Elias M. Landrum. It is but a natural result that in the State of Oklahoma there have come to the front in public affairs and in the wielding of large influence the strongest and best types of the race whose first was the dominion in America. It is specially gratifying to note to how great a degree have those of Indian lineage been identified with the development and upbuilding of the great state that was originally the Indian Territory, honoring their race, the state and the nation through their ability, loyalty and effective services. A prominent and influential representative of this progressive class of citizens is Hon. Elias M. Landrum, of Oklahoma City, who is a blood member of the Cherokee tribe of Indians, who was a leading factor in the making of the Cherokee Nation one of the most advanced and prosperous of the Indian Territory, and whose father, Hon. David D. Landrum, was for a number of years a member of the senate of the Cherokee Nation, besides having twice been elected a justice of the Supreme Court of that vigorous nation. He whose name introduces this review likewise became an influential member of the Cherokee Senate, later served in the senate of the Oklahoma State Legislature, and is at the present time incumbent of the office of special deputy state examiner and inspector. He stands exponent of the best traditions of both his white and Indian ancestors and justly takes pride in the records of both lines.
Mr. Landrum was born at Rhea Mills, Collin County, Texas, on the 6th of March, 1866, his mother having been at the time among the Cherokee refugees who had gone from the Indian Territory to Texas for safety at the outbreak of the Civil war, prior to which the Cherokee tribe had been one of the most advanced and prosperous in the great Indian Territory. Mr. Landrum is a son of David D. and Susan (Crutchfield) Landrum. His father was born in Georgia and became one of the pioneer farmers of Indian Territory, his settlement having been made on Cabin Creek, near the present town of Vinita, the judicial center of Craig County, Oklahoma. He became a leader in the councils and industrial affairs of the Cherokee Nation, and, as previously noted in this context, served in its legislature and as a member of its supreme court. The two dominating political organizations of the nation at that time were known as the Downing and Ross parties, neither of which manifested any inclination to encourage ambitious young men to enter the field of political activity. Under these conditions David D. Landrum and other aspiring young men of the day effected the organization of what was designated as the national party, as chief of which they elected D. W. Bushyhead. He was a prominent and influential representative of this organization and was long one of the leaders in public affairs in the Cherokee Nation. At the inception of the Civil war he ardently espoused the cause of the Confederacy, and as a soldier of the same he served with marked gallantry under Gen. Stan Watie, the distinguished Cherokee commander. George Hunter, a half-brother of the mother of the subject of this sketch, joined Gen. Samuel Houston in the latter’s heroic efforts to gain independence of Texas, and after the formation of the Texan Republic he was awarded a due portion of the Spanish land grant in the new republic. This estate comprised the land on which the City of Austin is now situated, and the family representatives have in later generations made vigorous attempts to establish their ownership of the property.
Elias M. Landrum was a child at the time when his mother returned from Texas to Indian Territory, and his early education was received in the schools of the Cherokee Nation. He completed a course in the high school at Vinita, at which place he thereafter attended Worcester Academy, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Science, in 1885. In the pursuance of higher academic studies he then entered Emory College. at Oxford, Georgia, in which institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1890 and from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. For the ensuing year he was president of the Ben Hill Academy, in Georgia, and he then returned to Vinita and resumed his association with agricultural pursuits, besides which he devoted one year to teaching in the public schools of Vinita. A young man of mature judgment and high intellectual attainments, he was well qualified for leadership in public sentiment and action, and his influence became both potent and benignant in connection with the government and industrial affairs of the Cherokee Nation. He served one term, of two years, as probate judge of Delaware County, and one term as a member of the Senate of the Legislature of the nation, the latter office having been resigned by him when he engaged in the mercantile business at Tahlequah. With this line of business enterprise he there continued to be successfully identified for a period of twelve years, and he then retired to accept the democratic nomination for member of the Senate of the newly organized State of Oklahoma, as representative of the Thirtieth Senatorial District. In the district senatorial convention of 1907 there occurred a protracted deadlock, and after 270 ballots had been taken and the convention had adjourned at Grove to reassemble at Afton, Mr. Landrum was nominated on the first ballot cast after his name had been presented to the convention. Prior to this he had served two/ terms as a member of the City Council of Tahlequah and three terms as city clerk. In 1908 he was re-elected to the State Senate without opposition, and he was a prominent and resourceful figure in both the first and second General Assemblies of the State Legislature. He introduced in the Senate and championed to enactment the bill providing an appropriation for placing a statue of Sequoyah, inventor, of the Cherokee alphabet, in the National Hall of Fame in the City of Washington. The contract for making the statue was awarded to Vinnie Rheam Hoxie. He secured also the passage of a bill establishing the Northeastern State Normal School at Tahlequah, former capital of the Cherokee Nation, and, with all of consistency, drafted and presented a bill making it a misdemeanor to use a wooden statue of an Indian for advertising purposes, a measure that unfortunately failed of enactment. Senator Landrum was largely instrumental in obtaining in a textbook measure passed by the First Legislature a clause favoring Oklahoma authors in the election of textbooks for use in the public schools and other educational institutions of the state. His broad and well fortified views and unequivocal civic loyalty made him an ideal legislator, and among other measures that called forth his enthusiastic support was one of special consistency and one whose passage redounds to the lasting honor of the state. This was in the passage of an act creating the office of public defender for the Department of Charities and Corrections, this office being created specially for the purpose of protecting orphan children of the Indian nations, and the result being that there were returned to Indian orphans $800,000 and 1,000,000 acres of land of which they had been wrongfully deprived. The speech which Senator Landrum delivered in support of this measure has been pronounced by high authorities to have been a masterpiece of eloquence and logic, but probably the speech which gained to him the maximum distinction during his service in the Legislature was that in which be nominated Hon. Thomas P. Gore for the United States Senate. In this address on the floor of the Senate he alternated the Cherokee dialect with the purest and most classical English; the somewhat stoical mannerisms of the Indian with the polish and suavity of a modern man of affairs,–the result being impressive in the extreme. Senator Landrum made the first speech ever delivered in the Oklahoma Legislature by an Indian, and comment upon this now historic address declared that it expressed the cementing of a new tie of relationship and a community of interests between the two territories that recently had been united to form the new State of Oklahoma.
Mr. Landrum is an appreciative and popular member of the Oklahoma Indian Association, in the affairs of which he is prominent and influential, he is affiliated with the Delta Tan Delta college fraternity, and both he and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He is the only surviving son of one of the sterling pioneer families of what is now a great and prosperous commonwealth, and his two sisters are Mrs. Nancy L. Adair, who resides near Vinita, Craig County; and Mrs. R. K. Adair, of Chelsea, Rogers County, her husband having formerly been superintendent of the Cherokee Male Seminary at Tahlequah.
At Vinita, in September, 1895, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Landrum to Miss Nana Woodall, a direct descendant of a member of the distinguished Calvert family of whom Lord Baltimore was the first representative in America. Mr. and Mrs. Landrum have four children: David Stanley, Elias M., Jr., Margaret M. and Lois Stewart. Stanley Landrum, who was born in the year 1896, was a page in the first State Senate of Oklahoma and held a similar preferment in the House of Representatives in 1910. He was graduated in the Oklahoma City High School and in this city is now a student (1915) in Hill’s Business College. The younger son is a student in the high school and the two daughters are attending the public schools of Oklahoma City, where the family is one of distinctive popularity in the social activities of the community, the attractive home being at 148 East Twelfth Street.