James William Zevely, one of Muskogee’s leading lawyers
and citizens, is well known throughout Oklahoma and beyond its
confines, even to the nation’s capital. Since 1903, Mr. Zevely has
been associated with Muskogee’s affairs. Though Missouri is his
native state and the scene of his early successes, his allegiance and
interest are now those of a loyal Oklahoman.
The Zevely family is
of Moravian origin and its early history is connected with the
development of Salem, North Carolina. Mr. Zevely’s father, Thadeus
Zevely, was born in that locality and while still a lad was brought
West by his parents, who settled at Linn, in Osage County, Missouri.
There Thadeus Zevely grew to manhood, was educated and entered upon a
career in law, which was continued throughout his life, save for the
interruption incident to his entering the Union army at the time of
our sectional differences in the early ’60s. His wife was Mary Miller
Zevely, a lady of Scotch lineage and a native of Tennessee.
Mr. Zevely was born
at Linn, Missouri. His childhood and early youth were given to the
usual educational exercises of the American boy, with the vocational
variation of a few years spent in a printing office. As a printer’s
“ devil,” he gained his first knowledge of that line of activity
and for two or three years edited a newspaper which had been bought
by his father and an uncle and which was known by the doughty
name of “The Unterrified Democrat.” The studies of James W.
Zevely. begun in the Linn public schools, were supplemented first by
a course in the German School at Herman, Missouri, and later by a
two-years’ collegiate course in the Christian Brothers’ School at St.
Louis, Missouri. He was secretary of the Missouri State Labor Bureau
at Jefferson City, which position he held for two years. This was
followed by an appointment by the Supreme Court of Missouri to the
office of state librarian, which position he held for ten years.
While serving as state librarian he was admitted to the bar, in 1886,
and later he took a course of lectures in the College of Law of the
University of Virginia. When Ex-Governor Francis became a member of
the President’s cabinet, as secretary of the interior, he appointed
J. W. Zevely as special inspector for that department. Mr. Zevely
went to Washington and began the duties of his position in 1896,
continuing in the service for seven years. In the spring of 1903 he
resigned the position and resumed the practice of law.
Mr. Zevely’s first
association as a lawyer in Muskogee was with Mr. J. M. Givens, their
partnership beginning in 1903. Later Mr. Edgar Smith entered the
firm, that connection being cut short by the death of the latter.
When Mr. R. W. Stoutz entered the firm, the legal establishment
became known as Zevely, Givens and Stoutz. The firm has an excellent
reputation among the legal fraternity of Muskogee County and the
State of Oklahoma.
The democratic party
has long included Mr. Zevely among its faithful sons. Both in
Missouri and in Oklahoma he has served as a member of the state
central committees. His extensive activities and valuable services in
public affairs have won him many staunch friends at the state
capitals and also at Washington.
Mrs. Zevely is a
daughter of Missouri and before her marriage
was Miss Janie Clay of Mexico, Missouri. She and Mr. Zevely have two
promising children, Jane Clay Zevely and James William Zevely, Jr.
Mr. Zevely’s home was established in 1908 and both he and Mrs. Zevely
are counted valuable acquisitions to the life of Muskogee and its