By reliance upon a strong and individual
character and ability, Thomas Chism has made more out of his
opportunities than most men can claim, and has worked out a very
successful career since coming to Oklahoma. He is one of the leading
ranchers and stock men in the vicinity of Beggs in Okmulgee County,
and furthermore is one of the county commissioners of that county.
His service as
county commissioner has been continuous for seven years since
statehood. He was first appointed to that office, and has been
elected for three consecutive terms.
Born in Morgan
County, Missouri, June 25, 1866, he was the only child of the
marriage of H. L. and Mary S. (Bradbury) Chism, his mother dying five
weeks after his birth. Both parents were born in Johnson County,
Missouri, and the father died on his farm in that state in 1897 at
the ago of sixty-five. He was twice married. During the Civil war he
served in the Confederate army under General Price, and at one time
was county judge of Morgan County. He was an active democrat, a
Baptist and a member of the Masonic fraternity.
Thomas Chism was
reared by his aunt, Kate Salmon, in Morgan County. He had only
limited advantages in the way of schooling and had to shift for
himself as soon as possible. When he was eighteen years old he went
to Henry County and began working out at hard labor and meager pay.
For a great many years in his earlier career Mr. Chism was paid only
fifty cents for many hours of toil. He proved himself faithful and
competent, and continued to support himself by hard work in Cooper
and Jackson counties, Missouri, and lived at Lee Summit in that state
until he came to Oklahoma in 1898.
He arrived in
Oklahoma, or as it was then Indian Territory, with practically no
capital except his energy and ambition. He
first located in Wagoner County, and since 1901 lived at Beggs,
having been identified with that village practically from its
beginning. Here his prosperity has rapidly grown as a. farmer and
cattle man, and he now owns 800 acres in Okmulgee County, and has
under lease a large amount of additional lands. He keeps ten tenant
farmers at work on his land, and employs three other men for service
in the operation of his cattle ranch. His home place is a thirty-acre
homestead close to Beggs, and it is a fine home and he enjoys it all
the more for the fact that he has labored diligently to produce.it.
At the present time Mr. Chism has about
seven hundred head of cattle on his farms and ranches.
As a democrat he has
always taken much interest in his party, and it is said that as a
political manager he has never had a serious defeat. The office of
county commissioner was the only place to which he ever aspired for
himself. He is affiliated with the Masonic Order, the Woodmen of the
World, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. In March, 1903, he married Emma
Martin of Springfield, Missouri. They have one son, Charles M., who
is now attending the high school at Muskogee.