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Banking in Oklahoma

Banking in Oklahoma Before Statehood

By Michael J. Hightower
(University of Oklahoma Press, October 2013)

This lively book takes Oklahoma history into the world of Wild West capitalism. Author Michael Hightower begins with a survey of banking from the early days of the American republic until commercial patterns coalesced in the East. Relying largely on primary sources gleaned from the OHS Manuscript Archives, Hightower then follows the course of American expansion westward to chronicle the evolution of banking and commerce in the Indian Territory and, from 1890 to 1907, the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Topics include the riverboat trade, overland freighting, bartering in an economy of frontier scarcity, the Indian trade, merchant banking, crime and punishment, and the red-hot competition to establish the first bank in town. Pioneer bankers' challenges were compounded by journalists—some legitimate, and others who raised sensationalism to an art form—who regaled their readers with tales of frontier mayhem that branded the Twin Territories as risky venues for business. The story of banking in Oklahoma before statehood is nothing less than a microcosm of what might be the fundamental conflict in American history between democratic ideals and the inequalities inherent in capitalism.

Banking in Oklahoma, 1907–2000

By Michael J. Hightower, Foreword by Frank Keating
(University of Oklahoma Press, September 2014)

This book begins where Banking in Oklahoma Before Statehood ends, with the statehood celebration that coincided with the Panic of 1907. Subsequent adventures in Oklahoma banking include oil and real estate booms that turned to busts, brazen hold-ups, the Great Depression, bankers' success in luring military spending to Oklahoma during World War II, and the glory days of postwar prosperity. Penn Square Bank's collapse in 1982 was both cause and effect of the most severe economic downturn in the oil patch since the 1930s, and it warrants two chapters, one on the rise, and one on the fall. For once, the lessons of history are crystal clear, and we ignore them at our peril. Hightower closes his book on an upbeat note, with banks returning to profitability even as they confronted challenges stemming from runaway technology and globalization. The most consistent theme, and one that pervades dozens of taped interviews that Hightower has been conducting with bankers and business people throughout Oklahoma and uses as primary sources in this book, is the resilience of community banking against an onslaught of regulation and consolidation of financial services.


Banking in Oklahoma Before Statehood and Banking in Oklahoma, 1907–2000 are available for purchase in the Oklahoma History Center Museum Store. All sales benefit the Oklahoma Historical Society. To order, please call 405-521-2491 or visit the store online.

About the Author

Michael J. Hightower, PhD, is a native of Oklahoma City. He has taught as a visiting lecturer at the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee University and is former president of Council Oak Books in Tulsa. As a descendant of businessmen who settled in the Oklahoma Territory in the 1890s, he writes about America's frontier experience, banking, and commerce. He served as principal researcher for the Oklahoma Historical Society's Oklahoma Bank and Commerce History Project.


To suggest avenues for further research on banking and commerce in Oklahoma and/or to schedule a book discussion in your area, email Dr. Hightower at mhightower@okhistory.org. For information on his publications and public speaking schedule, visit his website at www.michaeljhightower.com.

Michael J. Hightower Oral History Collection

Audio tapes, transcriptions, and notes donated to OHS July 15, 2014. Interviews are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Associations and Companies

Roger Beverage
Oklahoma Bankers Association, Oklahoma City
June 21, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Community Bankers Assoc. of Oklahoma
(interview in OHC boardroom)
August 10, 2011

Tom Loy
MetaFund, Oklahoma City
November 5, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Bob McCormack
McCormack and Assoc., Duncan
June 22, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Steve Plunk
Shiloh Management Consultants Tulsa (interview in Hightower Building, Oklahoma City)
August 3, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Gary Simpson
OBA Chair of Banking and Finance OSU, Stillwater
November 9, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Mick Thompson
Oklahoma State Banking Commissioner, Oklahoma City
February 6, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Larkin Warner
Professor Emeritus of Economics, OSU
Oklahoma City (interview in Warner's home)
July 30, 2012
View transcript (PDF)


Jim Bowles
April 10, 2012

Les Greathouse
Oklahoma City (interview in Greathouse's home)
October 13, 2011

Dennis Brand
Support Center, Oklahoma City
February 11, 2014

Wayne Cardwell
January 31, 2012

Gordon Greer
November 13, 2012

Ralph McCalmont
Oklahoma City (interview in McCalmont's home)
October 17, 2011

David Rainbolt
Support Center, Oklahoma City
June 21, 2011

H. E. "Gene" Rainbolt
Support Center, Oklahoma City
October 18, 2011

Michael Rogers
Support Center, Oklahoma City
October 18, 2011


Bill and Guy Berry
American Heritage Bank, Sapulpa
April 18, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Kent Crain and Felix Hensley
American AgCredit, Ponca City
March 16, 2011
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Frederick Drummond
Cleveland Bank (interview in Pawhuska)
March 17, 2011
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Tracy and Polly Kelly
Spirit Bank, Bristow
July 8, 2010
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Mike Leonard
First National Bank, Muskogee
April 17, 2012

