Governors of Oklahoma
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OKBits FilesGovernors Of Oklahoma
Source: Dirctory and Manual of the State of Oklahoma, 1967
Compiled by Basil R. Wilson, Secretary State Election Board

The first Territorial Governor
Born D
ecember 13, 1839, Fayette Co., IN
Died July 12, 1922, Marion, IN.
George W. Steele

G.W. Steele read law and was admitted to the bar after he had completed his studies at Ohio Wesleyan University. Leaving his law practice in Hartford City, Indiana, he volunteered for service in the Union Army and served throughout the Civil War. Then he returned home and entered business at Marion, Indiana As a Republican he served his locality in Congress from March 4, 1883, to March 3, 1889. Probably his Army experience as an officer influenced President Harrison in selecting him as the initial Governor of Oklahoma Territory. He took the oath of office on May 22, 1890, in Guthrie and found his hands full trying to bring order out of the chaotic legislative fights that he encountered. The school systems, including three colleges, and the State Library were established in the course of his term. He resigned effective October 18, 1891, and returned to Indiana. There he continued in public service until shortly before his death.

ROBERT MARTIN, Secretary of the Territory, served as Acting Governor from October 18, 1891, when Mr. Steele left for Indiana, until February. 1892. when Governor Seay took the oath of office.

Territorial Governor
Born November 29. 1832, Amherst Co. VA.
Died December 22, 1915, Kingfisher Co. OK
Abraham J. Seay

Three years after his birth the family moved to Osage County. Missouri, where he made valiant efforts to educate himself while assisting in caring for his ten brothers and sisters. He read law and was admitted to the bar In 1861. He also served during the entire Civil War and became a colonel in the Union Army by the end of the fighting, he returned to Missouri and alternated between private practice and serving as district judge. Later he became President of the First National Bank of Rolla, Missouri, an office he held until his death. In the course of that time he served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma Territory, from which office he was advanced to the governorship. He took office February 1, 1892, and served until May 7, 1893. He centered his business and banking activities in Kingfisher thereafter, and was interred in its cemetery after his death on December 22, 1915.

Territorial Governor
Born March 15. 1845, Smithfield, NC
Died January 31, 1922 AR
Buried Russellville, AR
Wm. C. Renfrow

At age seventeen he left the public schools to serve in the Confederate Army until 1864. Returning from war he moved to Russellville, Arkansas, in 1865. There he was a deputy county official until his removal to Norman. Oklahoma, where he entered the banking business. He became Governor of Oklahoma Territory on May 7, 1893, the only Democrat to serve. During his term of office the Cherokee Strip was opened was formed. Four years later he returned to business, operating lead and clue mines and promoting oil and gas discoveries in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. January 31, 1922.

Territorial Governor
Born August 25. 1845, Livingston County. NY
Died February 18, 1925 Albuquerque, NM
Buried Guthrie, Logan Co., Oklahoma
Cassius M. Barnes

CASSIUS McDONALD BARNES. was born August 25. 1845. in Livingston County. New York, but moved in his early life to Michigan where he completed his secondary education. After his Civil War service as a Union soldier he moved to Arkansas, In 1876, he became Chief Deputy United States Marshal, holding that position for ten years. In 1890, he went to Guthrie to become Receiver of the United States Land Office. There he read law and in 1893 was admitted to the practice. He served in the third and fourth Territorial Legislatures, and became Governor on May 24, 1897. At the and of his tenure he became president of a bank and later was Mayor of Guthrie. Later he moved to Kansas, then to New Mexico for his health. He died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 18, 1925, but is buried in Guthrie.

Territorial Governor
Born April 25, 1856, Alliance, OH.
Died October 19, 1941, Sapulpa, OK 
Wm. M. Jenkins

WILLIAM MILLER JENKINS, born on April 25, 1856, in Alliance, Ohio. He made the race into the Cherokee Outlet on September 16, 1993. and secured a homestead in Kay County. He served as Secretary of the Territory from June 1897, untIl he became Governor on May 12, 1901. Unjust criticism and the untimely death of President McKinley caused his retirement on November 30. 1901, After a few years in California he returned to Oklahoma and lived in Sapulpa until his death.

