(See Oolootsa) Houston Benge Teehee, whose activity has spelled success, is well known as the Register of the Treasury of the United States, whose name appears on all of the Government bonds issued during the world war period and is now a Vice-President and the Treasurer and General Manager of the Continental Asphalt and Petroleum Company, with headquarters in Oklahoma City. In various ways he has been closely identified with the development and upbuilding of this section of the country, his efforts being at all times a tangible element in the growth and progress that has wrought a most wonderful transformation in Oklahoma within the past few decades.
Mr. Teehee was born in the Cherokee Nation, now Sequoyah County, Oklahoma, October 31, 1874, and is a representative of two of the old prominent Cherokee families ,the Teehee and Benge families. On the rolls of the Cherokee Nation his father is listed as seven-eighths Cherokee, Houston B. Teehee as five-eighths. His mother was a one-half Cherokee, her death occurring prior to the enrollment. The father, Stephen Teehee, was born in the Cherokee Nation of Georgia, December 25, 1837, and died in the Cherokee Nation of the Indian Territory in 1907.
The mother, who bore the maiden name of Rhoda Benge, was born in the Cherokee Nation of the Indian Territory and passed away in 1886 at the comparatively early age of thirty-nine years. The father had come to the Indian Territory in young manhood. He had obtained a common school education in the Indian schools and afterward engaged in farming. Throughout his life he remained a student of men and events and became one of the most prominent citizens of the future State of Oklahoma. From 1867 until 1896 he was closely identified with public affairs of the Cherokee Nation ,serving as district clerk, as district solicitor and as circuit judge and his decisions in the last named office were noted for justice and impartiality. He served likewise as a member of the council and of the senate and was a member of the Executive Council. He likewise was made a member of the grand council and was assistant chief of the Nation. He also did most effective religious work, being a minister of the Baptist church and preaching extensively to his people. He spoke entirely in the Cherokee tongue and was universally honored and loved. His life was an example to the younger generation and an inspiration to all with whom he came in contact. He made his home near Sallisaw, Oklahoma. His was a large family, there being two sets of children, but only two of the first set survive; Houston B. and Stephen B., the latter now connected with the United States Merchant Marine. The name was originally Teehee but on the Indian rolls the spelling was changed to the present form. The name has figured prominently upon the pages of history of the Indian Territory and later in connection with the development of the State of Oklahoma and the work instituted by the father has been carried on by the son, for Houston B. Teehee is today one of the prominent and influential residents of Oklahoma City.
His boyhood days were spent on the home farm, and imbued by the example of his father, his boyhood ambition was to become as good and upright a man as was his sire. He attended the common schools and afterward the Male Seminary at Tahlequah, while for one year he was a student in the Fort Worth University. He afterward returned to Tahlequah, where he engaged in merchandising as a clerk for a period of ten years. He afterward spent two years as cashier in the Cherokee National Bank of Tahlequah. While thus engaged he studied law under the direction of the Hon. John H. Pitchford, who is now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, and in March, 1907, was admitted to the bar. He resigned his position as bank cashier in June1908, and entered upon the practice of his profession in Tahlequah, devoting his attention to probate oil and gas law. His practice soon became extensive and of a very important character, connecting him with much of the notable litigation heard in the courts of the district. He likewise became very prominent in connection with public affairs there, serving as Alderman of Tahlequah from 1902 until 1906. In 1908 he was elected to the office of Mayor and remained the chief executive of the city for two years. He also filled out an unexpired term as County Attorney, succeeding his law partner W. L. Johns. In 1911 and 1913 he was elected to represent his district in the third and fourth general assembly of Oklahoma, where he was noted as an authority on constitutional law, and in 1914 he was appointed United States probate attorney.
In 1915 he went to Washington, D. C., as Register of the United States Treasury. His entire career has been marked by steady progress. The money which he obtained from the Cherokee strip was used in paying his tuition in the Fort Worth University. He thus early displayed his ambition and the elementary strength of his character. Step by step he has advanced, each forward step bringing him into a field of wider opportunities and broader usefulness.
In 1919 he became Treasurer of the Seamans Oil Company and The R. E. Seamans Company, Inc., of New York City and Oklahoma City, and in 1921 he was made Treasurer and General Manager of all of the Seamans Oil Company interests under the name of the Continental Asphalt and Petroleum Company and was elected as one of its Vice-Presidents. While in Washington he was very active in promoting Indian matters generally, as well as in performing the duties of his position in connection with the United States Treasury. He now devotes the major part of his attention to his oil business. He makes his legal home in Cherokee County where he has a beautiful residence of the bungalow type, the house being surrounded by spacious grounds and being one of the show places of Cherokee County.
Mr. Teehee was married in Tahlequah, December 11, 1898, to Miss Mayme Hagelund, who was born in Marion, Alabama. Her parents were natives of Sweden and in their youth came to the United States, settling in Alabama, the father’s death Occurring in Marion. They were parents of two children. Mrs. Hagelund went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and later became the wife of Dr. Stephen Foreman, one of the foremost physicians and leading citizens of the Cherokees. In 1893 they removed to Tahlequah. Mrs. Teehee occupies a very prominent social position. While they have no children, they have reared the children of Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Foreman since the latter’s death. These are: Sue, now the wife of Roy J. Wiggins, an officer of the First State Bank of Tahlequah; John D. R. Foreman of Chattanooga, and Frank Foreman living in Sapulpa.
Mr. Teehee acts as counselor and adviser to many representatives of the Cherokee Nation. He greatly enjoys the out-of-doors and is a lover of nature and all that is beautiful. He also finds keenest pleasure in literature and his constant reading keeps him in touch with the trend of modern thought and progress. He belongs to Cherokee Lodge A. F. & A. M., the oldest Masonic lodge of Oklahoma, and he likewise has a membership with the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World, while his religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Presbyterian Church.