Biography of Willis Grafton Robertson

Willis Grafton Robertson, member of the Muskogee bar, his attention being devoted to civil law practice, was born in Jefferson county, Missouri, December 10, 1850, and is a son of James A. and Mary J. (Cundiff) Robertson. The father, a farmer by occupation, was born in the year 1818, in what was then the territory of Missouri, and in the early days he hauled iron ore to St. Louis with ox team. He died at the notable old age of ninety-three years, while his wife lived to the advanced age of eighty-nine years. She was a native of Kentucky and went to Missouri during her girlhood days.

Willis O. Robertson was reared upon the home farm, his early educational advantages being such as were accorded in one of the old time log schoolhouses of Hickory county, Missouri. The father and one brother of Willis G. Robertson were soldiers of the Union army during the Civil war and thus much of the work of the farm devolved upon the subject of this review. He early became familiar with the tasks of plowing, planting and harvesting and continued upon the farm until he reached the age of twenty-seven years, when he determined to turn his attention to professional interests and became a law student at the county seat of Hickory county, entering the office of F. W. Wilson, who directed his reading for three years, during which time Mr. Robertson worked to pay his board.

Admitted to the bar in October, 1881, he entered upon the active practice of his profession at Hermitage, Hickory county, Missouri, but left that county in September, 1882, and became a resident of Buffalo, Missouri, where he opened a law office and continued in active practice for ten years, serving for four years of that time as prosecuting attorney of the county. In . December, 1891, he removed to Springfield, Missouri, where he continued until May, 1903, or for a period of twelve years, enjoying an extensive practice during that time and also taking an active part in politics. He was a candidate for congress on the republican ticket in 1898. After his arrival in Muskogee in 1903, Mr. Robertson entered upon the general practice of law, devoting his attention to both criminal and civil practice but now concentrates his efforts only on the latter branch. In November, 1904, he was made assistant United States attorney and occupied the office until March, 1906, when he resigned.

When connected with criminal practice he tried a number of noted cases but prefers to concentrate his efforts and attention upon civil practice, which is less spectacular perhaps but which demands the most thorough erudition, combined with strong analytical power and the clearest reasoning, resulting in most logical deductions. One of the notable cases with which he has been connected was the McAlford case, the defendant being charged with the murder of Cicero Davis, a member of the Davis gang of outlaws, who was shot from a cornfield in August, 1906. Mr. Robertson has always held to the highest professional ideals and is recognized as a lawyer and counselor of pronounced ability.

On the 29th of August, 1879, Mr. Robertson was married to Miss Sarah E. Dorman of Hickory county, Missouri, and they have become the parents of seven living children: Lula E., who is the wife of Louis A. Kean, an attorney ; Harry W., who was formerly United States marshal and now lives at Chickasha, Oklahoma; Minnie, the wife of C. L. Whittaker, a merchant of Muskogee; Benjamin Harrison, of Muskogee, who is with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad ; James M., a plumber of Los Angeles, California ; Charles A., a tailor and farmer of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Willis Grafton, Jr., who is reading law in Muskogee. All of the sons have served their country in the army, one of the number going to the Philippine Islands during the Spanish-American war, while the youngest son was in France during the World war. It is not a matter of marvel that these sons displayed military spirit and loyalty to their country, for they are directly descended from one of the heroes of the Revolutionary war, the great-grandfather of Willis G. Robertson having aided in the cause for independence as a member of the Continental army, while his grandfather served in the War of 1812.

Mr. Robertson has ever been loyal to all those interests which have to do with the up building and progress of community, commonwealth and country and throughout his entire life he has endeavored to promote the material and intellectual progress of the district in which he lives, while at the same time upholding the legal and moral status.



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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