cosden legacy carpenters tinners

"I spent quite a bit of time in the lobby of the Hotel Tulsa between 1914 and 1916. There was always a milling mob in the lobby. Everybody was talking about oil, exchanging information, or 'dope' as we called it."  -J. Paul Getty



Links to individual biographies are below. Many oil men were successful and influential in our state but may not be have a book dedicated to them individually. For these individuals, information might be found in compiled biographies or biographical encyclopedias. The Daily Oklahoman Archives and the vertical files are two other good sources of biographical information.

A Fool's Enterprise: The Life of Charles Page

As I See It: The Autobiography of J. Paul Getty (2003) J. Paul Getty

Beyond the Hills: The Journey of Waite Phillips (1995) by Michael Wallis

Deals, Deals, and More Deals: The Life of John W. Nichols (2004) by Bob Burke

Frank's Fancy: Frank Phillips' Woolaroc (2001) by Gale Morgan Kane

Gentleman in Oil (1966) by George Elliott Sweet

King of the Wildcatters: The Life and times of Tom Slick, 1883-1930 (1996) by Ray Miles

L.E. Phillips: Banker, Oil Man, Civic Leader ((1981) by Billy Mac Jones

Life And Death Of An Oilman: The Career of E. W. Marland (1951) by John Joseph Mathews

Oil Fever: The Biography of John R. Bunn (1985) by Doris Cornell

Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum (1988) by Michael Wallis

Out of the Osage: The Foster Story (1993) by William Donohue Ellis

Palace on the Prairie: The Marland Family Story (2005) by C.D. Northcutt

The Boots Adams Story (1965) by Norman Lobsenz

The Gentleman: The Life of Joseph A. LaFortune by Faulk, Thomas, and Tyson (1979)

The House of Getty (1986) by Russell Miller

The McMan: The Lives of Robert M. McFarlin and James A. Chapman (1977) by Carl Tyson, James Thomas, and Odie Faulk

The Oil Business As I Saw It: Half A Century With Sinclair (1929) by Robert Owen

Unto the Least of These: A Sketch of The Life of the Late Charles Page (1939)

Periodicals/Serial Publications

Central Library houses a large collection of petroleum industry periodicals, including some historical company annual reports and publications. Below is a partial list of the periodicals with the longest runs. To see all the library's holdings, use the legacy catalog, choose the subject tab, and use the terms:

Petroleum industry and trade -- Periodicals

Petroleum industry and trade -- Directories

AAPG Bulletin


The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin

1967-1973; continued by AAPG Bulletin

API Bulletin

1921-1930; continued by API Statistical Bulletin

API Statistical Bulletin

1931-1962; continued by Weekly Statistical Bulletin

Basic Petroleum Data Book


Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists

1918-1966; continued by The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin

Fuel Oil Journal

1913-1916; continued by Oil Trade Journal

Independent Petroleum Monthly


International Petroleum Register


OIl and Gas Journal

1910-present; index available for some years

Oil Investors' Journal

1902-1910; continued by Oil and Gas Journal

Oil Trade Journal


Oklahoma Petroleum Directory

1946-1947, 1949-1955, 1958, 1960-1963, 1981, 1988, 1990-1993, 1995, 1997-1998,  2000-2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012

Petroleum Economist


Petroleum Engineer

1929-1956; continued by Petroleum Engineer for Management

Petroleum Engineer for Management

1956-1960; continued by Petroleum Managment

Petroleum Facts and Figures

1928-1971; continued by Basic Petroleum Data Book

Petroleum Management


Petroleum and Natural Gas Register

1917-1949; continued by International Petroleum Register; This excellent resource lists producers, marketers, manufacturers, distributors, geologists, dealers, and membership lists. Listings include information about officers, stock, properties, and dates organized. Includes biographical sketches of oil operators.

Petroleum Press Service

1936-1973; continued by Petroleum Economist

Petroleum Times

1920-1988; see catalog record for various title changes

Petroleum Today



1931-1955; continued by Petroleum Today

Weekly Statistical Bulletin

1962-1986; see catalog record for various title changes

Other Resources

Digital Collections

Beryl Ford Collection

Local historian Beryl Ford collected the largest and most significant collection of photographs and artifacts relevant to the history of the City of Tulsa and surrounding area throughout his lifetime. We are fortunate that he shared part of his legacy as Tulsa historian with us in the form of this invaluable collection. This collection was made possible by the Rotary Club of Tulsa. 

