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One of Oklahoma's earliest oil development schemes involved tribal lands in the Choctaw Nation. In 1883 Dr. H. W. Faucett of New York urged Choctaws, led by their former principal chief Allen Wright (1866-70), to organize a company through which they could obtain tribal land leases. Faucett would sublet the acreage for petroleum exploration and would pay the company 15 percent of any proceeds. Guaranteed 5 percent of the company's royalty, the Choctaw General Council approved the venture. The Choctaw Oil and Refining Company was incorporated on October 23, 1884.

Faucett was granted an exclusive right to drill for petroleum and to construct pipelines to a railroad or a refinery. He and the Cherokee Council negotiated a similar deal that was later revoked. The two agreements gave Faucett a combined lease of some thirteen million acres.

Plagued by a scarcity of equipment and funds, Faucett began work slowly. Displeased by the inactivity, company investors sought his dismissal in 1886. Undeterred, he drilled a well along Clear Boggy Creek west of Atoka that produced oil in 1888. Unfortunately, he died in 1888 of typhoid fever just prior to the strike. Without his leadership the Choctaw Oil and Refining Company collapsed.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 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 1926).

Jon D. May

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