Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Praises Called in For Sapulpa Songs
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
In January 1925, Sapulpa’s very own Jimmie Wilson and his band Catfish String Band played proudly on the radio station KFRU in Bristow. It was one of the four largest stations in the southwest, along with Dallas, Fort Worth, and Kansas City. Representatives from almost every city in Oklahoma, including Jimmie Wilson and the band, on opening day.
The band was a regular show for KFRU in Bristow; when W. G. Skelly bought the station in 1928, he moved it to Tulsa. Skelly renamed the Station KVOO and advertised itself as the “Voice Of Oklahoma.”
This week in Sapulpa history, February 20, 1928, KVOO would broadcast more local vocalists from Sapulpa. And “radio fans like Sapulpa’s music.”
The Sapulpa program through KVOO reached coast-to-coast. “Messages from California to Washington, D.C., from Birmingham, Alabama to Grand Rapids, Mich., gave evidence of the popularity of the Sapulpa program. Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and states in between joined the throng of those sending messages to KVOO testifying to the merit of the Sapulpa concert.”
Chamber of Commerce of Sapulpa produced a program that aired from 10 to 11*.
*Note: the article did not specify 10 to 11 in the morning or 10 to 11 at night. In the same sentence, however, it said that the program “echoed from the Pacific to the Atlantic last night.” Either the program was taped and then broadcasted at night or it was live at night, it did not state. But it is believed to have been aired live that very night.
“Gene Redd, of the entertainment committee of the Chamber of Commerce was the announcer. He introduced Billy House, a Sapulpa youth who is now appearing prominently on Orpheum circuits, and whose company is at the Orpheum at Tulsa this week.
“The program of the [African-American] spirituals broadcast by the Booker T. Washington High School chorus of mixed voice, and the male quartet numbers from the school brought a shower of congratulatory messages to KVOO.
“T.R. Rice, a saxophone player, was also a popular entertainer with the radio audience. Mrs. Beatrice Roberts, soprano, broadcast several numbers which met with the approval of her listeners. She was accompanied by Miss Ella Thrasher at the piano.”
“Telephone calls from all parts of the state were received during the Sapulpa broadcasting hour.” It was truly a coast-to-coast praise for the Sapulpa songs.
If there was any questions as to where the singers were from the announcer made sure to give a brief history of the town. “Sapulpa, S-A-P-U-L-P-A, spelled and pronounced as the natives pronounced it. In announcing the Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce program, Redd described the geographic location of Sapulpa and made a brief statement about the community. He explained the pronunciation of the name, often mispronounced by visitors from other states.”
There was a radio interview between Groucho Marx and Tallulah Bankhead aired on November 20, 1950. It aired with Ezio Pinza, Fanny Brice, Hanley Stafford, Jane Powell, and Merideth Willson. It provided an entertaining half-hour to its listeners. Tallulah mentions Sapulpa around the 20-minute mark. She mentions she was touring for one of her plays that won cheers everywhere across the country except “Sapulpa, Oklahoma.” (Tallulah pronounced it as Suh-poop-lah). The audience laughs and gives great applause. Grouch even says, “Well, that is certainly a novel pronunciation. What happened there, Miss Bankhead?” She blames the play's failure in Sapulpa on Bette Davis.
But that’s a story for another day…
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Wild Story About the Liquor Conspiracy and Lew Wilder
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
This week in Sapulpa history, on February 12, 1938: “Jury Convicts Wilder and 2 Others: Creek County Sheriff Found Guilty on First Count of Liquor Conspiracy.”
County Sheriff Lew Wilder, Harry Stein, and John Whitwell were convicted in the indictments involving “making and selling booze.” James Knight, a former special deputy under Wilder, was acquitted of his charges. “The first count of the indictment involved the alleged conspiracy as it pertained to the manufacture and sale of non-tax paid whisky. The second count dealt with the sale of tax paid liquor.”
Wilder, who had taken office in January 1935, “was held guilty on the first count of a federal grand jury indictment charging conspiracy to violate the government’s liquor revenue laws.
Stein, dubbed the “‘collection man’” in the papers, was “in the purported liquor conspiracy, and was held guilty on both counts of the indictment when the jury brought in its verdict.”
Whitwell, a former liquor dealer in Sapulpa, “was convicted on the second count of the indictment.”
On the same day of this conviction, Chief of Police J. Edwards received a letter of concern about the “lax enforcement of city liquor laws.” A letter from the County Attorney, Everett Collins, had asked for a report on the “alleged failure, or indicated failure to enforce city laws pertaining to sale of liquor.” The letter also indicated that the Attorney wanted a full investigation “into liquor conditions in Sapulpa and Creek County.” The letter stated:
Edwards responded with his own quotes from the “trial of alleged liquor conspiracy cases involving Creek County,” stating: “‘When asked on the witness stand if it wasn’t common knowledge that liquor laws were being violated, I answered ‘Yes,’ but I didn’t say we were not trying to enforce the ordinances. I have never denied that liquor was being sold in Sapulpa. There always has been and probably always will be violators of that law. I am going to enforce the law to the best of my ability. I have never refused, where there was evidence showing liquor being sold, to enforce the law, and we’ll keep on trying to enforce the ordinances.”
According to police court records in 1937, “458 drunks were hailed into the City Court, 25 for driving while drunk, and 13 persons convicted on possession of liquor.” The special investigator read to the jury “a list of liquor cases filed in Creek County since Wilder took office. It showed that many cases were dismissed and that many defendants received 30 days in jail and $50 fines.*”
*Note: $50 in 1935 then would be just over $1,000 now.
The trial also included four other people in the liquor conspiracy. The Federal Judge Murrah dismissed the charges against these men, however. The jury began their deliberations over the fate of the Creek County Sheriff Lew Wilder and the three others; sentence day would be March 4.
Just two days later, the headlines read “Lew Wilder Back on Job as Creek County Sheriff,” and “Chief of Police not to Answer Collins Note.”
Wilder stated he would not resign from his office; he planned to “take every legal step entitled to him to fight the case.” It was stated, however, that a potential “ouster proceedings,” or dismal hirings, may follow up.
“Both County Commissioners, Charles Dressler, of Drumright, and George Willibey, of Sapulpa, stated that they knew nothing of any action being taken to remove the Sheriff.” However, Collins “revealed that he was drawing up a brief on the law as regards an ouster action relating to the Sheriff.”
