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Chapter 3 - The capitalization of Black Gold by Ina Hall
<Pg 36> ... It all started with the first commercial oil well in Indian Territory, drilled at Bartlesvile in 1897. There had been rumors of oil for years, but concrete proof of its existence was lacking. True, early settlers had been aware of what they termed "oil springs". Of little consequence, that oil was bottle and used for medicinal purposes or for lubrication.
... Drs. Fred S Clinton and J C W Bland, medical partners and bosom "cronies" .... Dr Bland's half-breed wife agreed to permit <Pg 37> them to drill on her homestead adjoining Red Fork and, providentially, a drilling rig on the flat-car nearby was being detained due to the inability of the owner to pay freight and demurrage charges.
The intrepid doctors borrowed $300 to free the equipment and set up a grubstake for a drilling crew. Drilling operations quickly proceeded and on Jun 25, 1901, Sue Bland No. 1 blew in at 534 feet to become the first oil strike in the immediate Tulsa area and the most highly publicized.
Journalistic ethics took a back seat to sensationalism as newspapers, emblazoned by eye-catching headlines, printed grossly exaggerated reports concerning the importance of the well. After the Tulsa Democrat, Indian Republican and Muskogee Phoenix printed their versions of the "remarkable event" vigilant citizens made certain that the national and foreign news were alerted.
Excerpts from the Muskogee Phoenix read: "the most remarkable event in the history of the country occurred Tuesday, June 25, 1901, when gas in the well being drilled by Doctor Bland and Clinton, broke loose and sent a stream of oil 15 feet in the air. The flow was struck at 540 feet and the oil was pronounced by experts to be of the very best quality."
The Tulsa Democrat: A "GUYSER OF OIL SPOUTS AT RED FORK ... The oil spouted 15 feet above the surface ... the well gushes oil and gas alternately and the oil is unsurpassed west of Pennsylvania. It is a dark green light oil, free from lumps or dirt .. it far outranks oil from Beaumont and Neodesha. Experts claim there is a vast quantity of oil underlying the land around Tulsa ... telegrams are pouring in from all over the country from persons who want something at Red Fork or at Tulsa that promises oil. Every train is bringing in men of means who want to get a foothold, and every man is at a tension of excitement. It is impossible to foretell the outcome."
Actually, the well was only a small producer, rated as good for five to ten barrels a day. The "experts" who tested the quality of the oil were Dr. Clinton and a friend, Dr F B Fite. The "process" used, as Dr Clinton later revealed, consisted of pouring the oil on shavings and lighting them. Another test involved filling a lantern with the oil, fully saturating the wick and lighting it. "A flame came up and burned like good kerosene - we were well pleased," said Dr Clinton.
Within 48 hours after news of the Bland well hit the pages of Territorial newspapers, Red Ford had 2,500 visitors. Having no accommodation for them, Red Fork turned them over to Tulsa - and the first boom was on ....
... three pioneers, Melvin Baird, Don Hagler and George Williamson ... financed the building of $50,000 toll bridge across the river [to Red Fork] ... [describing construction] ... "They filled old boilers with concrete, got Indians to cut down trees and saw the oak lumber for the floor, secured some steel on credit from Kansas City and built the bridge."
<Pg 40> ... Four years after the Red Fork episode, oil activity blossomed again. On November 22, 1905, Robert Galbreath and Frank Chesley completed Ida Glenn No. 1, discovery well in the Glen Pool Field, 15 miles south of Tulsa. This time around, Tulsa was formally introduced to real "big time" production and the excitement it breeds.
... [Glen Pool Field] ...the 2nd well came in at 700 barrels a day, the 3rd at 2,000 barrels.
... By statehood in 1907, Glenn Pool was known as the richest small oil field in the world - with 500 wells, some gushing 2,000 barrels a day of the rich black crude.
.. Many prominent people were forced to occupy rooms in such small hotels as the Alcorn and St Elmo, while awaiting a vacant house, a rarity at the time. With no modern facilities ordinary washtubs were used for bathing which, due to the scarcity, entailed a long wait for a bath when the hotel was crowded. Some ingenious folk solved that problem by buying their own tubs, storing them under their bed and paying boys to carry hot water up to their room.
<Pg 45> ... In 1912, the great Cushing field blew in and soon became the most spectacular producing pool of its size in the world. Frantic producers constructed dams to stop the waste when wild gushers could not be controlled and streams of wasted oil flowed down creeks and ravines. By 1915, the output reached 300,000 barrels a day ... pipelines were totally inadequate to handle the irrepressible flow and millions of barrels of oil had to be placed in storage.
The world market was broken by the excessive production of the Cushing field and the price of crude oil in 1916 declined to 35 cents at times as low as 23 cents.
