OSCAR E. OATES, Judge of Haskell county court, was born in Polk county, Texas, January 7, 1861, a son of pioneer settlers of the “Lone Star State.” The Oates family are of Scotch-Irish origin. Three brothers of the name of Oates came to this country from Scotland and settled in the Carolinas. John R. Oates, the Judge’s father, was descended from one of these brothers, and was born in Alabama. In that state he married Miss Sarah Peebles, also a native of Alabama. In the latter part of the year 1855, with his wife and three children, he started for Texas, and arrived in Polk county in February of the following year. He was a farmer by occupation and his life was given chiefly to agricultural pursuits. Eight years, however, he served as Tax Assessor of Polk county, an office to which he was twice elected for a term of four years each. He died September 2, 1892, at the age of sixty years, and his wife died December 23, 1874. Six children were born to them after their removal to Texas, making nine in all, and of this number four are now living—three sons and one daughter.
Judge Oates passed his boyhood on his father’s farm. As a lad he was busy assisting with the farm work most of the years, attending school only during the summer months until he was nineteen. Then he went to what was known as Jones Prairie, a better school than the one near his home, where he was a student fifteen months. At the expiration of that time he obtained a first grade certificate, and began teaching country school as a means to pave his way to something higher in life. For five years he taught school. In June, 1887, he was admitted to the bar, obtaining his license from the district court in Polk county. Immediately he began the practice of law. In November, 1888, he was elected Judge of Polk county, was re-elected in 1890 and again in 1892, and served in all a term of six years. On his retirement form the bench, Judge Oates resumed the practice of law in Polk county, where he remained until July 1, 1901, when he moved to Haskell county. Here in November, 1904, he was elected county judge of Haskell county, the office he now holds, which honor was received at the hands of the Democratic party. Judge Oates has always taken a deep interest in educational affairs. In connection with the office of county judge he is also ex-officio county superintendent of Public Instruction, a position he is peculiarly well fitted to fill. During his residence in Haskell county he has accumulated valuable property, in which is included two hundred and fifty acres of land under cultivation.
March 18, 1891, Judge Oates married Miss Mary A. Josey, a native of Polk county, Texas, both having been reared in the same neighborhood. They are the parents of five children, four sons and one daughter: John R., Oscar E., Verna, Ewen H. and Kenneth D.
Fraternally he is identified with the Masonic order, of which he has been a member fourteen years, and for fifteen years he has been a member of the Baptist church.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, p. 529.