Edwards made the decision about Collin’s note. “Chief of Police Edwards stated he was not going to answer the letter from Collins, requesting a report of alleged failure to enforce city laws pertaining to liquor sales.”
In April, Wilder and Stein were both sentenced to one year and a day in prison. They were also fined $1,000 each*. Wilder stated he would repeal the sentencing. Just weeks later, the County Commissioners voted to hold ouster proceedings on Wilder.
*Note: in 1938, $1,000 would be just over $20,000 today.
By early June, however, headlines read, “Jury Finds Lew Wilder Not Guilty.” Sheriff Wilder was reinstated as sheriff when the jury in the ouster proceedings found him not guilty. “The court had instructed the jury that a nine to three vote would be sufficient to reach a verdict. The first vote taken as soon as the case went to jury was eight to four for acquittal. The final vote was unanimous.” This was only on the county proceedings; it did not free him from the conviction of conspiracy charges*.
By November, a new trial was ordered by the US Court of Appeals in Denver in this case. The court held that the County officers did not bear any official duty to enforce government internal revenue laws. And in January 1939, after a wild year for Wilder, the case was dismissed for the liquor conspiracy charges against Sheriff Wilder, Stein, and the other defendants*.
*Note: in October 1937, after over a year of investigation of the “whisky ring conspiracy” a total of 20, including Collins, were indicted and nearly all were dismissed, acquitted, fined, and freed.
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Waite Phillips and Barnsdall Filling Station in Sapulpa
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
Waite Phillips was one of the ten children in the Phillips household. He and his twin brother, Wiate, were born in 1883. They were also the younger brothers to Frank and L.E. Phillips of Phillips Petroleum Company. These brothers created petroleum operations around Bartlesville in 1906. Waite began his career under the guidance of his brothers.
By 1914, Waite sold his interests to his older brothers to begin on his own. He became an oil producer and marketer. He would soon have “the Waite Phillips Company in 1922 and the Independent Oil and Gas Company” around 1927.
“After 1918, he had his headquarters in Tulsa. While in Tulsa, Waite built several office complexes, such as the Philtower and Phicade Buildings. He also had a mansion built, the 72-room Italian Renaissance-style Villa Philbrook. In 1938, during the Great Depression, Phillips donated his immense home to the city of Tulsa, which adapted it into the Philbrook Museum of Art.”
This week in Sapulpa history, in 1923, it was announced that a new building for an $8,000 filling station would be erected on the corner of E Lee and S water.
“A modern filling station will be built at the Southwest corner of Water and Lee streets in the near future, according to a building permit issued by the Waite-Phillips company yesterday afternoon.
“The permit states that the service station will be constructed of brick and cement, at a cost of $8,000*. The new station will be one of the largest in the city, the permit stating that dimensions will be 20 feet in width and 50 feet in length.
“The location decided upon the Waite-Phillips Company will result in filling a gap on the Water and Lee business blocks. For some time, this particular corner has remained vacant. Work on the new station is to start soon, it was said.”
*Note: the Waite Phillips Filling Station on Lee was estimated to be around $8,000 in 1923, which would be around $133,000 today.
“The original building was built and owned by Waite Phillips Company. It remained in the building from 1923 to 1927, when it was taken over for the next two years by Higrade Service Station, McAllister & Company. In 1929, Barnsdall Refinery Company bought the building.”
The Oklahoma town in Osage County, Bigheart, was the original name for the renamed town of Barnsdall. Bigheart was named for an Osage Chief James Bigheart. The community was later named for Theodore Barndsall and his Barnsdall Oil company (both from Pennsylvania) on January 1, 1922.
The town of Bigheart was founded in 1905. The town survived natural disasters ranging from “a tornado in 1911, a major fire in 1913, and a flood in 1915.” Bigheart Oil Field was discovered in 1916 for the Bigheart Producing and Refining Company. In 1921, Barnsdall Oil Company purchased the oil field. At its peak, the town grew to a population of 2,000 residents by 1920*.
*Note: today, the population just reached 1,000 townsfolk.
The filling station on Water and Lee was owned and operated as a Barnsdall station from 1929 to 1938. “From 1938 to 2007, the facility was the home of several businesses.” This included “O.S. Janow, Walter Jones, Sapulpa Battery Company, Wardrobe Cleaners, Ted’s One Day Wardrobe Cleaners, Durbin’s Locksmith,” and Willard Battery Store.
In 2007, the Sapulpa Historical Society purchased the building that went up for sale. Restoration began with aid of grants, foundations, donations, and the great efforts of many, many volunteers and workers. Some donations and purchases included “an old Barnsdall sign from an owner in Kansas City,” and “from First Data in Tulsa, donated some wonderful old original gas pumps and station memorabilia.” It would also house two antique vehicles of a 1922 Buick and a 1929 Ford. The Waite Phillips-Barnsdall Filling Station, now a part of the museum, is owned and operated by the Sapulpa Historical Society still today.
(Oklahoma Hall of Fame; Oklahoma Historical Society; Philbrook Museum of Art; Sapulpa Herald, February 9, 1923, January 8, 1927, June 22, 1929)
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – U.S. Deputy Marshal Gary Teel is Not Asked Back to Sapulpa
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
Before statehood, Indian Territory (I.T.) was often seen as a lawless land with many opportunities for outlaws. U.S. Deputies roamed the territory, taking charge and intercepting crimes in territory towns. Sapulpa had a reputation of being a haven to many outlaws and vices, such as gambling, liquor, and murder. One U.S. Deputy was assigned for the area of Muscogee, Sapulpa, and closeby areas. U.S. Deputy Marshal Gary Teel made headlines for his arrests of thieves, gamblers, and criminals.
But this week in Sapulpa history, many Sapulpans and the District Attorney D.A. McDougal believed it was time for Teel to not return to duty in the Sapulpa township.
1904. “Teel captures the booze. Deputy Marshal Teel got busy last Sunday got busy at the Frisco depot and landed on a case of Oklahoma beer that was billed over the Red River division. The case contained 48 bottles of the foamy stuff. Teel confiscated the beer and smashed it on the railroad tracks.” Teel made sure that the township would stay a dry town, and no black-market liquor would cross into the area.
