Biography of Hon. George Washington Stidham
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The deceased George W. Stidham was born in Alabama, November 17, 1817, son of Hopaychutke (which means white explorer). Hopaychutke was by birth Scotch-Irish, and came to the United States, settling in Alabama among the Creeks, while yet a young man. His adventurous disposition and love of travel is supposed to have suggested his characteristic title. George W., losing his father at the age of twelve years, and the opportunities for education being rather limited at the time, was not a college graduate, but, in spite of such disadvantages, he acquired great knowledge through his own industry and early contact with the world; and this, notwithstanding the fact that he did not learn to speak English until he was twenty years of age. In 1837, or thereabouts, he emigrated to the Creek Nation, settling at Choska, on the Arkansas River. His first office was that of agent’s interpreter, and about this time he married his first wife, in 1841, or thereabouts. He was next appointed as national delegate to Washington, and visited the capital in that capacity no less than fifteen times, from year to year. It was during his stay in that city in the year 1855 or 1856, that Mr. Stidham met Miss Thornsberry, a Virginia lady of great attraction, and married her, his first wife being some time dead. During the war Mr. Stidham was elected first chief of the Southern Creeks, but was counted out, and therefore never took his seat. ON the return of the refugees after the conclusion of the war, he was appointed Chief Justice, and was holding that office when the present constitution was formed, in the year 1867. After the adoption of the constitution he held the office for several terms of four years, and was Chief Justice at the time of his death, March 1891. Mr. Stidham also represented his town, that of Hitchetee, in the House of Warriors for several terms. When more recently elected to this office, the people proposed to raise him to the House of Kings, but he preferred the Lower House and remained there. Some time before the war Mr. Stidham opened a mercantile establishment at the Creek agency, near Muskogee, but was obliged to join the refugees, and went, with others, to Hopkins County, Texas, where he purchased a section of land, and a tract of 6,000 acres on the spot where Texarkana now stands. These lands were bought for him through the instrumentality of General Albert Pike, but, unfortunately, Mr. Stidham mislaid the deeds of the latter tract, and the official records having been destroyed during the war, he was unable to establish his claim, and lost this valuable piece of property. At the conclusion of the rebellion the subject of our sketch returned to the Creek agency, resuming his former clerk, became a partner in the store, purchasing Mr. Stidham’s interest three years later. Mr. Stidham then opened out a new business, which he placed in the hands of J. G. Meagher, but finally sold out to Mr. J. Parkinson in 1883 or 1884. The deceased, during those years, took an active interest in agriculture, and may be said to have been the first man who planted wheat in the Creek Nation. Importing a quantity of the seed, he distributed it among the citizens of his neighborhood in the year 1855. He was also the first to grow cotton in the vicinity of Muskogee, and was instrumental in the introduction of the first threshing machine into the nation. In company with C. C. Belcher, John Barnwall, J. McD. Coodey and two others, G. W. Stidham was one of the first chartered members of the first Masonic Lodge in the Creek Nation, and was made Master under the dispensation granted to the first lodge. At the time of his death he was a Royal Arch Mason. Mr. Stidham, by his first wife, has two living daughters, one of whom is the wife of Captain G. W. Grayson. By his second wife he had a family of five, George, Mrs. Bailey, Albert, Mrs. Bennett and Theodore. The death of Mr. Stidham, which occurred in March 1891, cast universal gloom over the Creek Nation. No citizen of the country was more highly esteemed; none were more progressive or more useful in preparing the people for the great change that civilization was bringing about. His influence was great, and his example such as will be long remembered by the rising generation. It may be safely said that the name of George Washington Stidham will live in the memory of his people until the last drop of Creek blood is merged and lost in the irrepressible current of Anglo-Saxon blood.