Chapter 4 - Tulsa's Diversified Riches by Ina Hall
<Pg 53> Cheap electric lighting. Tulsa had big chances for "Cheap electric lighting" when the Democrat report on January 5, 1905: "The most important question before the people of Tulsa now is that of a system of lighting the city. A first class system of electric lights should be gotten in operation as soon as possible. Under existing circumstances it seems as though the only way to get a system soon is by granting a private franchise. Several propositions are before the council. An examination of all of them shows that the one offered by the People's Gas Company, who are the owners of the big well near this city is the most favorable." The article concluded by mentioning that the highest permisable fee by territorial law as $7.50 per month for all night lighting.
<Pg 55> That's Going Some!" On September 29, 1904, the Bank of Commerce proudly advertised in the Democrat, "BANK OF COMMERCE, Tulsa, Indian Territory. CAPITAL $30,000.00. A home institution solicits your business. The most liberal treatment consistent with Safe Banking."
By 1915, Tulsa's bank deposits were half those of Houston. Atlanta, or New Orleans. In July 1917, the Spirit proudly proclaimed, "Bank deposits in Tulsa almost $1,000 per capita. That's going some!"
The Spirit announced in March, 1918: "Organization of a million dollar life insurance company by Tulsans became known recently with the announcement from Oklahoma city that certificate of organization of the Atlas Life Insurance company of Tulsa had been approved by the state insurance department.
"This is the third life insurance company to be organized in Oklahoma and the first for Tulsa. Located in the heart of a great agricultural section, recognized as the financial center of the state and the oil capital of the world, Tulsa now aspires to become a leader in the insurance world."
<Pg 59> C B Lynch and Mel Baird proposed the first Booster Train and solicited individual subscriptions of $100 at a time when the oil money had not begun to drop into Tulsa in such volume as to give the city more millionaires per capita than any other in the country. Then $100 was $100 - a lot of money.
The investment yielded immediate dividends.
During the first 18 months after the 1905 Booster Train traveled 2,500 miles in searach of investors and inhabitants for Tulsa, more than $1 1/2 million poured into the city as a result.
Tulsa may not have been on the maps of folks living in Chicago, but the Easterners seemed to appreciate the boosters' explanation "that Tulsa wasn't on the map because it grew faster than maps could be printed."
The One Hundred Club sponsors who went on the trip claimed Tulsa was a "magnificent metropolis of sever churches and not a single saloon," and that if a person wanted to hear something lovely to the ears, all he had to do was come to Tulsa and listen to the sound of dollars clicking, one against the other.
That, too, was when a dollar was a dollar.
If that didn't convince folks to pack and move to Tulsa, the 1905 Boosters brought out a young fellow who smiled a wry smile and twirled a rope so fat it could make a man's head spin. The fellow's name was Will Rogers.
Three years later the Booster's entertainment was an equally interesting, if different, type of entertainer - Emmett Dalton.
Dalton and his brothers and their friends were self-employed Tulsans. They robbed banks.
This did not bother Tulsans too much, though, because Emmett and the boys always robbed the banks in other cities. Anyway, Tulsa Booster Emmett Dalton traveled on the 1908 train which visited dozen of Eastern cities, including Chicago. Neither Dalton nor the other Tulsans went unnoticed.
"Dalton proved his faculty for entertainment at many points, especially on the visit of the party to the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade," read on newspaper account. "When he 'held up the layout' in true western style, he caused a panic of hilarity among the traders on the floor."
So innovative were these early Tulsa volunteers that for the first time the trading wires between Chicago and New York went dead - and Emmett Dalton didn't even have to cut them.
<Pg 61> 1918 - Milo film corporation opened in Tulsa. The owner of the company, George F Carson, announced that the company would make westerns in Tulsa. The first picture would be a western shot in the streets of Tulsa using 30 locals as actors. In June 1920, the Western film company was formed in Tulsa. By the end of the year its first effort, a western, had played to packed houses at the Rialto.
1916 - Tulsa had a Claro-cola plant with the capacity of 2,000 gallons per day of drink-making syrup. The locals were pleased that they now had access to a tasty non-alcoholic beverage. That same year the largest bread plant south of Kansas City was built here by the Midwest Bread Company.
January 1919 Spirit "Three years ago this firm - owned by G N Wright, W A Brownlee and J Burr Gibbons - acquired a formula for the safe, sure modern method of exterminating insects. Today "Hofstra" is a household word with the farmers, housewives and merchants of 26 states."
In June, 1920 Hunt department store opened its doors.
In March, 1920, the Spirit reported on a new local industry, a car manufacturing plant that produced, "THE TULSA" an oil field car, and a family car called the "TULSA 4". ... Selling for $1,445 ... [claiming] "In actual performance it has withstood the almost unbelievable shock and strain of rapid driving over oil field roads."
1925 - City received 89,250 grape plants to start a large viticulture industry and a firm specializing in the canning of pork and beans with tomato sauce opened.
In April 1927, the Purity Ice Cream Company opened the most modern ice cream plant in the country. The plant boasted of being able to make 500,000 gallons a year. On a smaller scale the Spirit ran an article in the same issue on Ike Minick who besides running a prosperous cafe also ran a farm, which supplied the cafe, was located in the country and supplied Minick with between 400 and 600 eggs daily, from his 1200 chickens, and 200 gallons of milk from his 100 cows.
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