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James Isaac Coursey. For fifteen years, his entire professional life, Mr. Coursey has practiced law in Eastern Oklahoma, and is now one of the prominent members of the bar at Tahlequah. While he has made politics and public position a very small feature of his career, he is well known throughout Cherokee County and is a lawyer who stands in the front rank of the attorneys in the First Judicial District.
A native of Texas, James Isaac Coursey was born on a farm near Bonham in Fannin County September 20, 1875. His father, Allen J. Coursey, was born near Lexington, Missouri, a son of Henry Coursey, who in turn was a native of the State of Delaware and of French descent, the name having originally been spelled DeCoursey. Henry Coursey, the grandfather, came West in early manhood, was married in Missouri, but after several years, in 1853, took his little family, including Allen J., who was then four years of age, to Northern Texas, where he was a pioneer. His first settlement was in Collin County, but he located permanently in Fannin County. In the latter county Allen J. Coursey grew to manhood, received his education, and was married there to Mary E. Stark. She was born in Grayson County, Texas, a daughter of Isaac V. Stark, a native of Missouri and of German origin. Isaac Stark went to Texas as a single man in 1848, and was one of the very earliest settlers in the northern part of the Lone Star State. He spent his life as a farmer and died on his old homestead near Howe, Texas. Allen J. Coursey by his first marriage had three sons and one daughter, including James I., who was four years of age when his mother died. His father married a second time, and by that union had eleven children.
Mr. Coursey grew up on his father’s farm in Northern Texas, and lived at home until he was twenty-four years of age. In that time he shared a generous portion of the arduous toil of farm existence, and in the meantime attended the country schools, which gave him the foundation of his education. At the age of twenty-two he also took a short course in a private school at Gainesville, Texas. Mr. Coursey studied law under the preceptorship of Judge H. S. Holman of Gainesville, and was admitted to the Texas Bar April 30, 1901. From Texas he came across Red River and at once located in Wagoner, Indian Territory, where he began practice in partnership with J. D. Cox, who is now the county judge of Cherokee County. He and his partner established a branch law office at Claremore, with Mr. Coursey in charge. He remained there from August, 1902, until February, 1903, and then returning to Wagoner dissolved the partnership with Judge Cox, and became one of the owners and editors of the Wagoner Sayings, a daily and weekly newspaper. Mr. Coursey had two years of active experience as a newspaper man and at the same time looked after the interests of his clients in the law. After selling the newspaper, he opened a law office at Tahlequah in the fall of 1904 and has since built up a large and important practice in that city.
Though it has been mentioned that Mr. Coursey has been inclined to leave politics alone, in the line of his profession a distinction came to him at the time of statehood in his election as the first county attorney of Cherokee County. He held that office with credit to himself and to the county for three years. In politics he is a democrat, is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, and is a member of the Christian Church. In 1902 he married Miss Maude M. Cox, daughter of J. D. Cox, his former partner in the practice of law. They have one child, Eglah M., now twelve years of age.