Arthur L. Walker. As a Western Union messenger at Forth Worth, Texas, at the age of fifteen Arthur L. Walker began what has proved to be an exceptionally interesting career, during which he has achieved the distinction of becoming one of the leading business men and democratic politicians of Oklahoma. Nearly fifteen years ago he identified himself with the development of the newly opened territory in Southwestern Oklahoma, and in that section has employed his talents and business judgment in many of the most important undertakings in several towns, and still at an age when most men are at the outset of their productive careers he has achieved gratifying financial success. Mr. Walker is now a merchant, banker, publisher, and interested in other affairs at Waurika, and is secretary to the speaker of the House of Representatives of the Oklahoma Legislature, chairman of the state election board and state conservation officer for the corporation commission of Oklahoma.
Arthur L. Walker was born December 16, 1879, on a ranch near Venus, Texas, a son of T. F. and Cornelia (Williams) Walker. His father, who was born near Palestine, Texas, was a railroad contractor, and superintended much railroad construction in the early days of the state, among other enterprises having had an important part in the building of the Forth Worth & Denver City Railway into Wichita Falls during the early ’80s. Now, at the age of seventy-one, he makes his home at Waurika and Forth Worth, Texas, living with his children. Mrs. Walker, the mother, was also a native of Texas, the daughter of an Alabama man whose chief business was sawmilling.
Arthur L. Walker’s wide experience has been his education. As a school boy in Forth Worth and Waco he pursued his studies only to the fifth grade. At tho age of fifteen he began making his own way as Western Union messenger in Forth Worth, later was a newsboy, and advancing in that work became state agent for the Kansas City Sunday Sun, establishing sub-agents over a large part of the state. Later he was a carrier for the Evening Telephone, a Waco daily paper, of which he subsequently became circulation and advertising manager. A printer’s strike caused him to sever his connection with the paper, although he was not a union card holder, and he took charge of the .circulation and advertising department of a new paper founded by the striking printers. This, it is a matter of interest to note, was the first penny paper published in Texas. His next employment was in the business office of the Waco Times Herald, with which he was identified until 1901. Thus Mr. Walker came to Oklahoma with an experience and training that had brought him into contact with all sorts of men and conditions, and had developed his powers adequate to solve each successive problem as it arose.
Mr. Walker was at the opening of the Kiowa and Comanche country in 1901, and was for some time located at Lawton, the metropolis of that district. There he became associated with L. T. Russell in the publication of the Lawton State Democrat, one of the first newspapers in the town. In 1902, with E. G. Etzold and Russell Monroe, he established the Botsford Tribune at a new town thirty miles south of Lawton. He also became associated with the townsite company engaged in promoting new towns along the line of the Rock Island Railroad, then building south of Lawton, and in this way assisted in the establishment and organization of Temple, near Botsford. At the age of twenty-one he was the first mayor of Temple. The plant of the Tribune was moved to Temple and the paper has since been known as the Temple Tribune, Mr. Etzold remaining in charge. Mr. Walker assisted in the organization of the First State Bank of Temple, was its first president, but in 1905 removed to Waurika and organized the First State Bank, of which institution he also became president. Later he and associates bought a ranch of 10,000 acres near the town, and he still retains interests in that property. He has been secretary of the Waurika Chamber of Commerce and now a member of the executive committee, is a member of the city board of education, and chairman of the teachers’ committee, is vice president of the News-Democrat Publishing Company of Waurika, also deals in real estate, and has a large business as a hardware and implement dealer.
Mr. Walker was secretary of the State Federation of Commercial Clubs when that organization made the first effort to secure the repeal of an article of the constitution forbidding the consolidation of railroad companies, and he was in active charge of the campaign. He was a member of the first Democratic Central Committee of Comanche County, and secretary of the first two democratic county conventions. He was secretary of the Hobart convention of 1907 that nominated Scott Ferris of Lawton, for Congress. He was the first chairman of tho Democratic Central Committee of Jefferson County after statehood, and has been chairman of all democratic campaign committees except one in that county since Oklahoma became a state. Mr. Walker was, a member of the state committee that raised funds in behalf of the national campaign of 1912 and sat in the Democratic State Convention of that year as a delegate pledged to the support of Woodrow Wilson. He was also chairman of the campaign committee in Jefferson County that brought about the removal of the county seat from Ryan to Waurika.
His most recent as well as his most notable achievement in state politics was in 1914, as manager of the campaign of A. McCrory of his county for speaker of the House of Representatives. He was also a member of the committee chosen to take of the interests of Judge Williams, who in the same year was elected governor. The campaign of Mr. McCrory was somewhat unique in politics owing to the fact that his election as speaker was brought about without a single promise or pledge which would in any way trammel his independence as the executive leader of the House. The hand of Mr. Walker was in this proceeding, and he must be given a large share of the credit for clearing the way for a successful administration by the present speaker. The result also established him among the leading young reform democrats of Oklahoma.
Mr. Walker was married in Duncan, Oklahoma, March 1, 1908, to Miss Prudence Morgan, who died in Omaha, Nebraska, the home of her parents, September 7, 1915. Her father, Clinton Morgan, has for years been with the firm of Clay-Robinson Commission Company of Omaha. Mrs. Walker was a prominent club and social worker of Waurika. She was one of the founders of the Waurika Public Library, and treasurer since its establishment, and a member of its board of trustees. She was a member of the Eastern Star and the Royal Neighbors, serving through all chairs in each. They have no children. Mr. Walker has two brothers and a sister: Raymond Franklin and Edgar, both employed in the plant of the Swift Packing Company at Fort Worth,
the latter as a machinist; and Miss Ruby, who lives with her brother in Waurika. Mr. Walker is affiliated with Waurika Lodge of the Masons, with the Royal Arch Chapter of Lawton, with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at Lawton, and the Knights of Pythias Lodge at Waurika.