Down On Mainstreet

By Lester Clark
© by Lester Clark - You are welcome to post a link to this page.

 

The Original Oil Capitol

Chief Sapulpa, the area` s first permanent settler, was a full blood lower Creek Indian. He arrived in Indian Territory about 1850. The Treaty of 1866 between the Creek Nation and the United States provided for the establishments of Post Office` s in the territory.

When the Atlantic and Pacific railroad line extended to the area in 1886, it was called " Sapulpa Station " in honor of the Chief. In 1889, a post-office named Sapulpa was opened and the town was incorporated in 1898.

In 1894, the Euchee Mission Boarding School was founded in Sapulpa, Indian Territory. Most of the Creek and Euchee Indians in this area lived on their 160 acre allotment except their children who are in the Euchee Mission Boarding School

Sabo, Indian Territory

There was some that lived in a small Indian settlement named Sabo { Rag Town } by the Indians. The original tent settlement consisted of 12-15 tents and one building which served as the General store . It was located about six miles SE. of Sapulpa, IT. {where 141st Street and 49th West Avenue is now located..} Later on June 26, 1901, the first Post Office, was located in the same area and was known as Praper.

In about 1901, late one evening, Robert Galbreath was in the area of Sabo, Indian Territory when he stopped by the Glen family farm and asked if he could camp there over night. While there Ida Glen and her husband, both Creek Indians showed Galbreath where oil was seeping from rock structures on the couple` s land. It took four years of haggling by Galbreath, with the U.S. Department of the Interior to get permission to drill.

In September of 1905, Robert Galbreath of Tulsa and Frank Chesley of Muskogee, I.T. started drilling the well they named " The Ida Glen " They continued drilling until they had reached the Red Fork Sand, at a depth of 1400 feet with a slight show of gas. They were out of money and should have stopped there, but they made the decision to drill a little bit deeper.

Frank had just changed shifts with Robert who went to bed-on the rig where they were living. A couple of feet below the Red Fork Sand, the bit pierced a previously unknown sandstone in that area. Frank noticed a stain on the bit and ran a bailer that came up with oil.

Frank woke up Robert saying " Oil ! Oil! My God, Bob. We got an oil well. The well started to make gurgling noises and then blew in over the derrick with a " gusher". It was Oklahoma` s first major oil field and the richest field the world had yet seen.

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After the surge of the No.1 Ida Glen on Nov.22, 1905, the settlement of Sabo, I.T. became the focal point for oil distribution from the Glen Pool. Because it was located in the heart of the Glen Oil Pool.

One mile south and two miles west of Sabo, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway needed a whistle stop for their steam engines leaving Sapulpa and traveling south, land was purchased from the Kiefer family and the town of Kiefer was born at its present location.

In November of 1906, Gulf Pipe Line Company began unloading equipment for pipe line and tank construction from the new railway and the town boomed.

On Dec.12, 1906, a post office named Kiefer was located on the former Kiefer land, and it became the focal point for oil distribution from the Glen Pool as well as other oil leases. Kiefer became the " richest and busiest town in Indian territory."

In January of 1907, The Sapulpa Light wrote that Lafe Speer walked from Mounds to Kiefer to catch the noon oil train to Sapulpa. Due to this article in the paper, it tells us the oil is being transported in tank cars, due to the lack of pipe lines.

KIEFER

The discovery brought in hordes of boom followers: lease buyers, producers, tool suppliers, laborers, millionaires and newsmen. Robert Galbreath hired shotgun-toting guards to keep interlopers a mile from his claim.

An Old Timer said he remembered when he and his father was standing down the street from the Bank a little way, when Henry Star and his gang rode down the street on their horses shooting their pistols into the air. They had just robbed the Bank.

In June 1907, Henry Starr, the bank robber, took exception to the page one story in the Tulsa World about him. Starr responded by letter and wrote " if the editor of the World ever publishes another lie about my wife, I shall prove that I do not need anybody` s assistance to come to Tulsa."

