Oklahoma Genealogy Trails

Biography of  

Pioneer, wildcatter, and entrepreneur Robert Galbreath participated in five Oklahoma Territory land runs. Born in Pickaway County, Ohio, on December 22, 1863, he visited David Payne's Boomers at Kansas in 1884 and traveled to California in 1888, returning through Indian Territory. These trips encouraged Galbreath to join thousands of others in the 1889 race for the Unassigned Lands and to settle in Oklahoma. Robert and his brother, who was to young to file a claim, rode in the Oklahoma   Land Rush of 1889, at Kingfisher, Oklahoma Territory.  Robert drove a stake to claim 160 acres of land, just ahead of an elderly man and his wife.  The older man, realizing that this was his last chance to get the land that he prized, made an offer to Robert Galbreath to purchase the land.  Robert Galbreath accepted the offer, then returned back to Kingfisher where he claimed land in the Kingfisher townsiteAs the town of Kingfisher developed Robert took a part in establishing the town’s government.  Along with his younger brother, Herman, Galbreath staked a claim near Hennessey, but they soon sold, relocating to Edmond. There, Robert Galbreath served as a deputy U.S. marshal, a mail carrier for the Star Route, and Edmond's postmaster. Recent documentation showing Edmonds postmasters was uncovered.  In this ledger it said that Robert Galbreath replaced  Anton Classen.  He also started a newspaper. He made subsequent runs in part to report for the paper and for land speculation. In 1893 he raced in the Cherokee Outlet Opening and relocated his family (he had married Mary Ellen Kivlehen in 1892) to Perry. There he initiated the Perry Evening Democrat before accepting a 1895 appointment as a United States Commissioner (these were examining judges who determined whether enough evidence existed to send a case through the federal court system), with his headquarters in Shawnee. In 1899 Galbreath moved to Oklahoma City to concentrate on real estate and partnered with Charles Colcord.

With the backing of Colcord and Charles "Gristmill" Jones, Galbreath began wildcatting in the Red Fork Field. Gaining experience and success, he decided to explore farther south.  Robert Galbreath had come to the Creek Nation, Indian Territory in 1901 searching for oil. Local histories tell that on July 3, 1901, Galbreath went to Creek Indian Ida E. Glenn's farm (and allotment) where Roger Glenn, Ida's husband showed him a heavily oil-stained limestone ledge. Galbreath took a hammer and broke off a chunk. Inside he found a molecule of thick green oil. Glenn and Galbreath immediately agreed informally that a test well would be sunk on the Glenn farm as soon as federal restrictions regarding Indian lands relaxed to sign the lease. Almost three years later, on April 22, 1905, the lease for 160 acres was signed by Robert Glenn, Robert Galbreath and Frank Chesley. In October, drilling on the test well began and on November 22, 1905, at a depth of 1,458 feet, Galbreath and Chesley struck oil. "It was 5 o'clock, very clear and chilly, and the Ida E. Glenn was in."' By Thanksgiving, the Ida E. Glenn free flowed 85 barrels a day.  The Town of Glenpool existed for many years as a boom town or tent city to support the oil field workers and was not organized into a formal town until after statehood.

By 1906, the oil boom was serious. Galbreath drilled a second well within 300 feet of his first well and hit oil again. Men began chasing madly after leases and paying exorbitant prices to drill wells. Galbreath struck again, bringing in the Ida Glenn #3. The field was now roughly two miles long and derricks were pumping night and day; only four wells were in and three of those were Galbreath's.

The Town of Glenpool did not really exist yet. What did exist was a cluster of 12 families in a settlement called Glenn. The towns of Keifer, Sapulpa, Mounds and Tulsa were all feuding over who owned the field. In May, the burgeoning field got its name: it became known as Glennpool, Glenn Pool or GlennPool, taking its name from Ida E. Glenn, the Creek Indian woman upon whose allotment Galbreath first struck oil.

In late 1906, both the Texas Oil Company and Gulf Oil Company announced plans to bring eight inch pipelines to Glenn Pool to transport oil to their Texas refineries. The field was really growing and had been recognized by The Oil Investor's Journal as a major center for oil production. After one year, the Glenn Pool had 127 wells that had been drilled; 107 struck oil, 12 found gas and 11 were dry. Besides the 107 producing wells, 24 other wells were drilling and 33 rigs were preparing to drill.

The Glenn Pool would have hundreds of different names that figured in its development. Some unforgettable ones were: Galbreath and Company, Associated Producer's Company, Creek Oil Company, W. H. Millkien, Bonacker, Quaker Oil Company, Prairie Oil and Gas, Shawnee Oil Company, Litchfie1d, Sawyer and Company, Laurel Oil Company, and Selby Oil Company. The field was three miles wide and four miles long. It was producing 52,000 barrels a day, an average of 500 barrels per well. Robert Galbreath was now referred to as the "Oil King of the Southwest" and was "rated the richest man in Oklahoma."

1907 was the Glenn Pool's best year. After that, it became increasingly under the control of Gulf, Texaco and Prairie Oil and Gas. Robert Galbreath grew weary of the congestion that the new pipelines did not resolve. He sold his holdings to Edgar Crosbie for $500,000. Frank Chesley had sold out to Crosbie a few months earlier for $200,000.  In 1912 Galbreath unseated Tate Brady as a Democratic National Committeeman.

Picture of Galbreath Hotel in Bromide
(printed in Daily Oklahoman Nov. 1953)

The man generally credited with kicking off the rush to Bromide was Bob Galbreath. In 1912 he built the three-story Galbreath Hotel in Bromide, which was a three story native stone affair that had the town bank on the northwest corner of the first floor.  His hotel was furnished on a par with resort hotels anywhere.  It had a beauty shop, barber shop and all of the gift bars and tourist traps you would expect.  He was hoping to establish a health spa using the area's mineral water. He also mined for iron and manganese in the region. Robert Galbreath continued his oil activities until he died in Tulsa on December 12, 1953. He attended the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, affiliated with the Elks Lodge, and was a charter member of the 1889er Society, an organization of original participants in the 1889 Land Run.