Edward Everett Tracy

{Written by Dale and Judy Tracy, March 1999; revised May, 2002}

Edward Everett Tracy was the fourth child born to the marriage of Nepthali and Nancy Caroline Swindle Tracy (being the second marriage of Nepthali’s).  E.E. (named for Edward Everett, a famous orator and statesman who had died the year in which E.E. was born) was born August 8, 1865, a short distance up Cedar Creek from Cedar Creek Landing on the Tennessee River in Perry County, Tennessee.  E.E.’s grandfather, John Tracy, was one of the earliest settlers of Perry County and established a water mill at the confluence of Cedar Creek and the Tennessee River in 1818. E.E. lived his early years on Cedar Creek and in 1874, when E.E. was nine years old, Nepthali moved with his family to Henderson County, Tennessee, where E.E. grew to adulthood.  Nepthali’s family lived about ten miles west of Lexington, Tennessee on a farm, where he went to several schools and later taught at two schools. One of the schools where he taught was Sand Ridge.  His father, Nepthali had a small holding of land on Cedar Creek and perhaps raised some crops. Nepthali was a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln and received his education much as Lincoln did; around the family fireplace.  Nepthali’s father, John was not an advocate of education, as he could neither read nor write and thought his sons could get by the same way.  Nepthali was a lawyer and a Perry County Judge for a period of time.  E.E.’s mother, Nancy was a remarkable woman.  She was educated, wrote poetry and drew illustrations. She always encouraged her children and her nieces and nephews to develop their writing skills and penmanship.  Several letters in existence indicate that she was a learned woman and placed a high value on education.  She always encouraged her nieces and nephews to write letters to her as well as to her children, for the practice of grammar and penmanship. Her influence upon her children must have been extraordinary as all her sons became lawyers,  educators or doctors

Of Nancy and Nepthali’s four sons, E.E. and Daniel Webster were lawyers; Dr. James Nepthali was a medical doctor ; and John Bell was a school teacher.   (the author’s family are descendants of John Bell).  E.E. attended college at Swindoll College at Corsicana, Missouri.  This was a small college instituted by one of his uncles; James Swindle.  E.E. obtained his law degree about the time of his marriage.

All four of the sons were at one time settled in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma Territory; but only three remained as Dr. James N. returned to practice in Memphis, Tennessee.  One of the two daughters, Mariah Jane married W.L.C. “Cass” Coffman of Henderson County and has many descendants there today.  The other daughter Melissa Jessamine married a lawyer, David Cary and they lived in Pampa, Texas.

Nepthali died in November, 1878 and E.E.’s mother, Nancy, died in December 1885.  Both parents are buried in the Waller-Douglas Cemetery, two miles north of Juno, Tennessee.

E.E. married Flora Young at her parent’s home in Perry County, Tennessee in 1890.  Flora’s family had given the newlyweds an undivided ¼ interest in some land in Perry County, Tennessee.  In October 1890, they deeded this ¼ interest to B. Barham in satisfaction of a loan that E.E. had taken from Barham.  Soon afterward, they moved with Flora’s relatives to Clarendon, Texas, where they resided until April 19, 1892 when the Cheyenne-Arapaho Lands were opened for settlement.

E.E. and Flora and their little girl, Julie Myrtle Hester Tracy (born June 22, 1891 in Clarendon, TX) loaded their belongings and headed to the new frontier.

Flora and E.E. arrived a few days before the run, assembled with other runners on the east side of the Texas Panhandle, on the Oklahoma Territory/Texas line, in anticipation of a great race to stake a claim of 160 acres.  After staking a claim, the homesteader had to live on the land, make improvements and till the land for a period of five years in order to freely receive the claim.  On the morning of April 19, 1892, it was misty, foggy and some say a dusting of snow on the ground.  The U.S. Cavalry from Ft. Elliott patrolled the line to prevent the “Sooners” from crossing the line ahead of the others. At noon, with everyone on their fastest means of transportation; either horseback, or in wagons, assembled on the line and waited for the gunshot.  This marked the beginning of the third land run into Oklahoma Territory.  Because of E.E.’s limited finances, he could not afford a horse to ride but left his team of horses and wagon with Flora and the baby to bring at her leisure behind the runners.  E.E. was twenty-seven years of age, six foot, seven inches tall and quite athletic.  He had run track while attending college.  He took off on foot to run some twenty miles east to the newly plotted town of Cheyenne, which was to be the county seat of county “F”. (The name of the county would be voted Roger Mills later that year by the people).  E. E. filed on a residential town lot located between the Court House and the Baptist Church.

A year later, in April of 1893, he bought a relinquishment and that September the family moved into a half-dugout on a 160 acre piece of land.  This land was located on the NE1/4 Sec 35-14-23.  This was one and one-half mile southwest of present day Strong City and in the year 2002, this land is owned by Jim Orgain.  E.E. made homestead application (#10638) from Kingfisher, Oklahoma September 15, 1900 and received final certificate #3437.  This application was approved October 16, 1901 and received the land patent November 16, 1901.  Information gleaned from the homestead file shows the witnesses were Charles B. Howerton who lived on the quarter section adjacent to E.E. and George W. Hutton who also lived nearby.  The land was described as prairie farming land and the improvements were a house, 14×28 feet, two dugouts, two wells, a cistern, a fence surrounding the land and two corrals….total value of $500.00. He named the following witnesses as ones who could prove his continued residence on the land: Charles Guernsey, George W. Hutton, Charles B. Howerton and John Caffey.  This was all made before D.W. Tracy (brother of E.E.) who was the U.S. Court Commissioner in 1900.  E.E. was not able to go to the land office in person because his family was in ill health.

