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Murray George Haskell, of Muskogee, who came into prominence in connection with the banking interests of Oklahoma and is an active representative of the oil industry, was born in Ottawa, Ohio, August 19, 1884, and is a son of Governor C. N. Haskell, who was the first chief executive of Oklahoma after the admission of the state into the Union. He was born at Leipsic, Putnam County, Ohio, March 13, 1860, and came of English descent, the ancestral line being traced back to Henry and Jonathan Haskell, who in 1622 left their native land of England and became members of the Massachusetts colony. George Haskell, father of Governor Haskell, was born in Vermont and in 1811 became a resident of Huron County, Ohio, while ten years later he settled in the northwestern section of that state, where he followed the cooper’s trade. He died in January, 1863.
Charles Nathaniel Haskell was one of five children and was but three years of age at the time of his father’s death. He was early thrown upon his own resources, becoming a farm boy in 1870 when a lad of but ten years, remaining with a family by the name of Miller. While work in the fields prevented his attendance at school he benefited largely by association with Mrs. Miller, a woman of broad education and thorough Christian character, who assisted him in his studies at night and on Sundays. Under her direction he made such advancement in school work that on the 12th of March, 1878, he passed the required examination for a teacher’s certificate. During the following three years he taught two terms at school each year and the remainder of the year was spent in study. He also took up the study of law under Jacob Warner, an attorney of Leipsic, Ohio, and was admitted to the bar at Columbus, Ohio, December 6, 1880. He located for practice in Ottawa, that state, March 7, 1881, and soon won recognition as an able representative of the bar. He likewise took up the work of general contracting and between 1888 and 1900 built the first sections of six different railroads in Ohio and Michigan.
It was in his capacity as a railway contractor that Mr. Haskell came to the Indian Territory in April, 1901, settling at Muskogee. He organized and built all the railroads extending into that city with the exception of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas. He was first engaged on the construction of the Muskogee division of the Frisco road, and in 1902 he built a portion of the Midland Valley Road, followed in 1904 by his work on the M. O. & G. Railroad. In the same year he began the construction of the Muskogee Street railway and in 1911 built the interurban line between Fort Gibson and Muskogee. His work in 1914-15 was on the Oil Belt Terminal Railway from Jennings into the Cushing oil field, but in March, 1915, he sold that property. As a railroad builder he contributed in notable measure to the up-building, development and progress of the state. He also judiciously embraced his opportunities for investment in property and became the owner of fourteen brick buildings in Muskogee and he it was who erected the first five story business block in the territory. Largely as the result of the life and activity which he instilled into the city, Muskogee grew from a village of forty-five hundred population to a city whose inhabitants number twenty thousand.
Before removing to the southwest Mr. Haskell had exerted considerable influence in Democratic circles in Ohio and represented the fifth district of the state in the Democratic national convention in 1892 and was again a delegate to the national convention in 1908, acting as chairman of the committee that wrote the national platform. In 1905 he was a delegate to the separate state-hood constitutional convention and in 1906 and 1907 was a delegate to the Oklahoma constitutional convention. This was followed by his election as governor of the new state. His service as chief executive is a matter of history. He took most active and helpful part in framing the initial policy of the state, in systematizing every department of the government and in laying the foundation for future greatness and progress. He has left his impress indelibly upon the annals of Oklahoma and the record of no man has been actuated to a greater degree by fidelity to duty and high standards of service. He has long been thoroughly versed on the vital questions and issues of the day, and his opinions are the result of a most careful reflection and study combined with a recognition of the needs, the possibilities, the opportunities of the state, whose destinies he has largely guided. With his retirement from the position of governor he resumed his residence in Muskogee and his activity as a railroad builder and has also become a prominent figure in connection with the development of oil and gas interests in the southwest.
In October, 1881, was celebrated the marriage of Governor Haskell and Lucye Pomeroy, of Ottawa, Ohio, a representative of one of the old colonial families of New England that figured prominently in the Revolutionary war through the active service of its representatives. Governor and Mrs. Haskell have become parents of three children: Norman, a lawyer of Oklahoma City; Murray, of this review; and Lucie, wife of Prentiss Hill. In March, 1888, Governor Haskell lost his first wife and afterward wedded Lillie Gallup, of Ottawa, Ohio. There are three children of this marriage: Frances, wife of Colonel L. G. Niblick of Guthrie; Jane, wife of Joseph L. Hall; and Joseph, who is associated with his father in business.
Murray George Haskell, the second son of the family, obtained a public and high school education and acquired a correct knowledge of life’s values through careful home training. He dates his residence in Muskogee from 1902 and through the intervening period has largely been connected with banking interests. His initial position was that of teller with the Territorial Bank & Trust Company and after serving in that capacity for about six years he became in 1908 cashier of the Guaranty State Bank. This was followed by election to the presidency of the institution and he continued as its directing head until 1917, conducting the bank along safe and conservative lines that, however, constituted no bar to progressiveness. He retired from the banking business in 1917, having achieved a place of prominence among the financiers of the state. Since that time he has given his attention to the oil industry and again is forging to the front as a prominent representative of this line of endeavor.
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Mr. Haskell married Miss Lucy Smith, of Muskogee, and they are now parents of a son, Francis Waller. Mr. Haskell belongs to the Town and Country Club, and his social qualities, his genial disposition and his unfeigned cordiality make for personal popularity wherever he is known. Family connections have brought him a wide acquaintance but personal worth has established his position as a valued friend, as a progressive citizen and a most enterprising business man.