Classen Anton & Ella D. (Lamb)
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Daily Oklahoman, The 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
December 31, 1922, pg 1, 2

Citizens of City He Helped Build Morn Death of Most Vigorous of Pioneer Type.

Anton H. Classen, 61 years old, died early Saturday at his home, 626 West Fourteenth Street. When he came to Oklahoma City in 1893 he immediately moved to the fore-front of the activities here.

Funeral services will be held Monday afternoon at 2.30 o'clock at the First Methodist church, fourth street and Robinson avenue. Members of the Masonic lodge will proceed in a body to the church. Classen was the first man in Oklahoma to be made a life member of the India Temple Shrine.

Classen had been seriously ill since Christmas day, when he was first confined to his bed, but the infection which resulted in his death started nearly a year ago, according to his family.

When the Oklahoma City club, the parent organization of the Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1900, he was elected president and remained president until 1902.

He was an organizer of the Oklahoma Railway company here in 1902 and supervised the construction of the city's first street car line.

Classen's philosophy was that he must give the best of himself to the world. He was never critical or fault finding and had high principles in his everyday life.

Burial will be in Rosehill Cemetery.


Source: Standard History of Oklahoma, Joseph Thoburn

Vol. 3, p. 954
Book has photo

Anton H. CLASSEN was born at Pekin, Illinois, in 1861, and is of German decent. His childhood and youth were spent amid surroundings that were typically characteristic of the great class which has contributed so much to the America of today Trained to habits of industry, with a fair common school education and a good degree of business ability, Mr. Classen matriculated in the law school of the University of Michigan several years after attaining his majority and graduated in that institution in 1887. Two years later he came to Oklahoma, entering with the rush on that memorable 22nd of April, 1889. After stopping at Guthrie for a time he settled at Edmond, where he became thoroughly identified with the pioneer life of the community. Besides engaging in the practice of law, he edited and managed the Edmond Sun for four or five years, and also looked after the operation of a farm adjoining the town. He was the leading spirit in the effort which resulted in securing to Edmond the first normal school established in the state. He stimulated a spirit of civic pride in the early development of that city by planting many trees not only on his own property but on public property at his own expense. Although from the first he took an active interest in public affairs, and during the first year after the opening, when the time arrived for the people to organize their respective parties, was chosen as one of the members of the Central Committee and took an active part in the organization of the republican party, he did not hold any political position until his appointment as receiver of the United States Land Office at Oklahoma City in 1897 by President MCKINLEY. At the expiration of his term, four years later, he was appointed register of the same office, which position he resigned in the latter part of 1902 to devote his whole time and attention to his rapidly increasing business interests.

Mr. Classen has been an active factor in the phenomenal development of Oklahoma City. He was elected president of Oklahoma City Commercial Club in 1899 and was re-elected for three consecutive terms, and from that time that body (the present Chamber of Commerce, as reorganized) has found in him one of its chief workers and supporters. He took an active part in the struggle for the union of the two territories into one state, and for the purpose of helping to urge the necessary legislation spent some time in Washington on several occasions, and in that respect was not in harmony with his party, the majority of which was in favor of making two states out of the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. His faith in the future of Oklahoma City was seemingly unbounded. Property was very cheap in and around Oklahoma City in those days and he evidenced his faith in its future by investing all of his modest capital in what was then outside property but which is now the heart of the best close-in residence sections. There were older (and professedly wiser) heads who regarded his ventures in this line as rash beyond the point of reason, but Mr. Classen platted his newly acquired property and lined its tenantless streets with trees which were carefully cultivated and pruned. The end more than justified his careful calculations, and in time he came to be regarded as a shrewd and skillful real estate operator. In 1902 his real estate holdings were transferred to the Classen Company, of which he is president and principal stockholder. In 1902 he secured a franchise which had been granted for the building of a street railway in Oklahoma City. The work of laying the steel on the first car service was inaugurated in February 1903. From this beginning the present Oklahoma Railway, with its splendid electric traction system and its radiating interurban lines, has been developed.

Although Mr. Classen is a man of positive views, there are few of his fellows who dislike him, and there is perhaps no man who is more generally and highly respected by the citizens of Oklahoma City and the state. He holds the firm friendship of those who know him best, not because of what he has but because of what he is. Aside form his success in a business way he has distinguished himself as a friend and liberal patron of education and art. He is devotedly fond of flowers.

