Collection: The Indian Territory Its Chiefs Legislators and Leading Men

Biography of Robert F. Wyly

Robert F. Wyly is the son of W. C. Wyly, a Georgian, and grandson of General James R. Wyly. His mother was Elizabeth Starr, of Green County, Georgia. Robert F. was born September 15, 1827, in Habersham County, Georgia, and attended school in Cedartown, same State, between the years 1844 and 1849, after which he began mercantile business at old Cassville, Georgia, and married Miss Amanda C. Williams, daughter of Major Lowry Williams, of Cherokee extraction, in 1850. By this marriage he had two children, Oliver L. and Florence S. (Mrs. Rogers). Robert F. came to this nation in 1857, and settled on Beattie’s Prairie, near the Arkansas line. February 1858, he married Miss Mary J. Buffington, daughter of Joshua Buffington, and stepdaughter to John A. Bell, Hooley Bell’s father. By this marriage he had seven children, Percy, Robert Lee, Julia (Mrs. Johnston), Capitola V. (Mrs. McSpadden), Albert Sidney, Buffington and Zoe. Mr. Wyly took his Negroes to Smith County, Texas, in 1858, where he had a large plantation, and grew cotton extensively in Smith and Rusk Counties until 1862, when he joined Walker’s division of infantry, Confederate service. Before entering the army Mr. Wyly was present at the Oak Hills fight, August 10, 1861. Eager to experience the shock of battle, he persuaded old Kilgore, father to the well-known Buck Kilgore, to permit him to mount his (Kilgore’s)...

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Biography of William C. Wright

William C. Wright was born March 9, 1860, at Gainesville, Arkansas, second son of Morris M. Wright, a white man and ex-sheriff of Green County, Arkansas, an active politician in his day, and Miss Howard, daughter of George Howard, of North Carolina, a prominent man in his country. William, after attending Gainesville High School until nineteen years of age, began serving his time to the silversmith and watch making trade in the same town. Remaining there four years, he came to Vinita, Indian Territory, in 1883, and there started in the jewelry business. In 1888, in connection with this, he opened a fancy grocery house, in which he carries an assortment of all varieties of the finest goods. Both branches of business he still carries on. December 6, 1890, Mr. Wright was elected as alderman of the town, which office he held until 1891. He is also a charter member of the brass band of Vinita, organized in 1886. He married Miss Maggie Benge in July 1888, daughter of James Benge, nephew of Houston Benge, a prominent Cherokee. Her mother was Miss Ruth Martin, daughter of the celebrated Joe Martin, part Cherokee. By this marriage Mr. Wright has three children. The subject of this sketch carries a stock of fancy groceries to the amount of about $2,500, and a good stock of jewelry. His business house is situated in...

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Biographical Sketch of Thomas Leroy Wolfe

Thomas Leroy Wolfe was born in Tahlequah, April 12, 1871, the son of John W. Wolfe and Belle Gibson, daughter of Leroy Gibson, a white man. His grandfather, Thomas Wolfe, was one of the old settlers, and in conjunction with Blue Jacket, built the first house in Tahlequah. His father, John W. Wolfe, was district judge for some time, and at present resides within one-half mile of the capital. The subject of this sketch is the eldest of three sons. He was sent to the Tahlequah public school in 1879, and there continued till 1883, when he began work in the office of the Cherokee Advocate, devoting his time to the newspaper business for two years. In 1885 he entered the Indian university and completed a collegiate course in 1887, after which he joined the staff of the Advocate for a short time. Later he became a clerk in the mercantile establishment of R. C. Adams, as well as assistant postmaster at Viau, Illinois district. Leaving there at the end of one year, he took a position in W. T. Culbertson’s store, Savannah, Choctaw Nation. Later on Mr. Wolfe traveled for the Arrow, Telephone and Advocate, three Cherokee newspapers, and was special reporter for the first named paper during the election campaign of 1891. Mr. Wolfe is an intelligent, well-educated young man, and quite popular with his acquaintances. Like...

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Biography of Richard M. Wolfe

Richard M. Wolfe was born November 16, 1849, the son of J. H. Wolfe and Elizabeth Saunders, daughter of D. Saunders, a prominent Cherokee. When Richard was but five months old, his father left for California to search for gold in order, as he said himself, to properly educate his son, but unfortunately he never returned. At the age of seven Richard went to school for three months, and then again in two years later, passed five months at a public school. From the outbreak of the war till its ending he remained at home to take care of his mother and in 1865, when he had almost forgotten the book learning he had acquired, attended school for three terms, dropping off at McGuffy’s fourth reader. He was then 21 years of age, and the only support of his mother and grandmother, so that he was obliged to work in the fields and snatch the brief intervals between crop times to educate himself. Despite his limited opportunities, he was enabled to teach the public school at Tyners Valley soon after he became of age, and the year following became mission teacher at the Moravian Mission, Spring Creek, which institute had but five pupils at the commencement of the term, but increased to fifty-six, before he resigned, in twelve months from the date of his appointment. The refusal on the...

