Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 10, No. 1
March, 1932

Page 144


I can think of no greater tribute that could be paid me than to be respectfully spoken of by the good people of my community as a "pioneer," for a "pioneer", in the common usage of the word, is one who has the courage to go ahead and prepare the way for others, and who remains as one of the pillars of the community and the civilization which he has helped to build.

On the 19th day of August, 1931, the citizens of Oklahoma lost a "pioneer" in the passing of W. E. Roberts, Sr., of Nowata, who had been a resident of the Indian Territory and Oklahoma for more than fifty years, having come to the Indian Territory from Indiana in 1881, when the country was sparsely settled and almost wholly undeveloped. He immediately began work for the betterment of his community, a work he kept at unceasingly until his death. He became a stockman and ranch owner, then a merchant, an oil producer, a banker, a lumberman and a realtor, and was successful in all these enterprises until ill health retired him to an inactive life.

Although, like all pioneers, Mr. Roberts met hardship, ill health, financial difficulties, he met them with his face to the sun, as all pioneers have met their problems.

This pioneer always turned a sympathetic ear to the pleas of the needy, the destitute and the worthy and placed steadying hands upon their shoulders.

He married Mary E. Riley, a member of one of the prominent Cherokee families, in 1885, and, of this union, four children, James T. Roberts, W. E. Roberts, Jr., Charles A. Roberts and Floyd B. (Sid) Roberta, were born, all of whom are residents of Oklahoma, and, with their mother, survive him.

I am prompted to write this feeble tribute because Mr. Roberts was for many years my good friend, and because I was born and reared in the old Indian Territory, and learned to know and love these old pioneers whose outward appearances were sometimes rough and gruff, but whose hearts beat with the sympathy and understanding that only those who have met and overcome hardships, poverty and disappointment can understand.

Mr. Roberts was a Mason, Knight of Pythias, Woodman of the World, and a member of the Christian Church, and was politically a staunch Democrat.

Men may have lived who were better to their families, truer to their friends and more tolerant of the faults of their neighbors, but I have never known them.

On August 21, 1931, he was laid to rest in Memorial Park in the family lot at Nowata, funeral services conducted at the grave by the Masonic order.

"He was friend to man, and he lived in a house by the side of the road."

"There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
    In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
    In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
    Where highways never ran—
But let me live by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man."

Joe Chambers, Tulsa, Okla.

Page 145

Virginia Cox Sutton


Virginia Cox Sutton was born in Tonganoxie, Kansas, July 18th, 1865; the daughter of James D. and Mary C. Cox. At the age of fifteen she began teaching school at Hazel Ridge about eight miles southwest of McLouth, Kansas. In the year 1880 she attended college at Lecompton, Kansas, and in the following year she taught in Meridian, Kansas. It was in the year of 1883 that she married J. L. McKeever. A daughter of this marriage, Laverne McKeever, who became Mrs. W. A. Aitken, lives at Enid, Oklahoma, and frequently visited her mother when the latter was a resident of Oklahoma City.

While teaching in Holion, Kansas, in 1889, the young Mrs. McKeever came to Oklahoma and homesteaded sixteen miles southwest of Oklahoma City. After filing on her claim, she returned to Kansas and finished out the school year. Early in the Autumn of that year she came back to Oklahoma and made some improvements on her claim.

Mrs. Sutton started the first school in Oklahoma City, in a small store room on First Street between Broadway and Robinson Avenues. Her's was a subscription school, and when the public schools were organized she was taken into the system in which she remained seventeen years. In 1895 she married Fred C. Sutton, one of the leading business men of Oklahoma City, and she took an active part in the city's social and civic life. She was a charter member of the '89ers organization and was one of the founders of the "First Families of Oklahoma". She made a large and interesting collection of photographs of men and women who came to Oklahoma at the Opening of the New Territory. This collection was presented to the Oklahoma Historical Society. Many of the photographs are among the most valuable in the possession of the Society and may be seen hanging on the Society's walls. Officially, these photographs belong to what is knnwn as "The Fred and Virginia Sutton collection."

During her stay in Oklahoma Mrs. Sutton was a member of the Oklahoma City chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and later became a member-at-large. She belonged to the Society of Colonial Dames, the Ladies' Music Club, the Art League and the Shakespeare Society. But of all her civic, social and club activities, none gave her such satisfaction as her representation of Oklahoma at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco in 1915, when she had the distinction of being the woman commissioner and the official hostess of the Oklahoma building.

