Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Chickasaw Oil Company

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Oklahoma's first petroleum firm, the Chickasaw Oil Company, was established in 1872. The enterprise was the brainchild of Robert M. Darden of Missouri. In February 1872 he and nineteen Chickasaw and Choctaw citizens organized the business under Missouri laws with Darden as president. Stock certificates were issued to investors.

Darden's partners included former Chickasaw Governor Winchester Colbert, a resident of Pontotoc County in the Chickasaw Nation. Oil was believed to be located near Colbert's residence, and it was there that the company sought to acquire leases on quarter sections of land. It had been agreed that the company would assume operational costs. In return, Darden and the investors would divide the proceeds equally.

The Chickasaw Oil Company was short lived. Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis Walker and Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano opposed Darden's speculation in Indian Territory and disallowed his venture. Additionally, the coal-powered Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway entered Indian Territory in 1872 and focused regional attention on coal mining.

Jon D. May


Kenny A. Franks, The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

Kenny A. Franks, Paul F. Lambert, and Carl N. Tyson, Early Oklahoma Oil: A Photographic History, 1859–1936 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981).

Carl Coke Rister, Oil! Titan of the Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949).

Muriel H. Wright, "First Oklahoma Oil Was Produced in 1859," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 4 (December 1962).

Browse By Topic

Petroleum Industry


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, “Chickasaw Oil Company,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CH036.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.