WILLIAM C. GRIMES, Republican, Secretary of the Territory, served as Acting Governor from November 30, 1901, to December 9, 1901.

Territorial Governor
Born March 17, 1857,  Des Moines, IA.
Died February 14, 1921, Watonga, OK.
Thompson B. Ferguson

THOMPSON BENTON FERGUSON, born March 17, 1857. near Des Moines, Iowa, spent his early years in Kansas where he was educated as a teacher and a Methodist minister. In 1889, he made the run into Okahoma and secured a claim near Oklahoma City, but returned in Kansas where he was an editor and author. In 1892 he moved to Watonga where he established the newspaper which he continued to publish until his death. He was a recognized leader in the Republican Party in the Territory and State, serving as postmaster and Governor under that party. His term was from December 9, 1901, in January 13, 1906.

Territorial Governor
Born May 7, 1872, Roanoke, Ill.
Died March 9, 1941
Frank Frantz

FRANK FRANTZ. last Territorial Governor, was born May 7, 1872, at Roanoke, Illinois Educated there, he made his home in Medford shortly after the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. He joined the "Rough Riders" under Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and served heroically. After the Spanish-American War he moved l to Enid, Oklahoma, where he was named Postmaster from 1801-1903. He served as Indian Agent of the Osage Agency until he assumed the office of Governor January 13, 1906, to remain in office until statehood, November 16, 1907. Most of his later life. until his death on March 9, 1941, was spent in the oil business.

First State Governor
Born March 13, 1860, Leipsic, Putnam County, OH
Died July 5, 1933
Buried Muskogee, Oklahoma
Charles N. Haskell

C.N. Haskell's father died when Charles was three years of age, at the age of ten he went to live with a couple named Miller where he lived until the age of twenty years of age.  Though Mr Miller was a school teacher, Charles was unable to attend school regularly, but Mrs. Miller taught him at home. At the age of seventeen he passed the examination for a teacher's certificate. Haskell taught school until after he was admitted to the bar in December 6, 1880 at the age of 20. When his school term ended, he moved to Ottawa, Ohio  to practice law.  He married Lucie Pomeroy, daughter of a prominent Ottawa family, on October 11, 1881. Lucie Haskell died in March, 1888, leaving Haskell with three children.
Haskell remarried Lillian Elizaberth Gallup in 1889, the couple had three children.
His energy eventually brought him into Oklahoma politics, where he became a commanding figure in the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906. In March, 1907, Haskell began publication of The New State Tribune which brought him even more prominence. On Nov. 16, 1907 President Roosevelt signed the prclamation admitting Oklahoma as a state. The same day Charles Nathaniel Haskell was inaugurated as the first Governor of the State of Oklahoma.
The Haskells moved to Guthrie, living in the Royal Hotel.  Haskell's daughter, Frances married the editor of the Guthrie Leader, Leslie G. Niblock in March 1909.
In 1933 Haskell suffered a stroke, from which he never fully recovered. He died three months later of pneumonia on July 5, in the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City at the age of seventy-three.

Born July 8, 1863 Marion, Kentucky
Died January 16, 1933, Los Angeles, CA.
Lee Cruce

