Biography of Thomas J. Ellis, Sr.

Since 1882 Thomas J. Ellis, Sr., has been a resident of Oklahoma, coming here in territorial days, and after many years of active connection with farming and mercantile interests he is now living retired at Ochelata at the age of seventy-nine years, having accumulated a substantial competence through the capable management of his business interests. He was born in Vernon, Kentucky, January 25, 1842, of the marriage of Thomas and Susan (Wadzle) Ellis, the former a native of North Carolina, while the latter was also a native of the Blue Grass state.

Mr. Ellis acquired his education in the public schools of Kentucky and in 1877, when thirty-five years of age, went to Springfield, Missouri, but left that city in the same year and went to Chautauqua County, Kansas, where he engaged in farming and stock raising until 1882. He then came to Indian Territory, at first locating on Cotton creek, in the vicinity of Caney, Kansas. From there he removed to Bartlesville, where he leased a large ranch, on which he raised live stock, continuing to cultivate that place for six years. On the expiration of that period he took up his residence on a tract of land southeast of Bartlesville, on the Caney River, devoting his energies to the improvement and development of that property. He assisted in laying out the town of Ochelata and there engaged in merchandising, displaying marked capability and enterprise in the management of his interests and winning a substantial competence which now enables him to live retired in the evening of life in the enjoyment of a well earned rest. When he arrived in the territory there were very few white settlers and he is well acquainted with many of the old settlers in this vicinity and is a warm personal friend of A. H. Norwood, now living retired in Dewey, while during the early days he was employed in several capacities by Jake Baffles, one of the well known pioneers of this part of the state. Mr. Ellis is an astute business man whose investments have been most judiciously placed and he is the largest property owner in Ochelata.

In 1867 Mr. Ellis was united in marriage to Miss Vera Ellen Smith, a native of Kentucky, who is now deceased, her remains being interred in a cemetery at Silver Lake. They became the parents of the following children: R. T., William, Thomas J., Jr., and D. C. Of the two surviving sons, Thomas J. and R. T., the former is a banker of Ochelata and is also well known as a stockman, owning twenty-seven hundred acres of land in that vicinity. R. T., who has been an invalid for the past two years, is living on a large farm near Ochelata. Mr. Ellis’ sons each received the sum of four thousand dollars upon starting out in life and he will give eight thousand dollars to each of his five grandchildren when they reach their majority.

He resides alone in Ochelata and is now engaged in remodeling his home. While residing at Rockcastle, Kentucky, he acted as teacher of penmanship in Friendship church and he still retains a keen interest in the world’s work, his mind being vigorous and active and his memory unusually good. He is a veteran of the Civil war, having served as a private for three years, three months and thirteen days, while for sixteen months he held the rank of first lieutenant in the First Halls Gap Company of Kentucky. He was injured four times, losing one eye from a wound in the top of his head, and was discharged from the infantry on the 12th of October, 1864, and from the cavalry in 1866. For thirty-nine years he has been a resident of this state, during which time he has contributed to its development and up-building along agricultural and mercantile lines. His life has been a long, active and useful one, crowned with successful achievement, and as one of the pioneer residents of his community he is accorded the respect and esteem of all who have the honor of his acquaintance.

MLA Source Citation:

Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922. Web. 25 January 2015. - Last updated on Dec 13th, 2011

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