Worker` s from across the Nation poured into the Sabo and Kiefer area seeking employment in the new oil fields. Along with them came the " Bowery " where a man could find entertainment in a number of dance halls or gambling halls. These establishments were open around the clock because the drilling crews worked in shifts.

The Mounds Enterprise, August 23, 1907 stated that in the Bowery, " there could be found every known method or device for separating a man and his money." Even cafes were often fronts for houses of prostitution.

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One old timer said he remembered seeing the tents that was pitched almost from Kiefer to Glenpool. Also he said, " there was a two or three story building on the creek, just east of the railroad in Kiefer, where the workers could get a shave & haircut, get a bath, get a meal, get the service of a prostitute, get drunk, gamble and get rolled without ever leaving the building.

Also he said it was not uncommon to find the dead body of one of these oil field workers in the creek, floating in the waist-deep oil. Kiefer had grown to several thousand people almost overnight and had gained the reputation of the " toughest town east of Cripple Creek, Colo.

On Oct.18, in 1909 this reputation came to pass as " Pleas " { Pleasant } Yargee, a 24 year old deputy sheriff was in town to participate in a roping contest, and took up the quarrel of a fellow contestant, that had arisen over some trifling matter.

The outcome of this dispute with " Texas Bud " Mudlock, a rancher, was several shots were fired and both were wounded in a pistol duel on the streets of Kiefer before bystanders disarmed the duelists. Yargee` s wounds were not serious, but he died of blood poisoning. " Texas Bud " Mudlock was placed in the Creek County Jail in Sapulpa, Ok. pending the cause of Yargee` s death.

Where vice abounded, so did business. There was seven banks, three theatres, two lumber yards, an opera house, 16 barber-shops, and numerous entertainment houses. Also the Kiefer Hotel, Boswells Hotel, and the Hotel Lawton plus more. At its heyday, Kiefer was home to 22,000 citizens with the richest school district in the nation, and larger than the city of Tulsa, Ok.

Carl Clark, who arrived in Kiefer in 1924, remembered Boswell` s Hotel for its " very fancy restaurant where oil men often dined.

Soon, oil field workers began bringing their families. One of these families could have been mine. My Dad worked in various oil-fields in Okla. and we lived in tents and old clap-board houses.

With wives and children came a community. There was an ever-present shortage of housing and men would hastily erect clapboard housing during their off-hours so their wives could operate more legitimate boarding houses for those men tired of living in tents.

As the oil boom played out, so did Kiefer` s industry. Oil was found elsewhere in Oklahoma and the roughnecks moved on to richer fields. In the years before and during the Great Depression, many business moved to Sapulpa.

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In 1931, oilmen, royalty owners and the public had a meeting on the 16th floor of the Mayo Hotel to discuss problems of the industry. The producers felt the price of crude oil should be increased to $ 1 per barrel. In 1938, The Madison Oil Trial found 16 oil companies guilty of violating federal antitrust laws, which was later overruled.

Those wishing to do their shopping in Sapulpa, could ride the Interurban Railway there. The Interurban Railway system extended from Sapulpa to Kiefer, Glen Pool Oil Field, Mounds and connected with the Tulsa transit system. The advent of the automobiles and the Great Depression spelled doom for the Oklahoma Union Railway Co. and in 1933 ceased operations.

Ultimately, the production of the Glen Pool slacked and the fire east of the railroad tracks in Kiefer was so severe all that remained were pictures and memories as proof of this town` s once booming existence.

All that remained of the down-town business in Kiefer after the Great Depression was the combination Bus Stop and Drug store run for many years by the same lady, "Mrs. Chapman " and One empty former Bank Building owned by a local young man.

Years later many of the oil men would sit around the pot bellied stove in the back of Bovard`s Oil Field Supply Store on North Main St. in Sapulpa and tell stories of the oil men of their memories and the great Glenpool Oil Field and most were convinced that Kiefer was the " The Original Oil Capital "

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