LEE CRUCE and his two brothers moved to the Chickasaw Nation (Ardmore) in 1891 and founded what later became the law firm of Cruce, Cruce, and Cruce.  Lee Cruce married Chickie LeFlore, a member of a prominent family in Chickasaw and Choctaw affairs.  With this marriage he became an intermarried citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.
In 1901 he left the law firm to become a cashier of the Ardmore National Bank. In 1903 he became president of that institution.  In 1910 he was nominated and elected to the office of Governor, he served as Governor from Jan. 8, 1911 , until Jan. 11, 1915.  The spirit of the moral crusafe was strong during Cruce's administration. He was in favor of prohibition, gambling control, Sunday "blue laws", and etc., that were advocated by religious leaders and used as campaign promises. He demanded stricter laws against gambling which resulted in a law passed by the legislature in 1913 forbidding the betting on animal races.
The first proclamation of martial law in the State's history occurred April 14, 1914, when Cruce prevented a horse race of the Tulsa Jockey Club's annual racing meet. On four occasions in 1912 and 1913 he used the militia to prevent prize fights scheduled at McAlester, Dewey, Sapulpa, and Oklahoma City. He used the threat of martial law to prevent a proposed prize fight at Sapulpa on July 3, 1911.  Governor Cruce was noted for his consistent refusal to permit the enforcement of the death penalty. During his administration he commuted twenty-two death sentences to life inprisonment.
Lee Cruce died Jan. 16, 1933, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Herndon J. NOrris, at the age of 69. His body was accompanied back to Oklahoma by his son-in-law, Herndon Norris and his niece, Miss Adah Bennett. His body laid in state at the State Capitol and was removed to the family home in Ardmore, where the funeral was conducted. He left one daughter, Mrs. Norris. His wife preceeded him in death in 1903.

Born December 20, 1868, Brundidge, AL.
Died April 10, 1948, Durant, OK
Robert L. Williams

Third Governor, was born on December 20, 1868, at Brundidge, Alabama.  Born plain Robert Williams, he lated added the name Lee after reading about the famous Confederate General.  He studied for the ministry and became a licensed Methodist preacher. For two years in Texas he served as a circuit rider preacher. Admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1891, he began his practice of law in Troy, Alabama.
In 1893 he moved to Oklahoma and settled in Orlando and then returned to Alabama. In 1896 he returned to Oklahoma, moving to Durant where he made his home until his death.
Williams was inaugurated Governor of Oklahoma Jan. 11, 1915, and served until Jan. 13, 1919. He campaigned on the promise of "economy until it hurts." Under his administration the University Hospital in Oklahoma City and Union Soldier's Home in Guthrie were created.
The "grandfather clause" of the State Constitution, aimed at the elimination of the Negro vote, was rendered unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court on June 1, 1915. Willaims called a special session of the legislature, but made no mention of the "grandfather clause" in his opening remarks, however , three weeks later he made reference to it and the measure called the "literacy test" was passed by the legislature and submitted to a vote of the people in Aug, 1916, it failed to pass. The legislature then prvided a very brief regustration period for voters not already qualified, which ruled out most Negro voters. Although this was not strictly enforced, it remained on the statutes until 1939 when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutial.
On Feb. 15, 1948, Williams reluctantly entered the Wilson N. Jones Hospital in Sherman, Texas. On April 10, 1948, Williams, Oklahoma's third Governor, and the first Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, died. His body was taken to Durant, where he had made his home for over 50 years, to lay in state in the Robert L. Williams Library with an honor guard of soldiers of the National Guard. State officials had offered to bring his body to the Capital to lay in state, but  the family had declined. On Monday the body was removed to the First Methodist Church of Durant for services. He was buried in Highland Cemetery at Durant.

Born March 15. 1871, Keokuk County, IA.
Died March 7, 1938, OKC, OK
James B.A. Robertson

