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 The Beginning of Tulsa
By J. M. Hall (1927)

(c) Karolyn Kay Garland (1997)

Nothing here is free for the taking. This book is reproduced here with the permission of the copyright holder - see copyright statement.

 Page 47

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First Telephone (con't)

He was R. H. Hall, a son of H. C. Hall, the founder of the town.
        The town was small but he went to considerable expense establishing the plant, not only for the needs of the day, but for the future. He had not operated long before he saw the need for a long distance connection. He paid $500 to a man who was supposed to have a friend in the person of a United States senator who would obtain permission from the secretary of the interior for the building of a line to Vinita where the long distance connection was to be made. The permit came through as scheduled, but when Mr. Hall was starting the work he found that the Pioneer Telephone Co had been setting poles and stringing wire from Vinita to Tulsa. Hall had to stop. Next the Pioneer company applied to the city council for a franchise and it was granted after a hard fight and Mr. Hall was forced to sell to the larger company. He was disgusted at the decision of the council and left Tulsa, going to Missoula, Montana, and later to Couer d'Lene, Idaho, where he and Mrs. Hall and their two children live at the present time. The children, a boy and a girl, are students in the University of Idaho.


Photo B F Colley


        Tulsa's first bank was formed in 1895. Jay Forsythe was its principal organizer and business was begun under the name of the Tulsa Banking Co. Mr. Forsythe had as his associates: B. F. Colley, who served as president; and C. W. Brown, who was cashier. Mr. Forsythe was vice-president and one of the directors. He built a stone banking house next to the Lynch Brothers store at the corner of First and Main Streets.
        Mr. Forsythe had many other interests to engage his time and could give only part of his attention to the bank. In January of 1899 it was reorganized and took the name of the First National Bank which it still retains. The First National is the oldest and next to the largest bank in the present day city of Tulsa.
        The statement of the first bank, as of March 5, 1898, shows deposits of $43,744.42; demand (deposit) certificates of $3,140.43; capital stock of $10,000 and a profit already earned of $888.16.
        Before the bank was opened, for 13 years, most of the merchants did their banking business in St. Louis. They cashed checks in Tulsa and that kept them from storing large supplies of money. When the surplus cash would pile up, it was expressed to St. Louis Banks.
        B. F. Colley, the president of Tulsa's first bank, has been interested in the banking business most of the time since the bank was organized. He was a director in the Central National bank for many years. He was also in the cattle business. He lives at 1207 South Baltimore. His wife passed away about one year ago. He has two daughters, one son, R. P. Colley, an attorney in Tulsa.


        But there was fun as well as tragedy and mystery in the early days. A mullato negro by the name of Sorrel made a barber chair and opened the town's first barber shop. He was a good barber when sober - but it was very seldom that he could be found sober.
        Two cowboys coming to Tulsa late one afternoon found Pole Cat creek running full. They tried to swim their horses across but slipped off. Both managed to catch the horses' tails but one was hurt and drowned. The body was recovered almost immediately and taken to the depot warehouse.
        Whisky peddlers kept their liquor under the warehouse floor. Barber Sorrel knew this. That night he picked the lock of the warehouse and felt his way around, trying to locate the loose board which marked the whisky cache. He happened to put his hand on the dead cowboy's face. Tulsa lost its first barber then and there.

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