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Oklahoma's first petroleum firm, the Chickasaw Oil Company, was established in 1872. The enterprise was the brainchild of Robert M. Darden of Missouri. In February 1872 he and nineteen Chickasaw and Choctaw citizens organized the business under Missouri laws with Darden as president. Stock certificates were issued to investors.

Darden's partners included former Chickasaw Governor Winchester Colbert, a resident of Pontotoc County in the Chickasaw Nation. Oil was believed to be located near Colbert's residence, and it was there that the company sought to acquire leases on quarter sections of land. It had been agreed that the company would assume operational costs. In return, Darden and the investors would divide the proceeds equally.

The Chickasaw Oil Company was short lived. Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis Walker and Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano opposed Darden's speculation in Indian Territory and disallowed his venture. Additionally, the coal-powered Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway entered Indian Territory in 1872 and focused regional attention on coal mining.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Kenny A. Franks, Paul F. Lambert, and Carl N. Tyson, Early Oklahoma Oil: A Photographic History, 1859-1936 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981). Carl Coke Rister, Oil! Titan of the Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949). Muriel H. Wright, "First Oklahoma Oil Was Produced in 1859," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 4 (December 1962).

Jon D. May

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