George W. Ripley. A resident of Sapulpa since 1896, George Washington Ripley is not only entitled to consideration as one of the sterling pioneers who have been prominent and influential in the upbuilding of this fine little capital city of Creek County, but also as a man who has achieved large and worthy success through his own ability and well ordered endeavors. He is now living virtually retired from active business, as one of the substantial capitalists of his home town, and his achievement and personal influence and popularity in Creek County well entitle him to representation in this history.
Mr. Ripley was born at Huntsville, Madison County, Arkansas, on the 10th of May, 1850, and is a son of James Perry Ripley and Nancy (Phillips) Ripley, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of Kentucky. James P. Ripley was a lad of about seven years at the time of the family removal to Illinois, about the year 1820, and his parents became pioneer settlers near Murphysboro, Jackson County, that state, where he was reared to adult age. About the year 1840 he left Illinois and made his way to Huntsville, Arkansas, where his marriage was solemnized, and where he became well known as a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker, besides having owned and operated a farm, under the invigorating discipline of which his sons were reared.
Though he was about fifty years of age at the inception of the Civil war, he promptly manifested his loyalty to the Union by enlisting in Company E, First Arkansas Cavalry, his oldest two sons, Francis Seaman and Pleasant Hilary, having enlisted at the same time and in the same command. The father and sons served with their regiment at Springfield, Missouri, and after a period of six months the father received an honorable discharge, on account of physical disability. His eldest son, Francis Seaman, was killed in the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March, 1862, and the younger of the two sons continued in active service for a period of three years and three months, or virtually during the entire course of the great conflict through which the national integrity was preserved. This gallant young soldier, Pleasant H. Ripley, returned home from the war three months prior to his twenty-first birthday anniversary, and in the meanwhile the family home had been established in Missouri. The legislature passed a law that all young men who had entered the Union service before attaining to their legal majority should be entitled to the advantages of the public schools of Missouri free of charge for a period equal to that in which they had served in the army. Thus young Ripley was enabled to attend the schools of Missouri three years and three months free of tuition. That he made good use of these advantages is indicated by the fact that he became a successful and popular school teacher, besides which he served twenty years as justice of the peace in Barry County, Missouri. He is now a resident of the State of Texas. The parents passed the residue of their lives in Missouri and their remains rest in the cemetery at Pierce City, Lawrence County, that state, where the father died April 25, 1876, at the age of sixty-three years, and where the mother was summoned to eternal rest on the 22nd of June, 1889, at the age of seventy-four years, four months and twenty-three days. The father achieved high reputation for his exceptional skill as an artisan in wood and could do the best kind of work along architectural lines of construction as well as in the capacity of cabinet maker. He was also a successful exponent of agricultural industry and, as before stated, his children were reared on the farm. James P. Ripley was a Jacksonian democrat up to the time of the Civil war, when he transferred his allegiance to the republican party, as a staunch admirer and supporter of its great standard-bearer, Abraham Lincoln. Both he and his wife were earnest and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and their lives were marked by righteousness and unfailing tolerance and kindliness. Of their two elder sons, Francis S. and Pleasant H., definite mention has already been made; Susan, the third child, is the widow of John D. Stephenson and maintains her home at Purdy, Barry County, Missouri; John A. is a resident of the State of Colorado; George W., subject of this review, was the next in order of birth; James D. resides at Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Septimus L. is a resident of Frederick, Tillman County, Oklahoma.
George W. Ripley acquired his early education in subscription and public schools in Arkansas and Missouri, and his discipline included that of the high school at Pierce City, Missouri. For fourteen years he was found numbered among the successful teachers in the district or rural schools of Missouri, in Barry and Newton counties. From 1874 to 1881 he lived upon a farm which he had purchased in Barry County and upon which he made excellent improvements. After selling this property he engaged in the drug business in the Village of Purdy, that county, and three years later he sold out and there engaged in the lumber business, his connection with this line of industry continuing four years.
