An incorporated town in rural northwestern Osage County, Webb City lies at the intersection of county roads E0140 and N3530. The community is located approximately five miles northwest of Shidler and about thirty miles northwest of the Osage County seat of Pawhuska. Named in honor of townsite owner Horace M. Webb, a post office was opened there on December 16, 1922.
Around 1910 Missouri native Horace M. Webb settled with his wife and nine children just south of Grainola in Osage County, Oklahoma. He purchased additional land as it became available and helped start the area's first school. The town of Webb City was established on his property in September 1921.
Webb City was located on the northern edge of the Burbank Oil Field, which was discovered by Ernest W. Marland in May 1920. Mineral rights in Osage County, otherwise known as the Osage Nation Reservation, were owned by the Osage tribe. In 1922 the Phillips Petroleum Company acquired the right to drill on Webb's property, which he subsequently sold. The Osage Railway extended its line from Shidler to Lyman by way of Webb City in 1923-24.
Webb City prospered during the Osage oil boom, but life there remained crude. The town lacked electricity, fresh water was scarce, and false-fronted wood buildings lined unpaved streets. The first federal census for Webb City counted 493 citizens in 1930. At that time the town had four churches, and its public school system had been consolidated with Shidler. The number of residents declined as the oil boom slowed during the Great Depression, and fell steadily from 352 in 1940, to 233 in 1960, and to 99 in 1990.
Webb City had a population of 95 in 2000. Although situated in a farming and ranching area, most residents employed in 2000 worked in construction or in sales. At the turn of the twenty-first century the nearest post office was located in Shidler. The Osage Railway line was abandoned in 1955, and the town has had no known newspaper.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989). Osage County Profiles (Pawhuska, Okla.: Osage County Historical Society, 1978). "Webb City," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Jon D. May
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