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Biography of Rev. J. Edward Wolfe

J. Edward Wolfe was born September 12, 1849, at Hampton, Adams County, Pennsylvania, oldest son of Jacob Wolfe, a popular merchant of the same place, and Mary Connor, of Scotch and Irish descent. Edward attended public school until the outbreak of the war, when he became an apprentice to the printer’s trade in the Gazette office, Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania. Here he remained several years, attaching himself for a while to the Carlisle Volunteer, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Later he held a position in the government printing office, at Washington, D. C., after which he was led into evangelistic work through the Rev. E. P. Hammon, with whom he went to Philadelphia and Newport, Massachusetts. At this point he was city missionary, and remained for one year. During this time he had many rough and strange experiences. In order to aid him in his battle against rum, he established a newspaper, which soon stirred the ire of the whisky-sellers, and he was prosecuted for libel by a notorious rum-seller. Being refused bail, he was imprisoned for three days, and during this time the paper was issued from the jail. The consequence was that on December 11, the election day, the temperance party carried the day by a plurality of 929. On this day he was assaulted by a cowardly, prize-fighting rum-seller, who knocked him down and treated him in a...

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Biography of Colonel Dew Moore Wisdom

Dew Moore Wisdom was born February 3, 1836, at Medon, Madison County, Tennessee, being the eldest son of William S. Wisdom, the leading merchant and landowner of McNary County, Tennessee, and widely known throughout the State. His mother was a Miss Jane Anderson, of an old family, from the eastern part of Tennessee. Dew studied at the neighborhood schools until sixteen years of age, when he went to Cumberland University, Lebanon, graduating and securing his B. A. degree in 1857. Soon afterward he commenced the practice of law in Purdy, Tennessee, and there remained until the outbreak of the war, when he was elected captain of Company F, Thirteenth Tennessee Infantry, Confederate service. Early in the war Captain Wisdom was twice wounded, once in the mouth and once in the face, a bullet knocking out his front teeth at the battle of Belmont. At Shiloh he was wounded in the left thigh, and at Pittsburg Landing was further disabled so as to render him unfit for infantry service. Accordingly he joined the cavalry, and was for fourteen months lieutenant colonel of what was known as Julius Battalion, under General P. D. Roddie. When General N. B. Forrest took charge of the West Tennessee and North Mississippi departments, Mr. Wisdom was appointed to the colonelcy of the Nineteenth Tennessee Regiment, and served in this rank until the close of the...

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Biographical Sketch of John M. Tucker

The subject of this sketch was born January 1, 1857, in Johnson County, Kansas, the son of Charles Tucker, who came to this country November, 1871, with the Shawnees, who obtained a right in the Cherokee Nation through a treaty entered into at Washington in 1869, which provided for such right and title in consideration of the money accruing from the sale of Shawnee lands in Kansas, and other considerations, to be paid over to the Cherokees. John attended school at Contention Schoolhouse, Delaware district, and in 1878 went to the national Male Seminary for one year, after which he devoted his time to farming for a while, and afterward, attended to a stock of cattle belonging to Rogers, of Skiatook, and also clerked in his mercantile establishment for some time, after which he began farming on his own account. Becoming popular in his district, the voters concluded to run him for representative, and he was elected in August 1891, and is now holding that office, a strong supporter of the present administration. Mr. Tucker is somewhat above the middle height and heavily built, of good appearance and address, and is pleasant and sociable in manner. His complexion is fair, and he shows little of his aboriginal blood. He is...

