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Edgar N. Ratcliff. The pioneer merchant of Vinita, for more than thirty-one years Edgar N. Ratcliff has been identified with the business interests of this city, primarily as a dealer in dry goods and clothing and more recently as president of the wholesale grocery firm of Ratcliff-Sanders Grocery Company, of Tulsa and Vinita, one of the leading establishments of its kind in the state. In the meantime he has established an excellent record for service to his community, and his entire career has been characterized by industry and well directed interest in affairs which contribute to the upbuilding of his adopted city.
Mr. Ratcliff was born at Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas, March 5, 1857, and is a son of James T. and Mary E. (Whiteside) Ratcliff. James T. Ratcliff was born June 18, 1818, at Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, and was there married, his wife having been born at the same place in 1828. He was possessed of but few advantages in his youth, but his ambition led him to educate himself well and he was duly admitted to the bar of his native state after successfully passing the examination. For some years he practiced at Macon, Georgia, but eventually moved to Hillsboro, Texas, where he was admitted to the bar before the Hon. John H. Regan, subsequently became one of the prominent lawyers of Hill County, and in 1866 was sent to the Texas Legislature, being elected on the democratic ticket. He died, full of years and honors, in 1880, Mrs. Ratcliff surviving him until 1896. They were the parents of eight children, of whom six are living, Edgar N. being the fourth child.
After attending the public schools of Hill County, E. N. Ratcliff enrolled as a student at Trinity University, Waxahachie, Texas, from which he was duly graduated. It was while attending that institution that he met the lady who afterwards became his wile, and who also graduated from that well known Lone Star School. In December, 1879, Mr. Ratcliff embarked in business at Tehuacana, Texas, as the proprietor of a book and stationery establishment, which he conducted with a fair measure of success until 1884. In that year, hearing of the attractive opportunities offered in business circles of Vinita, Indian Territory, he came to this city, which was then a small town but which gave much promise of developing into a center of commercial activity. Here he became the pioneer merchant, opening a general merchandise store, which has since been developed into the leading clothing establishment in the city, with a large stock and a strictly first-class trade. In 1903 Mr. Ratcliff extended his commercial connections when he became one of the organizers of the wholesale grocery firm of the Ratcliff-Sanders Grocery Company, of which he remains as president, and which maintains stores at both Vinita and Tulsa, Mr. Ratcliff making his headquarters at the former place. Under his able management and direction this has become one of the leading grocery houses of Oklahoma. Mr. Ratcliff’s enthusiasm and confidence in his community have made themselves shown by his eagerness to assist in the promotion of public movements which are meritorious and feasible, and during his term as a member of the city council in 1906 there were established the city water and sewerage systems. He also served one term in the Oklahoma Legislature, during the second session, and it was largely through his efforts that the State Asylum was located at Vinita. Mr. Ratcliff was the chairman of the first statehood convention held at Muskogee, and has always been a prominent democrat. That he is a man of literary taste and no little ability is shown in his poem entitled “ No Man’s Land,” which takes its title from the Cimarron country of Beaver County, Oklahoma, a strip ceded to the United States Government by Texas in 1850, which for many years was without any government:
“Our own ungrown, bare Cimarron
Flows salten to the sea.
His flood’s red brine of life no sign
Gives flower, shrub or tree.

Alone and prone by Cimarron
A painted warrior lay;
Of wound and fast his was the last
Bold life to ebb away.

No scone of stone by Cimarron
Marks him who fought and well;
The friendly sand, by hot winds fanned,
Made sand dunes where he fell.

Unknown, unknown by Cimarron
The warrior and his band
All shared the doom of wind-built tomb–
And then ’twas ‘No Man’s Land!’ ”
Mr. Ratcliff was married September 9, 1880, to Miss Eva E. Foster, who was born in Northeast Oklahoma, and three sons and two daughters have been born to this union: Frederick F., who resides at Tulsa, Oklahoma, engaged in the sand and building material business; James W., a traveling salesman for a wholesale coffee house with headquarters at Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Robert F., Mary Eva and Norville, who reside at home with their parents.