LaFayette D. Mitchell


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.
Lafayette D. 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, Washington.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have had one son, Leon Julius Mitchell, born September 12, 1915. They reside at No. 3026 Classen Boulevard, Oklahoma City.