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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 6, No. 2
June, 1928
THE OKLAHOMA MINERAL EXHIBIT AT THE ST. LOUIS WORLD'S FAIR

BY CHAS. N. GOULD.

Page 145

At the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, usually spoken of as the St. Louis World’s Fair, in 1904, Oklahoma had been a territory a little more than ten years. In 1902 the territorial legislature made an appropriation of $40,000 for all purposes to take care of Oklahoma’s part in the big show. Governor Cassius A. Barnes appointed as a commission to look after the matter the following men: Joseph A. Meibergen, a merchant of Enid; Otto A. Shuttee, a banker of El Reno, and Fred L. Wenner of Guthrie, who was at that time secretary to the governor. Later, on account of press of other duties, Mr. Wenner resigned and Mr. Edgar A. Marchant, an editor of Aline, was appointed. Mr. Meibergen was chairman of the commission, Mr. Marchant secretary, and Mr. Shuttee treasurer.

With the $40,000 appropriated by the Legislature, this commission erected an Oklahoma building on the exposition grounds, collected and installed an agricultural, horticultural, and mineral exhibit, paid all the traveling and other expenses, and at the close of the fair, had a few hundred dollars to turn back to the treasurer of the territory.

At that time I had been teaching geology at the University of Oklahoma only about two years, but was already becoming enthused with the vast possibilities of the development of the mineral wealth of the twin territories, Oklahoma and Indian Territory.

One notable thing accomplished by the Commission was the fact that the plaster and cement used on the Oklahoma building on the exposition grounds all came from the gypsum mills then operating in the Territory of Oklahoma. The gypsum used to make the outside stucco or staff of the building came from an experimental mill in Caddo County. The material for the cement used in the interior of the building came from the mill in Blaine County. All this material was donated by the United States Gypsum Company, which was then operating in Oklahoma.

Mr. Wenner, who was secretary to the commission until after the exhibit was all practically collected and

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the building completed, was instrumental in getting the material for the building and getting the gypsum company to donate it. This was the first time that Oklahoma gypsum was called to the attention of the outside world.

This was several years before statehood, but at that time many of us were beginning to believe that the two territories would eventually become a single state.

I conceived the idea that it would be a profitable thing to have an exhibit of the minerals of Oklahoma at the World’s Fair. With this thought in mind I wrote Secretary Wenner at Guthrie regarding the matter, and received from him a very courteous reply. A few weeks later I was asked to attend a meeting of the commission at which time arrangements were made for me to have active charge of the mineral exhibit, and I was instructed to begin collecting the materials for such an exhibit.

It was then that my troubles began. I really knew very little about exhibits of any kind and had never attended a very large exposition, and did not know just how to go about the matter. Another difficulty was that the Territory of Oklahoma had not at that time any considerable amount of minerals which had been developed. Oil was unknown. The first oil produced in Oklahoma Territory was discovered at Cleveland, Oklahoma, during the summer of 1904, while the Fair was in session. Mr. O. A. Mitscher of Oklahoma City shipped a dozen quart bottles of the crude to Mr. C. A. McNabb at St. Louis who turned it over to the mineral exhibit.

There was no coal in Oklahoma Territory, no lead nor zinc. About all that we had at that time was an abundance of red dirt, some gypsum, salt, and building stone. I determined, however, to make the best showing possible of the things we had, and, during the winter of 1903-4, I employed a student at the University, Mr. Eck F. Schramm, of Newkirk, to collect samples of building stone. Mr. Schramm visited quarries in Kay, Osage, Pawnee, Noble, and Payne counties, and the material collected was shipped to the campus at Norman. I employed a stone mason, J. P. Stumff of Perry, to dress the stone into cubes about eight inches square, giving a different finish to each of the six faces. These blocks of building stone were sent to St.

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Louis. When they had served their purpose, they were returned, and for a number of years were on exhibit in the mineral building at the State Fair at Oklahoma City, and are now back on the campus at the University.

