Tatums Oil

Tatums (Carter County, Oklahoma) is one of the few 'all black towns' still extant in Oklahoma. It shared its location at Wildhorse Creek near the Garvin County line with nearby Homer, another all-black-town that is no longer considered an active settlement (not to be confused with Homer on the east side of Ada).



Ida B. Wells and Booker T. Washington, civil rights giants of the Reconstruction and Progressive eras (1866-1900s), supported black independence movements. Both encouraged settlement into Indian Territory, as some tribal nations, like the Creeks and Seminoles, were welcoming to African Americans. Further, the land allotments that originated under the Dawes Commission did not place racial restrictions on eligibility. Prior to the Civil War, homesteading schemes that offered "free" land to those who could improve it were limited to whites only.


Tatums' economy rested on farming and oil. Surrounded by oil fields, the town became home to the first African-American owned oil operation, the Ardmore Oil Lubricating Company, which was founded in 1918 with an investment of $50,000. The company encouraged black investment and viewed itself as a community builder, too. I believe it was eventually subsumed by larger oil companies and is now under the Noble Corporation's umbrella.

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