Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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Entrepreneur, civic leader, and oil man Grant Stebbins provided crucial assistance in Tulsa's development, including the University of Tulsa and the Maple Ridge addition. Born in LaSalle County, near Marseilles, Illinois, on March 27, 1862, Stebbins relocated to Tulsa in 1904, after working for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and dealing in real estate in Kansas and Nebraska. In 1888 he had married Kate Critchfield, and they had one son and four daughters. In Oklahoma he also engaged in real estate and began wildcatting for oil. He first struck natural gas, not oil, and with two partners formed the People's Gas and Light Company, supplying Tulsa with its first municipal gas source.

As a land developer Stebbins bought Creek allotments and divided the land, selling to many of Tulsa's pioneers. In 1906 he and Edward McCoy donated acreage for a campus and helped lure Kendall College (later the University of Tulsa) from Muskogee. In 1909, with associates, Stebbins founded the Oklahoma Union Traction Company, a street railway that served the Tulsa region. In 1912 Stebbins served as a developer of the Maple Ridge Addition, listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District in 1983 (NR 83002138), where he built his own mansion in 1915. Maple Ridge was one of the first Oklahoma neighborhoods to implement a restriction on a dwelling's minimum size, and one portion became known as "Black Gold Row," named for the rich oilmen living there.

Nicknamed "Dry Hole," Stebbins tenaciously drilled in the Mid-Continent Region's oil fields, missing on twenty-eight consecutive attempts. He eventually succeeded and created the Gladys Belle Oil Company. He also presided over the Stebbins Oil and Gasoline Company. Enamored with the search for petroleum, Stebbins drilled wells in Canada, Montana, Arkansas, and Wyoming, as well as throughout Oklahoma. Grant Stebbins died on March 21, 1925, at a Kansas City hospital. He was buried in Tulsa.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Danney Goble, Tulsa! Biography of the American City (Tulsa, Okla.: Council Oak Books, 1997). Guy Logsdon, The University of Tulsa: A History, 1882-1972 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977). Oil and Gas Journal (Tulsa, Oklahoma), 26 March 1925. Joseph B. Thoburn and Muriel H. Wright, Oklahoma: A History of the State and Its People, Vol. 3 (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1929). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 22 March 1935.

Larry O'Dell

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