The exposition was held at Forest Park, a suburb of St. Louis. Frederick J. V. Skiff was general director of exhibits, and the chief of mines and metallurgy was Dr. J. A. Holmes, afterward the first director of the U. S. Bureau of Mines. A large number of buildings were constructed, mainly of staff, or gypsum plaster mixed with excelsior. The Mines and Metallurgy building was 750 feet long, 525 feet wide, 60 feet high, and covered about 9 acres. It cost $502,000. Oklahoma was assigned a space near the center of the building about midway between two doors. The exact location of Oklahoma’s exhibit was in block 51, aisle F. On one side of us was Indian Territory, and on the other Kansas. Across the aisle were Arkansas and Montana. At that time most of the other states greatly exceeded Oklahoma in variety and abundance of developed mineral wealth, and they all had more money with which to dress up and make attractive their exhibit space. It looked as if we were doomed to be lost in the shuffle.

During the year 1903 and the spring of 1904, I made several trips to St. Louis to arrange for space and for tables and shelving. During these trips I saw a number of prominent men, David R. Rancis, ex-Governor of Missouri, and ex-Secretary of Interior in Cleveland’s cabinet, was president of the Exposition. I remember seeing Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, who was then president of the United States, Cardinal Gibbons, and a number of other men of national reputation.

The two chief objects of interest in the Oklahoma exhibit were, first, a plaster model of the Territory painted in vivid colors, and second, two immense blocks of gypsum. The plaster model had been prepared at the University by a model maker, Dr. J. M. Finney. It occupied a prominent space in the center of the exhibit and attracted much attention. After the close of the exposition it was shipped back to the campus of the University at Norman and for many years has been in the Science Building.

Blocks of gypsum were used rather effectively to ad-

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vertise the resources of the state. As I have said, there was at that time no large amount or great variety of minerals in Oklahoma. Gypsum was in fact our leading mineral. I arranged with the manager of a gypsum company in Blaine County to send us two large rough blocks of gypsum just as they were quarried from the ledges. These blocks were about three feet square at the base, and stood about eight feet high, tapering slightly toward the top. Instead of being set at the rear of the booth, near the wall, they were placed out in front upon two extra heavy tables, which, in turn, were based upon a re-enforced floor beneath. Thus, these imposing monoliths of white alabaster stood flush with the middle aisle of the building which led past the booth.

Another striking exhibit was a stone wall erected along the front of the booth composed of neatly dressed blocks of building stone which Schramm had collected from the various counties in the Territory.

As souvenirs, we distributed thousands of “petrified roses,” a peculiar form collected near Norman. From this exhibit samples of these “roses” were taken to many museums in the East and in Europe where they may still be seen. Dr. H. W. Nichols of Field Museum at Chicago, took several of these specimens, studied and described them, and named them “sand barite crystals,” and published a paper setting forth the results of his investigations. This was the first published account of the “roses.”

I used to get a kick in standing off at one side and watching the people come in the building. A man would enter one of the doors and look down the long aisle. His eye would be caught by those pillars of white gypsum standing upright near the center of the building, and it almost seemed as if they would draw him like a magnet. The man would focus his eye on the gypsum and would march past much better exhibits than ours, those with brass rails and plate glass cases, until he tood before our rather crude but striking exhibit of gypsum. This was the time when we took the opportunity of preaching to him the gospel of Oklahoma, the new Territory.

Since 1904 I have had the pleasure many times of having people from all parts of the State tell me that the

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first time they ever became interested in Oklahoma was at the mineral exhibit in St. Louis when they were standing by the big block of gypsum and listening to the boys tell of the wonders of the new Territory.

Mr. C. A. McNabb who had charge of the agricultural and horticultural exhibit, agrees with me. I quote from a letter recently received from him:

“That the displays prompted thousands of people to eventually make Oklahoma their home, there is no doubt in my mind. For some years after the fair, I was constantly being reminded by people I met in my travels over the State that I was the cause of their coming, referring of course to having met me at the Oklahoma booth during the show.”

