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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 11, No. 1
March, 1933
NECROLOGY

Page 739

Theophile Meerschaert

Right Rev. THEOPHILE MEERSCHAERT
(1847-1924)

Born in Russignies, near Renaix, Flanders (Belgium), on August 24, 1847, he entered the College of Renaix, remaining there from 1859 to 1864. From 1864 to 1868 he attended College in Audenarde. He then entered the American College of Louvain, remaining there until 1872, receiving Minor Orders on June 10, 1870. He was ordained Sub-deacon on December 17, 1870, Deacon June 3, 1871, and Priest December 23, 1871.

Father Meerschaert left Russignies for the United States on September 26, 1872, arriving in New York City on October 13, 1872, and at Natchez, Mississippi, October 27th. He was appointed to Missions of Jordan River, of Wolf River and Pearl River, in Hancock and Harrison Counties, Mississippi, on November 16, 1872, and changed to Ocean Springs, August 29, 1874. In October, 1875, Father Meerschaert, that section being swept by a yellow fever epidemic, at his post of duty was stricken with yellow fever. Recovering he nursed those so afflicted for eight weeks, when he had a relapse. After recovering and a vacation for rest he resumed his duties. In 1878 with a recurrence of yellow fever on the Gulf Coast he assisted the sufferers at Ocean Springs and Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1879 he was sent to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to replace Rev. Father Leduc for one year.

On August 30, 1880, Father Meerschaert assigned to Natchez, became Vicar General on April 18, 1887. Bishop Janssens having been appointed to the Archiepiscopal See of New Orleans, 1888, Vicar-General Meerschaert was appointed administrator.

On May 7, 1891, Father Meerschaert was preconized Vicar Apostolic of the Indian Territory and titular Bishop of Sidyma. The Bull appointing him Bishop was issued June 11th, 1891. By Special Indult he was consecrated on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin September 8th, 1891 in the Cathedral of Natchez, by Most Rev. Francis Janssens, D. D., Archbishop of New Orleans, assisted by Right Rev. Edward Fitzgerald, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Right Rev. Thomas Heslin, of Natchez, Mississippi. His Lordship, Bishop Meerschaert, arriving in Oklahoma and Indian Territories on Friday, September 18, 1891, stopping enroute at Purcell, saying Mass in the Chapel of the Sisters, and on the 19th entraining for Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, where the first Pontifical High Mass in said jurisdiction was celebrated at Guthrie on Sunday, September 20, 1891. In 1893 Bishop Meerschaert, had in his Vicariate sixteen priests, thirteen regular of the Benedictine Order and three secular priests. In July 5, 1905, in an audience with Pope Pius X the question of erection of the Vicariate Apostolic into a Diocese was discussed.1 On August 17, 1905 the Diocese of Oklahoma was erected by Pope Pius X. Bishop Meerschaert was appointed as first incumbent of the new Episcopal See of Oklahoma on August 23, 1905. After the completion of the Bishop's house at 1905 W. 18 St., Oklahoma City, he occupied it as his residence beginning with October, 19074 He died at St.







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Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on February 21, 1924.2 Funeral services were in charge of Archbishop Shaw with burial in Fairlawn Cemetery.2 Bishop Meerschaert at the time of his death had in the Diocese of Oklahoma 38 regular priests of the Benedictine and Carmellite Orders, and 68 secular priests, 71 churches with pastors and 82 missions without regular pastors, attended by priests from other churches as conditions permitted, membership of Roman Catholic population in said diocese being 57,5873

When Father Meerschaert arrived in Mississippi the people of that state were not only suffering from conditions arising from the devastation of property and loss of its young men occasioned by the Civil War, but also from the waste, corruption and disorder following from reconstruction rule in the South. At such a period he had come to them from across the sea. Soon followed the yellow fever scourge in the seaports, and river and nearby inland towns, aggravating the conditions under which the people struggled. For two decades he steadfastly labored in these needy fields giving aid, ministering and rendering assistance and comfort, remaining until the country had recovered in a measure from the prostrate and demoralizing condition that existed when as a young man and priest he came into that mission district. The yellow fever plague had also yielded to scientific medical and sanitary control.

Whilst father Ryan sang with beauty and pathos to revive the spirit of the overwhelmed sons and daughters of the South, Father Meerschaert with kindly method and industrious application administered in spiritual and benevolent matters.

