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MOWBRAY, GEORGE W. (1847-1910)

An early Methodist missionary in Indian Territory and a booster for the city of Tulsa, George W. Mowbray was born on July 5, 1847, in Melton, Leicestershire, England, to John and Catherine Lockton Mowbray. He attended the noted Grantham Grammar School in Lincolnshire, England, the same school that graduated Sir Isaac Newton. As a young man Mowbray studied religion intensely and became known as "the Boy Preacher," giving his first sermon at the age of sixteen. Although his parents were members of the Church of England, George entered the Wesleyan Methodist church and soon became a licensed minister. In 1867 George Mowbray married Hannah E. Harley in Garthrope, England. Four of their children survived infancy: Anna, George W., Jr., Mary, and Grace. In 1869 the Mowbrays emigrated to the United States and settled in Binghampton, New York. He became the pastor for the Binghampton Methodist Church and remained there for six years. After preaching for several years in New York and Pennsylvania, in 1886 he moved west to McCune, Crawford County, Kansas.

In 1887 he traveled to Tulsa as a missionary for the Southern Kansas Methodist Conference. He was one of the first members of the Indian Mission Conference and served as an early missionary to the Creek Nation in the Tulsa vicinity. Mowbray was the second pastor for Tulsa's Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1896 he retired from the ministry to manage a mercantile store established by his late son-in-law, T. J. Archer. Mowbray was active in all civic aspects of early Tulsa, helping to organize the Methodist Episcopal Mission School and serving as its director for eleven years. He also was the first president of Tulsa's public school board. As a founding member and president of the Commercial Club, a forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, he was instrumental in persuading the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to reroute its line through Tulsa. He also served as Tulsa's fifth mayor in 1903 04. Mowbray was a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of the Knights Templar and Shrine. He served as the grandmaster of the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Grand Lodge of Indian Territory and was instrumental in building the Odd Fellows Home in Checotah, Oklahoma. Upon retirement from the ministry, Mowbray managed the Archer mercantile store and organized Mowbray Undertaking, which he operated until his death. George Mowbray died of natural causes on January 12, 1910. He is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa.

SEE ALSO: FRATERNAL ORDERS, METHODIST CHURCH, TULSA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nina Lane Dunn, Tulsa's Magic Roots (Tulsa, Okla.: N. L. D. Corp., 1979). James M. Hall, The Beginning of Tulsa (Tulsa, Okla.: s.n., 1933). Luther B. Hill, A History of the State of Oklahoma (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1908). Tulsa (Oklahoma) Democrat, 13 January 1910.

Heath C. Henry

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