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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 19, No. 3
September, 1941
GEORGE RAINEY
1866-1940

By Isaac Newton McCash

Page 248

George Rainey

George Rainey was distinguished in that group of pioneers who settled in Oklahoma and merits historic recognition. He was born the son of Samuel and Frances (Mathis) Rainey, the fourth child in a family of ten, near Gentryville, Gentry County, Missouri, January 2, 1866.1 His father was a Union soldier and served three years in the Civil War. His maternal grandfather, Littleton Mathis, was a private in the first regiment of Dragoons which served in the Leavenworth-Dodge expedition, across Oklahoma, in the summer, of 1834. It was a happy coincidence that fifty-five years later a grandson should choose that region for his home.

Born of patriotic ancestry, the boy imbibed ideas of loyalty, courage, duty, and honor which characterized George Rainey through life. He attended country school until advanced far enough to enter Albany High School and the Normal Teachers College at Stansberry, Missouri, where he was graduated in June, 1889. He migrated September 24 of that year, from his native state, to a new country to establish a home and business. His trip from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Orlando, Oklahoma, was on a Santa Fe train, so crowded with passengers he had to stand all the way. He filed on a 160 acre claim about eight miles east of Hennessey on which he lived one year. He sold his claim and invested the money in a general merchandise stock, and a store building made of native lumber which he operated for four years. He then sold the store.

Rainey's education stood him in hand when Governor A. J. Seay, in 1892, appointed him county clerk of "C" County which he named Blaine. The fees of his office supplemented his income from the store.

He married Miss Lauretta Gilbert, a college mate of Stansberry, Missouri, who survives. To them was born one child, Tom, who also survives.

He and Mrs. Rainey were lovers of horses and showed great skill in training them in saddle-gaits and trick performances for fairs and stock shows, where they won awards.

In the field of education George Rainey served nine years as superintendent of public instruction in Garfield County. He went from that position to the principalship of Franklin School, Pawhuska, where he served, and Mrs. Rainey taught English in high school, from 1913 to 1916. He organized the Junior High School there and returned to Enid for his permanent residence. Here he substituted in an emergency as principal of a ward school and taught history two summer sessions in the Central State College, Edmond, Oklahoma. In his college experience he saw the need



Page 249

and felt the impulse to prepare a history of Oklahoma for the schools of the state and to preserve in permanent form his knowledge of events and incidents in the state. His first book was Frank Wyatt and George Rainey, Oklahoma School History. It was supposed to be a product of collaboration but the manuscript was prepared by Rainey while his associate was in France. This history was made the official text for all public schools of the state.

His Civil Government, National and State was published in 1922 and eleven years later The Cherokee Strip. His third and last book, No Man's Land, was issued in October, 1937. Supplementary to his historical works he prepared a series of Oklahoma historical maps conveniently mounted for schoolroom use. These are widely used by the schools of the Commonwealth.

George Rainey was an enterprising citizen and regardless of position or personal interest in economic, industrial, social, or political undertakings, he was cooperative and dependable. Politically he was a Republican and, as a recognition of his party fealty, he held the position of Enid postmaster under Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover, a total of twelve years. He expanded rural route service and improved the postal efficiency of the city.

Rainey was a member of the Enid Writers Club and cultivated an interest in the writers in Oklahoma, their style and reliability.

George Rainey was socially minded and had a friendly, brotherly and fraternal relationship with many people. He faithfully maintained his church relationship with the Christian Church from the time of his arrival in Oklahoma till his death. He was a charter member of a congregation of Disciples of Christ in Sheridan, believed to be the first in Oklahoma. Both village and church have disappeared. He was an elder and faithfully performed the functions of that office for many years in the Central Christian Church of Enid where his funeral rites were held. He was a Mason with a record of being master of two lodges, Grand Patron of the Eastern Star, a Thirty-Second Degree Scottish Rite, a Royal-Arch, a Knight-Templar, and a member of the Council. He was also a life member of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Mrs. Rainey was in heartiest accord with her husband. She through her activities became president of the Federated Clubs of Women of Oklahoma, and, on retirement from that position, was elected a national counselor of that organization.

George Rainey's life covered a span of almost three-quarters of a century—January 2, 1866—May 30, 1940. He pursued his career, earnestly and conscientiously, making a contribution to the unprecedented growth and stability of our state. He was a good man with a strong will; his mental acumen was clear; his patriotism unquestioned and his contribution to our generation noble and priceless.

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