In conducting an exhibit of any kind it is not only essential to collect the material, but it is even more essential to have some one who knows what it is all about and can explain it to visitors. This was our difficulty. We had no money to pay a salary to any one to remain with the exhibit. So I hit upon the following plan. At that time there were a number of young fellows beginning to be interested in geology at the University of Oklahoma who were willing to spend two weeks in St. Louis for expenses only. So I arranged with the commission to pay the railroad fare and board of a number of these young men, each of whom was to stay at the exhibit for two weeks. The plan was that one man should be sent up from Oklahoma each week. Each man spent the first week learning about the mineral exhibit and seeing the rest of the exposition, and the second week in teaching the new man who came on the job. I am not quite sure that I can remember the names of all the men who were employed, but the following list is approximately complete:

A. M. Alden, E. L. Edwards, H. A. Everest, L. L. Hutchison, A. Martin Kingkade, Chas. T. Kirk, E. A. Klein, Pierce Larkin, Charles Long, William Low, Tom B. Matthews, John A. Merkle, Ira W. Montgomery, Chester A. Reeds, Eck F. Schramm, Ralph Sherwin, Harry B. Tosh, Guy Y. Williams, Roy Wolfinger.

Mr. Schramm and Mr. Kirk aided in installing the ex-

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hibit and Mr. Matthews had charge of dismembering it and sending the material back to Norman.

Oklahoma put on only three exhibits at the Exposition, the agricultural and horticultural exhibits housed in two other buildings were in charge of Mr. C. A. McNabb. The Oklahoma State Building at the Fair which was the headquarters of Secretary Marchant and Oklahoma visitors, was afterwards removed to El Reno where it has since served as the Elks Club. I remember that when Governor Ferguson came to visit the Fair at the time of the opening, Mr. Schramm and I, who had been occupying the governor’s room at the Oklahoma building, had to go outside the grounds and rustle another place to sleep.

In thinking back over the events, I am convinced that the mineral, agricultural, and horticultural exhibits at the St. Louis Exposition were worth many times over what they cost. They helped to put Oklahoma on the map. And while no one will ever know accurately how many people it brought to the State, I have no doubt that were we able to collect the facts it could be demonstrated that thousands of people were attracted to Oklahoma on this account.

I will go a step further and say that it is my deliberate judgment in the light of the experience of more than a quarter of a century, that money spent in this kind of advertising is always well spent and that Oklahoma will always make a mistake if she does not take advantage of future opportunities.

What a change there has been in the last 24 years from 1904 to 1928! At that time the value of the mineral resources of Oklahoma and Indian Territory approximated $6,000,000 a year. It is now $570,000,000. At that time Oklahoma and Indian Territory together ranked 33rd among the states of the Union in the value of mineral products. To-day Oklahoma ranks second. At that time the oil produced in Oklahoma and Indian Territory was only a few thousand barrels a year. Now it is over 200,000,000, valued at over $400,000,000. At that time there was practically no natural gas produced. To-day the value of natural gas is over $40,000,000 annually. Natural gas gasoline had not been invented at that time. To-day the value of this material in Oklahoma is over $40,000,000. In 1904

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Oklahoma produced no lead nor zinc. In 1927 the value of these products was over $50,000,000. From nothing to our present eminence all within a quarter of a century. What will the future bring?

The following list includes the names and the materials furnished by the chief exhibitors in the mineral booth at the St. Louis Fair. The arrangement is alphabetically by counties as the same were in existence before statehood. Many of these counties have since been changed.

Blaine: York Alexander, gypsum; American Cement Company, gypsum and cement; J. W. Boyer, dolomite; L. Copeland, colomite; Geary Pressed Brick Company, brick and shale; Chas. Harper, gypsum; A. Henquenet, salt and clays; M. Kirkoff, dolomite; A. McBride, sandstone; P. J. Mendenhall, dolomite; J. Muely, dolomite; Ruby Stucco Company, gypsum and cement; J. R. Womack, dolomite.