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Biography of William H. Tibbils

William H. Tibbils was born May 2, 1838, at Auburn, New York, the second son of Henry W. Tibbils. His mother was Miss Abbey, of New York. William attended public school until the age of fifteen, when he went to Bethany Academy, Genesee County, New York, and there remained two years, after which he assisted his father to farm. At twenty he learned brick laying, and worked at the trade two years. During his early youth he formed an idea of becoming a lawyer, and read the elementary principals of law, becoming fascinated by the profession, through having been present at the defense by William H. Seward, of the Negro Wiatt for the murder of the Varness family, at Auburn, New York. William in his eleventh year daily attended this trial, leaving school to do so, for which he received six consecutive whippings at the hands of his aggrieved father. In 1860 he went to Pike’s Peak, Colorado, where there was a great mining excitement at the time, and remained there until 1864. During this period he met with a series of accidents, which prostrated him for two years. On his recovery he began reading law with the firm of Clarke & Tewksbury, of Benton County, Iowa. In 1868 he located, and first began practice at Carroll, Iowa, then an almost unsettled country. In 1872 he moved to Coffeyville,...

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Biography of Thomas Fox Thompson

Thomas F. Thompson was born May, 1848, at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, the second son of Johnson Thompson, merchant of that place. Thomas attended district school until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he went south with the refugees. After the war he went with his parents to Grand River, Delaware district, where he attended one session at Pea Ridge School, Arkansas; leaving there he went to Vinita, where he was employed in his father’s store for about three years, after which he improved a farm on Big Cabin Creek, and there resided three years. Moving back to Vinita in 1878, he opened a grocery business in connection with James Skinner, who after one year sold his interest to E. N. Radcliffe. In 1878, Mr. Thompson disposed of his half of the business, and established a feed and produce exchange in the same town, which business he is now conducting, carrying a stock of about $2,000. Mr. Thompson handles produce of all kinds, and solicits orders by carload from all parts of the country; goods carefully handled, and to the best advantage. Mr. Thompson married Miss Susan Parks, daughter of Judge Parks, formerly of East Tennessee, who, at his death, was supreme judge of the Cherokee Nation; Mrs. Thompson’s mother was a Miss L. Spriggs, of Scottish and English descent, and of a leading family in East Tennessee. Mr....

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Biography of Joseph M. Thompson, M.D.

This popular young physician was born February 8, 1865, near Red River, Chickasaw Nation, during the war, and whilst his family were amongst the Cherokee refugees. He is the son of Johnson Thompson and Eliza C. Taylor, both Cherokees. In 1866 his parents went to Grand River, east of Vinita, Delaware district, where at eight years, Joseph was sent to a neighborhood school. At the age of fifteen years he went to the male seminary, and there remained three years, graduating a short time afterward at the Indian University, then located at Tahlequah. From this he began reading medicine under Dr. Allen, which was followed up by a three years’ medical course at the Missouri Medical College, St. Louis, from which institution he graduated in 1885. Dr. Thompson commenced practice the same year in Tahlequah, and in 1887 married Lulu Elliott, daughter to George W. Elliot, a white man. By this marriage he has two children, Christine, two years, and Eddie, three months old. In the fall of 1888, Dr. Thompson, although but twenty-three years of age, was appointed by the council as medical superintendent of the public institutions of the Cherokee Nation, a most arduous and responsible position, for which there were five candidates. These public institutions comprise the male and female seminaries, national jail and insane asylum, for which services he receives an income of $1,500 per...

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Biography of Johnson Thompson

Johnson Thompson was born February 10, 1822, in Cass County, Georgia, the third son of James Allen Thompson, a white man, and Martha Lynch, a Cherokee, daughter of Geter Lynch, a United States citizen, who was a brother-in-law to Judge J. Martin, of considerable prominence in the Cherokee Nation. Johnson attended missionary and private schools until he was fifteen, when his father immigrated to the present Cherokee Nation with the Boudinots, Adairs, Mayes and Ridge families, after the treaty of 1835. Here he went to school in Viniard Township, Arkansas, and later to Bentonville in the same State, until he was eighteen years of age, when he entered J. M. Lynch & Co.’s establishment as a clerk, Mr. Lynch being his uncle. Here he remained until he was twenty-one years of age, when he married Miss Eliza C. Taylor, January 5, 1843, daughter to Richard Taylor, who was second chief of the Cherokees. Her mother was daughter to George Fields, prominent in the capacity of United States officer, and who drew a government pension till his death. Mr. Johnson Thompson embarked in the mercantile line, in the winter of 1846 and 1847, in which business he has been engaged up to the present, except during the war. When the campaign commenced, he joined the Confederate service, in the capacity of quartermaster of the First Cherokee Regiment, after which he...

