George A. Hawley


George A. Hawley. Bennington is one of those communities of Indian Territory that were incorporated under the statutes of Arkansas, which Congress put in effect over the Indian country, as well as a community whose methods of municipal government required a complete revolution after the territory was admitted to statehood and the statutes of Oklahoma Territory made to prevail over the new commonwealth. The Arkansas and Oklahoma statutes were so widely different that immediate new municipal laws were necessary in what had been Indian Territory, and while no great legal ability was required to make the necessary changes in municipal ordinances, it required more than ordinary knowledge of the legal customs of the two commonwealths to perform the task with dispatch and thus to save the municipalities from vexing complications. It is of interest, therefore, that a new code for Bennington was expertly and expeditiously made by George A. Hawley, then one of the rising young lawyers of the old Choctaw Nation. And it is of interest also that this code was made by a near relative of former Governor James Hawley of Idaho; of Jesse Hawley, once editor of the News, at Reading, Pennsylvania; of John Hawley, one of the first trustees of the Town of Hawesville, Kentucky, which was of consequence during the Civil war because of its controlling a heavy coal supply for the South during that conflict; and of Capt. J. C. Martin, one of the leading merchants of Kentucky a generation ago.
As the Hawleys and Martins (from the latter of whom Mr. Hawley’s mother descended) were pioneer town builders of their day, so their Oklahoma grandson became a pioneer town builder here. Besides his legal activities at Bennington, Mr. Hawley has contributed considerable of his talent and means toward the educational, religious and commercial growth of the town. A brief narrative of the facts in one of his important legal cases will give the reader an idea of the practices of unscrupulous white men to gain possession of valuable Indian lands. A Choctaw Indian of the Snake tribe had been induced to dispose of his 300 acres of land for a mere pittance under pretense of receiving something like its actual value. He reported the deception to Mr. Hawley, who discovered that the Indian had, in return for signing the deed, received less than $100, whereas he had been promised $5,000. Mr. Hawley uncovered the mystery of the transaction and secured for the red man the full amount of money promised him.
Mr. Hawley was born at Hawesville, Hancock County, Kentucky, October 1, 1877, and is a son of Stephen A. and Susan (Victoria) Hawley. His father was a native of Kentucky and a tobacco buyer by vocation, while his grandfather, Charles S. Hawley came West from Connecticut to Kentucky during pioneer days and settled at Hawesville. Mr. Hawley’s only brother, Charles Hawley, lives at Birmingham, Alabama, where he is in the employ of the state government. Mr. Hawley was educated in the public schools of Kentucky, Howard College at Birmingham, Alabama, and the University of Virginia, from which last-named institution he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, in 1901. He began the practice of law that year at Hawesville, and in the fall was elected city attorney, a position which he held for part of two terms, resigning during the second to accept an appointment as deputy state auditor during the administration of Governor Beckham. Mr. Hawley came to Oklahoma in 1907 and took the bar examination before a commission at Durant appointed by the United States District Court. Among the members of that commission were D. A. Richardson of Durant, who afterwards was a member of the State Criminal Court of Appeals, and a Mr. Ferguson, who afterwards was a district judge. W. F. Semple, who afterwards became a member of the Oklahoma Legislature, also passed the examination at that time.
Mr. Hawley was married in 1909, at Bennington, to Miss Cordelia Frazier, who is of Indian extraction. Mr. Hawley is a member of the Baptist Church, and belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, while professionally he is connected with the County and State Bar Associations. He is also an enthusiastic and active member of the Commercial Club. Mr. Hawley is interested in the development of the Healdton oil field, adjoining which his wife owns land, four miles west of Ardmore, and in the development of a promised oil and gas field near Bennington.