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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

SULZBACHER, LOUIS M. (1842–1915.)

An attorney and a judge of the United States Court for the Indian Territory, Louis M. Sulzbacher was born on May 10, 1842, in Kirchheimbolanden, Bavaria. Coming to the United States in 1859 as a young adult, he settled in New Mexico Territory, read law, was admitted to the bar, and opened a law office in Las Vegas. He remained in the Land of Enchantment for some two decades. In 1869 he married Paulina Flersheim in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he served with Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

In 1900 Pres. William McKinley appointed Sulzbacher to the newly created Supreme Court in the recently formed Territory of Puerto Rico. He served until his appointment to the Indian Territory bench. In 1904 Congress created four additional judgeships for the United States Court for the Indian Territory. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt appointed Sulzbacher as judge for the Western District.

Sulzbacher had a penchant for talking. In late 1904, after empaneling a grand jury, he called for vigorous enforcement of the liquor laws. While the jury was deliberating, word reached it in some manner that the judger had described himself as the only person in the jurisdiction who could have liquor shipped to him and not be prosecuted. One territorial paper commented that it was only "by the hardest kind of work that the district attorney succeeded in preventing the jury from returning an indictment against the judge for introducing." Even then, Sulzbacher was called upon by a committee of local political leaders and divines. He explained that he had a permit because of his health but that he had never used it. Perhaps the phrase "runaway grand jury" took on new meaning for Sulzbacher.

Leaving the bench at Oklahoma 1907 statehood, Sulzbacher resided in Kansas City for a few years. He then moved to New York City, where he died in Manhattan on January 17, 1915, and was buried in Kansas City.

Von Russell Creel


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).

Kansas City (Missouri) Times, 18 January 1915.

Oscar Kraines, "Louis Sulzbacher: Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, 1900–1904," Jewish Social Studies 13 (April 1951).

South McAlester(Oklahoma) Capital, 22 December 1904.

"Louis M. Sulzbacher," Vertical File, Research Division, 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, “Sulzbacher, Louis M.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SU014.

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