Biography of Judge J. R. Charlton

Judge J. R. Charlton, district judge of the thirtieth judicial district of Oklahoma and one of the most distinguished citizens of Washington County, his residence being at Bartlesville, was born in Salem, Marion County, Illinois, July 21, 1858, his parents being W. J. and Elizabeth Ann (Huff) Charlton, the latter a daughter of Samuel A. Huff, who in 1873 removed to Kansas and secured a government claim near Sedan, where his remaining days were passed. The grandfather in the paternal line was Isaac Bradbury Charlton, who was a native of Virginia, whence he removed to Tennessee in 1820. In that state he married a Miss Black and afterward became a resident of Marion County, Illinois, taking up his abode on the farm which was afterward the birth-place of Judge Charlton. It was also the birthplace of W. J. Charlton, whose natal day was December 31, 1836, and who in Marion County was reared and educated. After attaining adult age he there wedded Elizabeth Aim Huff, who was born March 28, 1838, about six miles from the Charlton home. They began their domestic life on the old homestead property which continued to be their place of residence until 1873, when they moved to Odin, Illinois, where they resided until October, 1877, when they removed to Chautauqua County, Kansas, crossing the country in one of the old-time prairie schooners and locating at Sedan, where they remained until about 1900. In that year they took up their abode four miles north of Independence, Montgomery County, where they continued to be identified with farming interests. On the occasion of his seventy-eighth birthday Mr. Charlton was visited by his Sunday school class, who not only made the occasion a gala one but also rendered him practical assistance by cutting enough wood to last him during the following year. He and his wife were long faithful members of the Christian Church, to which he still belongs, and they took active part in the work of the Sunday school-as well. His political allegiance has ever been given to the Democratic Party. He is still living and is in his eighty-sixth year. His wife died in June, 1918, in her eighty-first year.

Judge J. R. Charlton, the eldest in a family of four children, largely acquired his education in the public schools of Illinois, completing a course in the Odin high school before leaving for Kansas at the age of nineteen years, his parents accompanying him on his westward removal. He took up the profession of teaching about six miles east of Sedan, Kansas, and there continued until 1878, when he was induced to become a law student in the office of his uncle, J. D. McBrian, who was both an attorney and a minister of the Christian Church. Through two summer seasons Mr. Charlton read law under his uncle’s direction and in the winter months taught school, his leisure hours being devoted to further law study. On the 16th of August, 1880, he was admitted to the bar but for two years thereafter continued his work as an educator. He then removed to Elk City, Kansas, and in March, 1884, entered upon the active practice of law, remaining in that County for twenty-four years, or until February 1, 1908, when he came to Bartlesville. While practicing in Montgomery County, Kansas, he had been elected to the office of County attorney on the Democratic ticket in 1890 and served in that capacity during the famous Dalton raid at Coffeyville. He was reelected in 1906 and upon the close of the term of his office in 1908 he resumed the private practice of law. He has largely specialized in criminal law and became one of the distinguished representatives of that branch of the profession in the southwest. He has been retained as counsel for the defense in some of the most prominent criminal cases heard in this section of the country. His knowledge of legal principles is comprehensive and exact and he is seldom at fault in the application of a point of law to a point in controversy. On the 28th of May, 1921, he became district judge of the thirtieth judicial district of Oklahoma through appointment of the governor and had the unanimous endorsement of the bar of Washington County and the various Chambers of Commerce. His service on the bench has already justified the enthusiastic endorsement of his supporters. The fairness and impartiality of his rulings is undisturbed by personal prejudice or peculiarities of disposition. His sense of honor is inviolable and the cause of justice could not be placed in safer hands.

On the 3d of April, 1881, Judge Charlton was united in marriage to Miss Hattie May Hutchison, a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, born October 18, 1861. Her father, John Hutchison, went to Kansas in 1867 and after residing near. Lawrence for two years removed to Elk City. Judge and Mrs. Charlton have one son, Roy Earl, born January 3, 1887, at Elk City, and married January 9, 1908, at Independence, Kansas, to Miss Kittie Butler.

Politically Judge Charlton has always been a stalwart Democrat and an earnest party worker. He relates that his first appearance in the court room was when he was eight years of age, on which occasion the presiding judge at the trial was Uncle Silas Bryan, father of William Jennings Bryan. Judge Charlton afterward visited Judge Bryan’s farm and became a personal friend of his distinguished son, with whom he afterward campaigned for two days when William Jennings Bryan visited Kansas. Judge Charlton was at one time a member of the Democratic state central committee of Kansas and also chairman of the speakers bureau. He has long been well known. as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which he joined in 1890. He has ever been a stalwart advocate of prohibition, preaching temperance by example as well as by precept, for he has never indulged in the use of either tobacco or intoxicants. Since 1894 he has been a regularly ordained minister of the Christian Church and has preached all over this part of the country, in which section he has dedicated more than thirty Churches. He is now pastor of the Church at Dewey, where he held a meeting in February, 1915, with one hundred. and twenty-three conversions. He organized the Christian Church at Bartlesville, following a meeting which he held at Bartles Grove in July, 1897, resulting in sixty-six being received into the membership of the Church. He continued to preach here on alternate Sundays, driving from Caney, Kansas, until June, 1900, when a Church was dedicated in Bartlesville on the present site of the building. When Judge Charlton removed to Bartlesville in 1908 he found that the Christian Church in Dewey had but twenty-two members and was meeting in a small frame building. He at once bent his energies toward building up the congregation and erected a new Church edifice, which was dedicated in May, 1908. Today the Christian Church of Dewey has the largest membership in the city. There are many contributing factors to Judge Charlton’s success. He has the gift of oratory added to logical reasoning and his presentation of a cause is always clear and cogent, whether addressing the jury from the bench or an audience from the pulpit or the lecture platform. His utterances are always instructive and entertaining. It is, indeed, a dull mind that does not respond to the play of his fancy, to the force of his logic and the earnestness of his purpose. His life has been an exemplification of high ideals. Justice, temperance, education and religion have been his watch-words. He has promoted each and all by his untiring efforts, never deviating from the high standards which he has set up, while each passing year has told of his successful achievements in the field of individual uplift and the betterment of humanity.



Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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