Saturday, March 11, 2017

Crichton Brooks Holtzendorff (1886-1958)

Portrait from the University of Georgia Yearbook, 1907.

   Curiously named Georgia native Crichton Brooks Holtzendorff left his native state for a bright future out west, and following his resettlement in Oklahoma established a law practice that would continue for over forty years. In the decades following his removal Holtzendorff would go on to prominence in politics in that state, serving one term as Mayor of Claremore and in the twilight of his life briefly served as a district court judge.
   Born in Gainesville, Georgia on August 15, 1886, Crichton B. Holtzendorff was the son of Preston and Agnes Drake Holtzendorff. He would attend the public schools as well as Palemon King's School for Boys in Rome, Georgia. Both Crichton and his older brother Preston Werner (1884-1961) decided upon careers in law at an early age, with both enrolling at the University of Georgia. The brothers Holtzendorff graduated in 1905 and 1907 respectively, and soon after his graduation in 1907 Crichton Holtzendorff opted for a career out west, removing to Chelsea, Oklahoma to begin his practice.
  After establishing himself in Chelsea Holtzendorff entered local politics, serving as Chelsea city attorney from 1908-1909. By 1910 he had removed to Claremore, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Shortly after his resettlement Holtzendorff partnered in the law firm of Ezzard and Holtzendorff, and in March 1913 announced that he'd be seeking the Democratic nomination for Mayor of Claremore. On election day he emerged victorious, besting incumbant Republican mayor E.A. Church by a vote of 290 to 57. The March 21, 1913 edition of the Rogers County Leader reported on the outcome of the election, relating
"The sentiment in Claremore is well established for the elimination of graft and with C.B. Holtzendorff heading an able and courageous council Claremore will be a different place than it has been in the past."
    Holtzendorff entered into the mayoralty in April 1913 and served one two year term, being succeeded by H.H. Brown. Returning to his law practice, Crichton was joined by his brother Preston Werner in the late 1910s, together establishing the firm of Holtzendorff and Holtzendorff. Their firm would continue on for a number of years afterward and specialized in Real Estate, Probate, Corporation and Oil and Gas law. The brothers would also be retained as counsel for a number of Oklahoma based banks and businesses, including the First National Bank of Claremore, the First National Bank of Chelsea, the Cherokee Oil and Gas Co., and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Co.
   While several sources detail Crichton Holtzendorff's stature in Claremore public life, little could be found on his personal life. At some point prior to 1913 he married to Mary Delacy Crosby (1889-1963), with whom he had two daughters, Leta (born 1913) and Dorothy (born 1917).
   Holtzendorff returned to Oklahoma political life in January 1949 when he was appointed by Governor Roy Turner to a vacancy on the Oklahoma District Court for Rogers, Craig and Mayes County, this vacancy occurring due to the resignation of Napoleon B. Johnson, who had been elected to the state supreme court. Holtzendorff served on the bench until 1951 and in 1956 began a brief tenure as Municipal Judge of Claremore, serving until 1957. Holtzendorff died at a Tulsa hospital in July of the the following year at age 70. He was survived by his wife, and both were interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Claremore.

Holtzendorff's death notice from the Daily Oklahoman, July 18, 1958.

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