JAMES BROOKS AYERS ROBERTSON, was born March 15. 1871, on a farm in Keokuk County, Iowa. As a boy his family moved to Kansas. Unable to attend a University, he studied law on his own and was admitted to the Kansas Bar in 1893. Later in 1893 he moved to Oklahoma, and settled in Chandler where he taught school and served as county superintendent of schools under the territorial government. He continued his study of law and was admitted to the bar in Oklahoma in 1898. His first wife, Olive Stubblefield died on June 1, 1914 leaving him with two children, Olive Frances and James Brooks Ayers Jr. In 1917 her remarried Isobel Butler of Vinita.
On Jan 13, 1919 her was the First Governor to be inaugurated at the new capitol. He campaigned on the promise to build roads in Oklahoma. On Sept. 20, 1919, Robertson dispatched six companies of militia to Drumright where a telephone workers strike had occurred. Later that year he sent two regiments of the National Guard into six coal producing counties in the southeast corner of the state to control a coal strike.
He held the following political offices : Lincoln County Attorney, 1900-1902 ; Judge of the Tenth Judicial District of Oklahoma, 1909-1910 ; Member of the State Capitol Commission, 1911 : Member of the Supreme Court Commission 1911-1914 ; Governor of Oklahoma, January 13, 1919, to January 8, 1923 : Democratic Presidential Elector-at-Large, 1932.
Robertson died March 7, 1938, at his home, 1416 Northwest 16th in Oklahoma City at the age of sixty-six of pneumonia. Present at his bedside when death came, were his second wife and his two children.

Born March 6, 1881, Indianapolis. Indiana
Died November 25, 1949
Buried Oklahoma City, OK
Jack C. Walton

JACK CALLAWAY WALTON. was born March 6, 1881, on a farm near IndIanapolis. Indiana. After a ten year stay in Lincoln Nebraska, he joined the Army in 1897, Although he saw no foreign service during the Spanish-American War, he did live in Mexico before coming to Oklahoma City in 1903, as a sales engineer, He was Commissioner of Public Works in 1917 ; Mayor of Oklahoma City, 1919-23 : elected Governor in 1922, and impeached within the year, serving from January 8, to November 19, 1923 ; served in the State Corporation Commission from 1932. until 1939, when he retired to enter private law practice.
Walton campaigned in suspenders and a blue shirt smoking an old corn cob pipe. He was elected by the largest majority ever given a governor up to that time. He was inaugurated Jan. 9, 1923.

Born April 18, 1877, Robinson, KS
Died July 26, 1951 OKC, OK
Martin Edwin Trapp

MARTIN EDWIN TRAPP, born April 18, 1877, in Robinson, Kansas, was educated almost entirely by association and study with Mr. McDaniel, a neighbor. He served as County Clerk of Logan County 1905-1907 ; State Auditor, 1907-1911 ; Lieutenant Governor, 1915-1927. After the impeachment of Governor Walton, he served as Governor of the State from November 19, 1923, until January 10, 1927. Following this he was a dealer in investment securities until his death on July 26. 1951. in Oklahoma City, OK.

Born December 30, 1867, Evansville, IN
Died January 7, 1965, Perry, OK
Henry S. Johnston

HENRY SIMMS JOHNSTON, born December 30, 1867, near Evansville, Indiana. migrated to Colorado at the age of twenty-four where he studied law and was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1891. Later he came to Perry, Oklahoma, to practice. He was a member, and Temporary Presiding Officer of the Constitutional Convention in 1906. His term as Governor which began January 10, 1927. was terminated March 28, 1929, after his impeachment He practiced law in his home town of Perry Oklahoma.

Born Dec. 15, 1888 Arkadelphia, AR
Died January 28, 1970
William J. Holloway

Who succeeded Governor Johnston in office and completed the term to January 12, 1931, was a native of Arkadelphia. Arkansas. After graduation from Ouachita College in 1910. he attended the University of Chicago for a time. While he was living in Hugo and working as a high school principal he began to read law. He later completed his course at Cumberland University and was admitted to the practice of law at Hugo He was elected County Attorney in 1916 : was a State Senator from 1920 to 1924, serving as President Pro Tempore ; in 1926, he was elected Lieutenant Governor and thus advanced in the Governor's office, He now lives in Oklahoma City where he is an attorney.