Red Fork citizens had a similar incident, however, residents of Red Fork were not having the law telling the citizens what to do. Two officers, Commissioner Jennings and Deputy Teel visited Red Fork. “They didn’t catch a thing at Red Fork, although over half the town were summoned by Teel.” The officers entered the town after “some reports of lawlessness in that town” and went to investigate. Teel summoned most of the citizens to the stand as witnesses of the character of the town. “After being put on the stand, they [the citizens] forgot all about everything they ever knew. Commissioner Jennings and Teel returned in the afternoon after a practically fruitless trip.”
Just weeks later, Teel investigated a possible suicide or murder in Sapulpa. “Walt Whitaker, local gambler found dead with bullet in his heart.” The town was no stranger to murder, and Teel was able to gather a story of the night of the death. “Whitaker, as a gambler and local sport, was well known in this part of the Territory. While it is generally conceded that he came to his death by his own hand, there are a number who hold to belief that Whitaker was fouly murdered and then hauled out and dumped near the [cotton] compress. Two men out driving reported that while out near the compress, they saw the flash of a gun and then some people running away from the scene. It is also reported that Whitaker was in trouble without money and at outs with his wife. Nothing was found in his pockets, except loaded dice and cards emblems of his profession, to indicated why he would commit the deed.”
1905. Deputy Teel’s daughters moved to Sapulpa. It had not listed where his family had been staying, however, often husbands and fathers would work in townships and states away from the family during Territory days. On the train into Indian Territory, after leaving to retrieve his daughters, Teel was able to apprehend a whisky-peddler. “Teel was on the train returning home. He noticed a fellow get on with a might heavy grip, and as soon as the train entered Indian Territory, Teel opened the grip. It was pretty full of booze.”
As stated earlier, U.S. Deputies were assigned to an area to bring law to the land. Sapulpa papers would call U.S. Deputy Marshal Gary Teel as one of the “busiest men in the Creek Nation.” Teel was also assigned to Tulsa. The law was keeping Teel busy in the Indian Territory. Many stories of Teel arrests in the area made headline news. “Teel arrested bootlegger near Bixby.” In Muscogee, “Teel arrested a horsethief from Manford, arrested in Pawnee.” Teel would arrest potential thieves and vandals. “Teel arrested four men charged with fence breaking.”
1906. Sapulpans spoke out against Teel for abuse of power. “An officer of the law has a right to do his duty and should do his duty under any and all circumstances, and generally speaking no one is going to interfere with the performances of such duty. On the other hand an officer of the law has no right to use his authority in an endeavor to bulldoze or assault a citizen, whether it be in his place of business, upon the street or public highway.”
The evening of January 27th, 1906, Teel was in town from Tulsa, and he wished to find possible booze in town. “Teel sent a [person] into the Turner Drug Store to buy what he could in the way of invigorating beverage. The [man] came out with three bottles of McLean’s Strengthening Cordial, a patent medicine.”
Teel arrested the clerk at the drugstore and called Dr. Turner to have him come in, aw well. “Teel accused Turner of changing the corks in the bottles.*”
*Note: this could be in reference of accusing Turner in changing the medicine from said bottles to liquor beverages, similar to changing labels on drinks.
Dr. Turner said he never changed the the bottles, and Teel lied. Teel slapped the doctor twice. “Turner made no effort to protect himself, but at once swore out a warrant for Teel, charging him with assault and battery.” It was said that Teel believed liquor was in Turner store, and had been trying for weeks to capture the liquor.
This week in Sapulpa history, on February 1, 1906, Teel went back to Tulsa, and had another Marshal to serve in Sapulpa for the time being. Teel was not arrested, but was also not re-appointed to the Sapulpa district. The townsfolk did not wish to have Teel back in their area. Marshal Bennet took over the duties in Sapulpa.
However, Teel and his daughters lived in Sapulpa. Just weeks later, the Deputy Marshal was in town when a shot rang out in town. “The case is the result of a family affair and is about as follows: Hickcox was married some weeks ago to Miss May Teel, a daughter of U.S. Deputy Marshal Gary Teel. For some time, he thought an affection existed between his wife and Wisda, a brakeman. Wisda, lived in the Garst building. His suspicions were aroused and went to Wisda’s room where he found his wife in company with Wisda. He pulled a gun and shot Wisda, the ball striking at the waist.” U.S. Deputy Marshal Freshour of Bristow arrested Hickcox.
Gary Marshal and another officer, John Querry, both Deputy Marshals, “tendered their resignations as officers in the employ of the government, and both will reside in Tulsa in the future. ‘I hereby tender my resignation as Deputy Marshal for this district, to take effect March 31. I would rather have two big marbles at the north end of Main Street in Tulsa, with instructions to roll them up and down the street the rest of my life than to have to live in Sapulpa, and be marshal of the Western District.”
Marshal Teel was honored by the city of Sapulpa by naming Teel Road after him.
(Sapulpa Democrat, February 1, 1906, February 22, 1906, April 5, 1906; Sapulpa Light, March 10, 1905, May 12, 1905, February 23, 1906; Sapulpa Signal, July 14, 1904, July 21, 1904, August 4, 1904, January 12, 1905)
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Freezing Temperatures Did Not Stop the Fun
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
This week in 1940, the Sapulpa area had temperatures ranging from -4 to 34 degrees. Just weeks prior, snow accumulated in the area, in a snowstorm. “Oklahoma’s dry soil began to absorb the moisture from a six to 18-inch snow covering today as temperatures mounted above freezing for the first time in more than a week.”
“Waynoka had seven degrees above zero. Tulsa had eight above, McAlester 13, Ardmore 10, and Oklahoma City 18…The record cold wave that sent the Oklahoma mercury as low as minus 11 degrees centered over Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio today.” The newspaper ran an eerie image of Chicago covered in ice. “Sub-zero temperatures no aid to firefighters,” as the crew ran to the scene of a potential fire, but could not get past the solid ice of vehicles in front of the building.
The cold front kept coming. “Oklahoma’s second storm within a week brought snow, high winds and near-zero temperatures.” In Sapulpa, it was announced that these were the coldest days in a near decade, since 1933.
“An interesting table of temperatures since 1928 compiled at the Herald office shows zero weather in January of 1928 and February of 1929. In 1930, the mercury dropped to 13 below for an amazing cold siege. Snow and sleet remained on the ground for three weeks. Low marks are recorded for the following years back:
“December 14, 1931: 22 above; December 12, 1932: 10 above; February 8, 1933: 4 below; January 30, 1934: 12 above; January 21, 1935: zero; January 8, 1936: 1 above; January 23, 1937: 8 above; January 21, 1938: 8 above; February 8, 1939: 8 above; January 18, 1940: 4 below.”
