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James Philander Renfrew. One of the newspapers of most decided influence in the old Cherokee Strip country of Oklahoma is Renfrew’s Daily and Weekly Record, published at Alva, and owned and edited by James P. Renfrew. Mr. Renfrew is a pioneer in the Cherokee country, having participated in the opening in the fall of 1893, was the first elected treasurer of Woods County and has been a leading figure as a homesteader, teacher, man of affairs and newspaper publisher.
James Philander Renfrew represents one of the best family stocks that came into Oklahoma when this country was first opened for settlement. he was born on a farm in Benton County, Iowa, August 31, 1849, a son of John and Hester Jane (Johnson) Renfrew. His father was born on a farm near Mansfield, Ohio, January 16, 1824, a son of James Renfrew, who was a native of Ireland. John Renfrew, a farmer by occupation, went out to Iowa in 1846, about the time that state was admitted to the Union, and about 1860 set out for Kansas, while that state was being settled up, but instead of proceeding to his destination determined to locate in Caldwell County, Missouri, and lived in that section of Northwest Missouri for twenty-eight years. After this long interval he actually went to Kansas, when conditions were very different from what they had been before the Civil war, and settled on a tract of Government land in Barber County. He continued farming there until 1894, and then in the year following the opening of the Cherokee strip moved to Woods County, Oklahoma, and proved up a homestead ten miles north of Alva, His death occurred at Alva June 16, 1902. John Renfrew was married in Coshocton County, Ohio, November 2, 1849, to Miss Hester Jane Johnson, a daughter of Robert and Jane (Stephenson) Johnson. Mrs. Renfrew was born April 6, 1831, in Coshocton Countv and died in Woods County, Oklahoma. March 12. 1899. The Alva editor was the first of their four children, three daughters and one son. Emily Jane, the oldest of the daughters, was born February 18. 1852, and on December 5, 1871, married James W. DoGeer, who was born November 26, 1843, in Ontario, Canada, and is now living as a retired farmer at Nampa, Idaho, he and his wife having four children, Cora. Eva. Renfrew I. and Vaughn E. Mary Ellen, the second daughter, born August 10, 1855, was married October 28. 1875, to Lyman W. DeGeer, and their seven children are: Muriel. Mabel, Dahl, Frederick, deceased, Ernest. Frank and Edgar. Hessie Lou, the youngest, born January 14, 1869, married April 22, 1895, Anthony T. Nuce, and their two children are named Harry Renfrew and Alice.
James Philander Renfrow was reared and educated in Richland County, Ohio, and Caldwell County, Missouri, and was about eleven years of acre when his father located in the latter county. The advantages he enjoyed in the public schools enabled him at the age of twenty to qualify as teacher, and he followed that occupation in combination with farming for a number of years. In 1887 Mr. Renfrew removed to Barber County, Kansas, and there continued farming and teaching for seven years.
In September, 1893, Mr. Renfrew was on the starting line for the rush into the Cherokee Strip, and staked out a claim of Government land ten miles north of Alva. When Woods County was organized that year all the officers were appointed, and the first regular county election was held in 1894. In that campaign Mr. Renfrew was a candidate on the populist ticket for the office of treasurer and won the contest by a safe majority. This gives him a distinction which will always be associated with his name in local county history as the first regularly elected treasurer of the county. After filling that office for two years, he again resumed his work as teacher, and also paid some attention to the development of his farm. In 1899 Mr. Renfrew acquired an interest in the Alva Review and for the following three years was its editor. Selling out he then established in 1902 Renfrew’s Record as a weekly populist paper. In 1904 Mr. Renfrew became once more aligned with the regular democratic party, but up to that year had been one of the active factors in the populist movement. In 1898 he was the populist nominee for the office of state senator from Woods County. On January 1, 1915, Mr. Renfrew began the publication of a morning edition, known as Renfrew’s Morning Record. This newspaper has a large circulation over Woods and surrounding counties, is a paper from which many hundreds of its readers take their opinions on current questions, and it is also a prosperous business enterprise. Mr. Renfrew has a modern plant with complete equipment for the publication of his journal and also for general printing. In 1910 he was honored by election to the. office of president of the Oklahoma State Press Association, and held the office one year.
On August 31, 1871, on his twenty-second birthday, at Mirabile, Missouri, Mr. Renfrew married Julia Ellen Black. In that section of Missouri her family has been one of the oldest and most honored for many years. Her parents were Dr. Oakley H. and Susan R. (Hyde) Black. Mrs. Renfrew was born April 14, 1856, at Champaign, Illinois, being the first white child born in that city. Doctor Black was born May 21, 1828, in Clark County, Ohio, and was of Virginia parents and English ancestry. Doctor Black served as a soldier in the Mexican war and was also in service along the frontier against the Indians during the years 1846-51. He was a member of Company B of the First United States Dragoons, and was made sergeant of his company at the battle of Buena Vista. Doctor Black was the family physician to all the best people in and around Mirabile for many years, and finally died at Cameron, Missouri, February 13, 1894. He was married January 29, 1854, and the eight children living by his first marriage are Julia E., Emma W., Olive M., Sarah C., Cordelia A., Agnes B., Minerva L. and Rosana M. The mother of these children died February 26, 1870. On November 4, 1870, Doctor Black married Miss Mary T. Rinaman. The three children of this marriage are Charles T., William A., and Mary E., the son, William, being a successful editor and newspaper man.
Mr. and Mrs. Renfrew are, the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters. Rufus Oakley, the oldest, born July 6, 1872, was married February 13, 1898. to Miss Stella Long, daughter of Rev. M. T. and Mary (Noble) Long, and she was born November 14, 1878, in Chautauqua County. Kansas, and by their marriage have one child, Edith Lillian, born April 21, 1900. Rufus Renfrew is now in business as a loan broker and abstracter at Woodward, Oklahoma, and is a thirty-third decree Mason. (See his sketch on another page in this work.) The second child, Mabel Estella, was born October 15, 1873, and died September 5, 1874. John Alden, born March 14, 1875, is now a merchant, and the present mayor of Alva, married Mabel Williams, daughter of Capt. George L. and Anna F. (Bragg) Williams, and they have a child, Clara, born April 22, 1902. Lillian Emma, the youngest, born October 3, 1876, and died May 27, 1900, was married April 28, 1897, to Dyas Gadbois, who was accidentally killed July 3, 1909.
Mrs. Renfrew inherits much of the strong mental ability and character of her father, and has ably assisted her husband in the editorial management of the paper. She has also been prominent in club, church and society affairs both in her own city and over the state. She served in 1914 as department president of the Woman’s Relief Corps, and is past worthy matron of the Order of Eastern Star.