William Durant

William Durant 1937 - 1948

William A. Durant was born at Bennington, Indian Territory, o­n March 18, 1866. He was the son of Sylvester Durant, a Presbyterian minister, and Martha Robinson. His early education began at Bennington and later he attended school in Durant. He earned a Master of Arts degree at Arkansas College, Batesville, in 1886.

After his graduation Durant entered the teaching profession but soon gave up that line of work to study law. Upon completion of the course of study, he was licensed to practice in the courts of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and also in the Federal Courts. Chief Durant married Ida May Corber, daughter of George Corber, o­n April 19, 1892.

Durant, a successful farmer in addition to his law practice, served the Choctaw Nation a number of ways. He was Inspector of Academies, Superintendent of Jones Academy, Royalty Collector for his district and Special District Judge. In 1890 he was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the Choctaw Legislature. A year later he was chosen Speaker of the House. After statehood, he was a member of the first, second and third Oklahoma Legislatures.

O­n November 16, 1907, Mr. Durant took part in the ceremony that united Oklahoma and Indian Territories into the forty-sixth state. Mrs. Leo Bennett, of Cherokee descent, played the part of Miss Indian Territory and William A. Durant had the pleasure of giving the bride away. Durant became Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1937. He remained in office until 1948. Politically Mr. Durant was a staunch Democrat. Fraternally he was a Mason, an Elk and belonged to the Order of Knights of Pythias. Chief Durant died August 1, 1948, in Tushka Homma at the age of 82. Services were held in Tushka Homma and in Durant where he is buried.