Oklahoma preserving homes and the stories of the families who lived in them
If you enjoy some of Oklahoma's historic homes, the families that built them have even more interesting stories.
Henry Overholser, who developed wealth through business successes in Indiana, Colorado and Wisconsin, came to Oklahoma City after the Land Run of 1889.
He erected six buildings on Grand (Now Sheridan) Ave. and was elected president of the new Board of Trade (now Chamber of Commerce). He was elected to the Oklahoma County Commission in 1894. He and C.G. Jones organized the Oklahoma City and St. Louis Railroad in 1895. Overholser built the Grand Hotel, the Overholser Opera House and Overholser Theater.
Within six months of arriving in Oklahoma City, he married Anna Ione Murphy. They had a daughter, Henry Ione, in 1904.
In 1902, the Overholsers acquired three lots in Classen's Highland Park Addition, now known as Heritage Hills. He built a 20-room Victorian mansion at 405 NW 15. The Overholser Mansion is now owned by the Historical Society. Overholser died in 1915.
Frank Phillips was born on Nov. 28, 1873, in Scotia, Neb. He learned to become a barber in Creston, Iowa, purchased two barbershops and developed a tonic of perfumes and rainwater. He married Jane Gibson, daughter of a banker, in 1898 and became an officer the Chicago Coliseum Co.
In 1903, while visiting in St. Louis, he encountered a Creston friend who had returned from Indian Territory and told him of oil and business opportunities there. In 1905, Phillips and his family moved to Bartlesville. He and his brother, Lee Eldas, began buying oil leases. They organized a Bartlesville bank.
In 1917, their crews brought in productive wells in Osage County. They merged their interests and incorporated the Phillips Petroleum Co. Five years later, their assets totaled more than $50 million. The firm grew rapidly, marketing Phillips 66 gasoline, chemicals, aviation fuel and liquefied petroleum gas.
Frank Phillips resigned from the company in 1949 and died in 1950. The Frank Phillips House in Bartlesville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the Murrell Home, the Drummond Home and the Overholser Mansion.
Max Nichols writes a monthly column for the Oklahoma Historical Society.
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