The City Water Department had some issues to handle. “The City Water Department had received 13 trouble calls during the cold spell for frozen lines and burst pipes. Children at the Liberty School who had brought their lunches today, ate them without an accompanying drink of water. The water lines were frozen and there was none at the school throughout the day. School dismissed at 2:15, earlier than usual.”
Families, children, and groups used the cold temperatures to their advantage, though. With temperatures at 10 degrees, “ice skaters here were taking advantage of the ice at Pretty Water. Many skating parties were held there over the week due to below freezing temperatures.” It was said that it had been several years since it was cold enough to freeze Pretty Water for such large groups to skate on.
Listed in the “Society” column, a column that often shares dinner parties, club get-togethers, and family reunions, shared a regular meeting, too, had a little fun. “The Petite Debutantes met in the home of Miss Elaine Young for a business and social meeting.
“Refreshments were served by the hostess and were served by the hostess assisted by her mother and her sister, Miss Dorothy Young, after the business session and later the entire group went ice skating at Pretty Water Lake.
“The following members were present: Miss Betty Jo Hermes, Miss An Ellinghausen, Miss Jennie May, Miss Claudeen Humes, Miss Mary Routsong, Miss Frances Lea Mayes, Miss Joan Waite, Miss Patsy Potter, Miss Barbara Berry, and Miss Patricia Wilson.”
And even with such low temperatures, Sapulpans used this time to have a little fun.
Frisco Leaves the Sapulpa Station
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Frisco Leaves the Sapulpa Station
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company arrived in the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory by the 1870s. Track flooded to Tulsa beginning in 1882, and then to Red Fork by 1884. It came to Sapulpa from Red Fork in 1886. When it did arrive in town, it was a dead end because tracks from Oklahoma City to this area had been connected yet. The dead end ended on North Main Street.
When the railroad line was available for the Sapulpa township, the first passenger train came to pick up the Sapulpas. Sapulpa and his son, William Sapulpa, were invited from the railroad to take the first train into Sapulpa. Sapulpa was also given two brass spittoons from the train.
The train arrived in the Sapulpa township for the cattle industry and for its harvesting of Walnut trees. Cattle was a huge business in the area, at the time. Cattlemen could lease land from the Creek Nation for the great expanses of open prairie with native grass. In addition, Walnut trees were plentiful along Rock Creek and Polecat Creek.
St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company, also known as Frisco, became the successor to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company. The transition began in the 1880s, but began its transition in Indian Territory by 1897. When Frisco became the main railway system in the area, the line from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, Sapulpa was named as headquarters for the construction.
With this new development, this created a small boom for the town. In 1901, Frisco extended its line South to Texas. With lines radiating North, South, and West, Sapulpa became the Division Headquarters. A structure was built to aid the large and various extensions pulling into Sapulpa; a roundhouse was built to store, clean, repair, cool down, and transition engines.
Even with the growth, rumors and worries began for the citizens of Sapulpa that the movement would be taken to Tulsa. Tulsa Frisco headquarters had shops, and had extensions from other railway systems connecting their stations. “With the locating of more railroad shops, officers, division men, etc., at Sapulpa, it doesn’t look as though Frisco is going to move the round house to Tulsa, this month anyway.”
With the town’s growth, Frisco needed a permanent location for its workers. Frisco built a housing facility for its employees for overnight stays. The two story YMCA, Young Men’s Christian Association, opened on February 14th, 1905. The building was located on the north end of Elm Street, just off of East Hobson. The building had sixteen rooms with 32 beds on the top floor, and these were only used by the Frisco workers. The main bottom floor was divided into offices and reading rooms. The basement had a gymnasium, bathrooms, and the boiler room.
In 1907, Fresco built a new depot and Harvey House. The Harvey House was located at the junction of the three tracks, also known as the “Y” section. “The Sapulpa building had no rival in the area. The new Tulsa Frisco station,” in 1906, “had a Harvey Newsstand, but no meal service…” Sapulpa’s Harvey House offered food and board. “The Sapulpa depot was a busy place in the ‘teens, serving 14 trains a day, both through trains and commuter service to oilfields.”
All seemed well. Over the next decades, Frisco would expand and improve their Sapulpa yard. By 1919, the roadhouse expanded and had installed 18 full stalls for the expansion. However, as mentioned earlier, the roundhouses were used for storage, repairs, and to keep engines cool and clean. To keep engines cool and clean, plenty of water needed to be used.
During this time, Tulsa’s water supply was obtained from the Arkansas River. Among other things in the River, the water was too salty, which caused the boilers to rust out too quickly. Tulsans, themselves, would not drink the water and used other sources. It was always said that the River was “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.”
Sapulpa, too, had the same issues with the water supply. The contamination also had to do with the oil activity near the water sheds. Frisco began searching for another resource nearby. Charles Page, from Sand Springs, came to mind. Soon, a deal was made that Sand Springs would assist Frisco in their water dilemma.
Over the next year, Sapulpa and Tulsa were able to resolve the water supply issues. However, Tulsa had obtained another resource to have one up on Sapulpa. By November 1921, Tulsa passed a near $7 million dollar bond issue to construct a new water supply from Spavinaw. It was completed by 1924.
Heavy rumors began that Frisco would officially move its headquarters to Tulsa. Frisco had outgrown its Sapulpa station. The quality and quantity of water coming to Tulsa now was a huge factor in the decision.
Sapulpa tried to stop the move by going to the legal system. After suing for their rights and claims for the Frisco workers and station to be kept in Sapulpa, Sapulpa would win several of these cases. Even with several wins, the one loss in court was the one that mattered.
This week in Sapulpa history, Sapulpa lost the case to keep Frisco in town. “Sapulpa’s hope for keeping the Frisco shops and terminials was knocked into a cooked hat at five o’clock yesterday afternoon.” Appeals were made, but the United States Supreme Court had the ultimate decision.
At midnight on February 9, 1927, just weeks later, Sapulpa ceased to be a Division Headquarters for the Frisco Railroad.
