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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

RAYMOND, CHARLES W. (1858–1939).

As a federal judge of the United States Court for the Indian Territory, Charles W. Raymond was controversial almost from the beginning of his term. He was the Stephen Chandler of the Indian Territory Court. Raymond was born on August 28, 1858, in Dubuque, Iowa, to William and Mary Raymond. The elder Raymond fought for the Union in the Civil War and died at the Battle of Nashville. The family endured difficult economic times, and young Charles's mother placed him for a time with a farm family, doing chores to earn his room and board.

Rejoining his mother, he attended Wabash College at Crawsfordville, Indiana, worked as a deputy court clerk, read law, and eventually was admitted to the bar. In 1901 he was named to the United States Court for the Indian Territory. Judges of the United States Court for the Indian Territory came to the bench by presidential nomination and senatorial confirmation. Terms were four years in length. Initially, Raymond's appointment was to a roving judgeship, one sitting in all districts. When the Western District was created in 1902, Raymond became its first resident judge.

For some, Raymond was considered tyrannical, arbitrary, despotic, and capricious. Editorials and resolutions of bar associations condemned him and called for his removal. Yet a grand jury sitting at Muskogee issued a ringing endorsement of his judgeship. Eventually, the controversy became so heated that the Justice Department conducted an investigation. No action was instituted to remove him from the bench, but perhaps not surprisingly, he was not appointed to a second term.

And perhaps not surprisingly, Raymond did not tarry long in Indian Territory after leaving the bench in 1907 at statehood. He moved to Illinois and, according to some sources, was offered a federal circuit judgeship during the Taft administration, an offer he declined. Raymond died on September 28, 1939, in Watseka, Illinois. He is buried in the community cemetery in Onarga, Illinois.

Von Russell Creel

Learn More

Herringshaw's American Statesman and Public Official Year-Book, 1907-08 (Chicago: American Publishers' Association, 1907).

Von Russell Creel, "Fifteen Men in Ermine: Judges of the United States Court for the Indian Territory, 1889–1907," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 86 (Summer 2008).

"Charles W. Raymond," Vertical File, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Von Russell Creel, “Raymond, Charles W.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=RA022.

Published November 3, 2015

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