Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 1
March, 1934

Page 117




John W. Flenner was born at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, March 21, 1875; died November 30, 1933, at Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was the descendant of a long line of New England and Pennsylvania pioneers who fought in the Colonial wars; son of John R. Flenner and Annie Kinney (Wintrode) Flenner. An extensive education included study in the Huntingdon public schools; Juniata College; Phillips' Academy, Andover, Mass., and Drexel Institute, Philadelphia, studying art at the latter school under the late Howard Pyle, noted artist and illustrator. Mr. Flenner entered the newspaper business on the Muskogee Democrat in the spring of 1905; became city editor and conducted a column called "Frenzied Foolishness." He covered the Constitutional Convention at Guthrie in 1906-1907, and acted as publicity agent for the late C. N. Haskell, first Governor of Oklahoma. In 1909 he became Washington correspondent of a string of Oklahoma and Eastern newspapers: Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock Democrat, Bartlesville Examiner, The Ardmorite, Wheeling, West Virginia, Intelligencer, Parkersburg (West Va.) News, and other publications.

While a reporter on the Muskogee Times-Democrat he attached to Wm. E. Johnson, the temperance leader, the sobriquet of "Pussyfoot"; he named the Crazy Snake War in 1909 the "Smoked Meat Rebellion", and gave many prominent Oklahoma politicians their nicknames. For a time he was half-owner of the Muskogee Times-Democrat. In 1912 he was in charge of the Champ Clark press headquarters at the Baltimore Convention. In 1917 Mr. Flenner became telegraph editor of the Tulsa Democrat under the late Charles Page ownership, remaining until 1920, when ill health compelled a six month's residence in California; after this he was publicity agent for a Texas townsite launched by the late Jake L. Hamon; later was for a time again connected with the Muskogee Times-Democrat but had to relinquish work on account of ill health. Because greatly underweight, unable to engage in the World War he conducted publicity work in Tulsa for the Red Cross and other wartime activities. Mr. Flenner was the author of a number of poems, and sent out the first dispatch from Wichita, Kansas, in September, 1919, telling of the collapse of President Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Flenner was a better than average artist and at the time of his death was working on a history of the early and present oil development of Oklahoma, which is now being compiled for publication by his widow.

(H. F.)

Page 118



The recent death of Maj. Clifton R. Breckinridge marks the passing of the last living member of the Dawes Commission the most important of the agencies employed by the government to adjust the affairs of the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes to the changes necessary to inaugurate statehood for this country. This commission was created in 1893 to negotiate with the Indians treaties by which they would agree to the allotment of their lands. After years of patient labor and negotiation the necessary treaties were made, the lands were surveyed, rolls of the Indians prepared, and the land allotted to them in severalty.

The official name of this body was The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, but it was usually known as the Dawes Commission from its chairman former senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, who was largely responsible for its existence. When Major Breckinridge became a member of the commission in 1900 the other members were Tams Bixby, acting chairman, and Thomas B. Needles. He served until the life of the commission was terminated by law on July 1, 1905 and during these years participated in the determination of policies and recommendations to Congress and in administrative duties that had a profound influence on the future history of Oklahoma. Senator Dawes died in 1903. Mr. Bixby and Col. Needles died after the commission passed out of existence.

During the years of his service on the commission Major Breckinridge resided in Muskogee where he endeared himself to a large circle of friends who loved him for his amiable and kindly disposition. He was a rare survival of the school of courtly and polished gentlemen whose presence radiated good cheer. He was a man of scholarly attainments, and ornamented and enriched any circle privileged to have him for company.

Clifton Rodes Breckinridge, the son of Gen. John C. Breckinridge, Vice-president of the United States, was born at Lexington, Kentucky, November 22, 1846. He served as private in the Confederate army and as midshipman in the Confederate navy. After the termination of his service in the cause of the Confederacy he received his education at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He later removed to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he engaged as a cotton planter from 1870 to 1883. He was married November 21, 1876, to Catherine B. Carson of Memphis, Tennessee, who died November 2, 1921. He was elected Representative from Arkansas to the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, Fiftieth and Fifty-first Congresses as a Democrat, unseated September 5, 1890, nominated for the second session of the Fifty-first Congress and elected, reelected to the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses. He resigned his seat in Congress August 14, 1894, to accept the appointment as Minister to Russia where he remained until 1897. After the termination of his service with the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, Major Breckinridge located at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where he served as President of the Arkansas Valley Trust Company from 1906 to 1914. He later served as a member of the state Constitutional Convention in 1917.

Major Breckinridge's many friends of Muskogee remember him as a brilliant raconteur and with the inexhaustible fund of good stories accumulated during his interesting career and particularly his reminis-


Page 119

cences of the life at the Russian Court he could entertain and fascinate any company of friends fortunate enough to include him.

Major Breckinridge died at Wendover, Kentucky, December 3, 1932, survived by four children, Gen. James Carson of the Marine Corps, Mary, Lees Preston Dunn, and Clifton Rodes, born in Russia, who served as an officer in the United States Army in the World War and is now in business at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the time of his death Major Breckinridge was living with his daughter, Mrs. Mary Breckinridge, who has become distinguished for the Frontier Nursing Service established and administered by her in Kentucky.

—G. F.

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