A Legacy of Service: The Genealogical Roots of Governor Mary Fallin

Delve into the proud Oklahoma heritage of the state's 27th governor, Mary Fallin, and learn how to trace your own family roots in Oklahoma.

Mary Fallin, Oklahoma's 27th Governor.

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Governor Mary Fallin’s story has been one of heritage, opportunity and public service.  From the covered wagon that carried Mary’s great-grandfather into Indian Territory to the Oklahoma governor’s office she now calls home, Governor Mary Fallin and her ancestors are known for hard work, their steadfast Tecumseh roots and a love for Oklahoma and public service that has been passed down through the generations.  Explore Governor Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma roots and learn how you can begin your own search into your family tree within the great state of Oklahoma.

A Heritage of Hope

The 27th governor of Oklahoma is no longer known by her maiden name, but she still carries her father's moniker. Only those closest to her know that Mary Fallin's father, Newt, named his infant daughter Mary Newt Copeland. Born in 1853, Thomas Newton Copeland and his bride, Fannie Mae Carr, left their home in Wayne County, Tennessee, with three small children in tow.  After arriving in Indian Territory, a fourth child, Mary's grandfather Benton, was born.  He was nearly five years old when Oklahoma became a state.

The arrival of the Copelands' last-born child occurred just four months after statehood.  By this time, the family's roots were planted deep in Tecumseh soil. 

"My grandparents had several small businesses in town.  They owned the skating rink, a restaurant and the Copeland Laundromat.  I was 10 when my grandfather died, but my grandmother lived to be 99 years old.  She saw me elected to the Legislature and to the post of lieutenant governor.  Had she lived another five years, she would have joined us for the 2011 inauguration."               

Ties that Bind

Governor Fallin was named for her mother as well.  "My mom's name was Mary Jo, which is much better than Mary Newt," quipped the governor.  "Now you know why I use my maiden name instead of my middle name: Mary Copeland Fallin."

The other Mary - Mary Jo - came from a long line of cotton farmers who worked their way through the cotton fields as they made their way to Oklahoma.  "My grandmother, Ina Duggan, and her family lived in a covered wagon.  That was their only home when they arrived here.  For them, Oklahoma represented hope and opportunity.  I believe our state still offers those same prospects to families that live and relocate here."

Following in Her Family's Footsteps

Public service is a legacy on both sides of the governor's family.  Her great-grandfather, Colonel Wilson Duggan, served in the Tennessee State Legislature from 1842 to 1852 and was elected for another term at the close of the Civil War.  Her grandfather, W.L. Duggan, followed in his father's footsteps and served two terms in each branch of the Tennessee Legislature.

Mary's own parents were public servants as well.  Both were state employees: her mother worked for the Department of Human Services and her father for the Employment Security Commission.  In the early 1980s, her father ran for mayor of Tecumseh.  He lost, but he didn't quit.  Newt Copeland ran again a second time and won. Unfortunately, his tenure was cut short by an early and untimely death.  Mary Jo was asked to complete his term, and in doing so, became the first woman mayor of Tecumseh.  She was an 'Oklahoma First,' just like her daughter, who was the first woman and first Republican to serve as lieutenant governor, and is now the first woman governor of this great state.

Begin Your Search

Join Governor Mary Fallin in a celebration of Oklahoma heritage and ancestry by unlocking your family history and discovering your own ties to Oklahoma.  With genealogy recently claiming the title of most popular hobby in the nation, now is the time to gather up names of ancestors, locations of births and deaths, and any other relevant family information that can aid you in this rewarding search for Oklahoma roots. 

Armed with this material, begin your search on TravelOK.com’s main Genealogy Page.  This convenient guide to Oklahoma’s wealth of genealogical resources is organized by county and features everything from cemetery records and links to tribal nations, to county courthouse information and detailed county maps.  Check out our handy national and statewide resources section for a great place to start, or visit the Family Research Center, located within the Oklahoma History Center, for more information.

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