Biography of Hon. J. J. Smith

Hon. J. J. Smith, an able representative of the Miami bar, who has here practiced his profession since 1915, is specializing in criminal law, in which branch of jurisprudence he has been very successful, and he has also done effective service for the public good as a member of the state senate. He was born June 23, 1889, near Ranger, in Eastland county, Texas, upon the farm of his parents, Benjamin F. and Catherine (Simpson) Smith, the latter also a native of that section of the Lone Star state, while the former was born in Madison county, North Carolina. While residing in North Carolina the father was in the employ of the government, serving as peace and revenue, officer at Asheville and at Mars Hill. From that state he removed to Texas, where he engaged in riding the range, leading the life of a frontiersman. In 1900 he came to Oklahoma, following the occupation of farming in Greer county. He and his wife now reside upon a farm in Beckham county, this, state. His political allegiance has always been given to the democratic party since age conferred upon him the right of franchise, and he has been active in its support, while fraternally he is identified with the Masons. He is an expert marksman and is a typical frontiersman whose life has been spent upon the broad, open ranges.

In the acquirement of an education Mr. Smith attended the grammar and high schools of Hobart, Oklahoma, and an academy at Cordell, this state. From boyhood he had been desirous of following the legal profession and with this end in view he spent two years as a student in Oklahoma University, after which he entered Cumberland University, from which he was graduated in 1911 with the L. B. degree. Since a youth of fifteen he has made his own way in the world and after leaving Cordell Academy he devoted three years to teaching in Wa****a county, Oklahoma, in order that he might secure the funds necessary to pursue his Professional V studies, thus indicating the elemental strength, strength of his character. Going to Afton, Oklahoma, he entered upon the work of his profession in 1911 and for four years continued to reside there, during which period he served as president of the town board of trustees. In 1915 he came to Miami and engaged in general practice as a partner of Q. P. McGhee, but is now conducting his interests independently, specializing in criminal law, of which he has an expert knowledge, and he has been connected with some of the most important cases of this character tried in the courts of the state. He is well versed in all branches of jurisprudence and prepares his cases with great thoroughness, precision and skill. His study and research are so thorough that he is never surprised by a sudden attack, being always fortified for defense, while at the same time he reaches for the most vulnerable point in his opponent’s armor, and he has won many verdicts favorable to the interests of his clients. He also has other interests, owning valuable farm lands in Craig and Ottawa counties, and he is likewise a stockholder in the First National Bank and the Miami Hotel Company.

At Afton, this state, in 1912, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Genevieve Hunkapillar, a daughter of the Rev. A. B. L. Hunkapillar, who for the past thirty years has engaged in preaching the gospel as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, South. He was one of the early circuit riders of Oklahoma and has been presiding elder in various parts of the state, while at present he is filling the pulpit of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, at Adair, his efforts being productive of much good in the communities in which he has labored. Mr. and Mrs. Smith now have three children : Mabel Jacqueline and Jack Lockwood, whose births occurred at Afton; and Richard Wood, born at Miami.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith attend the Methodist Episcopal church, South, in the work of which they are actively and helpfully interested, while his wife is also prominent in social and club circles of Miami. During the World war Mr. Smith rendered valuable service to his country as a member of the legal advisory and draft boards and of the Home Guard, and was also one of the Four Minute speakers, delivering addresses throughout the state. He is a member of the Rockdale Country Club, and his professional connections are with the Ottawa County, Oklahoma State and American Bar Associations. Fraternally he is identified with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Knights of Pythias. He is also a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, being one of the organizers of the Northeastern Oklahoma Odd Fellows Association and its second president, and. he has filled all of the offices in the organization up to that of district deputy grand master. His public spirit finds expression in his membership in the Chamber of Commerce, and he is active in committee work in that body, while he finds recreation in fishing and in hunting.

Mr. Smith is a stanch democrat in his political views and has been called to public office, being elected a member of the state senate in 1916, his district comprising Ottawa, Delaware and Cherokee counties. He served a four years’ term. In 1917 he was appointed a member of the following committees: education, mines and mining, fish and game, judiciary No. 1, Indian affairs, private corporations, and code revision, serving as chairman of the last named. In 1919 he was chosen a member of the committees on appropriations, code-revision, Indian affairs, mines and manufacturing, oil and gas, public service corporations, revenue and taxation, and he was also chairman of the committee on judiciary No. 2. He was instrumental in securing much beneficial legislation, including twenty miles of paved roads in his district and the establishment of the State School of Mines at Miami, and in his public service he looks ever beyond the exigencies of the moment to the opportunities and possibilities of the future. He deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, for from the age of fifteen years he has depended upon his own exertions for a ‘livelihood. Through the wise utilization of the talents with which nature has endowed him and through unabating industry and persistency of purpose he has won an enviable position in the ranks of his profession, and in every relation of life he measures up to the highest standards of manhood and citizenship.



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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