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Cliff V. Peery. Engaged in the practice of law at Wilburton, the thriving and attractive county seat of Latimer County, for more than a decade Cliff V. Peery has achieved success and influence as one of the representative members of the bar of this section of the state, had the distinction of serving as the first judge of the County Court after the admission of Oklahoma to statehood, has shown himself insistently loyal and public spirited as a citizen, has held the office of mayor of Wilburton, and has twice been elected a representative of Latimer County in the State Legislature, his last election having occurred in 1914, so that he was a member of the Fifth Legislative Assembly. Mr. Peery is a man of excellent intellectual attainments and marked professional ability, his character is the positive expression of a strong and loyal nature, and during the years of his residence in Oklahoma he has firmly entrenched himself in popular confidence and esteem.
Judge Peery was born in the State of Tennessee, on the 8th of September, 1881, and his parents now maintain their home near Centreville, Hickman County, that state, the father having long been a prominent representative of the agriculture interests of that section of his native state and being a scion of sterling colonial stock in Virginia. He is a lineal descendant of James Peery, of Virginia, who represented the historic Old Dominion as a patriot soldier in the continental line in the War of the Revolution.
To the public schools of his native state Judge Peery is indebted for his early educational training, and there, at the age of seventeen years, he entered the literary department of the University of Tennessee in the city of Knoxville. In this institution he was graduated as a member of the class,of 1902 and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In the meanwhile he had initiated also a course of study in the law department of the university, and in 1903 he received therefrom the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Thereafter he was associated in the practice of law with his uncle, Robert L. Peery, at Centerville, that state, until 1904, in the summer of which year he came to Indian Territory and established his residence at Wilburton, where he has since been engaged in active practice and where he has built up a substantial and representative law business, and gained high reputation for skill and discrimination as a trial lawyer.
Upon coming to Wilburton Judge Peery forthwith identified himself enthusiastically with local interests and became influential in the furtherance of measures and enterprises tending to advance the civic and material development and progress of the city and county. He served one term as mayor of Wilburton, and in 1907, upon the admission of Oklahoma to statehood, he had the distinction of being elected the first judge of the County Court of Latimer County. His services on this bench continued one term and he proved a careful and efficient judicial officer, declining a second nomination. In 1812 he was elected a representative of his county in the State Legislature, and in the ensuing sessions of the Fourth Legislature he was influential on the floor of the house in the deliberations of the various committees to which he was assigned. He was the author of a valuable law defining and regulating the coal mining industry and operations in Oklahoma, the county in which he is a resident being in one of the best coal districts of the state. Section 18 of the mining bill thus passed by the Legislature and later defeated in a popular election, was not a part of the bill as drafted and introduced by Judge Peery. In the Fourth Legislature he was the author also of a bill that reached enactment and that provided for the employment of convicts on the public roads of the state. In this Legislature he was the author also of a law relating to the herding of live stock and a law prohibiting secret fraternal organizations in the high schools of the state.
The popular estimate placed upon the services of Judge Peery in the Legislature was indicated by his re-election, in 1914, to the Fifth General Assembly, and in the ensuing session he was made chairman of the house committee on labor and arbitrations, besides being assigned also to the following named committees: Judiciary No. 2, legal advisory, criminal jurisprudence, appropriations, code, retrenchment and reform, fees and salaries, and mines and mining. He was one of the authors of the workman’s compensation act passed by the Fifth Legislature, and during this session he devoted the major part of his time and attention to this and other vigorous measures for the conserving and protecting of the rights and interests of the laboring people. He was the author of House Resolution No. 1 providing for a proposed amendment to the constitution authorizing compulsory compensation in case of death as well as injuries. Among other measures that he earnestly championed along this line was the bill providing for a nine-hour maximum working day for women employed, and measures in the interests of mines and mining.
While a student in the University of Tennessee Judge Peery was an active member of Phi Kappa Phi fraternity and also of the McKinney Club, the latter a student organization of the law department of the university. He represented the University of Tennessee in its first debating contest with Vanderbilt University at Nashville, that state, and was active in the affairs of the literary societies of the university, which he claims as his honored alma mater. He was president of his law class at the time of his graduation in the law department, and served also as president of the Students’ Association and of the university Young Men’s Christian Association, besides which he took an active part in the athletic affairs of the institution and made some creditable records in track team work.
Judge Peery is actively identified with the Latimer County Bar Association and the Oklahoma State Bar Association, is past chancellor of Wilburton Lodge No. 248, Knights of Pythias, and is affiliated with Wilburton Lodge No. 41, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. He has been an enthusiastic and valued member of the Wilburton Commercial Club from the time of its organization and has been influential in the furthering of its high civic ideals and its progressive activities for the advancement of the town and community. In politics he is a thoroughgoing democrat, with firm belief in the principles of the part as exemplified by Jefferson and Jackson, and he has served as chairman of the Democratic County Committee of Latimer County. As a citizen and as a legislator he has zealously, and with much consistency, put forth earnest efforts to advance the mining interests of the county, and has concerned himself prominently with the affairs of the State School of Mines and Metalurgy, which is established at Wilburton. Both he and his wife are zealous members of the Christian Church and active in the various departments of the work of the church of this denomination in their home city. In the summer 1915 he and his family moved to Poteau, county seat of Leflore County, Oklahoma, where he is now actively engaged in the practice of law.
On the 1st of August, 1909, was solemnized the marriage of Judge Peery to Miss Janie Elizabeth Wingo, who had previously been a successful and popular teacher in the public schools of Oklahoma, and the three children of this union are Dorothy Elizabeth, Clifford Wingo and Virginia Alice.