Chisum, John Oscar (1895–1979)

By: Christopher Long

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: September 19, 2019

John Oscar Chisum, optometrist and civic leader, was born in Dallas on December 12, 1895, the son of Benjamin and Rosa Pauline (White) Chisum. After graduating as salutatorian from Dallas Colored High School in 1916, he worked briefly as a mortician. During World War I he served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. In 1925 he graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Otology and Optometry in Chicago and returned to Dallas, where he practiced optometry until his retirement in 1965. He was on numerous boards and committees of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also an active member of Tommy Robinson American Legion Post No. 802 and was among the founders of the Moorland Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association, which served the Dallas black community. During the early 1950s Chisum gained fame as one of the leaders of a movement to halt the expansion of Love Field. He was first married to Goldie Belle Ramage in 1920; in September 1923 he married Ethelyn Mildred Taylor. Chisum died in Dallas on September 9, 1979, and was buried in Lincoln Memorial Park. After Ethelyn Chisum's death in 1983, the Chisums' foster niece, Ouida H. Parham, donated their extensive collection of papers, correspondence, photographs, and other objects to the Dallas Public Library. The collection, which covers the period from 1895 to 1983, is an outstanding source of information about life in black Dallas during the first half of the twentieth century.

Biographical Files, Dallas Public Library.

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Ophthalmologists and Optometrists
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Christopher Long, “Chisum, John Oscar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
September 19, 2019

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