Hon. James R. Keaton. The position occupied by Hon. James R. Keaton as a member of the general council of the American Bar Association, and of the committee to oppose the judicial recall of the association, is evidence of the possession of qualities and talents far beyond the ordinary, for only a mind of unusual breadth and depth, persistent grasp and wide range of abilities can cope with the problems that confront this body, the members of which are chosen one from each state. For a quarter of a century Judge Keaton has been engaged in the practice of law in Oklahoma, and since 1896 has been a resident of Oklahoma City. It is probable that no man in the state stands higher in his profession.
Judge Keaton was born December 10, 1861, in Carter County, Kentucky, and is a son of Nelson T. and Mary A. (Huff) Keaton. His- father, who passed his active years in agricultural pursuits in Kentucky, served in the Union army during the Civil war, and as a member of General Sherman’s command was captured at the siege of Vicksburg and for six months held prisoner. With the organization of the Grand Army of the Republic, he became active in its movements, and for some years was commander of his post.
Judge James R. Keaton was given his preparatory education at the National Normal University, Lebanon, Ohio, where he was graduated in 1884 with the degree of Bachelor of Science, following which he went to Texas and from 1884 until 1887 was principal of the Hico (Texas) High School. During this period he became proprietor and editor of the Hico Courier, which he published from 1886 until 1888, and also, in connection with his editorial duties took up the study of law. In 188S he entered Georgetown University, Washington, D. C, and in 1890 was graduated from the law department thereof with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, shortly thereafter being admitted to the bar and coming to Oklahoma. He at once entered upon the practice of his profession at Guthrie, where he continued until 1896, then coming to Oklahoma City and being appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court and ex-officio judge of the Third Judicial District of Oklahoma Territory, but in 1898 resigned to become the fusion candidate of the democratic and populist parties for delegate to Congress. Being unsuccessful in his campaign, he again took up his practice, continuing alone until April, 1902, when he became a member of the law firm of Shartel, Keaton & Wells, at Oklahoma City. This firm continued until November, 1913, when Mr. Shartel retired and the style of Keaton, Wells &Johnston was adopted and thus continues, the firm having offices at No. 600 Terminal Building.
Judge Keaton is a member of the American Bar Association and was, for several years, a member of the general council thereof, which is the directing body, and has also been a member, since it was created, in 1911, of the committee to oppose the judicial recall of the association, this body consisting of one member from each state, Judge Keaton being selected to represent the State of Oklahoma. He also holds membership in the Oklahoma State Bar Association. Although his professional and official duties have been arduous and exacting, they have not absorbed his energies to the exclusion of the general interests of the community. He has interested himself in the development of Oklahoma commercially, industrially and educationally, and has varied and extensive interests in the oil fields and other industries.
Judge Keaton was married July 17, 1890, to Mrs. Lucille Johnston, daughter of William R. Davenport, who was a native of North Carolina and consul to Mexico for the Confederate government during the Civil war. One sou has been born to Judge and Mrs. Keaton: Clarence, who is a resident of Long Beach, California. The Keaton home is situated at No. 118 West Sixth Street, Oklahoma City.