CHARLES M. THACKER
Vol. 3, p. 1035-1037
Book has photo
Mr. Justice Charles M. Thacker, of the Supreme Court of this state, was born (on January 17, 1866) and raised on his father's farm in the northeastern part of Brunswick County, Virginia.
Being born and raised in the aftermath of the Civil war in a land that had been devastated by its ravages, his early educational advantages were very poor; but a devoted mother gave him much instruction at home; after he was seven years old he attended each year for more or less of the school period either a public or a private school until he was past nineteen years of age, excepting one such period when he served a relative as a clerk in a wood-yard in Petersburg, Virginia, and another such period when he served another relative as clerk in a country store in Rowanta, Virginia. During his boyhood he did the usual farm work that fell to a lot of farmers' boys in that country. At the age of nineteen he feared tuberculosis of the lungs in Virginia and was also unable to see his way there clear to accumulate sufficient means to enable him to marry and support a family; and, in this state of mind, he felt the call of the west, with its promise of health and wealth, so strongly that he persuaded his parents to consent to his migration to Texas to work out his own destiny among strangers. Accordingly, in October, 1885, with $75.00 furnished him by his father, he went to Texas, stopping at Ennis, where, for a small salary, he served as scribe and man of all work to a somewhat talented old gentleman (who was engaged in looking up "lost titles" to Texas lands and in the culture of flowers, fruits, trees, shrubs, etc., for sale) for the period of one year. At the expiration of this time the illusion of wealth and a speedy return to Virginia, where he would marry and live happily every after, had vanished, and he took up the study of bookkeeping in the belief that he would be content to work as such for the usual salary paid for such service all the balance of his life.
After completing a couple of courses in such studies, he saw and embraced an opportunity to study law and pay his way by office work for his preceptors. On June 20, 1888, after a little more than a year of study, and while still residing at Ennis, he was admitted to the bar by the District Court at Dallas, Texas, where he soon thereafter took a position as bookkeeper with a concern he at once found to be in failing condition and that could not pay his first month's salary. About September 1, 1888, with just five dollars loaned him by a friend and a few old and discarded books given him by a firm of kindly disposed lawyers in Dallas, he commenced the practice of law, and made sufficient money to pay actual expenses, at Garland, Texas; but, having there-to-fore impaired his health by over study, he soon conceived the idea that it was necessary for him to find a higher altitude and a dryer climate, and in the following spring he sought a location in Northwest Texas. On April 29, 1889, after some visits to other places, he reached Mangum, in Greer County, then under the de facto jurisdiction of Texas, but which became a part of Oklahoma as a result of a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States on March 16, 1896, that the same was no part of Texas. Upon his arrival at Mangum he had just 50 cents left and, being among strangers as well as in a depressing state of health, a few sympathetic and kindly words from County Judge J. M. BERRYMAN induced him to locate there, although the place was merely a frontier village in a newly and sparsely settled country without means of a livelihood visible to so young and inexperienced a lawyer and although the general aspect of the country then seemed to him desolate and uninviting.
At first he taught a little class in bookkeeping to help pay living expenses, which did not exceed $15.00 or $20.00 per month; but in August, 1889, he was appointed to the then vacated office of county attorney from which he derived an income barely sufficient to meet his meager needs. He did not want the office longer than for a remnant of the term for which he was appointed; and, as he did not seek re-election, his first law partner, John W. CRAIG, took the same without opposition.
In 1891 and until February 8, 1892, while holding himself out as a lawyer, he edited the Mangum Star, a weekly newspaper, as a much needed additional means of support. On February 8, 1892, a vacancy had occurred in the office of county judge of Greer County and he was appointed to fill out the remnant of the term; and he served in this office and by virtue thereof as chairman of the County Commissioners Court and also as county superintendent of public instruction' but this office too barely afforded him the means of support and, having gotten the reward in popular favor that comes from satisfactory service in such a position, he was not a candidate to succeed himself.
In these early days of the settlement of Greer County the fees of the two offices mentioned were insignificant and the salaries were small and paid in county warrants that were practically worthless because of the dispute as to the rightful jurisdiction of Texas over the county, so that the financial rewards for public service were almost negligible.
In 1898, the second year after the transition of his county from Texas to Oklahoma, he was elected to the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature from the big thirteenth district composed of Greer, Roger Mills, Washita, Custer, Day, D (which he named "Dewey" through a legislative Act), Woodward, and Beaver Counties, in those counties existed prior to the admission of Oklahoma to Statehood on November 16, 1907; and, after serving in the Assembly of 1899, where he was on many important committees and chairman of the Committee of Private Corporations and Corporate Law, he voluntarily retired at the expiration of his term to serve his county as its county attorney.
In the meantime the country had settled and developed and when, in 1890, he was elected county attorney his county was a well settled and prosperous community.
He served as county attorney until Statehood, a period of nearly seven years, by virtue of successive elections and during approximately the same period, by the appointment of Governor Jenkins in the first instance and Governor Ferguson later, he served the territory as a member of the territorial board of education for Normal schools, voluntarily resigning upon the coming of Statehood.