(County Democrat-News, January 20, 1927; Frisco Archives Online; Sapulpa Light, August 5, 1904, February 17, 1905; Sapulpa Herald, January 20, 1927; Sapulpa Times, July 19, 2021; Sapulpa Historical Society, Vol. 1)
History of The Friday the 13th
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – History of the Friday the 13th
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
A phobia is an anxiety disorder defined by a fear of something. “There seems to be a phobia for every imaginable fear. A fear of crowds is called demophobia and ochlophobia. The fear of close- in spaces is called claustrophobia. The fear of heights is called acrophobia, and the fear of death is called necrophobia and thanatophobia.”
The date of Friday the 13th, and the number 13 itself, has been deemed unlucky to some people. The fear of the date Friday the 13th and the number 13 is known as triskaidekaphobia, paraskavedekatriaphobia, and friggatriskaidekaphobia.
Friday the 13th occurs at least once a year. In some years, there have been multiple reassurances of the date. For example, this year in 2023 has two: January and October. “There can be no more than three Friday the 13ths in a single [Gregorian] calendar year.” The most common Friday the 13ths fall within February, March, and November. The last trio set was in 2015; the next trio set will be in 2026.
But superstition of the date stretches far back in time. The calendar day of Friday has a significant meaning by itself. “The negative association with Friday specifically has a combination of religious and cultural origins.” “In the 14th and 15th centuries, prominent figures and writers started to publicly denounce the day [of Friday] with little context as to why. George Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ depicts Friday to be ‘a day of misfortune’ and playwright Robert Greene defined ‘Friday-face’ as ‘a sad look of dismay or anguish.’”
“In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday an unlucky day” for Tuesdays are dominated by the influence of Ares, the god of war. Even the Fall of Constantinople occurred on Tuesday, May 29, 1453.
Friday the 17th is a superstitious date for Italian cultures. “In Italian popular culture, Friday the 17th is considered a bad luck day. The origin of this belief could be traced in the writing of the number 17 in Roman numerals [XVII]. By shuffling the digits of the number one can easily get the word VIXI, [“I have lived,” implying death at present] an omen of bad luck.”
The number 13 has an association of bad luck, as well. “Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror…superstitions have swirled around the number 13 for centuries. While Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel), 13 has a long history of bad luck.”
“The unlucky nature of the number 13 [may have] originated with a Norse myth about 12 gods at a dinner party. The trickster god, Loki, who was not invited, arrived as the 13th guest.” Loki was able to persuade a god to shoot and kill another with an arrow. “The whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned.”
In another culture, “the superstition seems to relate to various things like the story of Jesus’ last super and crucifixion, in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.”
The superstition of Friday the 13th may not have started with certain historical events. “There are many theories that date back to earlier centuries…the real Friday the 13th hysteria started in the 20th century. Many date this back to Thomas Lawson’s 1907 book “Friday the Thirteenth.” “In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on Friday the 13th.”
One of the more believed stories on the fear of the date occurred on Friday, October 13, 1307. “Officers of King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar, a powerful religious and military order formed in the 12th century for the defense of the Holy Land.” Many of the members of Templar were executed.
Other historic dates around the superstitious date involve “the German bombing of Buckingham Palace, Friday, September 13, 1940…a cyclone that killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh, Friday, November 13, 1970; the disappearance of a Chilean Air Force plane in the Andes, Friday, October 13, 1972, the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, Friday, September 13, 1996,” and many others events.
This week in Sapulpa history, on January, Friday the 13th, 1989, members of the community shared their opinion on the infamous date. “Only two out of 18 area residents polled said they were superstitious. Some Sapulpa citizens were asked the question: what do you avoid on Friday the 13th?”
Some people would say that they would not walk under ladders, step on a crack in the sidewalk, or be seen near a black cat. “Lara Fortson, 17 of Sapulpa said she avoids black cats and anything out of the ordinary.”
“Mother and daughter, Anita and Kim West from Sapulpa, differed from their opinions.” Anita said she was not superstitious. Her daughter, Kim, said “‘I am superstitious. On Friday the 13th, I just try to stay in the house and stay away from everything.’”
The sixteen others in the poll said they were not superstitious, whatsoever. One person deemed the date a special, happy day. Dayle O’Dell, the Homeland manager, said, “‘I’m not really superstitious. My daughter was born on Friday the 13th and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.’”
A number, day of the week, and the date holds a significant omen, good or bad, to some people; either in superstitions, a phobia, a historic event, a holiday, or a birthday, each person has their own opinion on the Friday the 13th.
“To those who are superstitious, the best policy is not spilling the salt in the first place, avoiding ladders, staying away from black cats, leaving the umbrella at home, and not stepping on cracks in the sidewalks.”
(Sapulpa Herald, January 13, 1989; CNN, December 13, 2019; History Channel, October 10, 2017; Wikipedia).
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – 100 Years Ago, Nights of Terror
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
This week in Sapulpa history, 100 years ago, the world was watching Sapulpa in their reaction to a potential race riot. Just over a year and half after the Tulsa Race Massacre, Sapulpa nearly had a similar situation*.
*Note: The nights’ events took place between December 31, 1922 and January 3, 1923. The following information is based on Oklahoma newspapers that have been digitized. Unfortunately, African-American owned newspapers that have been digitized have a gap between 1922 and 1925. The information gathered is not complete.
“S.E. Brumley, police patrolman, is dead and two other policemen are in the hospital suffering from painful wounds, as the result of a pitched battle between a detail of five officers and [African-American citizens] in a darked cafe. Damages estimated at $15,000 resulted from a fire of undetermined origin in which swept a half block of the [Black residences].
“Two hundred citizens, including the full force of the local sheriff and police department are scouring the surrounding territory and guarding all radiating roads from here, in an attempt to catch [the culprits] responsible in the shooting, the identity of one of whom is known.
“The shooting occurred in a restaurant belonging to Ed Glass, [owner of the African-American local funeral home, Glass Funeral Home]...*
*Note: restaurant address is unknown, but the funeral home was located at 210 Johannes.
“Police detectives had been called to the scene of the shooting by a call from an unknown party to this neighborhood with the information that there was a fight. Unable to locate the trouble, Officers Floyd Sellers and J.T. Hildreth went to the door of Glass’ cafe.”
The story continues saying that out of nowhere shots rang out from inside the store. It is unknown when or why other officers were on scene at the Glass cafe the instant shots began. The story only mentions Sellers and Hildreth were on the scene; then five other officers were involved without an explanation.