Another field of labor then awaited him. The Indian Territory where the Five Civilized Tribes coming over half a century before from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, and many other tribes from the north and west, had found homes, was being opened partly for settlement. What is now Cleveland, Canadian, Kingfisher, Logan, Payne and Oklahoma Counties had been opened to settlers, Guthrie being designated as the Capital. The Sac and Fox and Pottawatomie reservations on the east and Cheyenne and Arapaho on the west being opened also to settlers, and plans were in the forming for the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. On the Indian Territory side a fringe of white settlers were drifting in from all directions. To such a field he was assigned and remained and labored for over thirty years planting churches, opening schools and academies, founding colleges and universities and constructing hospitals and an orphanage. His duties occasioned5 long and arduous journeys by rail, hack, wagon, and other available means of travel, accommodations being in accord with pioneer conditions.

After the field of his church and its agencies and activities had extended to the remotest parts of the state, and he had reached the allotted time of three score and ten years, the United States on the side of the Allies entered into the World War. With the vigor of a young man he threw himself into the leadership of the great moral forces of the state in the effectual support of his adopted country in this colosal conflict. In the closing years of his life and labors one was impressed with his saintly character, wisdom and unselfish leadership.

—R. L. WILLIAMS.






REV. EVAN DHU CAMERON
(1862-1923)

Evan Dhu Cameron, born February 26, 1862, on his father's plantation in Richmond County, North Carolina, seven miles from the town of Rockingham was the youngest of seven children. His father and mother,

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John Worth Cameron and Caroline (Crawford) Cameron, both were born in North Carolina, of Scotch descent. His father, a brilliant lawyer and editor, was a courtly gentleman, and owner of a large plantation with many slaves. His library was filled with choice books, including the classics and many rare volumes. Under these environments the boy, Evan Dhu Cameron, grew up. An inveterate reader, he entered an Academy at the age of twelve years, with a greater knowledge of history and general literature than most adults.

His father having served as a Colonel in the Confederate Army, died in 1866. Caroline (Crawford) Cameron his wife, of gentle birth, was educated at the old Moravian College at Salem, North Carolina.

William Cameron, the great-grandfather of Evan Dhu Cameron, and the forerunner of this family in America, arrived in North Carolina in 1774. His son, Neil Cameron, became prominent, Cameron Hills, a low range of mountains, being named for him, as was also the town of Cameron, N. C. He was the father of John Worth Cameron and the grandfather of Evan Dhu Cameron. Quite a colony of these Scotch folk settled in that section from the Highlands of Scotland, in 1774, among them being the famous Flora MacDonald. The old Scotch atmosphere and customs still prevail in these sections of North Carolina, known as "the Land of God Blessed Macs," where so many of them settled, and where Evan Dhu Cameron was born. The Cameron Clan has been prominent for centuries in the Highlands of Scotland and carry on to this day the organization and customs of the Clan. The Scotch people have an annual celebration, both in Scotland and in America, in accordance with the old custom, and persons of Scotch descent from all sections of the country assemble for the celebration. These celebrations are carried on in this country through the Scottish Society of America. In October, 1925, the Laird of Lochiel, Donald Walter Cameron, Chief of the Clan Cameron in Scotland, was the honored guest of the Society at its annual celebration at Red Springs, N. C., at which former Governor and United States Senator Cameron Morrison, of North Carolina, President of the Scottish Society of America, together with Governor Thomas G. McLeod, of South Carolina, were present and delivered addresses of welcome to the distinguished guests. The Laird of Lochiel came to America as the result of a special invitation extended to him by the Society, bringing with him his wife, Lady Hermoine.

Evan Dhu Cameron's early education was pursued at home under the mother's instructions. At the age of twelve he entered the Academy at Rockingham, seven miles from his father's plantation, often walking the distance to school, graduating therefrom at the time he was sixteen with high honors, being valedictorian of his class. For a short time he taught a free school in Rockingham, after which he attended Trinity College, now Duke University, at Durham, North Carolina. While in college he distinguished himself as an orator and debater. He later attended and graduated in 1881 from the Dick & Dillard Law School, in Greensboro, N. C. Admitted to the bar at Raleigh, the State Capital, he began the practice of the law at Rockingham, being elected city attorney, barely having reached his majority; here and in Laurinberg he successfully practiced law for seven years, but the call of the Ministry, which he had felt since his early youth, became so insistent that he yielded thereto. He was licensed in 1888 as a minister of the Methodist Church.