In 1921 Mrs. Sutton removed to Los Angeles, California, where she began a serious study of music. A few years later she was graduated from one of the leading conservatories of that city.

Mrs. Sutton passed away suddenly on November 13, 1931. Her body was buried at McLouth, Kansas, beside her father and mother and two brothers. She is survived by her daughter, Mrs. Aitken and two brothers, James A. Cox of Plainview, Texas, and Guy Cox of Oklahoma City.


Henry Kelly, son of Patrick Kelly and his wife, Rose Kelly, nee Barrett, born. September 21, 1858, in Lynn County, Missouri, died July 6, 1910, at El Reno, Oklahoma. Educated in common schools of Chariton County, Missouri, and the schools at Kirksville, Missouri, and at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. For a while he taught school in Chariton County, Missouri. In 1881 he removed to Crawford County, Iowa, in 1891 being elected County Superintendent of Public Instruction

Page 146

and re-elected in 1892 served two terms in such office. In 1896 he removed to Canadian County, Oklahoma Territroy, settling at Union City, where he taught school for two years. He was married to Miss Theresa Kral, of Vail, Iowa, to which union came five children who survive him, to-wit: Vivian and Loretta Kelly, who live in Iowa, Henry Kelly and William Kelly, of Yukon, Okahoma, and Emmett of El Reno, Oklahoma. His son, Emmett, who is known as E. H. Thompson, being adopted by Frank Thompson, is now County Judge of Canadian County, Okla. His widow, Mrs. Theresa Kelly, lives in Vail, Iowa. His father, Patrick Kelly, was born in Ireland and came to this country about 1840, serving as a soldier in the Mexican War. His mother, Rose Barrett, was also born in Ireland. He has a brother Patrick J. Kelly, who resides in Yukon, Oklahoma. He secured a claim in the Caddo Reservation in 1901, settling thereon. He was elected to the Constitutional Convention from District No. 40 in 1906 as a Democrat.


Born June 8, 1856, in New Madrid County, Missouri; son of Amos Riley, Jr., and Lucy Ann Riley, nee Hamilton. His paternal grandfather, Amos Riley, Sr., emigrated from Ireland, first settling in Maryland and then removing to Kentucky locating in Hardin County. His father, Amos Riley, Jr., was born near Louisville, Kentucky, and the son of Amos Riley, Sr., and Sussannah Phillips. Sussannah Phillips was the daughter of Jenkin Phillips and Hannah Butcher.

His mother was the daughter of Charles Hamilton and Eleanor Phillips, his grandfather Hamilton being born in Mississippi, whose father was from Scotland. His mother having died when he was an infant, his aunt Mrs. Hannah Williams, a widow, of Louisville, Kentucky, assumed his care. Whilst he was quite young she married his father Amos Riley, Jr., her first cousin. His father removed from Louisville, Kentucky, to New Madrid County, Missouri, about 1850. After receiving his preliminary education in private schools he entered the University of Missouri where he graduated, receiving degrees of A. B. and LL. B. He was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. For two years he practiced law in New Madrid, Missouri, and then for three years at Malden, Missouri. In 1881 he removed to Secorro, New Mexico, and was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of that Territory. He was Clerk of the United States District Court for the Second Judicial District of the Territory of New Mexico from 1885 to 1889. Whilst at Secorro during the uprising of the Apaches, under the leadership of Geronimo, Judge Russell, a leading citizen of Sacorro, called for volunteers to aid in the suppressing of the Apache outbreak. Being very much in love with his daughter, Miss Maud Russell, Chilon Riley, eager to establish himself in the esteem of her father, took the lead in organizing a company which participated in the capture of Geronimo. In 1890 Chilion Riley and Miss Maud Russell were married. Later, they removed from New Mexico to Dellingham, Washington Territory, where he located and was admitted to the bar and engaged in the practice of the law. In 1895 he removed from Washington Territory to Ardmore, Indian Territory. In 1896 he was appointed Master in Chancery by Judge C. B. Kilgore. In 1904 he was a law clerk on the Dawes Commission. Later he located at Duncan and was there engaged in the practice of law until after statehood. On account of his health he retired from active practice and for a short time lived at Fort Smith, Arkansas, with a brother. His wife died in 1930. They had no children. From Fort Smith, Arkansas, he sought the beneficial climate in California, from there he went to Sulphur, Oklahoma, seeking restoration of health through its curative waters but died December 11, 1931. He is buried at Duncan, Oklahoma.