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Biography of George Washington Tarvin

George W. Tarvin was born December 14, 1828, a son of Elijah Tarvin, of Baldwin County, Alabama, and Elizabeth Tate. His grandfather, William Tarvin, came from England at an early day, settling in Buck County, Georgia, and afterward marrying Mary Miller in Pensacola, Florida, in 1783, where he opened a trading house. Mr. G. W. Tarvin’s mother, Elizabeth Tate, was second daughter to David Tate, and granddaughter to Colonel John Tate and Sehoy McGilleroy, and great-granddaughter to General Alexander McGilleroy, who came from Scotland in 1735 and amassed a large fortune in this country. He was colonel in the British army in 1776 and 1790, and was commissioned by George Washington as brigadier-general. He was a highly intellectual man. George Washington Tarvin, his great-grandson and subject of this sketch, was born in Baldwin County, Alabama, and in 1852, with his mother’s family, moved to Fort Bend County, Texas, bringing with them seventy engross, and starting in agriculture in the Brazos bottom. Here he remained until the outbreak of the war, when he joined the Confederate service under Colonel Elmore, Second Texas Infantry. After two years he returned home to assist his mother, who was alone on the plantation, and, procuring a substitute, remained with her until the close of the war, when he left for Mexico, and there took up his stay ten years, devoting his time to the...

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Biography of Judge Walter A. Starr

Walter A. Starr was born in Washington County, Arkansas, March 26, 1845, son of Joseph M. Starr, a prominent Cherokee citizen, who served several terms as judge of Going Snake district, and was afterward a senator. Walter’s mother was a Miss Delilah Adair, and her marriage to Joseph Starr took place in the old nation. The subject of this sketch attended the territory schools until the age of sixteen years, and, when the war broke out, entered the Confederate service, serving first under his brother, Captain George H. Starr, until the latter’s death, when he was in Captain E. M. Adair’s company (Colonel W. P. Adair’s regiment), with whom he remained until the close of the war. Returning to the old homestead, he was married in 1869 to Mrs. Ruth A. Albany, widow of Cornelius Albany, and daughter of William and Bessie Thornton, well-known Cherokee citizens. Remaining in Going Snake district one year, Judge Starr moved to Coowescowee district and improved a farm, which he sold in a year and opened another place sixteen miles east, which he sold in six years, after having been employed as deputy sheriff of the district three years and acted postmaster at old Claremore for a good part of his sojourn in that neighborhood. When the post office was removed to the present site of Claremore, judge moved to where he now resides,...

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Biography of Ellis Starr

Ellis Starr was born June 17, 1853, on Lee’s Creek, Cherokee Nation, the only son of Leroy Starr, of Flint district. Ellis’ mother was a Miss Vann, daughter of Andy Vann, who died in Cuba many years ago, and who was second chief at the time of his death. Ellis’ grandfather, Ezekiel Starr, was one of the most prominent men in the nation, and died while in Washington, D. C., serving as delegate for his people, about the year 1847. Ellis attended public school until he was nine years of age, and at the close of the war went to Evansville Academy, Arkansas, where he remained two sessions. After having spent eight months in Texas, Ellis again attended school until his eighteenth year, when he entered the mercantile store of E. E. Starr, and there clerked three years. At the age of twenty-two he again devoted himself to study, entering the national male academy, where he remained ten months. In 1879 he was elected interpreter of the national council, which office he held for two years, and in 1881 was elected sheriff for Flint district, which office he held for two years. In 1885 Ellis Starr was elected district prosecuting attorney, and was re-elected in 1887 and 1889. In 1891 he was defeated by twelve votes out of 460 in the district. He is still practicing law, and has...

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Biography of John L. Springston

John L. Springston is the son of Anderson Springston, half-breed, and Sallie Elliot, daughter of Jack Elliot, a white man, who married a quarter Cherokee. Anderson Springston was born in Tennessee, and after coming to this nation practiced law in the Delaware and Tahlequah districts. John L., the subject of this sketch, was born October 1845, and educated at the public schools, Delaware district. About the time he was ready to enter the Upper Alton Academy, the war broke out, and he joined the Indian Home Guards, Third Regiment, Company I, under Col. M. A. Phillips, Federal army. He entered the service January 1, 1863, and served until May 31, 1865, during which time he was at the battles of Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, and other engagements of the kind. While attending school in 1859, he was appointed clerk of the supreme court of his district, and served in the various courts in the same capacity until 1872, when he was elected sheriff of Saline district for two years. In 1874 he became executive secretary under Chief W. P. Ross, and also held the office of interpreter. From November 1875 to 1879, he was Cherokee translator of the Advocate, or national organ, and in 1879 was re-appointed to that office by Chief Bushyhead, and held it until 1887. During the first two years of Bushyhead’s administration, he was clerk...

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