Moman Pruiett

Moman Pruiett

Perry County, Indiana, USA
Death 17 Dec 1945 (aged 73)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA
Burial Del City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA
Plot Sec. 5
Memorial ID 53617721 · View Source
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Thanks to fellow graver, Wes Gibson, Moman's great-grandson, for his sponsorship of this memorial.

Famous/infamous Oklahoma defense attorney who referred to himself as a "criminal lawyer." Also known as 'The Black Stud of the Washita' and 'the murderer's messiah,' in a half-century at the bar, he defended 342 murder cases, of which 304 were acquitted; 37 were convicted of lesser charges, and the one defendant actually convicted, had his death sentence vacated by William McKinley's presidential commutation. He was born Moorman H. Pruiett, reportedly on 12 July 1872, on the steamboat Gray Eagle headed up the Ohio, and hailed from Leitchfield, KY. He was the son of Warren Legrande Pruiett, a former Confederate soldier called 'Captain' and Elizabeth Louisa 'Betty' Laws-Moorman. He changed the spelling to Moman after his mother's family complained, and claimed that by going to prison twice during his youth, he had disgraced the family name. Despite a highly successful and lucrative career, by 1945, he lived in a cheap Oklahoma City flophouse, and reportedly died of pneumonia at Oklahoma City's General Hospital on 12 or 17 December 1945. A defender of the poor to the powerful, in 1914 he successfully defended Sen. Thomas P. Gore in a sexual harassment case. Perhaps the most credible biography written is entitled: "He Made It Safe to Murder," by Howard K. Berry.

Memorial notes: The below bio allowed as received per SAC on 23 Feb 2020:

To one of the counties carved out of the Creek Nation was given the name of Moman. By this means the delegates to the convention sought to honor as he deserved one of the notable characters in the political history of Oklahoma, and one of the ablest fighters for statehood. The name of the county is the Christian name of Hon. Moman Pruiett, who for eleven years was prominent as a lawyer and in political affairs at Paul's Valley, and since the fall of 1907 has practiced law in Oklahoma City. His services and activities can best be appreciated by those who are familiar with his career of self-advancement and his rugged, virile character. He began life a bootblack and reached distinction through the rough process of self-training and stimulating contact with all classes of men from boyhood to the present. He was born July 12, 1872, at Alton, Perry County, in southern Indiana, son of Warren L. and Elizabeth (Moman) Pruiett. (He was named in honor of his mother, who belonged to the aristocratic Moman family of Kentucky.) At the age of seven years he accompanied the family to Benton County, Arkansas. He had only thirteen months of school education - six months in Perry County, Indiana, four months as a pupil of Prof. Wolsey at Rogers, Arkansas, and three months in the public schools at Hackett City, Arkansas. With these exceptions he began the serious work of life at the very entrance to boyhood. He earned his first money as a bootblack and by doing such jobs as came to him. Notwithstanding some notable examples of history, it is the exception when a boy, thus circumstanced, rises to prominence, since the opportunities of fortune do not reach down to this plane, and in order to rise the boy must make his own opportunities. In those days Moman Pruiett displayed something of persistence and force of character, and with an ambition to gain prominence through the profession of law he quietly sought the advantages which had been denied him as a boy. For seven months he was a law student under Phil D. Brewer at Hackett City, Arkansas, and for fifteen months under Col. J. C. Hodges of Paris, Texas, at which place the family had taken up their residence. In 1805, when twenty-three years old, he was admitted to the bar at Paris, and in the following year began his professional career at Paul's Valley, in the Chickasaw Nation. He grew up with the town, and in a few years his personal influence and his reputation as a lawyer were known throughout his section of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. He was elected the first city attorney at Paul's Valley, holding that position two terms, when he was chosen mayor of the city, and was also chosen a member of the Indian Territory Democratic executive committee.

Mr. Pruiett was one of the delegates sent to Washington as a representative of the amalgamated Democracy of the two territories, to work for statehood. His activity in this connection and his work during the constitutional convention entitled him to the recognition which he received from the delegates when they gave his name to one of the new counties of the state. He was a member of the Democratic state campaign committee for the election of delegates to the constitutional convention. It is especially noteworthy that he was practically the father of the primary election provision in the constitution, having introduced in the Democratic convention the resolution recommending the convention to adopt a mandatory primary law, which was done.

Mr. Pruiett is one of the most tireless and successful political fighters in the new state. It may be truthfully said that he has never been a quitter, a bolter or a compromiser. His loyalty to friends is remarkable, and one of the principal sources of his power, since his friends are in turn bound to him by the strongest ties. His rough and tumble experience in earlier life seems to have resulted chiefly in increasing his natural talents and powers to a finer point of efficiency, and has left him a man of utmost self-reliance, without the faintest tinge of pretense, who always fights in the open, and is generous to a fault.

As a criminal lawyer Mr. Pruiett is one of the strongest of the Oklahoma Bar. He has the somewhat remarkable record of having defended over eighty persons charged with murder. On moving to Oklahoma City last year he established offices at 112 West Main Street. By his marriage to Miss Leda Olivia Sniggs, of Alva, Oklahoma, and a daughter of A. T. Sniggs, ex-member of the territorial legislature. Mr. Pruiett has one daughter, Gail Hamilton Pruiett. *The History of Oklahoma Biographies Vol. II by Luther B. Hill, Page 4.

Family Members



Gravesite Details Single, flat, gray, engrave, stone marker.
  • Created by: Mike Casey
  • Added: 12 Jun 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 53617721
  • Wes Gibson
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Moman Pruiett (12 Jul 1872–17 Dec 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 53617721, citing Sunny Lane Cemetery, Del City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Mike Casey (contributor 47002614) .