Caddo: H. Caldwell, sandstone and sand; R. T. Hoff, dolomite; M. T. Trumbly, dolomite.

Cleveland: C. Kaupka, sand.

Comanche: C. H. Milliken, sands; W. E. Root, sand stone.

Custer: J. D. Ballard, gypsum and sandstone; O. B. Kee, sandstone; Ed Price, gypsum and sand.

Greer: L. J. Chaney, gypsum and salt; W. B. Keiser, salt and gypsum; W. H. Kettell, granites; J. S. Plunkett, gypsum; L. B. Sims, limestone; W. B. Sprague, granites; C. A. Stubbs, sand.

Kay: E. R. Amers, limestone; J. C. Armstrong, limestone; John Baker, limestone; Blackwell Cement Company, cement; Chilocco Industrial School, limestone; C. H. Klein, limestone; W. T. McCann, sandstone; Newkirk Gas and Mineral Company, oil; N. S. Young, limestone.

Kiowa: O. A. Boxley, limestone; J. McMary, limestone; J. Mobs, limestone; P. Waldron, iron ore; Wilkes Pressed Brick Company, brick and clay.

Lincoln: D. J. Rader, sandstone; P. F. Sennet, sandstone; J. Loveall, sandstone.

Noble: E. Hutchison, sandstone; J. P. Stumpp, conglomerate, sandstone and sand; C. P. Walker, sandstone and sand.

Oklahoma: American Brick and Tile Company, brick

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and shale; Oklahoma Brick Company, brick and shale; Okla-Stone Manufacturing Compny, artificial building stone.

Pawnee: A. Catlett, limestone and sandstone; J. W. Lamberson, sandstone; Geo. McCann, sandstone; Alex Reids, son, standstone.

Payne: Ed Bush, sandstone; T. L. Butler, sandstone; T. B. Cross, sandstone; J. Harris, sandstone; J. Hixon, sandstone; Hopkins Bros., sandstone; E. H. Hough, sandstone; Sam Muns, sandstone; M. Murphy, sandstone; J. Williams, lime.

Pottawatomie: A. B. Clark, iron rock; E. Danal, brick and clay; A. Graham, sandstone; Dan McNally, sandstone; W. W. Stark, sandstone; R. A. Timmons, gravel; J. H. Whitson, sandstone.

Roger Mills: A. J. Gammon, sandstone; A. Griffling, sandstone; W. M. Wall, sandstone; L. Yeager, sandstone.

Washita: Noah Vance, sandstone; Ed Williams, sandstone.

Woods: G. M. Clapp, sandstone; A. E. Summer, gypsum.

Woodward: H. Anderson, sandstone; R. Burrenet, gypsum; J. M. Dean, gypsum; John Gober, sandstone; L. M. Hanna, clays; L. T. Hathaway, gypsum; J. Hiphson, sandstone.

In order to keep the record straight, mention should also be made of the mineral exhibit put on by citizens of Indian Territory. At that time there was no method of raising funds in the Indian Territory except by popular subscription. A number of public-spirited citizens interested in the future development of the country met and perfected the following organization:

Commissioners: Chairman, Hon. Thos. Ryan, First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D. C; Executive Commissioner, F. C. Hubbard, Muskogee, I. T.

Honorary Commissioners: J. E. Campbell, Alluwee, Cherokee Nation; H. B. Spaulding, Muskogee, Creek Nation; H. B. Johnson, Chickasha, Chickasha Nation; A. J. Brown, Wewoka, Seminole Nation; J. J. McAlester, McAlester, Choctaw Nation; Wm. Busby, South McAlester, Choctaw Nation, and W. L. McWillians, Miami, Quapaw Agency.

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The names and addresses of men who assisted in collecting Indian Territory’s exhibit are as follows:

Cherokee Nation: J. E. Campbell, Alluwee; F. M. Overlees, Bartlesville; J. A. Quinn, Pryor Creek; Joe M. LaHay, Claremore; C. O. Frye, Sallisaw; L. F. Parker, Vinita; A. B. Cunningham, Tahlequah; W. C. Strange, Chelsea.