“The first of the officers to fall was Patrolman Brumley, with his partner R.D. Adams. Officers Sellers, Hildreth, and J.F. Loveland fought their way inside the cafe…when the [culprits] fled out a back door and into a waiting mobile.”
Loveland and Hildreth were both shot in their legs; Sellers nearly lost a finger and Adams nearly lost his nose. It is unknown how many citizens were inside the cafe that night, or their injuries during the shoot-out. One account said, “Sellers fired upon the [culprits] …one moaned ‘My God! I’ve been shot.’”
“Chief of Police Ralph Morey stated he felt sure the situation was well in hand and no race riot or disturbance was feared. Three [citizens] had been arrested as suspected of complications in the shooting; five others had been taken into custody for questioning…”
It was theorized later on why the unknown caller said there were fights in the area. Stories ran that it was a planned ambush. “Police are positive that the five officers were lured to the addition…a direct attempt at Chief of Police Morey’s life. For the past three nights, police say fake calls for policemen have come from the addition, and each time a request has been made that Morey answers the call.
It was stated that Chief Morey added patrol to the addition to keep order. “A delegation of six [African-Americans] from Colored Business Men’s Association appeared to the City Commissioners to ask that a [Black] Policeman be put in the addition. Their spokesman said that the fact that no [Black] officer was employed, was causing resentment and might lead to serious trouble. He said that the delegation represented the law-abiding element who wished to prevent any trouble.*”
*Note: In 1921 Sapulpa’s first Black officer and only Black officer at the time, Richard E. Nelson, was killed in a shoot-out.
Chief Morey, Mayor H.A. McCauley, and City Commissioners announced, “an applicable martial law form of maintaining peace and order will be effective this morning to assist police on special duty in the [Black] neighborhoods and to prevent any disturbances or possible race rioting…No national guardsmen will be called here, but details of special policemen will enforce the rule that no white citizens will be allowed in the addition, and [African-Americans] will not be allowed outside of their addition. Pedestrians will be halted at the Frisco tracks, and other limits in the addition, and automobiles must go around the addition. As much as possible, [Black] residents will be confined to their addition until the heat of trouble has cooled.”
Several homes in the addition were raided. Stories of officers looking for the culprits and stories of false officers invading homes were both listed as to these raids. However, little was mentioned on the effects of the raids. “No trouble has even been hinted as arising out of the shooting, and none is feared by authorities.”
One of the people apprehended was the wife of Edward Glass, Lula Glass. It was theorized that Ed Glass was the “leader of the band of [African-Americans] who ambushed the police officers.” She denied she knew of her husband’s whereabouts and the events of the night’s shootings.
Later that week, murder charges against Dr. James Rawls for his potential acts in the shoot-out. It was believed he was the one who allegedly called the officers to the addition, and pointed out Glass’ Cafe as to the destination of the supposed fight.
After Officer “Shep” Brumley’s funeral took place, and the state’s eyes were still on Sapulpa. Oklahoma newspapers’ headlines read like from Cushing, “Sapulpa [Black] Section Scene of Battle,” and from Nowata papers, “Near Riot at Sapulpa,” and Oklahoma City newspaper, “Sapulpa Scene of [Race] Riot,” and Frederick newspaper stated, “Race War Follows Murder by [an African-American] at Sapulpa.”
Many newspapers compared Sapulpa to Tulsa. Sapulpa citizens also compared themselves to their neighboring city in their response to the shoot-out. “Race feeling is running high and two hundred citizens, with the full force of the local police department, are scouring the surrounding territory and guarding all roads in a desperate attempt to catch the [culprits] responsible for the shooting.” Although, some actions were similar to Tulsa’s, but many responses and effects were not that of Tulsa’s.
The very first morning, an immediate response of the town unlike Tulsa’s. “Keep Cool. Now is the time for cool, deliberate judgment. Sapulpa is sitting on a powder keg, lighting matches. The city is stirred perhaps as never before. One or two hotheads can easily produce a race riot. Sapulpa does not want the stigma attached to her name that Tulsa has. No use to condemn the entire [Black] race for what a half dozen irresponsible [culprits] have done. Let’s be calm, quiet, deliberate and above all let’s preserve the fair name of our city…There is no need for more bloodshed. There is no need for further killings unless some one drops the match into the powder keg. Surly, no one in Sapulpa wants that responsibility…Let’s protect and preserve the fair name of the best city in the southwest…
“...Cool heads at a time when members of two races are engaged in bloodshed, that more than often than not results in uncalled for damages, killings, and injuries, are something to be highly valued. They can give community a reputation for careful, timely action that points toward a commendable enforcement of the law. Lack of them, replaced by the panicky element, can stamp the blackest of marks across the community’s name…The result is that a crisis has probably been passed and Sapulpa will not add a costly, uncherished chapter of race rioting to her history. A handful of [people] are blamed for last night’s trouble…These are the ones to be captured and punished…Cool heads can do Sapulpa a big service now. Let’s see that congratulations stay in order.”
Many members of the town reached out to the officers and City Commissioners to aid in their efforts. “Plenty of tasty, hot coffee and a bite to eat may be found at the grocery store of S.L. James, [an African-American], in the business district of the addition. James, his wife, and other [Black] citizens have kept an open house every night since the shooting affray and all guards are welcome for hot coffee and choice variety of food to make the long nights seem shorter.”
“City and County Department heads were profuse in their admiration of the manner in which Sapulpa citizens conducted themselves, both by keeping down any racial trouble and through their services as members of the patrol squads in the addition.”
A letter was given to the local officials. This letter of appreciation was sent to the Herald by a group of African-American citizens thanking officials for their prompt handling of the situation and pledged their support for keeping mob violence down. “‘We, the undersigned [Black] citizens, feel that we are voicing the sentiment of the better element of our people when we say that we thank the city and county officials for their stand taken in protecting our part of the city from any mob violence that might have arisen. We also want to go on record as protesting against all murders and other law violators, and shall cooperate with the officials in stamping them out, that our city may be a decent place in which to live. We pray that those who have taken part in protecting our lives and property may live long to do much good for falling humanity.’” The letter was signed by W.I. Nall, W.H. Furrie, P.J. McAlpin, W.M. Roberts, A.B. Hollis, S.L. James, and I.C. Clardy.