Levorsen Oil Photography Collection

A.I. Levorsen was the first dean of the School of Mineral Sciences at Stanford University, but he spent much of his career in Tulsa. Dr. Levorsen donated his extensive collection of texts, maps, and photographs regarding the petroleum industry to the library in 1968. Here, view 300 images from the early days of the Oklahoma Petroleum Industry. 

Refining in Tulsa: The Cosden Legacy Collection

J. S. (Joshua) Cosden was born in Kent County, Maryland in 1882. He came to Bigheart, Oklahoma in 1908 and later relocated to Tulsa. In 1913, Cosden began operating a West Tulsa refinery, two miles upstream from the Texas Co. (later Texaco) refinery. At that time, the refinery had a total capacity of less than 5,000 barrels of crude a day. Two years later, the refinery added 97 miles of pipeline to connect the plant to the famous Cushing oil field. This pipeline was the forerunner of the 3,500 mile Mid-Continent pipeline system. Cosden and Company changed their name to Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation in 1925 and then merged with Sunray in 1955 to form Sunray Mid-Continent Oil Co. Sunray merged with Sun Oil in 1968. 


The Research Center in Central Library houses a large collection of geological and mineral maps. You will find an index to the maps here.



On April 15th, Michael Cudahy drills to 1320 feet into what is now called the Bartlesville sand. A shot of nitroglycerin brings in the first commercial oil well in Indian Territory, the Nellie Johnstone (Clark 73).


Oil is discovered at Red Fork, four miles west of Tulsa, on June 24th (Gregory 1).


 J. M. Guffey and John Galey bring the first natural gas to Tulsa (Clark 83).


The 11th Street bridge, Tulsa's first bridge across the Arkansas, is built to provide easier access to the oil activity in West Tulsa (Gregory 5).

Prarie Oil & Gas Co. construct a six-inch line from the Bartlesville field to Caney, KS (Clark 84).


On April 1st, T.N. Barnsdall and G.T. Braden organize the Osage and Oklahoma Company. It's the first time "Oklahoma" is used in connection with the oil and gas industry (Clark 85).

In November, Galbreath and Chesley's well on the Glenn farm, the Ida Glenn comes in (Franks 38).

Frank Phillips first successful oil well comes in on the Caney River (Gregory 24).

Gulf Oil Corporation directs Geo. S. Davison (expert in water problems-no previous oil experience) to design and build pipeline from newly discovered Glenn Pool to Port Arthur, TX (Clark 85).

Prarie Oil & Gas Co. builds pipeline from Glenn Pool to its system in Kansas connecting to refinery at Neodesha (Clark 86).


Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. forms to bring gas from Cleveland to OKC, and the foundation is laid for a major network of Oklahoma intra-state lines (Clark 87).


The Gulf Pipe Line Company completes an eight-inch pipeline from the Glenn Pool to Sour Lake, TX (Clark 88).

The Gypsy Oil Company, a subsidiary of Gulf Oil Corporation, forms in Oklahoma (Clark 88).


D.W. Franchot, et al., builds first "casing-head" gasoline plant in southwest at Kiefer (Clark 93).

Maloney-Crawford Tank & Manufacturing Company is founded in Tulsa (Clark 93).

Glenn Pool to Baton Rouge oil pipeline is completed (Clark 94).


Harry Sinclair organizes the Exchange National Bank. Its first location is at 2nd and Main. It quickly outgrows the location and is moved to a building between 3rd and 4th on Boston Avenue (Gregory 3).

Texaco begins operating in West Tulsa (James 102).

Col. E.R. Kenney and E.W. Marland's well, the first west of Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, is brought in on land leased from the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and the Ponca Indians (Clark 95).


The Hotel Tulsa opens at 3rd and Cincinnati and becomes the oilman's headquarters (Gregory 7). 

Tom Slick and C.B. Shaffer complete the Wheeler No. 1, twelve miles east of Cushing on property owned by Frank Wheeler, a stonemason (Knowles 123).

