William Cary Renfrow

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William Cary Renfrow
William Cary Renfrow.jpg
3rd Governor of Oklahoma Territory
In office
May 7, 1893 – January 31, 1897
Appointed by Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Abraham J. Seay
Succeeded by Cassius M. Barnes
Personal details
Born (1845-03-15)March 15, 1845
Smithfield, North Carolina, U.S.
Died May 24, 1922(1922-05-24) (aged 77)
Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.
Resting place Oakland Cemetery
Russellville, Arkansas, U.S.
35°16′12.3″N 93°07′51.6″W / 35.270083°N 93.131000°W / 35.270083; -93.131000
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jennie B. York
Occupation businessman
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Years of service 1862-1865
Rank First Sergeant
Unit Company C, 50th North Carolina Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War

William Cary Renfrow (March 15, 1845 – January 31, 1922) was an American businessman who served as the 3rd Governor of Oklahoma Territory from 1893 to 1897.

Early life and military service

The third territorial governor was born at Smithfield, North Carolina on March 15, 1845. He attended the public schools which he left at the age of 17 years to enter the Confederate States Army in the American Civil War, and on February 25, 1862, enlisted in Company C, 50th North Carolina Infantry Regiment at Smithfield and was mustered into service at Camp Mangum on April 21, 1862, as a sergeant but subsequently was promoted to first sergeant. Robert Darius Lunsford was captain of Company C and Marshall D. Craton was the colonel of the 50th regiment at the time of his enlistment. The last muster rolls of his company available show that for July and August, 1864 young Renfrow was being present.[1]

Business and political career

After his return from the war, Renfrow removed from North Carolina to the vicinity of Russellville, Arkansas where in 1865 he married Jennie B. York of Judsonia, Arkansas on October 17, 1875. He functioned as a deputy county official at Russellville in the 1880s. Upon the opening of Oklahoma for settlement in 1889, he located at Norman, Oklahoma where he was engaged in the banking business in association with T. M. Richardson of Oklahoma City. President Grover Cleveland appointed Renfrow as governor of Oklahoma Territory and on May 7, 1893 the oath of office was administered to him at Guthrie. He was a democrat, being the only governor from that party during the territorial days. The outstanding event of his administration was the opening of the Cherokee Outlet on September 16, 1893. It was during his tenure that the Oklahoma Historical Society was formed and on February 21, 1895, Renfrow approved an act constituting that society as trustee for Oklahoma Territory. He was succeeded by Cassius M. Barnes who entered office on May 24, 1897.[1]

Later life

After his retirement from office, Renfrow lived in Kansas City, Missouri for a few years, but later becoming engaged in the lead and zinc business in northeastern Oklahoma removed to Miami, Oklahoma where he operated his mining business under the Renfrow Mining and Royalty Company and became an extensive owner of lead and zinc properties. Some two years prior to his death he embarked in the oil and gas business in the Mexia field in Texas where he spent a considerable portion of his time. His business ventures were highly successful. Renfrow died while sitting in the lobby of the Massey Hotel at Bentonville, Arkansas on January 31, 1922, while en route from Miami to Russellville on account of the illness of his brother. His is buried in the cemetery at Russellville by the side of his wife who died some years before.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Chronicles of Oklahoma". Oklahoma State University Library Electronic Publishing Center. 2001. Retrieved June 23, 2017.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Abraham J. Seay
Governor of Oklahoma Territory
Succeeded by
Cassius M. Barnes
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