In 1889 having moved to Texas he entered actively into the Ministry. Joining the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, he was assigned to a charge at St. Joe, Montague County, Texas, also later serving charges at Archer and Dublin, Texas, before coming to Oklahoma in 1891.

He was married in 1890 at Henryetta, Texas, to Miss Clara Williams, a daughter of Judge and Mrs. B. F. Williams, Sr., of that State, but later residents of Norman, Okla.

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In 1891 he was transferred to the Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, his first pastorate being at Norman, Oklahoma. As a Methodist Minister in Oklahoma he served pastorates at St. Luke's Church, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Muskogee, Chickasha and Norman. When the University of Oklahoma was established, being the pastor there he had the honor of shoveling the first spade of dirt in the foundation of its first building. A few years later, (1894-1897) as Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction, he was a member of the Board of Education of Oklahoma Territory, doing much constructive and lasting work for the University. President David R. Boyd, Dr. Edwin DeBarr and Dr. J. S. Buchanan were among his associates.

Rev. E. D. Cameron becoming impressed with the Baptist doctrines and practices, he joined that Denomination in Chickasha in 1901. His first pastorate as a Baptist Minister was at McAlester, where he did a great work in building a pastor's home, enlarging the church, and increasing the congregation.

Thereafter he was elected President of the Indian Territory Baptist Convention, serving in that capacity for several years. He was for years a State representative on the Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, holding many places of honor and trust in the Denomination. Particularly was he active in establishing and maintaining the Baptist University at Shawnee, which in 1915 conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, the first of that character conferred by the Oklahoma Baptist University.

Some of the towns and cities in which Doctor Cameron later served pastorates, taking the lead in building parsonages and churches are, Central Baptist Church of Muskogee, Guthrie Baptist Church, the First Baptist Churches of Claremore, Checotah, Okmulgee, Henryetta, and Tahlequah.

Doctor Cameron was referred to in school circles as "the Father of Education in Oklahoma." In 1894 he was appointed Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction and Auditor during President Grover Cleveland's administration, under William C. Renfrow, Governor of Oklahoma Territory, serving in that capacity from February 21, 1894 to September, 1897.

In September, 1907 he, as the Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Oklahoma, was elected over Calvin Ballard, his Republican opponent, to that office, thus becoming the first Superintendent of Public Instruction under the State Constitution. Being a candidate for the Democratic Nomination for reelection in the Primaries of 1910 he failed to receive such nomination. During this first administration after statehood, all of the three Normal schools, on the Indian Territory side, all the secondary agricultural schools, school for the blind and deaf, and also the college for Women at Chickasha, were created and located, he playing an important part in their construction and organization, one of which the Cameron School of Agriculture at Lawton, opened for receiving students in 1908, was named in his honor.

By virtue of his position as State Superintendent, he was President of the Board of Education for Normal Schools, a member of the Board of Pardons, and of the School Land Commission. After his term of office as Superintendent of Public Instruction expired in 1911, he again turned his energies to the ministry, having during this period retained his interest in his religious work, and continued same at churches and places where he could best serve under the circumstances. He was many times the State's representative to the National Conventions, both educational and religious, being active in Anti Saloon and Anti Divorce Leagues, having aided in founding the National Anti Divorce League.

He gave of his time freely. Affable and kind he ever had time for the people amid all his busy duties until he had run his earthly course.

While located at Henryetta, he discovered Jackson Barnett, the

Rev. Evan Dhu Cameron

Page 743

State's richest Indian, who was then living in poverty in the hills around Henryetta. Doctor Cameron took up his cause with the Indian Department, securing a reasonable allowance for his support. He also induced Barnett to donate $25,000.00 to aid in the building of a Baptist church at Henryetta, at the same time being impartial to the other churches of Henryetta, directed his efforts for a like amount to be donated to each of the other three churches of the city. It was his dream to have Barnett found a large Indian hospital as a memorial, but this plan did not meet with favor with the Indian officials.