The U.S. Department of the Interior opens Osage Indian land for leasing and oil and gas development (Clark 101).

Robert McFarlin and James Chapman organize the McMan Oil Company (Tyson et al. 26)


Cosden and Company begin operating their West Tulsa refinery.

Healdton field opens (Clark 103).

The first recorded dual completion is on a well in Wicey Pool, OK (Clark 104).

Engineers of the newly-organized petroleum division of U.S. Bureau of Mines assigned to Cushing field to study drilling problems (Clark 104).


The first proration order issued by a state regulatory body is Order No. 813 by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. It relates to the Cushing field and, unlike later orders, it deals with oil to be taken by pipe line companies (Clark 106).


Oklahoma legislature passes act embodying, among others, three essential features: a definition of waste, the limitation of production from any common source of supply of oil, and a standard for the proration of the overall pool limitation among all the wells in the pool. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is empowered to enforce the act (Clark 109).

A comprehensive gas conservation act passes in Oklahoma. It is the first elaborate gas conservation measure to be enacted by any state (Clark 109).

The first proration order issued by a state regulatory body and applying directly and indirectly "to the production of oil and not to the marketing of the same" is Order No. 920 of the Corporation Commission of Oklahoma (Clark 109).

A tank car of "casinghead" gasoline explodes at Ardmore, killing 43 and injuring 500 (Clark 109).

Air repressuring in OK is first attempted in an old stripper well in Rogers County (Clark 110).


Harry Sinclair forms Service Pipe Line Company, originally named Sinclair-Cudahy Pipe Line Company, in Maine (Clark 111).

Sinclair opens the Garber field far in advance of production on the basis of geology (Clark 112).

Oklahoma A & M College offers a course in petroleum geology and Kendall College announces refining and marketing (Clark 113).


Frank Phillips forms the Phillips Petroleum Company with assets of three million dollars and twenty-seven employees (Gregory 24).  Waite Phillips purchases the Lou Robinson "graveyard" lease, one mile south of Okmulgee. All the wells come in (Wallis 144).

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organizes as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa (Clark 114).

The Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association forms in Tulsa (Clark 115).

Dr. W.P. Haseman, head of the department of physics at the University of Oklahoma meets with J.C. Karcher at the National Bureau of Standards to discuss the possible use of reflection sound waves (seismic waves) to determine the location of oil field structures (Clark 116).

234 natural gasoline plants operate in OK (Clark 116).

Secondary recovery operations commence in Nowata County (Clark 117).


The first pipeline between Drumright and Chicago is built by Service Pipe Line Company (Clark 118).


The Skelly Oil Company is formed in October. Its headquarters are located on the corner of 4th and Boulder (Gregory 45).


The first Phillips station opens in Wichita, Kansas (Gregory 27).


Marland loses control of Marland Oil Company to J.P. Morgan. Morgan merges Marland Oil with his small Colorado subsidiary, the Continental Oil Company (Gregory 40).


More than 800 oil companies have headquarters in Tulsa (Gregory 3).


Stanolind Oil & Gas Co. (later Pan-American Petroleum Co.) perfects and patents a process called "Hydrofrac" for creating fractures in oil and gas producing strata and use sand as a propping agent to keep the fractures open (Clark 229).


The first Golden Driller appears at the International Petroleum Exhibition (Tulsa World, 1997). 



Beyond the Hills: The Journey of Waite Phillips (1995) by Michael Wallis

The Chronological History of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries (1963) by James A. Clark

Greatest Gamblers: The Epic of American Oil Exploration (1978) by Ruth Sheldon Knowles

Early Oklahoma Oil: A Photographic History, 1859-1936 (1981) by Kenny A. Franks

The McMan: The Lives of Robert M. McFarlin and James A. Chapman(1977) by Carl Tyson, James Thomas, and Odie Faulk

Oil in Oklahoma (1976) by Robert Gregory

The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry (1980) by Kenny A. Franks

"The Power To Withstand - Criticism, Taunts Can't Topple Golden Driller," Tulsa World, April 20, 1997

The Texaco Story: The First Fifty Years 1902-1952 (1953) by Marquis James