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FORSYTHE, JAY (1847-1936)

Cattleman, rancher, entrepreneur, and Tulsa pioneer Jay Forsythe, born in Tennessee on August 31, 1847, spent his formative years in Lawrence County, Missouri. In 1867 he joined his brothers on a ranch in Clay County Texas. Later the four brothers expanded their operation, moving their headquarters to Fort Worth, then to Gainesville, and then to Childress County, Texas. The brothers leased up to 300,000 acres. As Forsythe conducted cattle drives to Kansas through Indian Territory, he became enchanted with the territory's land. He ranched in the Chickasaw Nation and then in the Cherokee Outlet, at one time securing a contract with Darlington Agency to supply beef to the Cheyenne and Arapaho. In 1872 Forsythe married Virginia Colley, and the couple had two daughters, Lottie and Jessie.

In 1892 Forsythe relocated to the Tulsa area, leasing thirty thousand acres from George Perryman. There, he ran cattle and partnered with Texas cattleman Shanghai Pierce to fatten herds on the Creek land. Forsythe also built Tulsa's first flour mill and later its first ice plant. In 1895 he founded the town's first bank, the Tulsa Banking Company, which became the First National Bank. In 1899 Forsythe, James Monroe Hall, and other Tulsa pioneers purchased the former Presbyterian Mission School, holding the deed at no interest until the city could repay the purchase price, to use for Tulsa public education. Until Forsythe's death on August 26, 1936, he continued to be a Tulsa civic leader, active in recruiting railroads and businesses and in aiding education.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. C. Gideon, Indian Territory: Descriptive, Biographical and Genealogical, Including the Landed Estates, County Seats with a General History of the Territory (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1901). Danney Goble, Tulsa! Biography of the American City (Tulsa, Okla.: Council Oak Books, 1997). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 27 August 1936 and 29 July 1950.

Larry O'Dell

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