When the United States entered the World War, holding a pastorate at Checotah, he at once glowed with patriotism and enthusiasm in support of the War, traveling over the State as well as neighboring states, making speeches, selling Liberty Bonds, endeavoring in every proper and effective way to promote the country's welfare. With a pleasing and effective manner, both in the pulpit and on the platform, dignified and polished, he was a useful and distinguished citizen in whatever community he chose to make his home.

Having died in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, on Sunday Morning, July 29, 1923, of apoplexy, he was buried in the family plot at Okmulgee, Oklahoma, beside the body of a deceased son. Surviving him is his widow, now of Muskogee, Oklahoma, and four sons, Crawford W. Cameron, of Marietta, Okla., and Don Cameron, of Muskogee, Okla., and Malcolm Cameron, of Statesville, N. C., all being attorneys at law, and Major Evan Dhu Cameron, of the United States Army, a Major in the Signal Corps, and a daughter, Mrs. Imogene Porter. The State lost one of its best and most picturesque citizens.

—R. L. WILLIAMS.


REV. JOHN HARRELL
(1806-1876)

Rev. John Harrell

Born in Perquimmans County, North Carolina, October 21, 1806, and died on December 6, 1876, at the age of seventy years, one month, and seventeen days. Licensed to preach in 1823, when but seventeen years of age, and received on trial at the Tennessee Conference, commencing on November 22, 1827, at which he was appointed as junior preacher on Wayne Circuit with the Rev. Jeremiah Jackson, in charge, being called the Western District of the Tennessee Conference and comprising that portion of the state lying between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, sparsely settled and having from 25 to 30 appointments or places for preaching, held either in private houses or in the open air. Most of the private homes were one room log houses, to serve as kitchen, parlor, bedroom, and chapel. These pioneer settlers were all poor. The rides were long and the exposure great. The forests through which he had to pass were dense, with creeks to be crossed by swimming. Privations and sufferings were great.

At the Conference of 1828, held at Murfreesboro, Tenn., John Harrell was appointed assistant or junior preacher on Cypress Circuit, Joshua Boucher, presiding elder, Wilson L. McAlister in charge, who was at the time of his death a member of the Indian Mission Conference. At the conference held in Huntsville, Alabama, in November, 1829, John Harrell was admitted into full membership in the conference, ordained a deacon and appointed junior preacher on Sandy Circuit, with R. K. Hudson in charge. In 1830 he was appointed to Beach Circuit. At the conference in 1831 volunteers being called for mission work among the Indians, John Harrell, Andrew D. Smith, H. G. Joplin, W. A. Boyce, W. G. Duke, J. N. Harrill, A. Baird, and A. M. Scott, as such volunteers were transferred to the Missouri Conference, which at that time included the Territory of Arkansas and missions among the western Indians, John Harrell being

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appointed to Washington & Cherokee Mission, with A. M. Scott as assistant, said Mission being located in the northwest part of Arkansas Territory.

Here commenced the mission work which he continued as long as he lived. In 1836 when the Arkansas Conference was organized, on account of location, of his then work, he remained in the Arkansas Conference until 1850, when he was transferred to the Indian Mission Conference which had been organized in 1844. He filled different positions of circuit and station preacher and presiding elder. When transferred by Bishop Paine to the Indian Mission Conference he was placed in charge of Fort Coffee School, where he remained for four successive years as superintendent. For the year 1854-5 he was presiding elder of the Choctaw District and for seven years (1855-62) of the Cherokee District. For three years (1862-5) he was Superintendent of Army Missions. For 1865-6 he was Presiding Elder of Cherokee District. For three years (1866-69) he filled the appointment of Superintendent of Missions of Indian Mission conference, traveling from one district to another and from one part of the Western territory in which the Plains Indians were located to other parts, using all of his powers to sustain, arouse and revive the then drooping spirits of the Church in the Indian country. In 1869 he was Presiding Elder of the Choctaw District. In 1870-71 he was Superintendent of Asbury Manual Labor School at Asbury Mission, the buildings of which had been burned. Under his leadership same were rebuilt. In 1871-72 he was Presiding Elder of the Creek District, and 1873-6 of the Cherokee District. During 1876 he was appointed Superintendent of Asbury Manual Labor School, being occupied at this post with other duties, at the time of his death. During the time that he was a member of Indian Mission Conference, from 1850 to 1876, inclusive, he was in charge of schools six years, presiding elder of different districts fifteen years, superintendent of Army Missions three years, and superintendent of Conference Missions for three years. He was elected and served as delegate to the General Conference four times from the Indian Mission Conference, and three times from the Arkansas Conference, being a member of the Conference at Louisville, Ky., which organized the Methodist Episcopel Church, South. For twenty-seven years, in succession, he devoted his energy to its utmost to the improving of the condition of the Indians. Practically every church organization from Red River to the Kansas Line and from the Arkansas line to the extreme points west had been visited by him. For eighteen years prior to his transfer to the Indian Mission Conference he traveled over what was at one time the Territory of Arkansas and afterwards the State of Arkansas from one side to the other and visited in practically every neighborhood. With a strong body he made his appointments expecting to be able to fill them. Though many miles apart, through prairies, forests, mountains and over streams, these appointments were with few exceptions filled by him. Neither railroads nor steamboats were available for his travel; neither could buggy nor wagon pass over the Indian and pioneer trails; but on horseback from appointment to appointment he traveled for forty-nine years. He participated in either directly or indirectly during that period every religious movement among the Indians in the western territory. Social though never light in conversation, serious but never repulsive, conscientious in the discharge of every duty, he endeavored to benefit and do good to all.

