NEWKIRK — Charlie Adams Day is only weeks away, and the Newkirk Historical Society and Newkirk Main Street are gearing up for the first event in two years. The Storytellers are also returning, and this year, Delphina Jenkins will be portrayed by Carol Henson.
Delphina “Della” Mendenhall White Jenkins married William Miller Jenkins. She attended Earlham College, a private liberal arts college of the religious Society of Friends, with Quaker values of integrity, commitment to peace and social justice, mutual respect and community decision making.
After Jenkins was admitted to the bar in 1883 they moved to Arkansas City. A Republican, William Jenkins participated in the 1888 Republican National Convention and cast the first vote ever received by William McKinley for a presidential nomination.
Jenkins was appointed as agent for the allotment of Pawnee lands in Oklahoma. In 1893 he participated in the Cherokee Outlet Land Run, taking a claim southeast of Newkirk. In 1897, President McKinley appointed him as Secretary of Oklahoma Territory, and Jenkins moved his family to Guthrie.
In May of 1901 he was named governor of Oklahoma Territory by President McKinley to succeed Barnes. He was inaugurated on May 13, 1901 only serving for seven months. His administration coincided with the opening of the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache and Wichita-Caddo lands by lottery in August 1901.
McKinley was assassinated in late 1901 and Jenkins’ opponents investigated his role in a corporate stock exchange involving the Oklahoma Sanitarium Company, which contracted with the territory to provide mental health services. The Interior Department examined the situation and found no irregularities, and in spite of this President Theodore Roosevelt removed Jenkins from office claiming that he handled the stock in an “indiscreet” and inappropriate role. In 1903-05 the Oklahoma territorial legislature investigated and completely exonerated Jenkins. William Jenkins and family remained in Guthrie for several years and continued to farm in Kay County.
During these early days Mrs. Jenkins was well known for her religious work. She was a member of the Quaker/Friends Church. When she arrived at the homestead in Kay County, she set about setting up a meeting house and caused to be moved an old abandoned dance hall from Newkirk to the corner of the claim for that purpose.
In February 1895, she addressed a revival meeting along with the Presbyterian minister, Rev. Whittaker, for a revival meeting at the courthouse.
She and her husband also established the Wolf Creek Cemetery on their homestead southeast of Newkirk where two of their sons are buried, Josiah J. Jenkins and Arthur Lee Jenkins. From the dates on the stone, one was undoubtedly moved from Arkansas City.
The Jenkins deeded the property to the Trustees of the Methodist Protestant Church, Newkirk “to be used for Church School and Cemetery.”
At one time Delphina was the state evangelist for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She continued this work throughout her life and did mission work in Sapulpa, Okla. until a short time before her death. In 1932 the WCTU had a membership of 250,000. Lizzie Bordon was also a member. Their slogan was “Service, Strength, Power.” She was also very active in welfare work.
Delphina will be portrayed by Carol Henson at Charlie Adams Day on Sept. 11. This year the storytelling will be held in front of the Newkirk Public Library. The Newkirk Community Historical Society, which has received a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.