The first Republican to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, John W. Harreld was born near Morgantown, Butler County, Kentucky, on January 24, 1872, the son of Martha Helm and Thomas Nelson Harreld. He attended National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, and Bryant and Stratton Business College in Louisville, Kentucky. He was admitted to the bar in 1889 and practiced law in Morgantown. On October 20, 1899, he married Laura Ward, and the couple had one son, Ward Harreld.
In 1906 Harreld moved to Ardmore, Indian Territory, where he practiced law until becoming an executive with an oil company in 1915. He was also a referee in bankruptcy in southern Oklahoma from 1908 to 1915. He relocated to Oklahoma City in 1917 and continued involvement in the oil industry and law. He was one of the original developers of the Healdton oil field and a one-time owner of Oklahoma City's Patterson Building.
Harreld was elected as a Republican from the Fifth District to the Sixty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Rep. Joseph B. Thompson. Harreld served in the House of Representatives from November 8, 1919, to March 3, 1921. In the 1920 election, a GOP landslide, Oklahoma voters elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he served from March 4, 1921, to March 3, 1927. He chaired the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from 1924 to 1927 and wrote the bill granting U.S. citizenship to American Indians. He also served on other committees: Judiciary, Agriculture, Claims, Post Office and Post Roads, District of Columbia, and Public Buildings and Grounds.
After losing the 1926 election, he returned to Oklahoma City to resume his business interests. His wife died in 1930, and he married her sister, Thurlow Ward, in 1931. The couple had a daughter. In 1940 the former senator ran unsuccessfully for Oklahoma's U.S. congressman-at-large seat. Harreld died in Oklahoma City on December 26, 1950, and he was interred there in Fairlawn Cemetery.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Arlington, Virginia: CQ Staff Directories, 1997). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 27 December 1950. Stephen Jones, Once Before: The Political and Senatorial Careers of Oklahoma's First Two Republican United States Senators, John W. Harreld and W. B. Pine (Enid, Okla.: Dougherty Press, ca. 1986).
Todd J. Kosmerick
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