Lafayette D. Mitchell. In
considering the career of LaFayette D. Mitchell, of Oklahoma City,
the impartial observer will be disposed to rank him not only as one
of the leaders of his profession in the state, but as an example of
the sterling self-made manhood of which this country is so proud.
Whether one considers the obstacles which modest circumstances and
obscurity opposed to his entrance upon a learned profession, his
patience and persistence in overcoming them, the talent which he
brought to a difficult calling, or the success and prominence he has
gained therein, he will be impressed that here is an individual who.
instead of allowing circumstances to shape his life, has overcome
circumstances and made his own career.
Mr. Mitchell was
born on a farm in Cherokee County, Iowa, in 1880, and is a son of
Henry Clay and Nellie (Stewart) Mitchell. The family traces its
ancestry back to the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts, a branch of
which settled in Southern Ohio, and many of the name have become
prominent in the arts and professions. A cousin of Henry Clay
Mitchell is Morrison Mitchell, head of the music department at
Oberlin College, while another cousin is Charles H. Mitchell, a
prominent Chicago legist. Bromley Mitchell, the grandfather of
Lafayette D. Mitchell, was the original locator of Buena Vista, Ohio,
and during the early days of steamboating and rafting on the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers was well known as a river man. He was an intimate
friend of the great statesman, Henry Clay, and after him named his
son. who was born in Buena Vista County, Ohio. Henry C. Mitchell was
a pioneer of Western Iowa, going there right after the Civil war and
immediately following th« Sioux Massacre. There he engaged in
farming until 1887, when he sold out and moved to Western Tennessee,
locating on a farm near Jackson, where he made his home until his
death in 1898.
Mrs. Mitchell, who
was born at Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a descendant of the Stewart
family of which A. T. Stewart, the well-known New York merchant of
early days, was a member, and in the terms of his will she was left a
legacy. Her father and two of his brothers homesteader! what is now a
part of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but later her father, not
liking the country, disposed of his interest in the property for a
team of horses. Mrs. Mitchell is still living, at Jackson, Tennessee,
and her mother, who is of French Canadian stock, also survives,
being over eighty years of age.
Mitchell was reared on his father’s farm, and up to his nineteenth
year received only such education as was possible to secure from the
country schools of Western Tennessee. When his father died, in 1898,
he became the sole support of his mother and sister, and all soon
moved to Clinton, Iowa, where Mr. Mitchell learned the trade of
locksmith. He secured a position with the United States Steel Lock
Factory, and while he devoted his nights
to study, he worked so faithfully and assiduously during the daytime
that he was not only able to support the family, but was also able to
put by the money to give him the education which he considered
necessary for his future life work.
For three years Mr.
Mitchell read law at night under the preceptorship of the Hon. C. H.
George, of Clinton, Iowa, and then, realizing the necessity of a
collegiate training, entered the Northern Illinois College, from
which he was graduated in 1905, with the degree of Bachelor of
Science. Following this, he entered the University of Iowa, at Iowa
City, and there, eventually, he was graduated with the degree of
Bachelor of Laws. During his course of study at this institution, he
went to Des Moines, where, October 4, 1907, after examination, he was
admitted to practice by the Supreme Court Commission of Iowa. He came
to Oklahoma City, February 11, 1908, and was admitted to the Oklahoma
bar on June 4th of that year, but after passing about one year in
Oklahoma City returned to the University of Iowa, where he was
granted his degree, February 22, 1909. Returning immediately to
Oklahoma City, Mr. Mitchell engaged in the practice of his chosen
profession, in which he has continued to the present time, and the
same determination and studious habits which enabled him to gain an
education have been applied so well to his practice that he has
steadily advanced to a prominent place. Mr. Mitchell maintains
offices at No. 814 Campbell Building. He is held in high esteem by
his fellow practitioners, and belongs to the various organizations of
his profession, and to Ivanhoe Lodge No. 45, Knights of Pythias, of
Clinton, Iowa. During his connection with the University of Iowa, he
was a prominent member of the Irving Literary Society of that
institution. He held for a period of about four months the position
of special district judge of Oklahoma County, being appointed to that
position on the recommendation of the county attorney of said county.
On June 29, 1911,
Mr. Mitchell was married to Miss Pearl Gertrude Branson, whom he met
as a fellow-student at the University of Iowa, from which she was
graduated in 1908 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, receiving her
master’s degree in the following year. She also spent about one year
in the law department of the university, and is a member of the Alpha
Beta Pi Sorority. Her father, Dr. Leon L. Branson, is a graduate of
the dental department of the University of Iowa, while her mother,
Dr. Laura H. Branson, Ph. D., is a distinguished physician. Dr.
Branson, who is self-educated, began to teach school at the age of
twelve years, took up the study of medicine as a young woman, and has
risen to a place of eminence in the medical fraternity. A number of
her papers have been read before the leading medical associations of
the United States, and have been not only published extensively in
this country, but have been translated
for publication in the leading German medical journals. Dr. Branson’s
sister is also a prominent physician, engaged in practice at Seattle,
Mr. and Mrs.
Mitchell have had one son, Leon Julius Mitchell, born September 12,
1915. They reside at No. 3026 Classen Boulevard, Oklahoma City.