William Oscar Mitchell. One of the prominent and best known members of the Oklahoma City bar is William O. Mitchell, who is a lawyer of more than forty years experience and who came from the State of Ohio to Oklahoma about twelve years ago. Mr. Mitchell is a soldier, made a gallant record during the Civil war with an Iowa regiment and was prominent in the movement for the establishment of the Vicksburg Military Park. He was officially identified with that institution several years.
William Oscar Mitchell was born at Bonaparte, Iowa, April 4, 1840, a son of George M. and Sarah (Hobson) Mitchell. He grew up in the country, was educated in the common schools, and was one of the boy soldiers who bore so heavy a share in the work of putting down the rebellion. Ho was sixteen years of age when he enlisted in Company C of the Thirteenth Iowa Regiment, and went South to join the armies under General Grant, who at that time was undertaking his first siege of Vicksburg. Later he participated in the movements which finally enveloped Vicksburg and brought about the fall of that city. During a later campaign while Sherman’s armies were advancing on Atlanta, he was captured on July 22, 1864, and spent more than six months in the Southern prison. He was at Andersonville two months, spent a few weeks in Charleston, but escaped the Confederate guards there, being recaptured at the end of two weeks and was then confined at Salisbury, North Carolina, and was finally exchanged at Richmond in February, 1865. Many of the Mitchell family have had military experience during the different generations, and one of his ancestors was a major who fought under Washington during the Revolution,
A number of years after the close of the war Mr. Mitchell was appointed by the State of Iowa on a committee to locate the graves of soldiers on the battlefields of the South. His own active service and knowledge of the movement of the troops, especially about Vicksburg, made him a valuable member of that committee, and he was finally selected as a member of a commission of eleven to erect monuments to Iowa soldiers on Southern battlefields. Later came his election as vice president of the National Military Park Association at Vicksburg. he and Lieut. Steven B. Lee and Capt. W. T. Rigby went to Washington for the purpose of securing necessary appropriations for the building and maintaining of the Vicksburg National Military Park, now one of the beauty spots of the entire nation. Others had previously visited the national capital for the same purpose, and credit is due this committee, of which Mr. Mitchell was a member, for securing recognition from Speaker Tom Read, and the inception of the movement in Congress which finally brought the park into being.
After the war Mr. Mitchell returned to Iowa and in 1871 was graduated from Cornell College at Mount Pleasant. He read law in Chariton, Iowa, and was admitted to the bar also in 1871. For thirty-one years Mr. Mitchell was an attorney with rising reputation and growing practice at Corning, Iowa, and ten years of that time he was local attorney for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway. He also became a factor in developing Iowa’s great agricultural resources, and did an extensive business in the buying, improving and selling of stock farms. He was president of an association covering eighteen counties in Southwest Iowa, under whose auspices were undertaken developments at different times, and chiefly the introduction of blue grass culture, as a result of which that section has rivaled the famous blue grass regions of Kentucky.
As an Oklahoma lawyer Mr. Mitchell has continued the success which marked his work in Iowa, and besides his own private interests, which are extensive, he looks after a substantial law clientage. He maintains his offices in the Security Building at Oklahoma City, and has a residence two miles east of the Fair Grounds on East Fourth street. As a republican he was twice elected to the lower house of the Iowa State Legislature, for one term was speaker of the house and later spent four years in the State Senate. Mr. Mitchell is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and with the Grand Army of the Republic. He is a member of the Methodist Church.
At Washington, Iowa, in 1876, he married Dora Conger, who died in 1881. Their one daughter, Medora, is now Mrs. Cyrus Metcalf, residing at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1887 Mr. Mitchell married Helen E. Chaffee at Corning, Iowa. There is also a daughter by this union, Helen, now Mrs. Harold Lee, of Oklahoma City.