He was married in Washington County, Arkansas, in 1832, to Miss Eliza Williams, who died on November 20, 1876, preceding him to the grave about a month. Nine children were born to them, seven of whom preceded him in death. Two daughters and two grand-children survived him. At times when the Bishop could not hold the conference he was elected presiding officer of the conference, and on other occasions secretary.

At times during his life he maintained a home at Van Buren, Arkansas. Dr. McAnally in his writings states that John Harrell "Was a good man, an humble, meek, pious, godly man, devoted to his work

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and faithful in its performance; and there are none who will longer remember his life nor more deeply regret his death than the Indians he served so long so faitthfully."* He and his wife are buried at Old Asbury Mission Cemetery, whose graves are marked.

—R. L. WILLIAMS.




WILLIAM RIDGEWAY LAWRENCE
(1840-1923)

William Ridgeway Lawrence, son of John Lawrence and Eliza (Parks) Lawrence, born in Bloomington, Indiana, January 14th, 1840. His paternal grandfather was John Lawrence, an English Surgeon, born and raised in London, England, coming to America in about 1800. His paternal grandmother was Margaret (Fenton) Lawrence of Trenton, New Jersey. His maternal grandparents were George Parks and Mary (Moore) Parks, born in Tennessee, and with their daughter, Eliza, came to Illinois as pioneers.

Moved to Danville, Illinois, with his parents when only a youth, educated at the White Seminary in that town, and at Georgetown, Illinois and served as First Lieutenant in Company "C." 73d, Illinois Regiment of the Union Forces. Wounded at the battle of Chickamauga, he was captured by the Confederates and held at Libby Prison for six months. His health being impaired by the confinement, he was given an honorable discharge. Returning to Illinois and beginning the study of law at the Bloomington law school, in the office of Judge Benjamin, he was admitted to the Illinois bar. He was married to Miss Josephine Frazier of Danville, Illinois. To this union were born John Frazier Lawrence, a lawyer, now living at San Antonio, Texas; Frederic Lawrence, an oil man residing at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Frances Ruth Lawrence, (Mrs. Hal E. Boudinot) of Muskogee, Oklahoma. A grandson, William Ridgeway Lawrence II, is a partner of his father, John F. Lawrence. Two great grandsons, William R. Lawrence III, and John Lawrence IV, are the sons of William Lawrence II. There are three grand daughters, Sarah Elizabeth Boudinot, Helene Elise Boudinot and Margaret Louise Boudinot, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Hal E. Boudinot. The widow, Mrs. Josephine Lawrence died recently in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

William Ridgeway Lawrence practiced law for many years in Illinois, being an intimate friend and private lawyer of Joseph G. Cannon, who later became widely known as "Uncle Joe," famous as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States.

On April 18th, 1904, William Ridgeway Lawrence was appointed United States Judge for the Northern District of the Indian Territory, serving until December 8th, 1905, when he became Judge of the Western District of the Indian Territory which he held until Statehood, after which he returned to the practice of the Law, forming a partnership with his son, John Lawrence, having offices in Muskogee, Tulsa and Okmulgee. Several years later he was struck by an automobile near the Muskogee Government Building and never fully recovering, died July 31, 1923 while on a visit to his son, John F. at Okmulgee, and was buried in the Officer's Circle of the National Cemetery at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.

