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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1920 - 1921 - 1922 - 1923

The Ponca City Information website is not affiliated nor associated with the City of Ponca City, the website is provided by Kay County Media LLC as an information website for Ponca City, Oklahoma.

1920 — As a result of the new City Charter, adopted in 1919, a three-man Commission form of government went into effect. The three commissioners were the only officers of the city that were elected by the people. All other department heads were appointed by the commissioners for a term of one year, and could be reappointed. The business affairs of the City were conducted and carried out by the Board of Commissioners in three departments. Mayor Harry Cragin was Commissioner of Public Safety, J.S. Hutchins was Commissioner of Finance, and L.K. Meek was Commissioner of Public Property. The first city manager was Hugh Johnston, who also acted as chief of police.

The newly formed commission reorganized the municipal electric department and put it on a paying basis.

With the population of Ponca City at 7,000, the city was growing so fast, an average of one new house was completed every day.

The library loaned out more than 5000 books in one year, and the building was beginning to bulge.

Marland incorporated the refinery into the Marland Oil Company, creating an integrated company engaged in oil exploration, production, natural gas distribution, refining and marketing.

There were 1,000 telephones in Ponca City.

Garfield School opened on south Seventh Street. The school was comprised as four two-room frame bungalows on lots obtained from the federal government. Additional lots were purchased from local owners.

A new building for Lincoln School opened beside the original one-room schoolhouse.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, and women could now vote. Oklahoma elected its first congresswoman, Alice Robertson, from Muskogee. Her campaign message was "I am a Christian, I am an American, I am a Republican." Her slogan promised, "I cannot be bought, I cannot be sold, I cannot be intimidated."

E.W. Marland was responsible for bringing the sport of polo to Ponca City. He established three fields for practice and competition. George Marland, E.W.'s adopted son, was an accomplished player.

Virginia Marland, E.W.'s wife, was diagnosed with cancer and went to Kansas City for treatments.


1921 — L.K. Meek obtained controlling interest of Security State Bank and boosted the bank to the top of all other state banking institutions.

The hospital was considered a firetrap, so a fund drive began to build a new hospital, organized by the Sisters of St. Joseph at Wichita, Kansas.

The first well of the Three Sands field near Tonkawa came in, and the oil boom began in earnest.

Dr. W.P. Haseman developed the first experimental seismological equipment for the Marland Oil Company.

L.A. Cann, Kay County Commissioner, suggested the creation of a millage levy to finance the building of the new Kay County Courthouse in Newkirk.

Mayor Harry Cragin established the Cragin Lumber Company, operating eight lumberyards in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. He entered into the home building business on a wide scale and became co-owner with W.W. Hickman in the Cragin-Hickman Hardware Store.

T.J. Cuzalina moved to Ponca City and established the Cuzalina Drug Store at the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street.

Charles H. Ruby died. He had brought in Ponca City's first gas well and founded the first gas company here.

Marland Oils opened the first filling station at Pawhuska. On opening day, customers received free oil with the purchase of gasoline. The red triangle sign was becoming a familiar sight, as were the unique brick buildings that were landscaped by Henry Hatashita, Marland's gardener.

The Rhodes House at First Street and Grand Avenue received a new façade. The exterior was a Spanish style stucco with a red tile roof. An arcade was built on ground level on the two sides that faced the streets, and the building was renamed the Arcade Hotel.


1922 — The Chamber of Commerce was growing rapidly, becoming the central point for all community activities. Fifty directors, representing the 310 member businesses, met three times a month. The Chamber was also the parent organization of the Humane Society, Boy Scouts, Public Health Association, Ponca City Band, and the Retailers Credit Association.

Chief industries were the two oil refineries, representing an investment of $10 million and employing more than 1,500 men. Approximately 25,000 barrels of oil daily were required to supply the Marland and Empire refineries. Both companies had contracts with Santa Fe to supply 1,000 barrels of fuel oil daily for a year.

The Oklahoma Press Association hosted their four-day annual meeting in May. Local officials planned many activities to make the 400 guests welcome. They toured the city, the oil fields and refinery, and were guests of the Miller Brothers at the 101 Ranch. They held their meetings in the city auditorium, which could seat 1,100.

Many homeowners participated in the annual "City Beautiful" campaign. The Ponca City News reported that "lawns are clean, unsightly places have been eliminated and parking areas along the 150 blocks of paved streets are improved. Many citizens have planted alfalfa and garden crops on the vacant lots to prevent weeds from infesting those places."

The city spent $2,000,000 to pave 12 miles of streets, comprising 50 blocks on 17 streets.

The business district, known as the "white way," had 1,000 lights, five on each light post.

W.H. Hannah organized the Ponca City Band. That summer, they played 25 concerts, entertaining citizens at the city park, the business district and at all community events.

Mayor Cragin resigned. His business, the Harry Cragin Lumber Company, required his full attention. Hugh Johnston, city manager/chief of police, also resigned. J.S. Hutchins, Commissioner of Public Finance, was named Acting Mayor. He immediately called a special election to fill the vacancy. Preston Lowrance was elected to serve out Cragin's term. He was the only person who filed, and the only one on the ballot, but he did receive 150 votes. His first official act was to appoint S.A. Dellaplain as the new chief of police, with a salary of $250 per month.

1923 — Construction had reached an all time high. Six apartment houses, a six-story hotel, 150 residences, 26 business buildings, two churches, and two schools, representing close to $8 million in expenditures, were all going up that spring. In March, it was announced that a new housing addition would be built east of the Marland golf course. Referred to as the Country Club Addition (or Snob Hill), it was to have 50 building tracts with homes that would range in value from $15,000 to $50,000. At the same time, Marland opened the Acre Homes housing development. The 200 acres were divided into 209 home sites, plus a reserve for a park and a school.

A.L. Bogan and Marie Martin Harris donated land to the city to build the Bogan Swimming Pool.

George Humes purchased Morrison Drug Company. It became Humes Rexall No. 1 in the 200 block of East Grand.

Mid-West Creamery (formerly known as Ponca Milk and Creamery Company) opened a new facility at North Union and West Cleveland Avenue.

Marland purchased land east of 14th Street from Lake Road to Hartford and created "The Game Refuge." He described the area as "a habitat for animals and birds and where nature might reign supreme." A six-foot game fence surrounded the preserve, eight islands were constructed in a lake, and a natural swimming pool was located in the old rock quarry.

Orville P. Callahan was elected mayor. He immediately announced his intention to increase the police force. Sid Dellaplain, Chief of Police, resigned the same day Mayor Callahan took office.

The city built new offices on either side of the civic auditorium, providing fire and police headquarters and offices for city officials. The old city hall and tower were torn down.

Work began on enlarging the city's electric and power plant.

E.W. Marland sold $12 million of Marland Oil stock to J.P. Morgan and Company.