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Col. Dew M. Wisdom. Among those who first became identified with Oklahoma affairs as members of the official group who were employed in the administration of Indian affairs in the Five Civilized Tribes none is recalled with more affection and sincere admiration than the late Col. Dew Moore Wisdom, who died at his home in Muskogee, November 5, 1905. Among a large host of friends he is regarded as one of the bravest, most versatile and honorable men who were ever identified with the old Indian Territory. He possessed and exercised qualities which made him a natural leader, and well typified the virtues and attainments of the old Southern gentleman, with his classical education, with a record as a brave and competent soldier, and with many years of experience as a journalist, public official and lawyer.
He was born at Medon, Madison County, Tennessee, February 3, 1836, a son of William S. and Jane (Anderson) Wisdom. His father was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina, in 1796. A few months after his birth Colonel Wisdom was taken to McNairy County, Tennessee, where he grew up and received his early education. After gaining all he could from the local schools he entered the literary department of Cumberland University at Lebanon, where he was graduated in 1857. He began the study of Latin in early boyhood, and while in university became proficient also in Greek and French. He prepared for the law as a profession, taking the course at Cumberland University, and was engaged in practice at Purdy, Tennessee, when his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the war between the states. His county unanimously elected him a member of the proposed constitutional convention, which was never called into session, since the proposition was defeated by popular vote. At the beginning of the war he joined Company F of the Thirteenth Tennessee Regiment of Volunteer Infantry of the Confederate army, and became first lieutenant under Captain John V. Wright. When the latter was made colonel Lieutenant Wisdom, by unanimous vote of his comrades, succeeded as captain. While at the head of his company in the battle of Belmont he received two severe wounds, but was able to rejoin his command in time to participate in the great battle of Shiloh. Subsequently
he was in the cavalry service under Generals Rowdy and Forrest. Particularly under General Forrest did Colonel Wisdom manifest those brilliant and dashing qualities which made him the almost ideal soldier. He was again wounded at the battle of Harrisburg. At Brice’s Cross Roads the timely arrival of his command saved the day for the Confederate forces. He also led the Tennessee troops at the storming of Fort Pillow. As a soldier he was not only brave and faithful in the performance of duty, but also showed a breadth and independence of character, the most notable illustration of which was in his refusal to enforce the Confederate conscript law designed to enforce military service upon all of legal age irrespective of individual belief.
After the war Colonel Wisdom located at Iuka, Mississippi, and resumed practice as a lawyer. He also served one term in the State Senate of Mississippi. His next home was at Jackson, Tennessee, where he devoted twelve years to journalism as owner and editor of the Tribune, which subsequently consolidated with the Jackson Sun. In 1878 Colonel Wisdom was appointed clerk to the master in chancery of Madison County, and held that office for two successive terms of six years each.
On leaving Tennessee Colonel Wisdom located in 1882 at Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he became part owner of the Fort Smith Herald. As political editor of that influential journal he exercised a strong influence in the political affairs of the state for a number of years.
An appointment as chief clerk of the Union Indian Agency, whose jurisdiction extended over the five civilized tribes, brought Colonel Wisdom to Muskogee, where he spent the rest of his influential and useful life. In 1893-99 he served as Indian agent, an office in which he made a national reputation for independence, honesty and efficiency. He resigned May 3, 1900, because of the change in the national administration. He was also at one time honored with the office of mayor of Muskogee. During his last five years Colonel Wisdom was chiefly engaged in the practice of law, and to him were referred many legal matters connected with the Indian agency. The characteristics of Colonel Wisdom which deserve to be most frequently recalled by those who knew him in his life were his straightforwardness, his brave and manly conduct in all the relations of life, his possession of all the qualities which make the true gentleman, and a sound learning and ability as a lawyer. He was a very popular man, but would never stoop to questionable means to gain public favor or popular regard.
During the war, in 1862, Colonel Wisdom married Miss Annie Terry, daughter of Wiley B. and Mary (Gooche) Terry. To this marriage were born three sons and a daughter: Lucile Eberle; William D.; J. Fentress; and Terry Wisdom.