Claude Smith. The bar of Oklahoma is constantly being reinforced with trained men of legal talent, and a material addition of new blood is noted. The day of the shyster is past. The man who studies for a few weeks and presumes to enter competition with trained men has no chance for any sort of success, and such are notably conspicuous today because of their absence. It is worthy of notice that many of the more recent additions to the bar of Oklahoma have been men of Indian descent, trained in the best schools in America, and equipped to take their place among the best talent of the day.
Claude Smith comes to the bar of Southeastern Oklahoma possessed of superior legal training. After spending two years in academic work at Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, he entered the law department in that famous and honored old institution, and was graduated duly with the degree LL. B. Then he entered the Yale Law School and passed a year in post graduate work there. His training in a theoretic way as complete as it could be made, he returned to Oklahoma, was admitted to the bar, and is now in practice to stay. He has a brilliant future before him and it is generally believed that he will fulfill the promise of today.
Claude Smith was born on March 26, 1891, at Jackson, in the old Indian Territory. His parents are W. T. and Louvina (Bohannon) Smith, of Caddo, Oklahoma. William T. Smith was born at McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee, on November 6, 1853, and is a son of George W. and Elvira (Gibbs) Smith. The children of George and Elvira Smith were as follows: Frank, who died in Tennessee; George W. who moved to Bennington, Indian Territory; John C., a merchant at Jackson, Oklahoma, who died in 1911; Mrs. Mary Northcutt, of Frisco, Texas; Mrs. Lou Smith Clark, also of Frisco, Texas; and William T., father of the subject.
William T. Smith came to the Indian Territory in 1882. He had left Tennessee at the age of nineteen, going to Colorado, but a little later left that state and came to the Indian Territory, locating on what was called Ten Mile Prairie and building the first house on that tract. It is on this prairie that the Town of Jackson now stands. Here Mr. Smith opened up a store and began to trade with the people in that vicinity. He also was instrumental in getting the first postoffice known in that region, and it was carried on in his store. The place was called Annette, Indian Territory, for a long while and was later changed to Jackson. After the establishment of the store at Jackson, Mr. Smith withdrew and settled at Bennington, there operating the famous “Red Store.” But he later returned to Jackson, and there he married Louvina Bohannon, daughter of Edmund Bohannon and his wife, Louvina (Wall) Bohannon. The Bohannon family was prominent in Choctaw affairs through many years.
Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Ella Lee was born May 29, 1887. She was educated in Grayson College, Whitewright, Texas, and Kidd-Key College at Sherman, Texas, and is a young woman of varied talents. She married Henry Edwards, assistant cashier of the Security National Bank of Caddo, Oklahoma, and they are popular and prominent in that place. Claude is the second and youngest child. In 1891 the parents moved to Caddo, and there Mr. Smith engaged in a wider sphere of mercantile activity than had previously engaged him. He retired in 1911.
Claude Smith was graduated from the Caddo High School as a member of the first class graduated by that school, in the year 1908. His matriculation at Washington and Lee University followed in the autumn of the same year. His two years spent there were devoted mainly to economics and history, and in 1910 he entered the law department, as has already been said. During that year the young student experienced a difficulty with his eyes that made it necessary for him to give up his work, but he resumed his studies the following year, and in a year from then he was graduated from the law department. He took up practice in Caddo, but after a few months decided to add something to his equipment by means of a course of study in the Yale Law School. After his return he engaged in practice in Durant, where he is now located, and where he is making excellent progress in his chosen profession.
In college Mr. Smith enjoyed a degree of popularity among his fellow students, and was a member of the Phi Delta Phi fraternity. He is a member of the Southeastern Oklahoma Alumni Association of Washington and Lee University, and of the Presbyterian Church. He is a democrat, active in the interests of the party, and he gained some prominence in stumping Oklahoma in the interests of Robert L. Owen, candidate for the United States Senate, to which he was elected.
Mr. Smith has many warm friends throughout Southwestern Oklahoma, where he has been known all his life, and enjoys the confidence of the people in a degree that will win him many successes in his professional life.