Mr. Classen was married in January 1903 to Miss Ella D. LAMB of Oklahoma City. Mrs. Classen, like her husband, was a native of Illinois and a pioneer of Oklahoma, having come to Oklahoma City in 1890. Both her father's and her mother's people were pioneers in Illinois. Her father's people came from Massachusetts to the West in the early '40's. They were of English descent. Her father, James Lamb, bore the same name as his great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the Revolution. Mrs. Classen says that she has thoroughbred pioneer blood in her veins, and that she was an Oklahoman in spirit long before she came here to reside; that as a young girl, while living in Champaign, Illinois, she remembers hearing her father many times read and talk about the prospective opening of Oklahoma, and express himself as determined to make his home in this land of opportunity when that time should come. It was with this ultimate plan in view that her father, with his family, came to Wichita, Kansas, to reside for a time. The father died in Wichita in 1887 and the family plans were changed somewhat, but Miss Lamb (with her mother and a younger brother and sister) was able later on in the early years after the opening to establish her residence in Oklahoma, thus carrying out for the family the long-cherished hope of the father, and finding here a realization of her fondest dreams. Mrs. Classen vies with her husband in active effort for the encouragement of those things which promote the interests of good citizenship and aid in the progress of the community.

July 22, 2009

CLASSEN, ANTON H. (1861-1922)

 Anton Classen
From Chronicles of Oklahoma: Classen, Anton H.

Oklahoma City civic leader and land developer Anton H. Classen was born October 8, 1861, at Pekin, Illinois. Named after his German-born father, Classen received a common school education in Illinois and studied law at the University of Michigan. Two years after he graduated from college, he made the 1889 land run into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma Territory, living for a brief period in Guthrie. The town had too many lawyers, so he sought opportunity in nearby Edmond. While practicing law, Classen edited of the Edmond Sun newspaper and promoted the location of Oklahoma Territory's first normal school at Edmond.

In 1897 Classen, a Republican in politics, was appointed by Pres. William McKinley as receiver in the U.S. Land Office in Oklahoma City. Classen quickly involved himself in the development and beautification of the city. Speculating in land, he bought farm land contiguous to the city limits and organized numerous housing additions, the first being Highland Parked Addition (now Heritage Hills historic district), established in 1900. To enhance his lots he planted trees and set aside a parcel of land for parks. In 1902 he and John W. Shartel organized the Metropolitan Railway Company (later the Oklahoma City Railway Company), a mass-transit system that benefited their real estate interests, because the lines connected their additions to downtown Oklahoma City. For much greater detail, see the very excellent article in a large PDF file by Kim A. Bender, the best that I've seen on these and other inner workings of the traction companies during the early 1900s.

In 1899 Classen became the first president of the Oklahoma City Building and Loan Association and served as president of the Oklahoma City Commercial Club (later the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce). He was instrumental in getting city streets paved, in organizing Oklahoma City street fairs, and in promoting Oklahoma City as the location for Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders annual reunion in 1900. An educated man and a Methodist, he helped organize the University Development Company, through which the building of the Methodist-affiliated Epworth University (now Oklahoma City University) was financed. He also served on the university's board of trustees. His many real estate interests were transferred to the Classen Company in 1902, the same year he opened the University and Marquette additions. In association with the Oklahoma Industrial Company, Classen promoted the establishment of a meat-packing firm in the stockyards and enticed Nelson Morris Company of Chicago to locate in Oklahoma City.

While working at the U.S. Land Office, Classen met his future bride, Ella D. Lamb, whom he married in January 1903. In 1919 he donated land for a school named in his honor. Before his death Classen was director of the Young Men's Christian Association, president of the Oklahoma Children's Home Society, and director of the Oklahoma Forestry Association. He was affiliated with the Oklahoma City Masonic Lodge Number 36 and had been an active member and director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. On December 30, 1922, Classen died at his home at 626 West Fourteenth Street. At the turn of the twenty-first century Classen Boulevard and Classen School of Advanced Studies (formerly Classen High School) in Oklahoma City remained as tributes to one of the city's prominent developers.



photo courtesy July 2009.


Sources:  good faith fair use of sources stated above

Compiled, transcribed and submitted by Marti Graham, Oklahoma County, OKGenWeb Coordinator, April 2013. Information posted for educational purposes for viewers and researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the above.

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