Burbank, Oklahoma History

burbank map

"This information was gathered from various sites throughout the Internet. The numbers behind the sentences correspond to the web page I got the information from during my research. It is a conglomeration of information that has it's resources on the corresponding webpages. Please visit those web pages as the people there have done hard work in making history more available to all of us.

Paul Reeves

At the bottom of the page are 'Places of Interest' where I have captured some of the history of the local area.

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About twenty miles east of Ponca City in east-central Osage County lies the community of Burbank. West of Pawhuska on U.S. 60, this community, supposedly named for cockleburs on a nearby bluff, gave its name to the greatest of the Osage oilfields.[2] Elbridge Ayer Burbank (1858-1949) was an American artist born on in Harvard, Illinois. A painter of portraits of Native Americans whose work is represented in the Field Museum, the Newberry Library in Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In his first job for Northwest Magazine, after graduating from the Chicago Art Academy, Burbank traveled along the territory of the Northern Pacific Railway, across the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, painting scenes which would sell the area to potential homesteaders. He then studied in Munich, Germany under Paul Nauen and Frederic Fehr in 1886, alongside Leigh, Sharp, and Rosenthal. Returning to Chicago in 1892, he specialized in painting black subjects.

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In 1895, his uncle, a museum president, commissioned a series of Western Indian portraits. Burbank painted the first portrait of Geronimo at Fort Sill, the only artist to paint Geronimo from life, and continued through the tribes of the Southwest, the West and the Pacific coast. Burbank depicted the leaders of one hundred twenty five tribes in more than twelve hundred works, including Chiefs Joseph, Sitting Bull, Rain-in-the-Face, Curley, and Red Cloud. Given the Indian name Many Brushes, his autobiography was Burbank among the Indians. Burbank, Oklahoma is named after him. Burbank's work is regarded as historically important. E. A. Burbank died on April 21, 1949 in San Francisco, California after being struck by a cable car.[4]

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Near there on May 8, 1920, the Marland Oil Company completed the Burbank discovery well on the Bertha Hickman farm. The initial discovery produced 150 barrels of oil per day from the Burbank sand at a depth of 2,949 to 3,001 feet, and later that year the Roxana Petroleum Company brought in another well at 3,450 barrels per day in the same general area. At first the wells were thought to be from separate fields, but as drilling proceeded they were all found to be connected. The field eventually grew to thirty-three square miles located principally in Osage County, but with a small extension into Kay County. The field had its highest production from 1920 through 1924 with twenty million to thirty-one million barrels annually and a peak production day of 121,700 barrels   on July 21, 1923.[1]

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Although an important area, the Burbank Field never experienced the runaway booms of other fields. Burbank was dominated by major companies, including Marland, Roxana, Carter Oil Company, Gypsy Oil Company, Waite Phillips, Phillips Petroleum Company, Skelly Oil Company, and Comar Oil Company, who banded together and agreed to drill on ten-acre spacing for oil conservation purposes. Additionally, oil leases in this area were obtained through the federally controlled Osage Indian Reservation auctions, which auctioned off 160-acre tracts and divided the proceeds equally among tribe members. Between 1912 and 1928 twenty-eight of these auctions sold a total of 700,000 acres, making the Osage very wealthy.[1]

The Burbank Tribune was a local publication that started November 10, 1921, but it is unknown when it ceased to be published, but suspected in the late 1920's.[5]

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Life in the oil-boom towns was colorful but hardly comfortable. Vice and violence were common, along with rotgut bootleg whisky. Lawmen, when available, sometimes were as bad as the criminal element. Towns were horribly crowded; housing was at a premium, and many men slept in theater seats or under pool tables. Chicken coops or boxcars might suffice as family housing, or "shotgun" houses hurriedly thrown up and providing minimal shelter from either cold or heat. Getting mail was iffy, with transient workers using general delivery.   Schools and medical treatment were in short supply. So was food, either in groceries or lunchrooms. Lumber had to be hauled long distances, and animal feed for wagon teams was hard to obtain. Roads and town streets were dust or mud. Drinkable water was scarce and often expensive. There was a lack of telephones. And runaway fires, nitro explosions or tornadoes could devastate towns.[2]

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The town, Burbank, Oklahoma, has a small population. The location is unique in that it rests atop a sharp incline of a hill. There is a remaining three story school         building at the highest point of the town. In order to get to the school one has to drive up a steep road to it. Down below the school is the residential section and what was once the main part of town where the banks, grocery store, filling station and hotels were located.[3]

Ruth Ann Jones was born in 1866. She owned a hotel in Burbank, Oklahoma. An aged resident of the town pointed out the location of the hotel. It was on main street across from what was a bank. The building of cut, natural stone, is mostly just rubble with only part of it standing. Today in the year 2000 even the rubble has been cleared. Ruth was married three times.  Family tells that the men's sir names Ruth Ann married were: Murray, Cushman and Hendrix. She lived in Siloam Springs and a death notice is on record in an old newspaper from there showing her last name as Hendrix. The time she owned the hotel was at the peak of the Osage oil boom and there, without doubt,  could be much history gleaned, if there are any of her descendants left who knew of her.[3]

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E.W. Marland - Phenomenally successfully as an oil wildcatter, his Bertha Hickman No. 1 was the discovery well for the Burbank Field. Coming to Oklahoma after making, then losing, a fortune in coal in the Appalachian area, he amassed another fortune in oil and was lavish in his many donations, including the Pioneer Woman statue competition. A Republican as a businessman, he became a New Deal Democrat after losing his second fortune - he blamed his misfortune on Wall Street - and was elected to Congress in 1932, governor in 1934. He and his wife adopted his wife's niece; after his wife's death, Marland had the adoption annulled and married the niece, which caused great controversy.[2]

In 1920, Marland brought in the North Burbank Field. The impact on the Osage is almost beyond comprehension. The great North Burbank Field was 39 square miles when completely outlined and has produced more than 300 million   barrels of oil. Other Burbank fields have added another 100-million-plus. Peak production was in 1923 and 1924. One lease sale in March 1924 saw six of the   winning bids each exceed $1.5 million - that merely for the right to drill on 160 acres. The highest bid at that auction, an all-time record, was $1,990,000, and the one-day total $10,888,000, another high mark. (Sometimes it wasn't the big bid that succeeded. Marland once bid $2,000 for a quarter-section and took $2 million out of it.) Handling the prolific discoveries often was hectic. When gushers came in, earthen dikes were used to hold the oil until storage tanks could be built.[2]

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The Osage fields were an oilman's dream. The oil was a high grade, with a good conversion to gasoline ratio. It was easily refined, with a very high percentage of kerosene. It was free of sulfur and asphalt. And it came from several thick producing sands at relatively shallow depths. Frank Phillips used it to produce an aviation gasoline that he proclaimed the best around. He used it in the Woolaroc, his airplane that won the Dole Derby in 1927, the first plane to fly from California to Hawaii. Of the eight planes entered, one crashed on takeoff, three limped back to California, two disappeared at sea and only two made Hawaii. Thirteen people, crewmen and would-be rescuers, died in the venture. The victory brought Phillips 66 and its avgas great publicity.[2]


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