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A prominent independent oil man, Robert McFarlin helped establish present Oklahoma as a center for the petroleum industry. The son of Porter and Caroline McFarlin, he was born in Ovilla, Texas, near Waxahachie, on July 27, 1866. In l886 he married Ida Barnard. He moved to the Oklahoma Territory in l895, settling near Holdenville. In 1903, after little success in farming and banking, McFarlin bought ten acres near Kiefer with borrowed capital. He joined with his nephew, James Chapman, to found the Holdenville Oil and Gas Company to develop the Glenn Pool Oil Field. In l908 Chapman married McFarlin's daughter Leta. In l912 McFarlin and Chapman founded the McMan Oil Company.McMan was a leader in the development of the Cushing Oil Field. The venture also had holdings in Texas and Kansas. In 1916 McFarlin and his partners sold McMan to Magnolia Oil Company for $39 million.

By 1914 McFarlin had settled in Tulsa, and he soon became a leader in civic affairs. He also spent much of his time and resources in charitable endeavors in Tulsa and the Southwest. Among his contributions were $600,000 in l924 for the Methodist Episcopal Church in Norman, $600,000 in l925 for the McFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, and $300,000 in 1929 to build the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa. Robert McFarlin died on August 11, 1942, in Kansas City, Missouri after a long illness and was buried in Norman.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 12 August l942. Carl N. Tyson, James H. Thomas, and Odie B. Faulk, The McMan: The Lives of Robert M. McFarlin and James A. Chapman (Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.

Carl Tyson

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