Robert C. Roland. Few men who have reached the age of thirty-five years with but meager fundamentals of a school education go back and gather up the threads of their youthful ambition and, putting them together, build up a determination to yet acquire the essentials for a successful professional career. Robert C. Roland, a prominent and successful lawyer of Ada, must be classed among those few, for until he had attained that age he had but a few months of schooling, this training secured before he reached the age of fifteen years.
At that age Mr. Roland’s father moved to Indian Territory, which was then a country sparsely settled by whites, and with few educational and social opportunities. As Mr. Roland began to approach manhood he was more and more impressed with the endless possibilities of the new country. All opportunity for education had not been allowed to pass, however, for he was a devoted student from early boyhood. At the age of twenty-four years, when he was married to Miss Fannie Adams, of Ardmore, his earlier ambitions were beginning to become more active, but it was not until eleven years later, in 1904, that he determined to take the necessary steps toward a higher education. Accordingly, he sold out his interests in the Indian Territory and returned to Texas, entering there the North Texas Baptist Academy, at Westminster, where he remained two years, attending night school. In the meantime, early in his career he had learned the trade of blacksmith and this he followed at Westminster while pursuing his studies. After completing the academy course, he returned to Indian Territory and taught school two terms, one of them at Conway, in what is now Pontotoc County. It lasted three months and $6.00 was the total amount of tuition collected in money; the rest of his fees he took in corn, chickens and other things acceptable to the family larder, and home-made tobacco, which was extensively grown in those days.
Robert C. Roland was born in Collin County, Texas, in 1809, on the farm on which his father had been born in 1850. His parents, John C. and Tabitha L. (Gridin) Roland, are now living at Ada. His father entered the Confederate army at the age of thirteen years, enlisting in Collin County, Texas, and served through the remainder of the war as a member of a company of frontier home guards. His mother is a daughter of Capt. Madison Griffin, one of the best known men of his day in Alabama. Mr. Roland has seven living brothers and sisters; James, who is engaged in farming operations at South Bellingham, Washington; Henry, who is an agriculturist at Coleman, Oklahoma; Dudley, who is one of the leading farmers and stockmen of Grady County, and makes his home at Cement, Oklahoma; Clyde, who is employed in the oil fields of Cushing, Oklahoma; Mrs. May Morrison, who is the wife of a farmer at Chickasha, Oklahoma; Mrs. Minnie Harmon, who is the wife of a farmer of Montague County, Texas; and Mrs. Josie Rains, who is the wife of a farmer and stockman at Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Robert C. Roland began the study of law in 1905 in the office of Tom D. McKeown, now district judge at Ada, and to Judge McKeown he gives most of the credit for his having become a successful lawyer. When he was admitted to the bar, in 1907, Judge McKeown gave him a part of his library and he entered the practice at Ada. He began to take an active interest in democratic politics and in 1912 was elected county attorney of Pontotoc County, a position which he held until January, 1915. During a part of that interim of his career, after finishing his education in Texas, Mr. Roland was engaged in the ministry of the Baptist Church. He filled pulpits at Roff, Hickory, Center and other places and at Ada was first pastor of the North Ada Baptist Church. His faith in the principles of the democratic party led him to the stump in campaign years and he has debated with some of the best talent of the socialist party that has been sent into this section of the state.
Of the nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. Roland, one son and three daughters are living, namely: Jewell, aged eighteen, and Helen, aged sixteen, who are students of the Ada High School; Ruth, aged thirteen years; and Howard Dudley Keller, who is three years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Roland are members of the Christian Church. He belongs to the Woodmen of the World, and is a charter member of the Odd Fellows Lodge at Midland, Oklahoma in which he has filled all the chairs, and he is also a member of the Eagles" He is a member of the county and state bar associations, and is a charter member of the Ada Commercial Club.
Among interesting experiences of pioneer days of Indian Territory, Mr. Roland recalls that prior to 1891 there was no law against the carrying of pistols and he has seen young men accompanying their barefooted sweethearts to church with white-handled revolvers protruding from the young men’s pockets. A law was passed in 1891 forbidding the carrying of concealed weapons and he recalls having seen many young men, unable to buy ammunition for their revolvers, trade these weapons for pocket knives. Mr. Roland has always had an abiding interest in education, and while he was county attorney he made it a rule never to prosecute a teacher charged with assault and battery until after the teacher and the board of education had submitted the matter to arbitration. His first home in Indian Territory was fifteen miles east of Ada and at that time, except for four other families in the neighborhood, there was not a white neighbor within a radius of fifteen miles. He recalls killing a deer on the site now occupied by the plant of the Ada cotton mill when there was not a house within four miles of the spot. He heard the report of the gun that killed Bill Dalton, a notorious outlaw of early days in Indian Territory, and saw the killing of Osavia, a noted Mexican outlaw, by John Strickland. He witnessed the killing of Jim Starr, another notorious character, by Robert Hutchins, now chief of police at Ardmore, and Bub Stringer. Mr. Roland and his father carried “Preacher” Perkins off the field when he had been killed by members of the famous Doolin gang, at Woodford, Indian Territory. However, these days of outlawry and crime have now passed, and Mr. Roland has done his full share in bringing about the enlightenment that has made this one of the most law-abiding communities in the great Southwest.