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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.
Early Tulsa Businesses (con't)
Mr. Forsythe was in the cattle business many years in Texas, Western Oklahoma, the Osage Nation and Tulsa county. The time came when Uncle Jay could not ride a bronco like he did when he was a younger man. He had to change his occupation. He was the prime mover in organizing Tulsa's first bank. He also built Tulsa's first flour mill located on west First street. He made a good quality of flour and meal and had a good market for all he could produce. Later Rea Reed Milling Co. erected a mill on east First street. Much more wheat was grown in Tulsa county then than now. The construction of the railroads and reduction of freight rates made it impossible for Tulsa millers to compete with larger mills in other states.
Mr. Forsythe converted his mill plant into an ice and cold storage plant. Later he sold out to Ball and H. P. Anderson. Mr. Forsythe was interested in the Lynch and Forsythe addition, and many other enterprises. He has always been interested in the growth and development of Tulsa. He has retired from business and lives on East Admiral and Victor streets.
The old milling plant has changed ownership many times, and it finally fell into the hands of the Public Service Co. I think I can say that we have the best Electric Light Plant in the state of Oklahoma. We should not forget Fred Insull.
EARLY COAL MINING
About the time the trains began running between Vinita and Tulsa, John Bullette of Claremore, and Pace Hefflefinger arranged with Joe Goumaz to open a coal mine at Dawson. Goumaz began stripping the dirt off the coal and soon had disclosed large deposits. There was little market but it was before gas had been discovered and the villagers bought what they could burn. Deliveries were made by wagon to the homes.
There was no opportunity to sell fuel to the Frisco, for it had a contract with the M. K. & T. Coal Co. The M. K. & T. later opened a mine near Dawson, bringing the first steam shovel west of the Verdigris river, it did not prove a good investment.
Bullette and Hefflefinger continued to operate and they made some money as the market grew. After their deaths the coal land passed into other hands and the development went on steadily. John McBride was one who mined coal extensively in that area for some years.
The Central Coal & Coke Co. of Kansas City bought the M. K. & T. company and Bill Perry, the new president, sent drillers to Tulsa to examine the properties. Holes were punched throughout the area of the suspected coal lands and a vein from 261/2 to 28 inches thick was found. For some years now the business has been growing in importance.
EARLY DAY ACTIVITIES
The chief diversion of pioneer Tulsans was furnished by the frequent hunting trips. The country had a plentiful supply of wild life and in two weeks a hunting party could make a large bag.
In November, 1896 Mr. and Mrs. Jay Forsythe, Mr. and Mrs. T. E. Smiley, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Morrow, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Dickason and the writer and his wife formed a hunting party. When the first deer was killed Mr. Forsythe cut off the head, dug a hole in the ground, poured water on newspapers and wrapped the paper around the head. Then he placed the head in the hole and covered it with earth. An immense fire was built over the spot and kept blazing for several hours. When the head was dug up it was splendidly roasted.
During this trip the party ate venison, turkey, duck and quail
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