Page 147


Born June 8, 1865, at La Grange, Indiana; died at Henryetta, Oklahoma, January 7, 1932. Son of William Hudson and Louisa Hudson, nee Peck. His paternal great grandfather, David Hudson, founded the town of Hudson, Ohio, and was one of the early supporters of Western Reserve College. His paternal grandmother was Catherine Brown, a first cousin of John Brown of Harpers Ferry raid. He received a common school and high school education in his native town, after which he engaged in the lumber business in said town, and in the manufacturing business at Mishawaka, Indiana, for a short time; and then in the lead and zinc mining business at Joplin, Missouri. He came to Indian Territory in 1903, locating at Henryetta and engaged in the banking business. He was for two terms City Treasurer and a member of the city council of Henryetta, Oklahoma. During the World War he was a member of the County Council of Defense. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention representing District No. 79 in which Henryetta was located. At Shipshewana, Indiana, on November 15, 1888, he was married to Miss La Mora G. Davis. From this union the following children were born: William D. Hudson and James H. Hudson, both now residing at Henryetta, Oklahoma; Charles F. Hudson, Okmulgee, Oklahoma; Mrs. Helen Corcil, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Mrs. Louise Howell, Harlinger, Texas, all of whom survive him. At the time of his death he was a member of the Oklahoma Tax Commission. He is buried at Henryetta, Oklahoma.


Born January 21, 1851, in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Son of Abraham J. Ross and Kartha Ross, nee Moore, daughter of A. J. Moore. His grandfather coming from England settled in South Carolina and married Nancy Boyd, daughter of John Boyd, keeper of a stage station between Greenville and Lawrence Court House, in that state. Later his parents removed to Neshoba County, Mississippi, where his grandfather became a slave owner and planter of importance. His father was born in Lawrence District, South Carolina, in the year 1819, being given a fair education. Although 42 years old when the Civil War broke out he enlisted and served in the ranks of the Confederate Army. After the war he removed to Texas. His first wife Martha, who was a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Indians, died in 1853 in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and was the mother of the following children: A. Frank Ross and William T. Ross. His father's second wife was Rebecca Poole who bore him the following children: Ella, who married John Murff, of Leon County, Texas; John and Lee, who died in early youth in that county; Fannie, who married Charles Hailey of Lott, Texas; Bettie, who removed to Indian Territory; and George Ross, who settled in Leon County, Texas. A Frank Ross after reaching his majority decided to enter the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville, Kentucky, to prepare for the ministry. Prior to that he had taken a literary course at Baylor University, then situated at Independence, Texas. In 1868 he was set apart to the ministry by the Missionary Baptist Church in Leon County, and in 1874 was appointed as a missionary to Indian Territory, locating near Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he both taught and preached. Later he attended the theological seminary at Greenville, South Carolina, graduating therefrom in 1878. For a number of years he was a missionary in the Choctaw Nation and interested in educational work, publishing "The Indian Missionary." He was a Mason long connected with the Masonic grand lodge as lecturer, chaplain, junior and senior

Page 148

wardens, orator, and grand chaplain. He was also grand patron of O.E.S. He was also an Odd Fellow, being secretary of the grand lodge of Indian Territory, and also served as grand treasurer and grand master and as grand representative of the sovereign grand lodge. He was elected as a representative from Bryan County to the first legislature of the State of Oklahoma and renominated as a member to the second legislature, but died a few days after the primary election. On January 21, 1879, he was married to Miss Emma J. Tucker, daughter of David A. Tucker who came from Georgia. Six children were born to this union, one of whom died in infancy. Those that survived were Maye, who married Jared Stallings; Samuel B; Hallie; Nema; who, married W. F. Leard; and lone, all of whom survive and reside in Bryan County or adjacent counties in said state.* He was buried in Highland Cemetary at Durant, Oklahoma.


Dr. John Hale Baldwin, born March 9, 1857, at Flynn's Lick, Jackson County, Tennessee. Died at Calera, Oklahoma, February 14, 1920. In 1875 with his father he removed from Tennessee locating in Fannin County near Bonham, Texas. Having received his academic education at Savoy College in said county he received his medical education in medical schools at Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. In 1890 he removed to Indian Territory, first settling at Colbert, where he engaged in the practice of his profession, and later at Calera, where he continued in the practice of his profession until his death.

