Biography of Arthur Lee Oliver

Arthur Lee Oliver, attorney at law, practicing as a member of the firm of Oliver, Raithel & Lacy in St. Louis, was born January 5, 1879, at Leemon, Cape Girardeau county, Missouri. His father, the late Henry Clay Oliver, was also a native of Cape Girardeau county, born February 12, 1852, and was a grandson of John Oliver, who was the founder of the family in this state and was a Virginian by birth. He came to Missouri prior to the admission of the state into the Union, arriving in 1814 and establishing a large plantation known as “Pleasant Gardens,” containing about-seven thousand acres. He was a large slave owner, having more than one hundred slaves but never selling one. Mr. Oliver of this review had two uncles on the paternal side, Charles Augustus and Adolphus Oliver, who fought in the Civil war with the Confederate troops and on the maternal side had an uncle, Charles Alexander, who was also in the army and was killed at the battle of Wilson’s Creek. Henry Clay Oliver, father of Arthur L. Oliver, followed farming and stock raising as a life work and met with very substantial success in the conduct of his business affairs. He died January 5, 1901, at the age of almost forty-nine years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Louise Alexander, was born October 3, 1853, near Jackson, Missouri, now known as Leemon, Cape Girardeau county, her parents being William E. and Ann (Short) Alexander, both of whom were pioneer Missourians, coming to the middle west from Cabarrus county, North Carolina. Mrs. Oliver passed away November 4, 1917, at the age of sixty-four years. She had become the mother of six children, four sons and two daughters, all of whom survive.

Arthur Lee Oliver, the eldest of the family, was educated at Cape Girardeau, attending the Teachers College, from which he was graduated in 1896. After the completion of the course and during the years 1897 and 1898 he taught school at Cottonwood Point, Missouri, and then entered the University of Texas for the study of law, being graduated in 1900 with the LL. B. degree. He later returned to Missouri and was here admitted to practice by Hon. Judge Riley at Caruthersville in August, 1901, being associated with Judge Faris at Caruthersville for a period of twelve years. In 1914 he came to St. Louis, arriving in this city on the 4th of August of that year to assume the duties of United States attorney, to which position he had been appointed and in which capacity he served until March, 1919. Since that date he has been engaged in the general practice of law and is an able attorney who now enjoys a large clientage. He is a member of the St. Louis, Missouri State and American Bar Associations and aside from his law interests is a director of the Citizens Trust Company of Caruthersville, Missouri.

Mr. Oliver is also widely known in connection with political activity and is one of the recognized leaders of the democratic party in Missouri. He served as city attorney while residing at Caruthersville in 1903 and 1904, after which he resigned the office to become a member of the state legislature, representing his county in the general assembly and again in the session of 1907. In 1908 he was elected to the state senate and served through the sessions of 1909, 1910 and 1911. While a member of both the upper and lower houses of the Missouri legislature he gave thoughtful and earnest consideration to the many vital questions which came up for consideration and his aid and influence were always on the side of progress and improvement. In 1907 he was chairman of the judiciary committee of the house and in 1911 was the majority leader on the floor of the senate. He was the author of more than one hundred bills and thus in notable measure left the impress of his individuality and ability and his public spirit upon the history of the state. He has ever been most earnest and untiring in support of any measure in which he believes and his entire public record has been marked by an unfaltering devotion to the public welfare.

On the 29th of October, 1907, Mr. Oliver was married in Caruthersville, Missouri, to Miss Mary Esther Roberts, a native of that place and a daughter of Frank D. Roberts, who was a prominent attorney of Caruthersville, where he passed away February 24, 1918. Her mother was Mrs. Sally (Cunningham) Roberts, who died February 23, 1917, and who was a member of the Cunningham family, the wealthiest family of Caruthersville, while the Roberts family was also one of the prosperous and prominent families of that section of the state. To Mr. and Mrs. Oliver have been born two children: John, whose birth occurred in Caruthersville, August 25, 1910, and James, January 1, 1914.

Mr. Oliver erected while at Caruthersville a fine residence, which he calls “Rest-aWhile.” He has there a five acre tract of land beautifully adorned with trees and shrubs and has provided for his family everything that is within his power to bestow that will promote their happiness and comfort.

Fraternally Mr. Oliver is connected with Caruthersville Lodge, No. 461, A. F. & A. M., having been made a Mason in 1903, since which time he has been a most exemplary representative of the craft. He has also taken the degrees of the Royal Arch chapter and the degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry and is a member of Moolah Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He likewise belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in St. Louis and is a member of the St. Louis Club, the City Club, the Alpha Tau Omega, a Greek letter fraternity, the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, and of the Second Presbyterian church-membership relations which indicate most clearly the nature of his interests and the rules which have governed him in all of his relations with his fellowmen. In matters of public concern he keeps in touch with modern thought and progress and that he is appreciative of the social amenities of life is shown in his various connections, while his unfeigned cordiality and genial courtesy have made for warm friendships wherever he is known.



Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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2 thoughts on “Biography of Arthur Lee Oliver”

  1. Would you have any chance of publushing a photograph of him? Mr. Olivers home is occupied by my uncle in Caruthersville, Missouri. I am trying to compile all of the history involving the home. Thanks for your help.

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