Creek Nation: T. A. Parkinson, Wagoner; Sam Cobb, Wagoner; C. H. Tully, Eufaula; J. B. Morrow, Checotah; Hull H. Schaff, Holdenville; Joe Trent, Okmulgee; Fred Turner, Tulsa; A. R. Querry, Tulsa; H. B. Spaulding, Muskogee; F. C. Hubbard, Muskogee.

Choctaw Nation: J. J. McAlester, McAlester; Wm. Busby, South McAlester; G. T. Ralls, Atoka; R. L. Williams, Durant; H. C. Nash, Antlers; Ed McKenna, Poteau.

Chickasaw Nation: R. W. Dick, Ardmore; Sidney Suggs, Ardmore; Guy P. Cobb, Tishomingo; H. B. Johnson, Chickasha; Dorset Carter, Purcell; T. T. Johnson, Minco; T. P. Martin, Jr., Marlow; C. J. Grant, Pauls Valley; J. A. Taylor, Wynnewood.

Seminole Nation: A. J. Brown, Wewoka.

Quapaw Agency: W. L. McWilliams, Miami.

One of the most outstanding exhibits in the Indian Territory booth, which joined the Oklahoma booth, consisted of two or three large blocks of coal, each about five feet square. Mr. Wm. Busby, one of Indian Territory’s Honorary Commissioners, had charge of the collection and installation of the coal exhibit. At that time he was the largest coal mine operator in the territory.

In connection with this exhibit was a very fine colored geologic model in plaster showing the outcrops of the various coal beds and associated formations of the Coal Fields of the Choctaw Nation. This model was prepared by Edwin E. Howell of Washington from maps and reports by Joseph A. Taff of the United States Geological Survey, who had spent several years mapping the coal fields. This model was afterward removed to McAlester and may still be seen on the walls of the office of the operators’ association.

Indian Territory’s exhibit was furnished by the following companies and individuals:

Cherokee Nation: R. M. Butler, filtering stone; Cudahy Oil Company, oil and oil sands; Guffey and Galey, oil and oil

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sands; Marble City Marble Company, marble; F. M. Overlees, oil and oil sands; J. A. Quinn, lead and zinc; W. J. Strange, oil and oil sands.

Creek Nation: J. M. Givens, oil and oil sands; Wm. Owen Quarry Company, building stone; Phoenix Oil Company, oil and oil sands; Pioneer Oil Company, oil and oil sands; C. W. Turner, lead and zinc.

Choctaw Nation: Atoka Coal Mining Company, coal; Cameron Coal and Mercantile Company, coal; Central Coal and Coke Company, coal; Coalgate Coal Company, coal; James Degnan Company, coal; Devlin-Wear Coal Company, coal; Eastern Coal Company, coal; Great Western Coal and Coke Company, coal and coke; Hailey-Ola Coal Company, coal; Le Bosquet Coal and Mining Company, coal; McAlester Coal and Mineral Company, coal; McAlester Coal and Mining Company, coal; Milby & Dow Coal and Mining Company, coal; F. H. Nash, lead and zinc ore; Osage Coal and Mining Company, coal; Poteau Coal and Mercantile Company, coal; Turkey Creek Coal Company, coal.

Chickasaw Nation: The Gilsonite Company, crude asphaltum; Harris Granite Company, granite; H. B. Johnson Company, red sandstone; Sidney Suggs, crude asphaltum; Wapanucka Mining Company, iron ore.

Indian Territory (Choctaw Coal Operators Association):Coal and coke; Wyandotte and Sallisaw, lead and zince ore; Tishomingo, granite; Marble City, marble; Red Fork and Muskogee, crude oil and sand oils. Hunton-Chickasaw, pyrites of iron and manganese; Ardmore and Sulphur, crude asphaltum; Antlers, carbonate, lead and galena and native lead ore.

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