Born Nov. 23, 1869, Collinsville, TX
Died October 15, 1956
Buried Tishomingo, OK
William H. Murray

Probably Oklahoma's most colorful political figure. was born November 23, 1869, in Collinsville. Texas. At twenty years of age he graduated from College Hill Institute in Springtown, Texas. For the next six years he held various jobs, including day laborer teacher, editor of a Dallas farm magazine, and of a Corsicana daily newspaper. Admitted in the bar in 1895, he practiced at Fort Worth before, moving to Tishomingo. Indian TerrItory. in 1898. There he became legal advisor to the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, He was President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906 : Speaker of the House of Representatives. 1907-1908 : Member of the Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth United States Congresses : and Governor of the State from January 12, 1931 to January 15, 1935. His ranching interests spread from Oklahoma to Bolivia, South America, where he established a colony. He wrote articles and books mostly dealing with constitutional rights. etc.

Born May 8, 1874, Pittsburgh, PA
Died October 3, 1941
Buried Ponca City, OK
Ernest W. Marland

ERNEST WHITWORTH MARLAND, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. was born May 8. 1874. He was educated at Park Institute of that city and received his LL.B from the University of Michigan in 1893. He began his law practice at Pittsburg but engaged in the oil production business after moving to Oklahoma. He was President of the Marland Oil Company until its consolidation : member of the Seventy third United States Congress from 1933 to 1935 : Governor of Okahoma from January 15, 1935, to January 9 1939. His civic Contributions to Ponca City included the Pioneer Woman Statue.

Born December 9, 1890, Worth County, MO.
Died March 27, 1958
Buried Okemah, OK

Moved to Oklahoma at an early age. While a student at Epworth University in Oklahoma City, he studied for the ministry, but changed to law and received his LL.B. from the University of Oklahoma In 1916. He was admitted to the State Bar in that year and to practice before the United States Supreme Court later. After service in World War I, he returned to Okemah where he practiced law. He was a member of the State Legislature from 1933 to 1938 ; Speaker of the House In 1935 ; Democratic Minority Leader in 1937 ; Governor from January 9, 1939, to January 11, 1943. He was a practicing attorney in his old home of Okemah.

Born Sept. 11, 1896, Ada, IT.,OK
Died January 1, 1963
Buried Ada, Oklahoma
Robert S. Kerr

Oklahoma's first native born governor, was born near Ada Indian Territory, on September 11, 1896. His college work was done at East Central Normal School and Oklahoma Baptist University, He was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1922, and practiced in Ada. Beginning as a drilling contractor in 1926. he built up a large oil producing company and at time of hIs death was President of the Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Inc. He served as Governor of Oklahoma from January 13. 1943 to January 13, 1947 ; and as U. S. Senator from November 2. 1948 until his death in 1963.

Born November 6, 1894, Lincoln Co. OT.
Died June 11, 1973 OKC, OK.
Roy J. Turner

Upon completion of his high school education he attended Hill's Business College in Oklahoma City, He was a bookkeeper for Morris Packing Company in Oklahoma City from 1911-1915; a salesman for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company there ; and after his service in World War l he was a dealer in real estate, principally in Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas. By 1928 he had become an independent oil producer, to 1933, he established the Turner Ranch at Sulphur, but he maintained a residence in Oklahoma CIty where he served on the Board of Education from 1939. to 1946. His term as Governor of Oklahoma was from January 13. 1947, to January 8, 1951. Since then he has taken some interest in politics, but has spent most of his efforts on his business affairs.

Born July 21, 1902, Johnston Co. IT.
Died April 16, 1974 OKC, OK.
Johnston Murray

JOHNSTON MURRAY, was born in the mansion of the Chickasaw Nation's Governor at Emet. His early education was governed by the location of the work of his famous father, former Governor William H. Murray. After graduation from the Murray State School of Agriculture, in 1924, he went to Bolivia where he lived for four years trying to make a success of his father's colonization expedition there. He received his law degree in 1946, having studied and worked at other things for a number of years. He served as Governor from January 8, 1951 ; to January 1955. At this time he is a practicing attorney In Oklahoma City.

