Part 1: In the beginning …
(Editor’s Note: What follows is the the original Foreward by former Pawhuska Journal-Capital General Manager Larry Lucas from the 1996 book, “Oil in the Osage.” Much of the book’s content was produced by writer Libby Meyer. However, the section examining the infamous Osage Reign of Terror was taken in part from a 1972 article by Bill Burchardt. As a tribute to that book and the rich story it told, the Journal-Capital is serializing the content over the next seven weeks.)
We hope you are as delighted by these pages as we are and enjoy mulling over them.
This collection is composed not only of photographs from the Pawhuska Journal-Capital files but also of treasured family and business photographs loaned by our many generous citizens. To them we owe a special debt of gratitude.
This book is not meant to be a complete and definitive history of the Oil in Osage. Rather it is a collage of places, faces and events. It is a popular history that blends memorable moments and landmarks with the small comings and goings that make up thee fabric of this community.
The names and dates included in the captions are as possible and, in most cases, taken from information supplied by the owners of the photographs.
We realize there are people we have failed to identify in photographs whom family members will immediately recognize. We apologize for any omissions and inaccuracies, our only excuse being the many years which this book covered.
Our intention is simply to help preserve these treasures for future generations.
— Larry Lucas
Oil in the Osage
The history of Oil in the Osage, covering nearly three-quarters of a century, is one that is sprinkled with names, events, treaties, people, a great deal of money spent and recovered, and basically, work, work, work by the people of the oil industry. The early days saw rig builders, cable tool rigs, mules, and strong backs battling mud, wind, rain, and what have you.
But, from this Herculean labor came the recovery of millions of barrels of black gold and the wealth it represents.
This wealth has gone to the Osage Tribe of Indians, to the oil companies, to their thousands of employees in the county, and indirectly, into every pocket and bank account in Pawhuska and Osage County—and in many places in Oklahoma.
In Osage County, there are more than 150 quarter sections of land, which have produced more than 1,000,000 barrels of oil each. If one were to take the time, he could search the records and find probably several times this number, which have produced at least a half-million barrels in a half-century of oil production in the Osage.
There is a long history of the oil industry and Osage tribal cooperation which has established Osage County as one of the nation’s more profitable areas in which to explore for oil.
The Formation of Osage County
Oil in the Osage began with the formation of Osage County itself. The Osage Indian reservation was purchased, lying at the eastern end of what was known as the Cherokee Outlet, or the “Cherokee Strip.”
The date of September 28, 1872, now is recognized as the date when the tribe reoccupied its former land and the Agency was established at Pawhuska. The tribal seat was named for Chief Pawhuska, or “White Hair.”
Osage County consists of 2,298 square miles of rolling prairie on the western side and heavily wooded hills on the eastern side. It is larger than the states of either Rhode Island or Delaware.
The land to which they returned was regarded as poor, agriculturally, and many friends of the Indians have regarded as poetic justice the fact that 25 years later, the discovery of oil made up to them, financially, what they had lost in giving up their productive lands in Kansas.
In 1876, the Osage created a tribal form of government, and five years later adopted a constitution, which governed them until statehood.
Next week: Allotment and Oil Discovered in the Osage.