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Hon. Elza Leon Mitchell. The interesting career of Senator Mitchell as a leader in most of the important movements for the development of Western Oklahoma was supplemented by his election as president pro tempore of the Senate in the Fifth Legislature, a position which he filled with distinction and with honor to the democratic party, with which he has affiliated since coming of age. The election was a reward for his services as senator since 1908. Out of the long record of consistently beneficial work which Senator Mitchell has performed in behalf of Oklahoma affairs may be mentioned as a matter of recent interest his joint authorship of a measure establishing a good roads system and his assistance in legislation affecting rural school conditions. These were two of the most important subjects disposed of by the Fifth Legislature.
Senator Mitchell comes from Missouri, a state that has furnished many sterling citizens to the new country of Oklahoma. He was born in Clinton County, March 13, 1876, a son of George W. and Josephine (Harris) Mitchell. His ancestry goes back in America to Revolutionary times, when some of their forbears, of Irish descent, served in the army under General Washington. Senator Mitchell’s maternal grandfather, Solomon Harris, was a pioneer resident of Kentucky. George W. Mitchell was a minister of the Christian Union Church, spent eight years as president of the general council of that denomination, and a similar time as president of the Christian Union University at Edinburg, Missouri.
Senator Mitchell was educated in the Missouri public schools, and finished his literary training in the institution at Edinburg of which his father was then president, graduating in 1899 with the degree Bachelor of Arts. While in college he was editor of the Edinburg Light and Truth, a college publication. This experience no doubt influenced him in his early choice of vocation, for on leaving college he came to Oklahoma and established in 1902 the Canadian Valley Echo at Grand, noteworthy as the first newspaper published in that section of the territory formerly known as Day County. The Echo was merged with the Roger Mills Sentinel at Cheyenne, Oklahoma, in 1907, and Senator Mitchell was owner and editor of the Sentinel until 1911, when he retired from the newspaper business.
He is a man of varied talents and activities, has been successful as a newspaper publisher, and is also a member of the Oklahoma bar, having been admitted in the first class seeking admission after statehood in 1908. His most interesting services, however, have been as a public leader.’ In 1902 he was the primary agent in organizing the first democratic party movement in Day County, and in that year the county gave a majority of 159 votes to Bill Cross, democratic nominee for Congress, over Dennis Flynn, who had previously carried that county without opposition. Senator Mitchell was the first chairman of the Day County Democratic Central Committee. He served as city attorney of Cheyenne, and his name is associated with a number of enterprises that comprise the general history of development in that section of the state. He is a director in the company of local men that financed and built the Cheyenne Short Line, a railroad seven miles long connecting Strong City and Cheyenne. This is one of the many important industrial and promotion undertakings in which Senator Mitchell has been a factor.
He was elected a member of the Senate in 1908, and took his seat at the beginning of the Legislature. In that Legislature he was chairman of the committee on private corporations. His efforts during his first term, in the Second Legislature, were principally in behalf of legislation affecting agriculture. In the Third Legislature he was chairman of the committee on revenue and taxation, and that position caused him to concentrate his studies and efforts upon matters coming within the purview of that committee. In the Fourth Legislature he was chairman of a committee on code revision, and this committee superintended the preparation and adoption of the Harris-Day Code, now the statute of Oklahoma. In the Fifth Legislature, besides serving as president pro tempore and ex-officio a member of all the senate committee?, he was the joint author with Senator Austin of a measure proposing an amendment to the constitution abolishing the County Court, and was joint author with Senator McIntosh of a bill relating to libel that was intended to prevent unfair statements in public speaking and debate.
Senator Mitchell was married at Roll, Oklahoma, May 1, 1904, to Miss Ethel Madden. She was educated in the Christian Union College at Edinburg, Missouri, of which her husband is an alumnus, was a teacher before her marriage, and has been an active factor in social and club work in Cheyenne. They are the parents of four children: Bryan, aged ten; Bernice, aged eight; Ruth, aged five; and Norris, aged two. Senator Mitchell has six brothers and three sisters: B. S. (“Cap&qrduo;) is editor of the Monitor at Shattuck, Oklahoma; George is a contractor at Excelsior Springs, Missouri; Overton is a real estate man at Excelsior Springs; Hugh is a preacher in the Methodist Church, his present station being at Lancaster, Missouri; E. B. is assistant superintendent of the Colorado Southern Railway Company at Cheyenne, Wyoming; R. A. is editor of the Roger Mills Sentinel at Cheyenne; Mrs. Daisy Helmandollar is the wife of a farmer at Edinburg, Missouri; Mrs. Robert Sanderson is the wife of a railroad station agent at Hardin, Missouri; and Miss Iona lives with her parents at Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
Senator Mitchell is a member of the Christian Union Church, and in Lodge No. 133, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, at Cheyenne, has held the offices of junior warden and senior deacon. He is also affiliated with the Cheyenne Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and has passed all the chairs in Cheyenne Lodge No. 235, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Mitchell is a member of the Cheyenne Commercial Club and is president of the Roger Mills County Bar Association.