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OILTON

Located in the northwestern corner of Creek County, Oilton is situated south of the Cimarron River on State Highway 99. Approximately thirty-two miles from the county seat, Sapulpa, Oilton had its start as an oil-boom town during the development of Cushing-Drumright Field. In January and February 1915 Walter Eaton and Ed Dunn sold town lots. On May 5, 1915, a post office was established, with Cora M. Murdock as the first postmaster. By mid-1915 the First State Bank opened, and the Gusher newspaper was first issued. Also in 1915 the Oil Belt Terminal Railway and the Oil Fields and Santa Fe Railway (both later acquired by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) constructed lines connecting Oilton with Jennings and Cushing. On March 24, 1915, approximately five thousand people witnessed the first passenger train arrive in Oilton.

By 1918 the burgeoning town had four hotels and several restaurants serving oil-field workers. In 1920 the town had a population of 2,231. On April 18, 1921, Oilton became a city of the first class. At that time Syrian-Lebanese entrepreneurs had established themselves as merchants and grocers. As the need for road-building material increased, a rock crusher was established two miles east of the town in 1923. By the mid-1920s Oilton had five churches and five school buildings. Local farmers grew cash crops such as watermelons, cantaloupes, corn, and cotton. Wallace Doolin and M. P. Tippin owned ranches in the area. Orchards around Oilton produced apples, pears, and peaches.

In the 1930s one cotton gin, eight oil companies, and ten gasoline plants operated. By the mid-1940s a mattress factory also offered employment. Town amenities included a public library and a city park. In September 1954 the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company started construction on a building that housed equipment enabling customers to convert from crank-type to dial telephones. In December 1961 a new brick building replaced the former post office facility that dated to 1919.

After the population peaked in 1920 during the oil boom, it declined to 1,518 in 1930. Numbers continued to dwindle to 1,225 in 1940 and 1,087 in 1970. Population rose to 1,244 in 1980 only to drop to 1,060 in 1990. At the turn of the twenty-first century Oilton had 1,099 citizens served by an aldermanic form of town government. A school with grades prekindergarten through twelfth provided an education. Almost 91 percent of the employed commuted to work in Bristow, Sapulpa, and Sand Springs. The Markham School and Teacherage (NR 82003683) and the Meacham Building (NR 82003682) were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

SEE ALSO: PETROLEUM, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. E. Newsom, Drumright II (And Shamrock, Pemeta, Oilton, and Olive): A Thousand Memories (Perkins, Okla.: Evans Publications, 1987). Oilton (Oklahoma) Gusher, 4 June 1925. "Oilton," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).

Linda D. Wilson

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