Many Sapulpa citizens stepped in to keep measures calm. “The good name of Sapulpa should stand before the world as a criterion of honor as a city without a stigma of unwarranted bloodshed, cooperating to uphold the fair name of Sapulpa…The powder was there, and the matches were handy, but Sapulpans prevented an explosion after grueling hours of watchful waiting in the midst of the powderhouse.”
The Tulsa Tribune ran an editorial letter praising the officials of Sapulpa and its citizens. In said letter, “officials were blessed with a working crew of real citizens in which the affair was handled.”
The week’s events do not have a clear conclusion. Many stories over the next years indicate Ed Glass escaped the area and could have lived in California or Mexico. Some stories said he lived closer, such as Arizona or Texas. Rumors spread that he was killed while being arrested a few years later. Other stories said he was captured, but turned out to be the wrong man. By 1928, Glass would be arrested, brought back to Sapulpa, charged for murder. He was sentenced to 99 years. However, there are stories, too, he escaped. Twice. Mrs. Lula Glass continued the Glass Funeral Home until at least 1936; it is believed the funeral home would become the Dyer Funeral Home.
(Cushing Weekly Citizen, January 4, 1923; Frederick Leader, January 2, 1923; Nowata Times, January 4, 1923; Oklahoma News, January 4, 1923; Sapulpa Herald, January 2-6, 1923; Sapulpa Times, January 24, 2019)
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Freddie’s B-B-Q and Steak House: A History
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
This week in Sapulpa history, we remember the history of the family, friends, and followers of the restaurant and its owners. The following is a timeline of some highlights of the beloved business:
2022: The 60th Anniversary of the Lebanese restaurant known as Freddie’s B-B-Q and Steak House in Sapulpa was celebrated and honored for their accomplishments. The legacy of Edmond “Tex” Slyman will be remembered “for his involvement in the community and consistent support [of] many organizations.” Slyman passed away earlier this year.
Slyman, his family, and the employees have been very involved with the community over the decades; bringing in joy, festivities, hard-work, culture, and delight to all. The Freddie’s B-B-Q and Steak House family's dedication to their community branches far and wide, expanding statewide and nationwide. Many visitors, locals, celebrities, and politicians have made their way to the restaurant.
2012: Visitors are greeted at the restaurant by the staff. The staff of Freddie’s have hosted many events, catered for many outside events, and have thousands of visitors walk through those doors. Guests arrive hungry and leave full, but craving more of the delicious food for later.
The hard working folks of the restaurant do not go unnoticed. Many local and out-of-towners know the staff by name for their jobs-well-done. The restaurant, its owners, and its staff have received many awards over the years. One such award came in November 2012. “Sapulpa’s Lana Morrison came home from the Oklahoma Restaurant Association Banquet with top honors: Best Hirst Hospitality Distinguished Service Award of 2012.” By 2012, she was the “second member of his staff to earn the distinction. Chief Cook Dennis Lee was awarded the Hirst prize in 2007.”
2002: The restaurant had many changes over the years. One change came in 2002 when laws changed public areas in the state. “In June, the State Health Department and Gov. Frank Keating approved non-smoking laws for all public restaurants in the state. The smoking rules required restaurants with no-smoking sections and seating capacities of 50 or more to enclose and ventilate areas where smoking is allowed.
“Alleging the regulations exceeded the health department's authority, Ed Slyman, owner of Freddie’s Steak House, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1320, both in Sapulpa filed a lawsuit against the state. In response, Creek County District Judge Donald D. Thompson ordered a block of the rules’ enforcement. More lawsuits since have been filed, and some lawmakers are calling for a statewide referendum on the issue.”
1999: “It came in the middle of the night on May 4, and most Sapulpans will never forget the tornado that caused an estimated $10 million dollars in damage. Fortunately, no one was killed nor even seriously injured in the area.”
Red Cross and FEMA branched out across the city and state, aiding those in need; strangers aiding strangers. Home owners began going through the wreckage left behind the strong storm; neighbors helping neighbors. Business owners contacted employees and insurance agents to inspect damages. “Edmond ‘Tex’ Slyman, owner of Freddie's, was not so fortunate. The storm caused an estimated $250,000 in damage to the restaurant, ripping off much of the room in one portion of the restaurant and knocking out most of the air-conditioning units.”
1993:The business increased and its popularity and recognition of Freddie’s expanded worldwide. Visitors came flocking to the restaurant. Businesses and organizations needed more social event areas to gather large groups. “In 1993, it increasingly became apparent to the Slymans that there was a lack of banquet and meeting facilities. Edmond and Sherian invested their money and catered to Sapulpa’s needs, and created a 9,000-square-foot catering center next to their restaurant to accommodate the growing demand.
“Whether they are catering for 25 people in an intimate setting in a personal home or a picnic for 2,000 at a favorite park, they do it all. The Catering Center, under the guiding hand of Sherian Slyman, served for holiday parties, weddings, business meetings, bridal or baby showers, or any social gathering. What began as a 65-seat restaurant has expanded to a beautiful 250-seat facility with the same traditional Lebanese hors d’oeuvres, steak, and barbecue.”
1985: The history of allowing or discouraging liquor in the state of Oklahoma is a long standing on-off again relationship. However, public restaurants and sellers needed a liquor license or certificate for selling alcohol. “A request from Ed Slyman, owner of Freddie’s B-B-Q and Steak House, for a certificate needed for a mixed beverage license.
“The certificate would declare that the restaurant is properly zoned for serving mixed beverages, and is required by the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission before it will consider an application for a license to sell liquor by the drink.”
1979: In June of 1978, the then Drumright Freddie’s restaurant, burnt to the ground. Ed Slyman, purchaser of the restaurant just a few years earlier, knew he needed to reopen the doors. “‘We have built quite a reputation over the years and we hope to continue it in Sapulpa. One of the reasons for making the move to Sapulpa is the growth in the area and the accessibility from Sand Springs, Tulsa, and other areas.’”
“Dennis Lee, head chief of Freddie’s for the past six years, said the kitchen will have the latest equipment. The menu will feature barbeque, steaks, lobster, and Lebanese hors d’oeuvre.” The restaurant had become a huge part of Creek County for the past 17 years in Drumright would relocate to Sapulpa. The Sapulpa location had its opening day on December 17, 1979.
