The bar of Clay county is worthily represented by Henrietta’s esteemed citizen whose name introduces this biographical review. For twenty-one years his life, in this county, has been an open book and of his varied and wide-spread dealings among his fellowmen its pages contain no embarrassing or disparaging record. He has gone about his every-day affairs with that honesty of purpose and purity of motive which invariably marks the citizen of a sincere type, and the nature of his calling and the character of his daily life have wielded a positive and beneficent influence upon the social life of his county.
The Wantlands in Texas are as old as the state itself. The year of its admission the father of our subject settled in Navarro county, and his first years here were passed as an humble and youthful citizen around Corsicana. His age was about seventeen when he entered the state and his circumstances were such that his daily labors were depended on for his support. Without trade, profession or superior education he won his way with his hands and the first well dug in the Court plaza in Corsicana was the product of his toil. When he finally chose his location it was in Grayson county and there he eventually became a farmer. As he grew and prospered he branched out into the cattle business and, in time, became widely known for his varied and extensive interests.
Charles F. Wantland was the founder of this pioneer Texas family, as previously asserted, and during the period of the Confederate war he was in the Home Guard, a captain in the service, and when hostilities had ceased and civil business again resumed he became a freighter and engaged extensively in transporting merchandise between Texas points and Forts Sill and Arbuckle in the Indian Territory. While successfully prosecuting this business he met the well known Indian, Smith Paul, of Paul’s Valley notoriety, and entered a deal with the latter to open out a large farm on the Washita river, and he fenced, broke out and otherwise improved an extensive tract and farmed the same with much profit to himself form 1869 to 1881. He also held large stock interests on the Canadian river and the subject of this review bedded cattle where the city of Norman, Oklahoma, now stands.
Charles F. Wantland was born somewhere in East Tennessee and in early childhood was taken into Illinois by his parents and was reared near Salem, in Marion county. He learned little about the three “R’s” and consequently began life under the embarrassment of semi-illiteracy. He preceded his parents to Texas and his father, of French antecedents, passed his last years in Navarro county. Returning to Grayson county from Paul’s Valley he located near Sherman and prosecuted the live-stock business with vigor and success. He was secretary of the Kimberlin Real Estate and Live Stock Association, doing business chiefly in Northwest Texas, but with interests also in Grayson county. After the opening of Oklahoma he became interested in its development and the prospect of still further business conquest lured him on to Noble where he is engaged in the banking business.
His marriage occurred in Grayson county in 1853, the lady of his choice being Miss Lucy Jennings, whose father, Jack Jennings, was one of the most widely and favorably known of all Grayson county farmers. The latter came to Texas from Jackson county, Missouri, did his part toward the improvement and development of Grayson county and died there. Five children were born to this union, of which William was the middle one. Lewis C., of Purcell, Indian Territory, and Marion W., who died at Siloam Springs, Arkansas, being older, and Mrs. W. T. Shannon, of Belton, Texas, an only sister, and John M., of Chickasha, Indian Territory, being younger than William.
In Paul’s Valley and in Grayson county was William Wantland brought up. He was born near Sherman, August 30, 1857, and was educated in the common schools and in the Bonham Christian College. Charles Carlton, well known to many Texas youths of that time, was his teacher, and the influence of his teacher was paramount to that of his books. To be exact, the first impressions gained in a school were gathered at Red River Station, where a sort of stockade enclosed or protected settlers against the Indians and the school conducted in proximity to this picket fortification was presided over by Prof. Phillips, one of the type of old-time schoolmasters who paid more attention to manners than to books and believed in producing ladies and gentlemen rather than scholars. Leaving Bonham College, Mr. Wantland became a student in the law department of Trinity University, at Tehuacana, where he finished the course in 1878 and was admitted to the bar at Corsicana, soon afterward, before Judge D. M. Prendergrast, of Mexia. He, with a few others, were entrusted with the task of writing out their own certificates of admission, a proceeding not at all customary then nor since, and his initial work in a law office was as clerk with Fears and Wilkinson at Sherman, Texas. He remained there a year and then went into the office of Judge Hurt at Dallas and served him a year. He then cast about for a location to begin the practice for himself. While in the employ of Fears and Wilkinson he tried his first case, which was a civil suit against Byers Bros., now the noted cattlemen, brought by Deere, Mansur and Company for the collection of an account for machinery.
Stopping in Gainesville first on his road west, Mr. Wantland remained only a year and after a short period of unsettled purpose he opened an office in Clay county in 1884.
His forte is civil law, yet he has been connected with suits of a different character and from 1896 to 1898 he was county attorney of Clay county. He has allied himself on the side of Democracy in all political contests, believing in its tenets strictly, but politics has had no hand in bringing him success in his profession.
Mr. Wantland was married in Limestone county, Texas, January 1, 1883, to Miss Maud Scott, a daughter of Beverly and Hattie (Williams) Scott, who settled at Waco, from Mississippi, in an early day, and reared a son and three daughters. Mrs. Wantland was born June 30, 1860, and is the mother of Willie Zoe, wife of Herbert J. Smith, cashier of the Farmers’ and Merchants’ Bank of Bellevue, who have a son, Wantland J., and Lois Wantland.
Mr. Wantland is an Odd Fellow and a Mason and holds membership in his town. His connection with many of the substantial affairs of his town makes his influence a dominating one in any matter affecting the interests of the people and his encouragement goes out to whatever gives promise of good to his fellowmen.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 186-187.