L. Varner Stinson. The Oklahoma Legislature of 1915 passed a law providing a method by which public highways might be constructed in every county in the state. The law made it possible for townships to vote bonds for highway purposes and created the county and township machinery for carrying on the work. That part of the state formerly included within the limits of Indian Territory was particularly in need of such a law by reason of the fact that so small a percentage of lands were taxable for any purpose, Congress having provided that lands remaining in possession of most Indians should not be taxable for twenty-one years from the date of the passage of the Oklahoma Enabling Act. Until the highway act became effective it was possible to construct only a few miles of highway in a county. Private subscription, which was usually meagre, was the only method of raising road funds in many communities. In Bryan County, where only 42 per cent of the lands are taxable, road work began in earnest in 1915, when the county commissioners designated County Surveyor L. Varner Stinson as county engineer. From 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the highway built in a county are designated as state highways and one-half the expense of construction is borne by the state, while the county engineer makes the necessary surveys, drawings, plats, specifications, etc.
L. Varner Stinson was well qualified for the work of county engineer, being a graduate in civil engineering from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and having had several years of experience in field work. Another qualification lay in the fact that he had for eight years been surveyor of the county, being the only man to fill that office since statehood. During those eight years he had been the commissioners’ engineer in the construction of all highways, bridges and other work of an engineering nature.
Mr. Stinson was born at Campbell, Hunt County, Texas, September 27, 1880, and is a son of A. W. D. and Ida (Eiland) Stinson. His father, a native of Texas, is now sixty-seven years of age, but is still actively engaged in the real estate business at Durant, Oklahoma, where he is a member of the city council and a leading and influential citizen. His grandfather was a lawyer and jurist of more than local note for many years in East Texas. The mother of Mr. Stinson was a native of Georgia and at the age of fifteen years accompanied her parents to Texas, the family traveling 100 miles overland from Terrell, the nearest railroad point, to their new home in Hunt County. There were three sons and four daughters in the family: L. Varner; Samuel D., who is agent at Durant for the American and Wells Fargo Express companies; Mrs. B. W. Bussell, who is the wife of a public school principal at Durant; John D., who is an express messenger for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad between Fort Worth and San Antonio; Miss Ruth, who is a music teacher and student at Dallas, Texas; Miss Esther, a graduate of the Southeastern State Normal School, class of 1915, and now a public school teacher of McAlester, Oklahoma; and Miss Lois, aged fourteen years, who resides with her parents at Durant.
L. Varner Stinson, after attending the public schools of Texas until nineteen years of age, moved with his parents to Indian Territory, and for a year the family lived on a farm near Durant, the son being a student at Halsell College, Durant, for two years. In 1901 he entered the Agricultural And Mechanical College of Texas, from which he was graduated in 1904, and for a year thereafter was employed in the maintenance department of the Santa Fe Railroad Company, at Beaumont, Texas. Later he assisted in surveying the route of the Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western Railroad from Beaumont to Houston, and still later assisted in the construction of that road. Returning to Oklahoma, he was employed by the Gulf Pipe Line Company in the location of a line through Texas, and in 1907 was elected the first county surveyor of Bryan County, Oklahoma.
In December, 1910, Mr. Stinson was married to Miss Julia Kyser, of Durant. Mr. and Mrs. Stinson are members of the Baptist Church. He is popular with his fellow-members in the Masonic and Elks lodges, and in the State Association of County Surveyors and Engineers.