Early settler served on Territoral Senate

By Don McAlavy: CNJ columnist

William D. McBee, full name William Dalton McBee.

He was important in that he helped in the development of Melrose, Clovis and Curry County: “I was born just forty years after the Battle of San Jacinto, at Austin, Texas. My first impressions were saturated with Texas history: the massacre at the Alamo with the usual Thermopylae had its messengers of death, the Alamo had none quote; the massacre of Goliad and then, within a short time, the Battle of San Jacinto, where fewer than 1,000 raw young Texans destroyed the Mexican army of 4,000 men, captured the president of Mexico, Santa Anna, and (it was said) captured more land than was ever the result of any single battle in human history.

“My adventurous forebears migrated from Scotland and landed in the old colony of Virginia about 1725. I spent the first twenty years of my life in Texas, a farmer-rancher, a cowboy, then a printer, and then a law student.

“I moved, with the family, to Comanche, Indian Territory, looking for land to homestead, but I received nothing in the great drawing at the opening of the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache land lottery in 1901.

“At Comanche I met the local Dr. Wm. H. Montgomery’s daughter, Miss Myrtle, who had reached the great age of 16, and we were married.

“In 1903 we moved to New Mexico and took a homestead six miles south of Melrose. While there I took examination for admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court, and was admitted January 9, 1908. During that year I was elected to the Territorial Senate (Legislative Council), and was one of three Democrats in that body. The Republicans referred to us as the small but respectable minority.’

“With the coming of statehood, I was elected to a five-year term as probate judge of Curry County. While living in New Mexico, I served three years as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, located at Albuquerque.

“In December, 1913, my wife and I decided to return to Oklahoma, and moved to Lawton where I opened a law office. A few years later we moved to Duncan.

“Myrtle and I had discussed the matter of politics and we had decided that I was done with that arena forever.”

If you don’t have the book, “The Oklahoma Revolution,” by William D. McBee, you might still find it at the Modern Publishers, Inc., Oklahoma City. It was published in 1956.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: dmcalavy@telescopelab.com