John and Carlisle Mabrey
Citizens Security Bank, Bixby
October 24, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Ben Walkingstick
BancFirst (formerly Union National Bank), Chandler
November 22, 2010
View transcript (PDF)

Mark White
Osage Federal Bank, Bartlesville and Pawhuska (interview in Pawhuska)
March 17, 2011
View transcript (PDF)


Bruce Benbrook
Stock Exchange Bank, Woodward
August 24, 2010
View transcript (PDF)

Joel Champlin
First National Bank and Trust Co., Champlin Refining Co., Enid (interview in Champlin home)
April 27, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Matt Jackson and Linda Christensen
Bank of the West, Thomas
August 17, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Patricia Loosen and Joyce Treece
First Bank, Okarche
August 30, 2010
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Marilyn Myers and Clint Elliott
Central National Bank, Alva
November 17, 2010
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James D. and Kirk Pittman
First National Bank, Seiling
June 23, 2011
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Oklahoma City Metro

Carolyn Berry
Nichols and Berry Families, Oklahoma City (interview in Harbor Springs, MI)
August 7, 2008
View transcript (PDF)

Nick Berry
Jordan and Associates, Oklahoma City (phone interview)
September 5, 2013
View transcript (PDF)

Dannie Bea Hightower
Johnson and Hightower Families, Oklahoma City (interview in Harbor Springs, MI)
June 28, 29, 2008
View transcript (PDF)

G. P. Johnson Hightower
Veteran banker, Oklahoma City (2 audio cassettes)
October 17, 22, 2013
View transcript (PDF)

George W. James
James Family and T. L. James Construction Co., Harbor Springs, MI (notes from informal meeting, no transcription)
August 14, 2013

Gerald R. Marshall
Liberty Bank, FNB OKC, Oklahoma City
March 11, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

George and Nancy Records
MidFirst Bank, Oklahoma City (interview in Records home)
June 4, 2009
View transcript (PDF)

Betty Rodgers-Johnson
MidFirst Bank, Oklahoma City (interview in Rodgers-Johnson home)
February 13, 2009
View transcript (PDF)

Meg Salyer
Chase Manhattan Bank, NY, Oklahoma City
April 23, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Gayla Sherry
Liberty Bank, Federal Reserve, Oklahoma City (interview in OBA offices)
March 9, 2011
View transcript (PDF)


Steve Baggerly
Bank of the Panhandle, Guymon
August 18, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Tim Barnes
First State Bank, Boise City
August 18, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Charlie and Charlotte Butler
First National Bank, Hooker (interview in Charlotte Butler's home)
August 19, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Paul M. Freeman
First National Bank, Texhoma
August 19, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

V. Pauline Hodges
Beaver County Historical Society, Beaver (interview at First Security Bank)
August 19, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Jimmy Webster
City National Bank, Guymon
August 18, 2011
View transcript (PDF)


Jimmy Eppler, David Young, and Scott Estes
Citizens Bank, Ada
July 19, 2010
View transcript (PDF)

R. Bruce Hall
First National Bank, McAlester
January 31, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Jim Hamby and Denver Davison
Vision Bank, Ada
July 19, 2010
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Bill Jordan, Kelly Jordan, Laura Miller, and Jerry Fowler
Farmers State Bank, Quinton
October 24, 2011
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Charles McCall
Ameristate Bank, Atoka
October 25, 2011
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John Massey
First United Bank, Durant
October 25, 2011
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Chris Moore
First United Bank, Bokchito (interview notes in text format only)
April 29, 2010

Brian Shipp
Idabel National Bank, Idabel
October 26, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Mike Stidham, Lee Stidham, and Robert Jennings
Peoples National Bank, Checotah
November 16, 2010
View transcript (PDF)


Bob Bates, Sheila Bell, and Curtis Davidson
First National Bank, Ardmore (interview notes in text format only)
August 6, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Don and Kitty Clark
First State Bank, Anadarko
January 23, 2012
View transcript (PDF)

Bill Crawford and Gib Gibson
Lawton and Frederick Banks (interview at Waterford Hotel, OKC)
April 28, 2014
View transcript (PDF)

Ken Fergeson
NBC Oklahoma, Altus (interview in OHC studio, transcribed from videotape)
April 26, 2010
View transcript (PDF)

Clayton L. "Buddy" Green, Jr.
Liberty National Bank, Lawton
April 17, 2014
View transcript (PDF)

W. R. Moon
Chickasha Bank and Trust Co., Bank of Velma (interview in Chickasha)
May 2, 2011
View transcript (PDF)

Lindell Pettigrew
Chickasha Bank and Trust Co., Chickasha
August 15, 2011
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Roma Lee Porter, Teresa Heater, and William Paul Ellwanger
City National Bank, Lawton
August 23, 2010
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Tulsa Metro

Margery Bird
FNB Tulsa, Tulsa (interview in Bird's home)
July 16, 2010
View transcript (PDF)

George Kaiser and Stan Lybarger
Bank of Oklahoma, Tulsa (interview notes in text format only)
August 2, 2012
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Homer Paul
Citizens Security Bank, Bixby (interview in OHC studio, transcribed from videotape)
April 20, 2010
View transcript (PDF)