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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Oil fields at Seminole
(23265, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS).


By 1923 oil discoveries in Oklahoma had put the state in the forefront of national petroleum production, but beyond some minor, short-term activity Seminole County had very little production. Then on March 16, 1923, the R. H. Smith Number One Betsy Foster near the town of Wewoka came in at twenty-eight hundred barrels per day, establishing the Wewoka Field. After that, drilling activity in the immediate vicinity began to produce results. On October 2, 1923, the Cromwell Field opened, and on December 9, 1924, the Bethel Field was discovered. Slightly more than a year later, on March 1, 1926, the Morgan and Flynn Number One Ingram opened the Earlsboro Field, and six days later the eleven-hundred-barrel Jones Number One, drilled by the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company (ITIO), opened the Seminole City Field. Ultimately, thirty-nine separate oil pools developed within a region that centered on Seminole County but also included parts of Pottawatomie, Okfuskee, Hughes, and Pontotoc counties. Peak production for one day came on July 30, 1927, when 527,400 barrels were pumped, and from 1927 through 1929 the district annually produced from 150 million to 200 million barrels of oil. At one point, runaway production drove the price of oil down to seventeen cents per barrel.

The name Greater Seminole Field was adopted in summer 1926 when operators from the various fields met to discuss voluntary proration, well spacing, and production control. At one of those meetings it became clear that some term was needed to identify all of the small fields in the area, and the suggestion of Greater Seminole Field, made by Paul Hedrick, oil editor of the Tulsa World, was adopted. The Greater Seminole was the last Oklahoma petroleum field allowed to practice unbridled oil production, and the excesses of the area had much to do with major state oil and gas conservation reforms enacted in the 1930s.

Bobby D. Weaver


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

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

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Bobby D. Weaver, “Greater Seminole Field,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=GR020.

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