Happy Birthday Tulsa

Tulsa’s first post office was established April 1, 1878 which makes our fine city 132 years old in 2010.  This is not an “April Fools” joke, but a fact of history – a history unique with more character than is commonly known.

The explorer De Soto discovered the first Tulsa as “Tulsey Town” in Alabama in 1540.  Native Americans forced out of the South by greedy settlers traveled the “Trail of Tears” to the Tulsa area of Indian Territory beginning in 1812. 

Ironically, the tribes had reached a higher level of culture than many
of the landless who coveted their property.  No more prepared for a
cross country march than suburbanites of today, thousands died during
the trip, but they were not defeated. 

Washington Irving, documentary writer and artist, passed through the present site of Tulsa on October 14, 1832.  In 1836 Archee Yahola, Chief of the Lachapoka Creek Tribe kindled a fire with Old Tulsey Town council fire ashes at Tulsa’s new location on the banks of the Arkansas River.  The gnarled old Council Oak, which marks the spot of Tulsa’s birth (or rebirth of Tulsey Town) stands today in the shadow of skyscrapers.

Civil War was more deadly to Tulsa than the country at large.  Tribes fought on both sides and by 1864 the whole Creek Nation had been run over by raiding guerrilla bands. 

An African American regiment, the 1st Kansas Infantry (Colored), contributed to the greatest Union victory of the Trans-Mississippi Theater, at Honey Springs in the Indian Territory. The 1st Colored Kansas Infantry was probably the best-trained unit on either side.  As conflict ended, rebuilding began.

Tulsa’s first U.S. Post Office was established on April 1, 1878, the day Tulsa Today considers the birth of our modern community. The name changed from “Tulsey Town” to Tulsa with that opening.

Life in early day Tulsa was tough living. It became a favorite hangout for outlaws such as the Bill Doolin gang, the Dalton gang, the Youngers, Cherokee Bill and Belle Starr. However, Tulsa was never raided by outlaws. There seemed to be an unwritten law between the town and the outlaws in which Tulsa furnished them asylum in exchange for peace. In fact, author Steve Wilson says, “The evidence is convincing that much of that [outlaw] loot still lies beneath the veneer of sod in the state and the odds are good that about any hill bears a tale of buried treasure.”

Discovery of oil in the Territory in 1897 opened an era of excitement that, for a time, made Tulsa the Oil Capital of the World.  Before the term “high tech” gained popular usage, Tulsa made use of technology to ring a profit from deep in the earth.

Before Oklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907, two states had been proposed. The area surrounding Tulsa – eastern and southern Oklahoma – was to have been the State of Sequoyah. In fact, there was a Constitutional Convention held in Muskogee that drafted a well written document to establish the State of Sequoyah. The people voted six to one for statehood and bills to admit the State of Sequoyah were submitted to Congress in 1905.

However, the vulgarities of national politics required Republican and Democrat states to be balanced by admission in pairs – so they threw us together based on a national political agenda.  So much for the will of the people of the day, but this is a new millennium and we are one with Oklahoma at 132 years old.