Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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Tulsa civic leader and women's club organizer Lilah Denton Lindsey was born the daughter of John and Susan McKellop Denton on October 21, 1860, in Indian Territory (I.T.). At age twelve Lilah Denton, of Cherokee, Creek, and Scotch descent, attended Tullahassee Mission, near present day Muskogee. As an exceptional student, she received a scholarship to attend Synodical Female College in Fulton, Missouri, and Hillsboro-Highland Institute in Hillsboro, Ohio, which trained young women to become teachers and missionaries. After graduating in 1883 she returned to I.T. to teach at the Wealaka Mission. There she met Lee W. Lindsey, a stonemason and Civil War veteran, whom she married on September 17, 1884. They lived in Okmulgee before moving to Tulsa in 1886, where she taught at the Tulsa Mission School for three years.

Like many middle-class women, Lilah Lindsey served her community through Tulsa beautification and charity projects. Active in women's clubs, she organized the Tulsa chapter of the Woman's Relief Corps (an auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic) in 1898. In 1902 she became a charter member of the Tulsa Woman's Christian Temperance Union, helped organize the Maccabees Insurance Lodge, and joined the Rebekah Lodge. In 1917 she helped establish the Frances Willard Home for Girls in Tulsa. During World War I she headed the Women's Division of the Tulsa County Council of Defense. Favoring women's suffrage, she was active in politics as a Republican and participated in Presbyterian Church activities. In 1922 Lindsey made unsuccessful bids for Tulsa finance commissioner and state representative.

Lee Lindsey was involved in the development of the town of Sulphur and the Lindsey Addition in southwest Tulsa, where he built their two-story home in 1907. With the profit from selling some of her Creek land allotment Lilah Lindsey purchased land in Sulphur and had buildings constructed for offices and stores. She donated the site for the Riverview School in Tulsa. Inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1937, Lilah Lindsey died on December 22, 1943, in Tulsa. In 1957 the Lilah Lindsey School there was named in her honor.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lyle H. Boren and Dale Boren, Who is Who in Oklahoma (Guthrie, Okla.: The Co-operative Publishing Co., 1935). Marlene Munro Hintermeister, "Lilah Denton Lindsey and Her Role in the History of Tulsa" (M.A. thesis, University of Tulsa, 1970). "Lilah Lindsey," Vertical File, Tulsa County-City Public Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mrs. J. O. Misch, "Lilah D. Lindsey," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 33 (Summer 1955). Joseph B. Thoburn and Muriel H. Wright, Oklahoma: A History of the State and Its People (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1929).

Linda D. Wilson

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