Born January 21, 1908, Madill, OK.
Died December 11, 1993, Madill, OK
Raymond D. Gary

The first Governor to be born in Oklahoma since statehood, His birthdate was January 21, 1908. and his birthplace, a farm midway between Madill and Kingston, He was educated in the local schools and Southeastern State College. After five years of teaching he was elected County Superintendent of Schools and served for four years. In 1936, he began his business career, first in school and office supplies, later as President of the Sooner Oil Company, He was a State Senator from 1941. until he became Governor on January 19, 1955, for a four year term. Madill. Oklahoma, is his home.

Born September 27, 1925, Muskogee, OK
Died November 17, 1971 OKC, OK
James H. Edmondson

The youngest governor in the history of the State. He attended elementary and secondary school in that city and enrolled in the University of Oklahoma after high school graduation. He enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in March, 1942, and served until December 5, 1945. He returned to the University and completed his law degree in August. 1948. After practicing law in Muskogee, he moved to Tulsa to become the chief prosecutor in the office of the county attorney of Tulsa County. He was elected county attorney of that county in 1954 and was re-elected in 1956. On January 8, 1959. J. Howard Edmondson was inaugurated Governor of Oklahoma, after having been elected to that post by the largest majority ever given a gubernatorial candidate in the state. On January 6, 1963, he resigned from the office of Governor and was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the position left vacant by the death of Robert S. Kerr.

Born June 9, 1927, McAlester, OK
George P. Nigh

Was Governor of Oklahoma from January 6, 1963, until January 14, 1963, the shortest term for that office in the history of the State. He was born in McAlester to Wilbur R. and Irene Crockett Nigh, He attended public schools in McAlester and Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College at Wilburton, Oklahoma. From June 1945 through September 1946. he served with the U. S. Navy, he was granted a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Central State College. Ada, Oklahoma in 1950. From 1952 to 1958 he taught at McAlester High School. George Nigh served in the House of Representatives from the Twenty-third through the Twenty-sixth Oklahoma Legislatures. He was elected Lieutenant Governor, the youngest in State history, in 1958. On the sixth of January, 1963. he became Governor upon the resignation of J. Howard Edmondson and served until January 14, 1963, He was elected Lieutenant Governor again in 1966.

Born Sept. 3, 1921, Tonkawa, OK
Henry L. Bellmon

The first Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma, was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. September 3, 1921. He is the son of George and Edith Caskey Bellmon. Ha attended Colorado State University, later transferring to Oklahoma State University where he was granted the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Henry Bellmon served with the IT. S. Marine Corps from 1942 through 1948, receiving the Silver Star for action on Saipan and the Legion of Merit for action on Iwo Jima. He was s member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives during the Twenty-first Oklahoma Legislature, 1947. He was engaged in farming at Billings. Oklahoma. at the time of his election, He was inaugurated on January 14, 1963.

Born March 28, 1919 Marietta, OH.
Died March 1979, Tulsa, OK
Dewey F. Bartlett

The second Republican Governor of the State of Oklahoma. He is the son of David A. and Jessie Follett Bartlett, He attended Princeton University where he was granted a B.S.E. degree in Geological Engineering. Dewey Bartlett served in the Marine Corps during World War II as s combat dive bomber pilot. He received the Air Medal, He is s partner in Keener Oil Company, one of Oklahoma's oldest, small independent oil companies. He currently owns s 200 acre farm in Tulsa County. He was first elected to the State Senate In 1962 and was re-elected in 1964. He was elected and was inaugurated the 19th Governor on January 9, 1967. 

David Hall David Hall


David L. Boren David Boren


David Walters David Walters


Frank Keating
Born February 10, 1944, St. Louis, MO
Frank Keating

On November 3, 1998, Governor Keating won reelection and became the second governor in Oklahoma history to win a second consecutive term. He is the first Republican governor in state history to win reelection.
Less than three months after Governor Keating assumed office, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building in downtown Oklahoma City claimed 168 lives. The Governor worked to mobilize relief and rescue efforts and represented his state with dignity. He and his wife Cathy were recognized nationally for their compassionate efforts on behalf of victims, including the creation of a $6 million fund to assist victims and provide college scholarships for children who lost parents in the bombing.

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