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William Eugene Rowsey, a pioneer teacher in the Indian Territory, afterward prominent in the educational affairs of Oklahoma, and now a successful financier and banker of Muskogee, is a native of Tennessee, in which state, at Montezuma, Chester County, he was born June 15, 1870, a son of William F. and Sarah F. (Taliferro) Rowsey. On the paternal side, Mr. Rowsey is of Scotch-Irish lineage, while maternally he is of Scotch and English descent. His father, a native of Tennessee, and a Confederate veteran of the Civil war, has been a general merchant all of his life and a resident of Tennessee, being at this time in business at Henderson, that state. Mr. Rowsey’s mother was born in Mississippi.
William Eugene Rowsey, after attending high schools in Western Tennessee and graduating from Henderson College, enrolled as a student at Union (then Southwestern) University, at Jackson, Tennessee, where he completed his literary education, although he did not graduate there. He is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity of that institution. In 1892 Mr. Rowsey was elected president of Willie Halsell College, at Vinita, Oklahoma (then Indian Territory), a position which he held for three years, following which he was made clerk of the Federal Court at Miami, under Judge Springer, and during President Cleveland’s second administration. This position Mr. Rowsey held for five years, and during that time also engaged in other lines of endeavor, being the organizer of the First National Bank of Miami, of which he was cashier from the time of its organization until 1902, when he removed to Muskogee to take charge of the Territorial Bank and Trust Company, a $250,000 concern. His official relations with this company were those of vice president and cashier. Three years later the banking department of this concern was absorbed by the Commercial National Bank of Muskogee, of which Mr. Rowsey became active vice president, and subsequently, upon the organization of the Bank of Commerce he became president of that institution. Mr. Rowsey is now director and president of eight or ten banks in Oklahoma; a director of the City National Bank of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and a director of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Henderson, Tennessee.
While Mr. Rowsey’s interests in the financial field are large and important, as will be seen in the foregoing, he has been equally prominent in educational matters in Oklahoma. Governor Haskell appointed him a member of the first board of regents of the State University, under statehood, and he acted in the capacity of secretary of this board until Mr. Cruce was elected governor of the state, at which time he succeeded Mr. Cruce as president of the board, where his services were of the greatest value to the university and deserving of more than passing mention. Soon after Governor Cruce’s administration began, the governor appointed Mr. Rowsey a member of the State Board of Education, a position which he held for four years, and which he resigned March 1, 1915, because of the great press of his private interests. The following letter explains itself:

“March 8th, 1915.
“Dear Rowsey:
“I see from the daily papers that you have resigned your place on the State Board of Education. Personally I very much regret to see this come to pass. The State Board of Education is a child of my administration and when filled by men of proper type is the most important department of state government. Naturally, I have a special interest in seeing this Board accomplish its mission in the school life of Oklahoma. My association with you has thoroughly convinced me of your great interest in the work of education and your special qualification to act as a member of this Board. Without indulging in flattery, in all sincerity I can say no better fitted man for this position has ever been a member of the Board and none better will succeed you. 1 regard your retirement as a distinct loss to the educational interests of the State, and if I were governor no such loss would occur, as I would draft you into service.
“Thanking you again for the great service you rendered both the people and my administration, I am,”
“Sincerely your friend,”
“Lee Cruce.”
“Hon. W. E. Rowsey, Muskogee, Okla.”

Mr. Rowsey is a democrat in politics, a life member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and for many years has been an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now being a steward of Saint Paul’s congregation, Muskogee. Aside from his banking interests, he is actively engaged in the production of oil, is the owner of several large farms, engages extensively in the raising of livestock, and with his brother-in-law, Dr. F. B. Fite, is joint owner of the Fite-Rowsey Building. He has been an active builder of Muskogee, and was the organizer of the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce, serving in the capacity of secretary of that body when that position was a purely honorary one.
In 1895 Mr. Rowsey was married to Miss Evelyn Patton, of Vinita, Oklahoma, who died in 1904, leaving one son, Paul Edward, who is a graduate of Shattuck Military Academy, of Minnesota, and is now a student in the University of Pennsylvania.