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Hon. Samuel L. Johnson. One of the few original Oklahomans to have a seat in the Fifth Legislature is Samuel L. Johnson, of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, who has spent fully a quarter of a century in Oklahoma, came in at the time of the first opening, was a prominent man at Alva for a number of years, but has been identified with Okmulgee as a capitalist and oil operator for the past fifteen years. Mr. Johnson represents Okmulgee County in the Fifth Legislature.
Samuel L. Johnson was born in 1855 at Brooklyn, New York, a son of Samuel and Matilda Johnson, both natives of Ireland, who came to America when children. In 1867, when Mr. Johnson was twelve years of age, the family located at Chillicothe, in Peoria County, Illinois. He finished his education in the common schools of that county, but for financial reasons was unable to secure a college education. He utilized all the opportunities at hand and by carrying on the required studies in the office of a lawyer at Chillicothe was ready for admission to the bar soon after he attained his majority. He practiced in Illinois for several years, and in 1889 threw in his fortunes with thousands of others who peopled the strip of territory opened to settlement in that year. He is therefore eligible to membership in the Society of Eighty-niners. In 1893 Mr. Johnson participated in the second important opening of public lands, those embraced in the Cherokee strip, and thus took up his residence at Alva, in Woods County. After the organization of Alva, Mr. Johnson was appointed its first postmaster, and gave seven years to that office. Though a lawyer by profession, his interests have taken a much broader scope than those of the average attorney, and while living in Woods County he was a farmer and a stock man on lands he had acquired in that part of the state. In the local history of Alva his name will always be associated with those of the pioneers, and he is remembered as a citizen who always gave his co-operation to every important undertaking. He was an organizer and one of the first officers of the first county fair association in Woods County, also helped to organize the first church at Alva, and he was chairman of the legislation committee that secured the N. W. Normal School at Alva. In 1900 Mr. Johnson removed to Okmulgee, the former capital of the Creek Nation in Indian Territory. That district was then at the beginning of its development as an important oil territory, and Mr. Johnson was among the first to take a practical part in the oil industry, a business that has been much developed in recent years and is now of ranking importance among the sources of wealth in that section. Mr. Johnson organized and was president of the Eagle Investment Company of Okmulgee, and was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of that city, serving as its vice president for several years.
He has for many years been more or less closely identified with politics in the two territories. In 1902 he was elected the second mayor of the City of Okmulgee. In 1910 he made the race for the democratic nomination for Congress in what was then the Third District, being defeated by James S. Davenport of Vinita who was elected in the following November. In the year that Dennis Flynn, republican, of Oklahoma City, contested with Judge J. R. Keaton, democrat, of Oklahoma City, for delegate to Congress from Oklahoma Territory, Mr. Johnson was chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of the territory. He has been a delegate to nearly every democratic territorial or state convention since 1893. He was elected a member of the Fifth Legislature from Okmulgee County in 1914, and during the session was made chairman of the committee on fees and salaries. He was also a member of the committees on oil and gas and the committees on constitutional amendments and roads and highways. As a legislator his experience has been of great value to his associates on the subject of oil and gas and the workman’s compensation act, matters in which his interest naturally lies, since one of the chief industries of his home county is that of oil and gas, and the large coal mines there employing about 2,500 men give prominence to labor legislation.
In 1908 Mr. Johnson was elected grand master workman of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and after holding that position six years was re-elected in 1914. He also affiliates with the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His church is the Presbyterian. In 1880 at Chillicothe, Illinois, Mr. Johnson married Miss Elizabeth Mead, whose father, Hiram Mead, was one of the early settlers in that section of the state. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are the parents of three sons. The oldest, Hugh S., is a first lieutenant in the First United States Cavalry with his present station at the Presidio in California. He has the distinction of being the first Oklahoman to graduate from the West Point Military Academy, receiving his degree and commission in 1900. Lieutenant Johnson is now thirty-two years of age. The second son, Mead S., is a member of the faculty of the State School of Mines at Wilburton, Oklahoma, with a special assignment to extension work and with his station in the lead and zinc fields in Northeastern Oklahoma. Alexander, the third son, is United States Probate attorney for a district comprising Okmulgee and Okfuskee counties. This appointment was in 1914 by the secretary of the interior on recommendation of the commissioner of Indian affairs.