Friday, July 14, 2017

Clarous Rouser Johnston (1880-1936)

Portrait from the 1905 Indiana law school composite.

   Native Hoosier Clarous Rouser Johnston would find distinction in Oklahoma law circles following his resettlement in Caddo County in the late 1900s and earns placement here on the site due to his service as Judge of Caddo County, a post he would first seek in 1912. The son of Alfred Homer and Debbie (Morgan) Johnson, Clarous R. Johnson was born on September 24, 1880 in Monroe County, Indiana.
   Johnston attended school in Harrodsburg and after graduating from the local high school in 1896 began a teaching career in Monroe County that extended into the 1900s. He would serve intermittently as a principal and in 1902 enrolled in the law department of the University of Indiana. He earned his bachelor of laws degree in 1905 and shortly thereafter established his first practice in Bloomington. Johnston's stay in that city proved to be brief, as he removed to Bedford, Indiana the following year. Johnston practiced law in Bedford until December 1909, when he pulled up stakes once again, this time relocating to Caddo County, Oklahoma.
   As a young lawyer in an expansive territory (Oklahoma wouldn't be admitted as a state until 1912) Johnston saw a bright opportunity for himself, and after a brief residence in the village of Bridgeport settled in the city of Anadarko, then a city of about 3,000 residents. He would return to Indiana in 1911 to wed Lula G. Cobb (1888-1982) in December of that year. The couple were wed until Clarous' death in 1936 and would have one daughter, Frances, born in 1912.
   Soon after his arrival in Anadarko Johnston formed a law firm with R.K. Robinson and in 1912 made his first move into Oklahoma politics, becoming the Democratic candidate for Caddo County judge. Johnston lost out on election day that year to Republican C. Ross Hume (1878-1960). In 1913 Johnston was elected as City Attorney for Anadarko and held that post until his resignation in 1914 when he was again a candidate for county judge. Johnston was the victor at the polls that November and officially entered into his duties in January 1915.
   Sources of the time relate that Johnston proved to be "unusually capable and energetic as county judge", and reelected to two further terms on the bench in 1916 and 1918. However, Johnston would resign in October 1919 and sometime later removed back to Indiana, his reasons for doing so being unknown at this time.
  By 1923 Clarous Johnston was residing in his old town of Bedford and following his return to Indiana reentered politics, being a Democratic candidate for judge of Indiana's circuit court for the 40th judicial district in the May 1924 primary. Of three candidates that year, Johnston placed third with 2, 135 votes, losing out to Oren O. Swails winning total of 3,705. Little information could be located on Johnston's life after this election, excepting notice of his death in Indiana on January 24, 1936, at age 55. He was survived by his wife Lula, who, following her death in 1982 at age 93 was interred alongside her husband at the Green Hill Cemetery in Bedford.

Johnston during his time at the University of Indiana.

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