City of Wilburton, OKCity of Wilburton, Oklahoma Official Website

Wilburton Historical Facts

Wilburton was named after: EITHER Will Burton, a surveyor who plotted land in this area in 1890 for the Choctaw Railroad OR Elisha Wilbur, President of Lehigh Valley Railway and one of first men to buy stock in Choctaw Coal and Railroad Company.

1896: Wilburton took off population wise – by 1900 census 19 languages were spoken in the Wilburton area.  Sam Givens General Store was first rock building in Latimer County; 1st floor was store and upstairs was lodging. Currently is “The Picture Show”  movie theatre.

1898: 2 semiprofessional baseball located here: 1 white and 1 black, called “Blues” .

1900: Miner’s & Merchant’s Bank opened by Mr. J. Poe – sold in 1903 and became the First National Bank. Later became Citizen’s Bank, then “Talbots” and later a hotel.

1903: First Telephone System install, consisting of 40 phones.

1904: Katy Railroad ran a line through Wilburton. May 10: First Sale of Lots in City.

1905: Great Western Coke & Coal Company building constructed by COL William Busby: Later became the “Old Courthouse”.

1905 – 1930: MINING ACCIDENTS kill 133 men while only 85 have died in foreign wars.
1905: 13 fatalities - Degnan Mine #9
1910: 6 fatalities - Busby Mine #2
1916: 3 fatalities - Degnan Mine #5
1918: 2 fatalities - Lutie Mine #4
1920: 3 fatalities - Degnan Mine #5
1920: 91 fatalities - Degnan Mine #19
1930: 15 fatalities - Lutie Mine #5

1906: 442,000 tons of coal excavated from Latimer County; more than any county in Coal Belt.

1907: November 16: Latimer County named for Representative J.S. Latimer.

1908: April 14: “The Picture Show” building became the county jail for 22 months.

October 1: First motor vehicle accident when J. Poe’s crank on his car kicked back and broke his arm.

1911: New School House completed on top of North Hill; built at a cost of $40,000.

1912: October 24: The deposits at First National Bank were short by $65,000. Cashier by name of Lust stole it and reportedly built his home, now the “Windsong Inn”. Latimer County National Bank bailed them out. Mr. Lusk had to sell his home and got $5,000 for it.

1914: Fire destroyed Givens Hotel and Wilburton News, current site of Bumper-to-Bumper to empty lot next to Latimer County Home Health, block of 200 East Main Street.

1915: First City Park established across from “Old Courthouse”; City Bank played at event, 20th Century Club was responsible.

July 25: Great Western Coke & Oil company building was purchased by Latimer County for $10,000. The brick building behind the new Courthouse became & remains the jail.

1916: The 1st Ballpark, Degnan Park, donated by James McConnell, located SW of railroad depot. City raised $600 to fix it.

1918: Patterson Powder Mill exploded, located 7 miles west of town.

1919-1929: No picture shows allowed on Sundays.

1927: November: Fire destroyed or damaged several buildings on north side of East 100 Block of Main Street. Dr Coleman, a dentist had an office whose equipment was saved when his friends moved it out. The operators for the phone system were also in the building and the switchboard destroyed. The firemen saved the building. Currently is home of Cole's General Store.

1928: January 23: fire started at Chilli Inn restaurant and spread both east and west on the South side of East 100 block of Main Street.  The cafĂ© was destroyed but Cooks Barber Shop was saved.

1931: Wilburton was known as the “LITTLE CAPITAL OF OKLAHOMA”:  Chief Justice of Supreme Court Eugene Lester, Speaker of the House Carlton Weaver, President of the Senate, Chad Briggs and  Industrial Commission Member Matt McElroy all hailed from Wilburton.

1935: Robber’s Cave State Park was established.

1938: Red Oak wanted to be the County Seat, so the Governor called for a special election. Wilburton remained the County Seat.

1939: The new Courthouse was finished and the Old Courthouse was sold at auction for $1285.

1940: Business and Professional Women paid for concrete street markers throughout town.

1953: Wilburton installed dial phones: 700 phones.

1953: Mayor Donathan promised during his campaign he would get paved streets in Wilburton.  The Lions Club, in conjunction with OK Highway Department who were in the area paving from Wilburton to Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton citizens could get a 18 foot wide street in front of their house for 50 cents a foot.

1958: The Metropolitan Phone Systems was installed with the prefix “Howard 5”,still in use:"465". November:   Highway 2 North was dedicated.

1960: Wilburton State Bank moved to their present location at 123 East Main Street.
May 5: A tornado ripped through Wilburton killing 11 and injuring over 10.  Damaged 5 blocks of residential area with 82 homes demolished and 34 heavily damaged and 122 homes suffering slight damage. 22 businesses were destroyed on 2 blocks of Main Street, 12 heavily damaged and 41 sustained minor damage. It rained 9 inches during the storm.

1983: October 10: Fire damaged or destroyed 8 businesses on north side of west 100 block of Main Street.

1990: Fire destroyed building which had been home of Roy’s Cardinal Grocery which moved to its current location on Hwy 2 North.

2002: Karin Q. Woodruff elected Mayor:  First woman Mayor in Wilburton’s first 100 years.

2006: Wilburton completed construction of new Wastewater Treatment Plant at cost of $6.5 Million. Wilburton completes new downtown sidewalk project at a cost of $550,000. Wilburton completes renovations at Municipal Airport at a cost of $675,000.

2007: Stephen Brinlee elected as Wilburton and Oklahoma’s YOUNGEST Mayor at age 23.  Two years later Muskogee’s new Mayor elected at age 22. Mayor Brinlee was re-elected in both 2011 and 2015.

2011: First City Seal designed by Jean Lively adopted after contest with entries from local artists. February:  Wilburton Recycling Program initiated; residents respond enthusiastically. October: Oklahoma Recycling Award received for “Best Rookie Effort”

2015: Wilburton  named “Safest City in Oklahoma” based on ratio of crime to population.