1971: The owner of the Drumright restaurant Freddie’s, Fred Joseph, decided to retire. Edmond Slyman, his nephew, bought the business from his uncle. “Together with his wife, Sherian, Slyman ventured out and expanded the food, restaurant, and catering world, with the same high quality, friendly, family dining that they have experienced in all the years the restaurant has been open.
Slyman graduated in 1961 from Bristow High School. “Slyman completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Central State University. He has been a charter teacher in English and Physical Education, as well as a counselor and taught at Byrd Junior High in Tulsa.”
1962: In 1955, Fred Joseph opened a grocery store in Drumright. Joseph began selling barbeque and meat in the back room of the grocery store. The small area of that grocery store began bringing in more and more customers. It gained popularity and the demand became so great that Joseph decided to open a restaurant.
“Joseph closed the grocery store and remodeled it into a small restaurant because the demand for his barbeque sandwiches became so great.” For the next decade, Joseph ran the restaurant until his retirement.
It all began decades ago. “Slyman traced his Oklahoma roots back to 1889 when his great-uncle came from Lebanon to settle in Bristow. [Their] deep roots in Creek County have striven to maintain a tradition that has been popular in the area.” Freddie’s B-B-Q began with Fred Joseph in Drumright. Slyman was the nephew of Fred Joseph, “the original ‘Freddie’.” The doors of Freddie’s restaurant may be closing, but the honor and privilege to have the memories of Slyman family, Joseph family, and the Freddie’s Restaurant and its employees will forever be cherished and remembered.
Lights Out Over Hobson
Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – Lights Out Over Hobson
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
The dawn of the new century, the 1900s to 1910s, Hobson Avenue was the gateway for Sapulpa township. Main Street began remodeling their businesses. Dewey Avenue would soon be another place for the “skyscrapers.” What was the cause of the new businesses, buildings, and a boom of population? Oil.
Tulsa claimed themselves as “Oil Capital of the World,” with the first oil strike in 1901. Sapulpa and its surrounding area was not far behind. Sapulpa’s first oil well in January 1902 at 217 S Poplar. By 1907, it was often said that Oklahoma produced the most oil of any state or territory in the United States.
Sapulpa would have an influx in its population in the first decade of the 20th century; it would have one of the largest growth spurts, percentage wise, according to population. For instance, in the first decade of the century, Oklahoma City’s population boomed 141% (over 4,000 to 10,000 people); Bartlesville grew 785% (less than 700 to just over 6,000 people); Sapulpa grew over 800% (less than 900 people to over 8,000), whereas, Tulsa grew over 1,000% (with just over 1,000 to 18,000 people) in the span of these ten year*.
*Note: according to the Census records, Sapulpa was among these cities to have the second highest percentage growth in a decade.
By the end of the decade, Sapulpa gave itself a nickname to meet its rivals. In 1911, over E Hobson Ave, stood an illuminated sign, greeting Sapulpa visitors. “‘Sapulpa, the Oil City of the Southwest.’ In letters high above Hobson Ave crossing of the St Louis & San Francisco railway tracks, the above electric sign is now emblazoning the story of Sapulpa’s greatness to the night passengers on the greatest railway system which traverses the state of Oklahoma.
“It contains 700 electric bulbs. The lights surrounding the sign proper flash their rays without intermission, but the big sign is lighted by a flasher, one light following another until all of them are a blaze of glory, followed by the red lights which indicated flowing oil wells, the wells being in the letters ‘O,’ ‘I,’ and ‘L.’’
“No other such flash of gladness and advertisement of the products of a great community is to be seen throughout the new state, and the people here are proud of this first flash of the great advertising matter to be seen in announcing the wonders of the metropolis of the oil world. The new sign of welcome can be seen for miles out and the magic city welcomes all of the traveling world to read her story as depicted by the electrical sign that speaks only fact.*”
*Note: Location of Frisco Station was just north of E Hobson and between N Maple to Spruce St. The archway was most likely on E Hobson and N Maple with the lit sign facing east, so that visitors coming from Tulsa would see it coming into town.
The rivalry with Tulsa raged on. By the end of November 1916, Sapulpa and Creek County were showing off their claims as the oil city. “Almost half the oil tax paid to the state comes from Creek Co. - Tulsa Co. is far below us. Tulsa Co. makes strong claims, at home and abroad, of being the oil center of the state. It is interesting to learn from the official figures that almost half the oil tax paid into the state treasury is from Creek Co. in $66,892.03 as against $126,407/23 from the whole state.*”
*Note: Carter Co. was next with $17,772.69 in tax; whereas Tulsa taxed $11,395.68.
In 1917, Sapulpa continued its high. “‘Sapulpa, Oklahoma, known throughout the country as the ‘Oil City of the Southwest’ is located northeasterly part of the state, 281 miles south of Kansas City and 102 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, on the Frisco railroad. It is the county seat of Creek County, one the wealthiest in the entire state. No city is favored with amore healful and invigorating climate than Sapulpa.”
The illuminated sign continued to flash welcoming visitors to the great oil city. Many people were greeted with warmth radiating from the electrical sign of “Oil City of the Southwest.”
This week in Sapulpa history, the lights went out over E Hobson Ave. On December 18, 1922, the sign will no longer “wink at the public at the Frisco Station. City Commissioners voted to discontinue it. Some of the arguments advanced for so doing were:
“The sign is small town stuff and other cities have stopped using similar slogan signs. The sign often causes merriment instead of wonder. It isn’t worth the $750 a year the city must pay for the electricity*.
“Some arguments were advanced for keeping the sign. They were that all people passing through on the Frisco, see the sign, and are impressed that Sapulpa is a city of importance. Also, that it gives light there and shows strangers the way to the business section.
“The Commissioners voted 6 to 3 to discontinue the sign.”
*Note: $750 in 1922 is roughly $12,700 today with inflation.
Just six months later, in June 1923, it was decided to tear down the sign. “City Manager recommended that the Commissioners order the big sign taken down at the Frisco Station. The sign is no longer illuminated and the manager stated that parts of the sign have weakened, making it dangerous. A motion passed authorizing to tear down the sign.*”
*Note: the original sign was stored away, forgotten. It was rumored that it was scrapped for metal during the Second World War.
The information found on this page has been researched through Sapulpa (and area) newspapers, Sapulpa Historical Society archives, books, and photographs, Sapulpa yearbooks, city directories, and other local authors. Any other sources will be labeled and named as the research continues. Any mistakes will be noted and adjusted as needed.