Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  McFarlin, Robert Martin

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Prominent independent oilman Robert McFarlin helped establish present Oklahoma as a center for the petroleum industry. The son of Porter and Caroline McFarlin, he was born in Ovilla, Texas, near Waxahachie, on July 27, 1866. In 1886 he married Ida Barnard. He moved to the Oklahoma Territory in 1895, settling near Holdenville. In 1903, after little success in farming and banking, McFarlin bought ten acres near Kiefer with borrowed capital. He joined with his nephew, James Chapman, to found the Holdenville Oil and Gas Company to develop the Glenn Pool oil field. In 1908 Chapman married McFarlin's daughter Leta. In 1912 McFarlin and Chapman founded the McMan Oil Company.McMan was a leader in the development of the Cushing oil field. The venture also had holdings in Texas and Kansas. In 1916 McFarlin and his partners sold McMan to Magnolia Oil Company for $39 million.

By 1914 McFarlin had settled in Tulsa, and he soon became a leader in civic affairs. He also spent much of his time and resources in charitable endeavors in Tulsa and the Southwest. Among his contributions were $600,000 in 1924 for the Methodist Episcopal Church in Norman, $600,000 in 1925 for the McFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, and $300,000 in 1929 to build the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa. Robert McFarlin died on August 11, 1942, in Kansas City, Missouri, after a long illness and was buried in Norman.

Carl N. Tyson


Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 12 August 1942.

Carl N. Tyson, James H. Thomas, and Odie B. Faulk, The McMan: The Lives of Robert M. McFarlin and James A. Chapman (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Carl N. Tyson, “McFarlin, Robert Martin,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=MC023.

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.