Biography of O. H. P. Brewer
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O. H. P. Brewer, member of the Muskogee county bar, who on the 8th of August, 1921, retired from the office of postmaster, having filled the position for eight years, has devoted no inconsiderable part of his life to public service and his labors have constituted an important force for public good. Mr. Brewer was born at Webbers Falls, in the Indian Territory, a little village situated twenty-five miles southeast of Muskogee. His parents were Cherokee citizens, who voluntarily removed from Georgia to the Indian Territory in 1838, in accordance with the terms of a congressional act.
His father, O. H. P. Brewer, Sr., obtained his education in the public schools of the Cherokee Nation and also at Mount Comfort, a private school in Fayetteville, Arkansas. During the Civil war he was commissioned a captain in the Cherokee Brigade of the Southern Confederacy. In this connection a contemporary writer has said: “He served with distinction in this capacity and was commissioned colonel for meritorious activity and valor during the progress of the military operations of the Cherokee people. Perhaps no young officer in the Confederate army of the Cherokee Nation won greater distinction and honor, nor enjoyed greater confidence and respect at the hands of his superiors. He filled many positions of honor and trust under tribal government, serving as a member of the Cherokee council, a member of the Cherokee board of education as tax %9 Cherokee Nation collector for the Cherokee Nation, in the matter of royalties growing out of the leasing of the Cherokee Strip to a live stock association with headquarters at Caldwell, Kansas, and was also a member of the supreme court of the Cherokee Nation at the time of his death on the 20th of December, 1891.” His wife, who bore the maiden name of Delia A. Vann, was educated in the tribal public schools and in the Sawyer School for Girls at Fayetteville, Arkansas, and in the Young Ladies Seminary at Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts.
O. H. P. Brewer, whose name introduces this review, attended the public schools and later became a student in the Cherokee National Male Seminary, while subsequently he entered the University of Arkansas, from which in due course of time he was graduated. He then spent seven years on the home plantation at Webbers Falls, devoting his time to agricultural pursuits, while his leisure hours, then as now, were largely given to the perusal of the books constituting the excellent library which his father had built up. The Canadian District, a tribal subdivision corresponding to a county subdivision, then elected him a member of the Cherokee senate, in which body he served actively on the committee on education. He advocated the largest appropriation for educational purposes in the history of the Cherokee legislature and was instrumental in securing a favorable report from the committee, while later on the floor of the senate he most earnestly championed the committee report and in due course of time had the pleasure of seeing the measure passed and placed on the statutes of the Cherokee Nation. Following his retirement from the position of senator he was elected by joint session of the Cherokee national council a member of the Cherokee board of education and for six years served as president thereof, his labors resulting in a splendid development of the educational system of the nation. His people were the pioneers in the establishment of a free school system in the Indian Territory and the Cherokees have always been noted for the marked ability of their educators and the high standards maintained in the conduct of the schools. The value of Mr. Brewer’s service in this connection cannot be overestimated. He has worked constantly for the adoption of high ideals along educational lines and the younger generation has benefited greatly by his labors.
In the fall of 1906 Mr. Brewer was elected a member of the constitutional convention from the seventy-seventh constitutional district, overcoming a normal republican majority and winning the contest by three hundred and twenty-five votes. As a member of the convention he was made chairman of the committee on education, was also made a member of the committee on public buildings, of the committee on state school lands and of the committee on engrossment. As the result of his influence and his labors as chairman of the committee on education there was incorporated into the organic law of the state a provision for the maintenance of separate schools for white and Negro children and also the section providing for compulsory education in the state. With Oklahoma’s admission into the Union he was appointed a member of the state board of examiners and a member of the state textbook commission by Oklahoma’s first governor, but he accepted neither office. In the summer of 1908 he was assigned charge of the appraisement of Oklahoma state school lands and in the spring of 1909 was given the management of the Oklahoma state farm loan department, which had to do with the loan of five million dollars, appropriated under the terms of the enabling act, upon Oklahoma farms as preferred security. He continued to fill the position until April 15, 1910, when he returned to Muskogee and entered upon the study of law. He was again active in politics in 1912, when he managed the campaign of Senator Robert L. Owen, who was seeking reelection in the territory comprising the eastern half of the state. On the 7th of May, 1913, Mr. Brewer was appointed postmaster at Muskogee by President Wilson and continued to fill the office for eight years, or until the 8th of August, 1921. He then retired from the position, but it is doubtful if the city or state will allow him to continue long in the pursuits of private life.
His capability, his efficiency and high ideals in regard to the vital interests of the state well qualified him for leadership, and what he has already accomplished for the commonwealth indicates that any future service that he may render will be of the greatest benefit not only to Muskogee but to the state at large.