Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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One of Oklahoma's leading entrepreneurs in the first half of the twentieth century James Chapman was born April 3, l881 in Ellis County, Texas, to Phillip and Roxanna Chapman. In 1901 James Chapman moved to the Holdenville area. In 1906 he joined his uncle, Robert McFarlin, to form the Holdenville Oil and Gas Company, a leading developer of the Glenn Pool field. In l908 Chapman married Leta Mae McFarlin, his partner's daughter. In 1912 Chapman and McFarlin created the McMan Oil Company to lead the expansion of the Cushing Field. In l916 Chapman and his partners sold McMan to the Magnolia Oil Company for thirty-nine million dollars. In l917 the two founded the McMan Oil and Gas Company. This company created substantial holdings in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. In l930 Standard Oil's subsidiary, Dixie Oil, purchased McMan Oil and Gas Company for twenty million dollars in stock and cash.

By 1912 Chapman moved to Tulsa and became prominent in civic affairs. After l930 he invested in oil leases and banking, suffering through the troubles of the latter during the Great Depression. He spent much of his time working at the Chapman-Barnard Ranch in Osage County, Oklahoma. Despite all his success in business, ranching remained his first love. He contributed heavily to many charities in Tulsa and Oklahoma. Chapman died on September 22, l966. His business acumen and insight were highlighted when his estate was assessed at $120 million, making him one of America's richest men.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carl N. Tyson, James H. Thomas, and Odie B. Faulk, The McMan: The Lives of Robert M. McFarlin and James A. Chapman (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, l977).

Carl Tyson

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