Tulsa History

From 1830 until 1882, Tulsa Oklahoma was part of Indian Territory. Indian Territory in Oklahoma was created for the relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes, which included the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole Indians. These tribes moved to the area after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Many stories and even memorials have been created in this move often remembered as the Trail of Tears as many Indians perished along the way.

The area known today as Tulsa was at this time settled by the Lochapoka Muscogee or Creek Indians. They named the area Tulasi that was old town in their native tongue.

Lewis Perryman who was part Creek Indian built a log cabin trading post on what we know today as 33rd and South Rockford Avenue. His business flourished until the Civil War. After the Civil War, growth began in the area once again and the first post office was opened in 1879. At this time, everyone was calling the area Tulsey Town that had grown into a prosperous trading post and cattle town.

The railroads were on the horizon by 1882 and by 1890 with such companies as the JM Hall & Co and the population of Tulsa reaching 200 the railroad was welcomed. In August of 1890, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway completed the extension of their line to Tulsa to aid in the cattle business, which was Tulsa’s first industry.

James M. Hall marked off the streets of Tulsa with the beginning point where the railroad stopped. He also built its first permanent store, organized the first school, church, government, and was the Tulsa’s first interim Postmaster. He was often referred to throughout history books as the Father of Tulsa. At this time, everyone called Tulsa Tulsey Town.

Treaties with the Indians were always changing and by 1892, the land was opened up for settlers and the Indians were forced to accept individual allocations of land.

The oil boom is what really changed Tulsa’s history from being a small frontier town to a huge bustling city. Just as other towns in the west hit it big with the gold rush, Tulsa hit it big with the discovery of oil in 1901 at Red Fork. From this moment on, many settlers began to flood Tulsa in the hopes of finding their fortune. This major oil boom lasted until 1907.

Oklahoma received statehood in 1907. At this time, Tulsa had a growing population that had already reached 7,298.

Another oil boom descended upon Tulsa in 1915 and lasted through 1930. During this time, Tulsa was known as the Oil Capital of the World. This is when Tulsa became home to oilmen such as Waite Phillips, William Skelly, and J. Paul Getty.

One of the worst acts of racial violence in the nation occurred in Tulsa’s past, known as the 1921 Race Riot or the Greenwood Riot. The riot began on May 31 and ended on June 1, 1921. During these long 16 hours 39 people were killed, 800 were admitted to the hospital, and around 10,000 were left homeless. Over 35 city blocks had been totally destroyed by fire all in the Greenwood community.

The mid 20th century brought a breath of fresh air to Tulsa. Tulsa was still growing not only with oil, but with other industries as well.

Today, Tulsa is a diverse community with many different industries but also a rich culture of Native American heritage and of course, the oilmen that helped to build this wonderful city.

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