which time she and her husband, M. A. McAlester, who was a brother of the late J. J. McAlester, entered aggressively into the affairs of the nation.

Her husband died several years ago, but she retained her interest in the business which has been largely responsible for the growth of McAlester, the city named for the brothers.

Mrs. McAlester kept abreast with the development of the country, and was intensely interested in the history and activities of the different characters who helped to make this state what it is to-day. She was conversant with the old order of men and events and witnessed their passing with at least a degree of regret, yet she was jubilant as the dawn of the new order gave promise of a better day.

Mrs. McAlester was born November the 25th, 1860, in East St. Louis. She married Mr. McAlester in Sherman, Texas, 1877, from which place they came immediately to Indian Territory, settling in what is now known as North McAlester, where she remained until the time of her death, which was December 5, 1926. Two sons survive, both living in McAlester, E. W. and Britt. Funeral services were held at the residence Wednesday, December the 8th, Rev. S. H. Williams, rector of All Saints Episcopal church, officiating, to which church the deceased belonged.

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