In April, 1909, he was elected mayor of Mangum and served as such until after the election of his successor in April, 1910, when he retired without having been a candidate to succeed himself.
He was an unwilling candidate for this office and gave the matter of his candidacy no attention until on election day he saw his opponent hauling voters to the polls in a sixteen passenger automobile bus bearing on each side a streamer with the legend, "Vote for (here the name) for mayor," whereupon the subject of our sketch in due appreciation of the "eternal fitness of things" and not to be outdone in ostentatious exploitation, requistioned a wheelbarrow, upon each side of which he had painted the legend, "Vote for Chas. M. Thacker for Mayor," and at once commenced to haul voters to the polls from nearby places in this stately equipage, while cheering crowds thronged the streets. The ludicrous comparison of expedients contributed to make Judge Thacker's majority of the votes cast more than four to his opponent's one, although he suffered blistered hand and feet from the strenuous work.
On Match 19, 1913, he was by the Supreme Court appointed from the state at large to the bench of Supreme Court commission of this state to fill out the unexpired term of Judge C. B. AMES, and in the following September was regularly appointed by the court for the ensuing full term, which expired February 1, 1915. And upon the re-creation of the commission he was April 1, 1915, by Governor Williams, with the approval of the court, again appointed from the state at large to membership upon the commission.
On November 1, 1915, while he was still serving on the commission, Governor Williams appointed him to the bench of the Supreme Court to succeed his friend the late lamented Mr. Justice BROWN.
He has continuously resided at Mangum since April 29, 1889, and has practiced law when not in office excluding him from the same.
In 1893-96 he had for a law partner Judge T. P. CLAY, of Mangum, and for four years next before entry upon the duties of county attorney in January 1901, Hon. A. R. GARRETT, of the same place, was his partner.
As a practicing lawyer and in official service of the people he has been and is an indefatigable and conscientious worker.
In his candidacies for office the overwhelming majorities by which he has always been elected sufficiently attest the public approval of the man and his official services.
The American Genealogical history of Mr. Justice Thacker is somewhat obscure, while one or more links in his ancestral chain are entirely unknown; but it seems reasonably certain that the original progenitor of his branch of the Thacker family in this county was either Edwin or Henry Thacker, who were probably brothers --- family tradition indicates Edwin if they are not brothers.
Edwin Thacker lived and died in Middlesex County Virginia, where his will dated April 2, 1704, and probate May 1, 1704, is still on record. This will disposed of a large estate, consisting in the main of lands, slaves, and livestock, and included a bequest to be paid "out of My money in England and Virginia and out of my tobaccos to be sent;" and it mentions a brother "Henry." This Edwin Thacker is probably the "Col. Thacker" of Virginia history whose daughter married Henry Washington, of Middlesex County, Virginia, who was an uncle of the Famous "George" and whose son, "Thacker Washington," married a daughter of Sir John Peyton. Nothing is known of the Henry Thacker mentioned except that, in 1690, he married Elizabeth Payne, a granddaughter of Col. John Walker, who was a member of the Virginia Council under the "Great Charter or Commissions of Privileges, Orders, and Laws," of November 13, 1618.
Thirteen of the Virginia Thackers served in the war of the American Revolution, one of them being Charles Thacker, of Fluvana County, Virginia, who was an officer and for whom the subject of this sketch was probably named.
Robert K. Thacker, grandfather of Mr. Justice Thacker, was born and raised in Greenville County, Virginia, where he owned a medium sized plantation and some slaves; and family tradition as well as the fact that there are, and were, comparatively few people of this name in Virginia, points to the Revolutionary stock and beyond those Thackers to Edwin or Henry in early colonial days as ancestors; but the line can not be definitely traced at this time back to Robert K., except that family tradition says that Henry Washington married into this branch of the family.
This Robert K. Thacker married Emma GEE, of Brunswich County, Virginia, whose father was reputed to have been a very large land owner in that county; and their only son, William J. Thacker, father of the subject of this sketch, inherited from his mother the 1,900 acre track of land upon which, or a remnant thereof, the subject of this sketch was born and raised..
William J. Thacker married Allie P. PARHAM, of Brunswick County, Virginia, who was also a member of an old Virginia family, and of this union Charles M., of this sketch, was the first born; William P., the next born, died at the age of twenty years; Robert E., the third born, still lives on a remnant of the old Virginia homestead; John H., the fourth born, died at the age of eighteen years; Miss Emma M., the fifth born, passed her entire life on the old homestead until in 1900, when she came to live with Charles M. and two younger brothers at Mangum, Oklahoma, where she died in 1904; Harry Milton, the sixth born, is serving on the bench of the County Court of Greer County, Oklahoma; and Thomas Tillman, the seventh born, who is a linotype operator by vocation and is studying dentistry, has made his home at Mangum, in this state, most of the time since early in 1899.
Transcribed by Charmaine Keith, November 29, 1998