Judge Lawrence was devoted to his family. He had a fine sense of humor, and having been a great reader and student of human nature, could entertain his intimates by the hour with his experiences, holding their interest while he ran the gamut of tragedy and humor, but leaving them at the finish with a laugh and a funny thought. He had several hobbys, among them being the collection of old and rare books, and at

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the time of his death was the possessor of quite a library of "Americana." He was a fisherman of no mean ability but he had an intense dislike of automobiles, riding in one only under protest, a walk of several miles being a pleasure.


FARRAR LEONIDAS McCAIN
(1874-1920)

Farrar Leonidas McCain, born December 11, 1874, at Monticello, Drew County, Arkansas, and son of William Simonton McCain, and his wife, Eliza C. McCain. His grandfather was William Ross McCain, who was born November 1, 1807, in Union County, North Carolina and who, as a young man, moved to Tipton County, Tennessee. His grandmother was Margaret Simonton, born October 23, 1814, in Fairfield District, South Carolina. She was a daughter of William Simonton who was born in 1791.

Farrar L. McCain attended Arkansas College at Batesville, Arkansas, from which he graduated about 1894. He studied law and was admitted to practice with his father under the firm name of William S. and Farrar L. McCain. He was a member of the Arkansas Legislature and at the age of 22 successfully managed the campaign of Dan W. Jones for Governor of Arkansas. He saw service in the Spanish-American War as a first Lieutenant and Adjutant of the First Arkansas Regiment. After the war, resuming the practice of the law, he located at Muskogee, Indian Territory, where he was appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Muskogee County, Oklahoma, when that Court was created. Afterwards in 1910 being elected to that office, a short while thereafter he resigned to become General Attorney for the Midland Valley Railroad Company, from which position, he resigned to become General Attorney for the Sinclair Oil Company at Tulsa, Oklahoma—a position held by him until his death, on March 24th, 1920. On January 31, 1900, he married Katherine Adams, a daughter of Sam B. Adams, who served in the Confederate Army, participating in the Battle of Newmarket at the age of 13. She is a granddaughter of John D. Adams, a pioneer citizen of Arkansas.

Farrar L. McCain is survived by his widow and a son—Samuel Adams McCain, who was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on May 2, 1906. After attending the High Schools at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Little Rock, Arkansas, he entered Washington & Lee University and in 1927 received a B. A. Degree from said University. He then entered Exeter College of Oxford University, England, receiving his B. A. and B. C. L. Degrees, in 1929 and 1930 respectively. He is now identified with the law firm of Cotton, Franklin, Wright & Gordon, of New York City.


URIAH THOMAS REXROAT
(1876-1932)

Uriah Thomas Rexroat was born in Russell county, Kentucky, September 22, 1876. He moved with his parents when a very small boy to Gordon, Texas. He attended the public schools in his home town and later took a special course at Polytechnic University at Fort Worth. At the age of twenty he moved to Indian Territory and located in western Carter county where the town of Rexroat now stands which place was later named for his family. He taught school for six years. He was elected to the Third State legislature in 1910, and served in the special session held in December following his election, at which session the

Uriah Rexroat

Page 747

Thomas Harrill

capital was located at Oklahoma City. He also served through the regular session in 1911. In 1924, he was elected to the State Senate and served two terms.

On December 1, 1900, he was united in marriage with Miss Estella B. Lowry, daughter of George L. and Rhoda H. Lowry, of Carter county. To this union four daughters were born, Phoebe, Ruby Marie, Opal and Agnes. His wife departed this life in April, 1924. His second marriage occured June 12, 1929, to Miss Mary Wilma Tullis, an accomplished school teacher, whose home was in Washita county, Oklahoma. The wedding ceremony was a State affair and was held in the Senate Chamber. Mr. Justice Robert A. Heffner of the Supreme Court, performing the marriage rites, with the members of the Senate and House of Representatives and State officials present and Governor Holloway acting as best man. To this union was born one daughter, Mary Carolin.

