CAMERON, EVAN DHU (1862–1923).
An attorney, a Methodist and Baptist minister, and a public education advocate, Evan Dhu Cameron was born on February 26, 1862, to Caroline Crawford and John Worth Cameron in Richmond County, North Carolina. He received his early education at an academy in Richmond and then attended Trinity College (now Duke University) in North Carolina. After receiving a degree in 1881 from Dick and Dillard School of Law at Greensboro, he practiced law for seven years in Rockingham and Laurinburg, North Carolina.
Changing careers, E. D. Cameron studied for the ministry and in 1888 was licensed by the Methodist Episcopal Church. He pastored briefly in Texas, married Clara Williams in 1890, and in 1891 came to Oklahoma Territory. He served congregations in Norman, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Pauls Valley, and Chickasha before in 1901 changing his religious affiliation to the Southern Baptist Convention. He subsequently pastored in South McAlester, Sulphur, Guthrie, Okmulgee, Muskogee, Checotah, Claremore, Henryetta, and Tahlequah while serving as a territorial and state official.
E. D. Cameron is best known as "the Father of Education in Oklahoma." He began his term as Oklahoma's chief educator when appointed as Oklahoma Territory's third superintendent of public instruction, a post he held from 1894 to 1896 (he also served the same term as president of the State Board of Education, as the territorial auditor, and as president of the Territorial Board of Health). At 1907 statehood he was elected state superintendent of public instruction, serving until 1911. Despite his short tenure, Cameron is credited with crafting regulations to enforce the education laws, establishing a systematic organization for the state's publicly supported schools (encompassing the unified Oklahoma Territory and Indian Nations), and implementing a uniform textbook law. Under his leadership, in 1907–08 more than 2,200 new common schools were established throughout rural Oklahoma.
Cameron assisted in the founding of Oklahoma Baptist University in 1911 in Shawnee and in 1915 received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from that institution. A Mason and a Democrat, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the office of lieutenant governor in 1922. E. D. Cameron suffered a fatal stroke on Sunday, July 29, 1923, in Tahlequah while preparing his sermon. He was survived by his wife and six children and was interred in Okmulgee. In 1908 the newly founded Cameron State School of Agriculture (now Cameron University) in Lawton was named for him.
"E. D. Cameron Dies Suddenly at Tahlequah," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 30 July 1923.
E. C. Routh, The Story of Oklahoma Baptists (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Oklahoma Baptist Convention, 1932).
Joseph B. Thoburn, A Standard History of Oklahoma, Vol. II (Chicago, Ill.: American Historical Society, 1916).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Cameron, Evan Dhu,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=CA080.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.