It was permissible for a claimant to have a town lot and a quarter section claim. The only real requirement was your being twenty-one years of age to receive a free piece of land.  E.E. used his town lot for a residence and perhaps later for his law office.  (This town lot is where the Baptist Parsonage stands in 2002).  The family lived on the farm.  Ten months after the run, a son, Henry Talmadge Tracy, was born February 8, 1893.  Henry was the first white child born in Cheyenne.  At the end of 1893, on Christmas Eve, tragedy struck the family when Julia Myrtle Hester Tracy, the two year old daughter of E. E. and Flora died.  It was a dreary rainy day that they buried their child on the west side of E.E.’s farm in a small pasture.  Later, members of several neighboring families were buried at this cemetery.  It became known as the Snakey Bend Cemetery, as it was located in what was known as the Snakey Bend of the Washita River.  E.E. took boards from the cow lot and washed them, to make a coffin for his daughter.  He was devastated by the death of his first born child.  Five years later when a second daughter was born to the couple, they also named her Julia Myrtle.

E.E. became one of the early civic leaders of the community.  By political affiliation, E.E. was a Democrat and elected as County “F” Judge on November 8, 1892 and re-elected on November 6, 1894.  He was elected as the first County Superintendent of Schools in 1896 and served two years.  Later, he again served as County Judge from 1907-1913.  He also served as a Justice of the Peace; retained an individual law practice and at times in partnership with his brother, D.W. (who later became Beckham County Judge at Sayre, Oklahoma) and was a Charter Member of the Masonic Lodge.  He and Flora were also charter members of the Cheyenne First Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon and occasionally as a lay preacher.

While serving as Judge, it is reported and even drawn in a caricature by Scotty Falconer, that while E.E. sat on the bench, he would twiddle his thumbs.  Someone once asked him if he always twiddled his thumbs like that.  To this question he replied “No’ and began to twiddle his thumbs in the opposite direction.

E.E. had been a teacher in Tennessee.  (It has been reported that at one time he taught his wife).  He also taught in Roger Mils County at the following one-room schools: 1917-1918 at Kiowa for seven months at $70 a month; 1918-1919 at Washita for six months for $75 a month and 1919-1920 at Needmore for six months at $100 a month.  If E.E. caught students talking in class, he would throw a piece of chalk at them.  One of the activities in which young men would engage in order to pass the time and to exhibit their athletic ability was to broad jump from a standing position.  E.E. would jump with bricks in his hands and as he jumped the inertia of the swinging bricks would carry him further.

From the 1931 writings of D.W. Tracy (E.E.’s brother)….”Edward E. Tracy married Flora Young and they have seven children, two of whom died in their infancy.  The five living are: Henry, Chester, Eddie, Julia and Ruth.  Henry married Helen Seaver and they have no children.  Chester was first married to Muriel Madden, but divorced her.  He married the second time to Jewel Hanks and they have three children.  Eddie married Olivia Stauber and they have two children. Julia married Marion Reaves and they have two children.  Ruth married Bryan Whittington and they have two children. Henry and Helen are school teachers and they live at Binger, OK.  Eddie lives at Cleveland, Oklahoma and Chester in California; Ruth lives at Oklahoma City; Julia in New Mexico.  Flora died April 17, 1931 and was buried in the Oklahoma City Rose Hill Cemetery.”

After the birth of Henry, followed Chester Nepthali, born November 11, 1893; Edward Bryan born October 14, 1896; then aforementioned Julia Myrtle, and Flora Ruth born January 21, 1904.  During this time there were also born two sons who died at birth.

Eddie (Edward Bryan) was the son of E.E. who was most remembered by Cheyenne residents because he spent the last thirty years of his life in Cheyenne, Oklahoma.  He “helped out” at the Cheyenne Star. Klina Casady, editor of Cheyenne Star, wrote in his obituary, “he was punctuated in his daily activities and was brilliant and proficient in the use of language as well as knowledgeable in local and world affairs.”  Eddie graduated from Cheyenne High School in 1915 and two years later was in Europe, involved in World War I.  He received the Cross DeGuerre from the French Government for his activities while in the US Army. This is the highest military honor given by the French. Because of his prolonged exposure of bombardment by the German artillery while in the trenches, he suffered mental distress upon his return to the US and was in a mental hospital at Norman for a period of time.  While there several of the male college students who were employed at the hospital would seek his help with their college math assignments. Eddie Bryan is buried at the Ft. Gibson National Military Cemetery in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

In the 1926 elections, E.E. was defeated in his race for County Judge.  After this defeat, E.E. attempted to re-establish his law practice.  Business was poor.  Flora had recurring illnesses centered around diabetes and E.E. suffered mental stress because of his son, Eddie’s service in WWI.  About 1927, E.E. and Flora moved to Oklahoma City, OK where the couple lived until her death in 1931 and his in 1933. They are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery just northeast of Penn Square Shopping Mall of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2002).