Senator Rexroat interested himself in the production of oil in the early history of the oil game. It is said that he brought in one of the first wells in southwestern Oklahoma. He was interested in pecan growing and the development of fruit and nut orchards generally. Senator Rexroat was a member of the Masonic lodge, Woodmen of the World, and his religious connection was with the Baptist church. He was a lover of outdoor sports and specialized in hunting and fishing and many thousands of people in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas remember him for the many stories he told on camping and fishing trips on the river banks, and as an after-dinner speaker he ranked along with the immortal Col. Graves Leeper.

Senator Rexroat died April 13, 1932, and was buried in Rose Hill cemetery at Ardmore. He left surviving him three brothers and three sisters as follows: J. E. Rexroat, Toby Rexroat, A. B. Rexroat, Mrs. Dora Gresham, Mrs. Jane Wilson and Mrs. Ella Baker, and four daughters of his first marriage, his widow of his second marriage and one daughter.

Senator Rexroat made several fortunes but on account of his charitable disposition he literally gave them away to the needy and unfortunate. In October following his death, a memorial exercise was held in his honor, sponsored by Col. John F. Easley, managing editor of the Daily Ardmorite, at which thousands of his friends from southern Oklahoma turned out to pay tribute to his memory.

—JESS L. PULLEN.


THOMAS C. HARRILL
(1863-1932)

Thomas C. Harrill was born November 17, 1863, on a farm in Rutherford county, North Carolina. He was the first son of William H. Harrill, a Confederate soldier who served under Genl. Robert E. Lee and Drucilla (McBrayer) Harrill, who was a direct descendant of Genl. Nathaniel Green of the Revolutionary Army.

Thomas C. Harrill married Miss Alice Thomson, at Weatherford, Texas, April 15, 1891. Of this union four children were born, viz: Tom Harrill, Jr., Tulsa Oklahoma; Alice Harrill Hicks, Oklahoma City; William R. Harrill (deceased), and Katherine Harrill Lyles, Wagoner, Oklahoma.

Mr. Harrill was reared on a farm in North Carolina and resided there until 1886, when he went to St. Louis and Booneville, Missouri. In 1889, he went to Texas. In 1891, he moved with his wife to Ardmore, Indian Territory, and in 1894, he moved to Wagoner, where he entered extensively into the cattle business and from that time until his death, he resided in Wagoner. In 1889, he built the electric light plant in Wagoner and operated it until he sold it to the city, in 1910. In 1907, he built and operated a cotton gin in Wagoner. In 1912, he built a

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cement stave silo and concrete culvert tile factory in Wagoner. From 1910 until 1918, he organized and served as president of several State banks in Eastern Oklahoma, the largest of which was the Citizens Bank of Wagoner. He also engaged in the mercantile business in various other towns in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas and, from 1900 until 1919, he owned extensive real estate holdings in Wagoner county and dealt in livestock and real estate. In 1919, he and his son cleared fifteen hundred acres of river bottom land in Wagoner county and placed it in cultivation. In 1927, he was appointed Chairman of the Oklahoma State Drainage, Irrigation and Floor Control Commission by Gov. Henry S. Johnston, and served in that capacity until 1931. In 1925, he built and operated the first electric cotton gin in Wagoner county.

From 1896, until Statehood, he served as a member of the Democratic Executive Committee of Indian Territory; 1912 to 1914 as Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee; 1912 he was a delegate to the Democratic National convention; 1917 to 1919 served as Chairman of the Wagoner Council of Defense; 1924 Chairman Woodrow Wilson Foundation; 1926 Chairman Confederate Stone Mountain Memorial Drive; 1925 as a member of the State Conservation Commission; served as a delegate and representative of Wagoner county to each and every Democratic meeting and convention held in the State from 1907 to the time of his death.

Mr. Harrill was a charter member of Wagoner lodge No. 98 A. F. & A. M.; Indian Consistory No. 2, A. A. S. R. McAlester; Bedouin Temple Nobles Mystic Shrine, Muskogee; of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and of the Baptist Church.

Thomas C. Harrill died at his home in Wagoner, Oklahoma, September 28, 1932, of heart failure, after a brief illness. He was interred at Elmwood cemetery in the family lot September 30, 1932. Ceremonies were under the auspices of his local Chapter A. F. & A. M.

—J. B. THOBURN.

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