On the 10th of August, 1896, Mr. Ripley came to what is now Creek County, Oklahoma, and established his residence in the embryonic Town of Sapulpa, where he has since maintained his home. When he first knew the town it was represented by three stores, and houses sufficient to lodge its little population of about fifty persons. He has witnessed the development of Sapulpa into a thriving and metropolitan little city of about 14,000 population, and it has been his to do much in furthering the civic and material development and upbuilding of the city. When he established his residence in Sapulpa Mr. Ripley purchased the principal hotel in the ambitious young town. He thus conducted the pioneer Gladstone Hotel about six years, and in the meanwhile he changed its name to the Ripley Hotel, which it still bears, the hotel having been the first stone building erected in the town. He continued to operate the hotel, as a successful and popular boniface, until 1907, since which time he has lived practically retired, in the enjoyment of the rewards of former years of earnest and fruitful endeavor. Mr. Ripley is the owner of a number of excellent improved properties in Sapulpa, and these yield to him a good income.
Mr. Ripley served as city clerk at the time when Sapulpa was formally platted by the town surveyor, and after the establishing of the first public school he was elected a director of the school hoard, as president of which body he served three years, with characteristic loyalty and efficiency. The city had no funds with which to erect and equip a school building, but the school board was fortunate in obtaining the use of a three-story frame building owned by J. H. Land, an Indian, with an agreement to purchase the property for $3,000, the while private citizens agreed to provide stoves, fuel, etc. The board succeeded in having a personal-property assessment made to aid in the purchase of the school property, and all the while the citizens were paying also, and with marked loyalty and liberality, the regular school tax. Two Indian residents protested against the tax on the ground that they were wards of the Government and not citizens, but the Federal court made a ruling to the effect that in incorporated towns the Indians must pay their proportionate share of taxes, as members of the civic body receiving the advantages of the town. No further trouble occurred and the new school began operations with a corps of three teachers. The change which the years have wrought is shown by the fact that forty-five teachers are now employed in the carrying forward of the work of the public schools of Sapulpa, with about 3,500 children, and that an annual expenditure of $50,000 is made for the support of the schools. Mr. Ripley served as a member of the first Federal grand jury that was convened at Sapulpa, and within its two days’ session thirty-two indictments were found, the jury having been discharged at 6 o’clock P. M. of the second day; and he was foreman of the last grand jury held before statehood.
Mr. Ripley assisted in the organization and is a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Sapulpa, and has aided also is the establishing of other church organizations in his home city. He served several years as a member of the official board of the local Methodist Church and in this connection was instrumental in raising a larger sum of money for church work than did any other member of the board of stewards. He is a charter member of Sapulpa Lodge, No. 103, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the original charter of the same having borne the number 66. Mr. Ripley was one of the organizers also of the first Sapulpa Lodge, No. 117, of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he served six years as secretary and of which he is a past master, besides having received the thirty-second degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and having received all degrees in both bodies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, and though he has not been imbued with ambition for public office of political order, his civic loyalty caused him to give most effective service during his four years’ incumbency of the position of city assessor.
Mr. Ripley was a delegate from Creek County to the first republican congressional convention held in Indian Territory, and had the distinction of placing in nomination Hon. J. H. N. Cobb, of Sapulpa, this nominating speech having given to him a lasting reputation as an orator of no little ability. On the 4th of July, 1915, Mr. Ripley delivered a most patriotic and interesting address on the character and achievement of Abraham Lincoln, this speech being given in connection with the celebration held in Sapulpa.
On the 29th of December, 1881, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Ripley to Miss Alice Poor, who was called to the life eternal on the 3rd of March, 1899, and who is survived by three children, all residents of Sapulpa: Jesse J., Pearl and Grace. The eldest daughter, Pearl, is the wife of Michael J. Connor, and the. youngest daughter remains at the paternal home. On the 29th of December, 1901, Mr. Ripley contracted a second marriage, when Mrs. Ada Huselton became his wife. No children were born of this union, and Mrs. Ripley, a devoted member of the Methodist Church, passed away on the 22d of September, 1913.