Born in Virginia on November 28, 1832, Abraham Jefferson Seay was three years old when his family moved to the farming frontier in Gasconade County in south-central Missouri Through self determination he became a successful teacher, lawyer, judge, businessman, banker and politician. Because of a family death, young Seay quit a teaching job and qualified to practice law in Missouri just before the outbreak of the Civil War. He served four years in the Union Army, rising from private to lieutenant colonel before returning to his law practice in Union, Missouri.
Upon his return from the war, Seay was appointed county attorney of Crawford County, Missouri, and later was advanced to circuit attorney. He retired in 1870 and entered the general practice of law. In 1875, Colonel Seay was elected circuit judge of the 9th Missouri District.
At the time of the appointment of Major Steele as the first governor of Oklahoma Territory, President Harrison appointed Judge Abraham J. Seay as an Associate Justice of the first Supreme Court of Oklahoma Territory.
Seay proved to be an ideal judge. He recalled in later years that his bench was known as a "shotgun court" because of his bluntness in rulings and decisions. He never resented the charge that his court was "double barreled and breech-loading."
Oklahoma Territory was opened to homestead settlement on April 22, 1889, but no provisions were made for local government until congress passed the Organic Act of May 2, 1890, which formed Oklahoma Territory. Under this legislation, each member of the territorial supreme court also has district court responsibilities. Seay was assigned the third district which encompassed Kingfisher, Canadian and Beaver Counties.
By late May, 1890, Judge Seay had established his residence in Kingfisher. On February 1, 1892, Seay resigned from the judiciary and was sworn in as governor at Guthrie.
Abraham Seay was a dynamic Republican leader. He successfully presided over the opening of the Cheyenne and Arapaho lands; he also took actions which improved conditions for blacks in Oklahoma Territory. Public education was particularly important to Seay, and during his administration he achieved significant strides for educational institutions.
Seay was a pioneer in efforts to secure government donation of land for the benefit of higher education institutions. During his administration, the official opening of the University of Oklahoma Territory at Norman - today the University of Oklahoma - was announced.
Most importantly, Seay played a crucial role in plans for the second legislature of Oklahoma Territory, including authorization to call the session and the census needed for the reapportionment of the election districts.
When Democrat Grover Cleveland defeated Republican President Benjamin Harrison in his re-election attempt, Seay knew he would be replaced by a Democrat. This occurred on May 19, 1893.
After serving as governor of Oklahoma Territory, Seay devoted much of his time to his business interests and greatly enhanced his financial position. During the first decade of the twentieth century, he fought vigorously, supporting national banks against powerful state bank interests.
Burdened by a broken hip and various ailments of advancing age, Seay slowly withdrew from business and public life. In 1909, his doctor advised him to move to Long Beach, California, for his health. Abraham J. Seay died in his sleep on December 22, 1915. His body was returned to Kingfisher and buried next to his sister, Susan Isabel Seay Collins. He had never married.
Chisholm Trail Museum 605 Zellers Ave. Kingfisher, Okla. 73750 405-375-5176
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