Norman Cottage in Wagoner

The Norman Cottage in Wagoner had rooms for rent. Mallett's Funeral Home is currently built around it (2016). This is how it looked in 1901.

A Few Stories on James Alexander Norman.

Declared by one Governor of Oklahoma to be the "Father of Oklahoma Statehood".

James Alexander Norman was a son of Cyrus Norman and brother to Albert Norman - this writer's great-grandfather. Cyrus had moved his young family to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) within a few short years after the Civil War. Jame's life (1864-1943) is an interesting one.

Marlin Norman had told me a few things about James Alexander Norman including the fact that he'd been sentenced to prison.

It didn't take a lot whole of digging to find newspaper articles related to this story. James Norman and his cousin Sam Cobb seemed to have some serious disputes, although at this point I'm not sure what about.

In a nutshell, in the year 1888 at Gibson Station, James hit Sam Cobb over the head with a loaded revolver.

To the surprise of everyone, James was sentenced to 3 years. (Click highlighted to see images)

Just days prior to the conviction, a meeting was held at the Riverside precinct, Cooweescoowee district (1st day of Septermber 1888). J.B. Cobb, Sr., was called to the chair and a written resolution was passed which ran in the "Indian Chieftain". It denounced the Cherokee Nation's council for taking a low bid on cattle grazing rights in the Cherokee Outlet, located in today's Northwest Oklahoma. The resolution demanded new sealed bids. Both Jame's and Sam's signature's along with neighbors in the Riverside Precinct, were on the resolution which also praised Chief Mayes for forcing a higher bid from the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association, whom they accused of bribery and worse.

A month later James was reprieved by "Chief Mayes".

The battle apparently continued between James Norman and Sam Cobb through the next year. The content of the newspaper is hard to read, so I've transcribed here:

CAPT. JACKSON EXPLAINS. ---- The Norman "Resolutions" not Just What He Thought. ----

Editor Chieftain: In your issue of the 11th I notice a communications headed "Resolutions in behalf of a Friend that was Badly Treated," and my name signed "Capt. Wm. Jackson" as one of the committee that drafted those resolutions.

I beg leave to state that I never attended any meeting; I was not on any committee, nor did I draft any reslutions. James Norman came to me one eveing when I was in the woods a short distance from my house, and he said he had a paper that the "Boys" had got up in his behalf, and asked me to sign it; he said that he would like for his neighbors that had known him a good while to state to the public what his character was, &c.

It was too dark for me to read the contents, but I took my pencil and signed the paper for him. I was perfectly willing to say that James Norman and family were all of good character and standing in the community. I was also willing to say that he has my good wishes, but I am not willing to say that the prosecutor acted unfair and in a clandestine and deceptive manner. I understand the nation was the prosecutor and cannot see how they could use any deception in the matter.

I have carefully avoided having anything to do or say in the controversy between Sam Cobb and James Norman. They are my nearest neighbors and I respect both the families, but I very foolishly signed a paper that I did not read; but I do not sign myself "Capt. Wm. Jackson," consequently I have to request you to give this explanation. I regret very much being drawn into this difficulty, but Mr. James Norman had no right to make it appear that I headed a committee to draft resolutions against Mr. Cobb's family.

I have the greatest respect for Mr. Cobb, and I think his family an honor and ornament to any country. And I am willing to help Mr. Norman all I can, but not at the expense of Mr. Cobb and family.

William Jackson,
Gibson Station, I.T., April 17, 1889

A little history on William Jackson

In the summer of 1881, Billy Cobb was slain by a party of Creek negroes near Gibson Station. The incensed Cherokees immediately formed a company of 100 Cherokee Indians under the leadership of William Jackson, who had been a captain in the Confederate service. This company marched to Gibson Station and made demands for the surrender of the negro culprits, which demand was refused. While these preliminaries were in process, word was conveyed to Chief Bushyhead at Tahlequah of the ominous situation and the chief, with William P. Adair, the second chief, hastened to Gibson Station to intervene. The Indian Agent also joined the peace party. Bushyhead fortunately encountered Capt. Jackson and his company as they were en route to attack the negroes and succeeded in influencing the enraged Cherokees from taking the law into their hands.

William Jackson would later become Wagoner's first elected mayor in 1896.

Norman Hotel image

Close to twenty years later, James Norman ran for sheriff of Muskogee County, primarily on the recognition he'd earned while promoting Indian Territory as a new State, which ultimately became Oklahoma. He ran an election ad all year in the Muskogee newspaper - "Our Brother in Red".

James put out a circular in 1907 that I assume was for his running of Sheriff. The Oklahoma Historical Society's "Historia, April 1, 1919" lists it as "Norman, Hon. J.A. ; Muscogee Portrait of self. Father of Statehood. Reverse side of card, Words of Lincoln." I haven't seen it, but wonder if OHS has a copy in it's archives. I'm assuming he didn't win as no one in the family has mentioned James as being sheriff of Muskogee County.

J.A. Norman 1910 In December of 1910, the Tahlequah newspaper reports that James "the father of the constitution" is in town ,seeking endorsements for being a member of the State Board of Affairs. He was endorsed by the "Oklahoma Farmer and Laborer (Guthrie) as a candidate for State Corporation Commission, democratic party, August 2, 1910. The photo to the left was attached to an announcement in the Britton Newspaper.

James died in 1943, age 79. There doesn't seem to be an obit in the Muskogee Newspaper. I did find that he was a Life Member of the Oklahoma Historical Society and was remembered at a meeting of the Board of Directors in January 1944.

As for other Norman's recollections, I've been told by a few that knew James or had heard stories of James, that he wasn't entirely likeable; something that I'm not sure he'd of agreed with.



"Convicted" - Indian Chieftain. (Vinita, Indian Terr.), Vol. 7, No. 1, Ed. 1, Thursday, September 13, 1888
"Riverside Resolutions - denouncing the Cherokee Strip Livestock Assoc." - Indian Chieftain. (Vinita, Indian Terr.), Vol. 7, No. 2, Ed. 1, Thursday, September 20, 1888
"Pardoned"- Our Brother in Red. (Muskogee, Indian Terr.), Vol. 7, No. 5, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 6, 1888
"Captain Jackson Explains"
The Indian Chieftain. (Vinita, Indian Terr.), Vol. 7, No. 33, Ed. 1, Thursday, April 25, 1889
"A Little History of William Jackson"
Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 14, No. 3
Running for Sheriff article in "The Muskogee Cimiter".
Friday, March 15, 1907. Vol 8, No. 24
Photo of Norman Hotel in Muskogee.
Published in the book "MUSKOGEE". By Roger Bell and Jerry Hofffman. 2014.

More on James Alexander Norman, including his call for an Indian State
can be found on the Norman History page.