He was active in Democratic politics, having been a member of the Territorial Democratic Convention which met at McAlester on October 5, 1892, and which promoted the first organization of the party in said territory, in which he was an active participant until his death. At the erection of the State of Oklahoma in 1907 he was elected as a member of the Legislature from Bryan County, and was again elected to the Legislature from said county in 1910.

On October 25, 1882, he was married to Amanda Belle Wright near Bonham in Fannin County, Texas, who was born February 4, 1866, in said county. His father was Joseph Enoch Baldwin, who in an early day went from Tennessee to Kentucky. His father served in the Union Army. His mother was Caroline Trapp. She was first married to a man by the name of Jones and being left a widow then married his father. His father, Joseph Enoch Baldwin, moved to Indian Territory at the time his son did, in 1890 and died at Calera, Oklahoma, at the age of ninety-two years. There were ten children of this family, all now dead, except Sid Baldwin who lives near Tulsa, Oklahoma. His wife, Amanda Belle Wright, was the daughter of Green Berry Franklin Wright, who was born in Kentucky and moved to Texas at an early date. He was married to Margaret Hoskinson in Kentucky. There were eleven children in this family, all dead except Mrs. John Hale Baldwin, who lives at Calera, Oklahoma. Green Berry Franklin Wright died at Calera, Oklahoma, in the year 1891. Dr. John Hale Baldwin and his wife, Amanda Belle Wright, had the following children: Mrs. Ed Carter, Blue, Oklahoma; Joseph Green Baldwin, Calera, Oklahoma; Mrs. Rowena Gaza, 3807 Metropolitan Avenue, Dallas, Texas; and Mrs. Willie Mae Reaves, Calera, Oklahoma.

Page 149


Born August 8, 1849, at Springfield, Missouri; died June 6, 1911, at Searcy, Arkansas, where he was temporarily interred but lated buried by the side of his mother in Springfield, Missouri; son of Wyatt Sanford and Susie Sanford, nee Bigbee. His father being born in Kentucky came at an early day to Missouri. His mother was the daughter of Captain John S. Bigbee of Robberson County, Tennessee. He had four brothers and three sisters, all of whom are dead except one sister, Minnie Sanford Shipp, wife of J. W. Shipp, Springfield, Missouri; John S. Sanford, of Searcy, Arkansas, Frank L. Sanford of Denver, Colorado, and Ed L. Sanford, of Springfield, Missouri. James Monroe Sanford received his education in the common schools of Searcy, Arkansas, where his family lived from 1861 to June 1874, having refugeed there from Missouri during the Civil War, his father's people being Southern sympathizers. He was a nephew of General Holland of Springfield, Missouri. When about nineteen years old he went to California, retraining there about a year, when he returned to his home and soon afterward entered business in Springfield, Missouri, where he remained for several years. Later he engaged in business at Vinita, Indian Territory, and in the 80's removed to Colbert, Indian Territory, where he bought the Colbert Trading Company and continued in business there until about 1898, when he removed to Durant, Oklahoma, acquiring a business site of two brick buildings which had formerly been known as the Farmers Co-Operative Store. Afterwards he acquired another site comprising a brick building with fifty-five feet front, which is known now as the Perkins Brothers & Company building, and conducted a successful and profitable mercatile business until about 1908, when his health having failed he disposed of same, but retaining his real estate, returned to Springfield, Missouri. His health growing worse he was taken to Hot Springs, Arkansas, by his brother Ed L. Sanford and from there to Searcy, Arkansas, where he lived with his sister, Mrs. Kate Sanford Rogers, now deceased, till the time of his death. He was a man of approved integrity and loyalty and judgment, with a fine sense of humor. He was called "Judge" Sanford, not because he had ever held any public office but for the reason that he was frequently called upon for advice and to settle controversies. His brother, William B. Sanford, now deceased, of Springfield, Missouri, was executor of his will and later sold his real estate holdings in Durant. His father, Wyatt Sanford, was born August 20, 1818, and died April 15, 1872. His mother, Susan Bigbee Sanford, was born February 4, 1828, and died April 4, 1911. His brother, W . B. Sanford, was born December 29, 1858, and died December 4, 1924.

He was a pioneer merchant and citizen and had an extensive acquaintance throughout the southern part of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations.

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