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Wirt Franklin papers

Identifier: WHC-M-2843

Scope and Contents


Attorney and oilman. Correspondence (1927-1962), business and general files (1903-1990), and financial records (1904-1974) of Wirt Franklin, a longtime citizen of Ardmore, Oklahoma, who was key in developing the Healdton Field. His papers span nearly the length of his six-decade career as an attorney and oilman. Among them are the records of Apple & Franklin, his law practice with Samuel Apple, which represented citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations in citizenship claims and guardianship cases in the early 20th century. The largest portion of the collection consists of the business and financial files of his many companies and partnerships, including the Crystal Oil Company, Wirtaine Petroleum Corporation, Ardmore Investment Company, Franklin, Aston & Fair, and others. The collection also documents his work as a Special Field Assistant for the U.S. Petroleum Administration for War, as well as his activities with the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association.


  • Creation: 1903 - 1990

Language of Material


Restrictions on Access

Open for public research.

Biographical / Historical

Wirt Franklin was born in Richmond, Missouri on March 22, 1883 to Irene Hudgins Franklin and John H. Franklin. He grew up in Kansas, Washington D.C., and Illinois, graduating from high school in Lacon, Illinois, in 1900. He moved to Muskogee, Indian Territory, to work for the Dawes Commission from 1902-1905, enrolling tribal members in the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. He attended law school at Columbian University (now George Washington University). He passed the bar examination in 1906 and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Court for the Southern District in 1907. He formed a law partnership with Samuel A. Apple (known as Apple & Franklin) which lasted until 1913. The same year he began development in the Healdton oil field along with Samuel A. Apple, Roy M. Johnson, Edward Galt, and A.T. McGhee, and founded Crystal Oil Company. He left Crystal Oil Company in 1916 to work as an independent oilman, eventually founding Wirt Franklin Petroleum Company in 1927. He helped to organize the Independent Petroleum Association of America and was its first president from 1929-1935. In 1930 he lobbied Congress and testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee for passage of a tariff protecting independent oil producers from global suppliers. In 1932 he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. During World War II, he served as a special field assistant for the U.S. Petroleum Administration for War. Franklin was married three times. His first marriage, to Mary Cecile Collyer in 1902, produced two children, Chester and Priscilla, but ended in divorce in 1922. He wed a widow, Virginia B. Douthitt (née Doss), in 1923. She brought her daughter, Louise Douthitt, and a niece, Jewell Doss, to the marriage, and they were adopted by Wirt Franklin. They also adopted another child, Betty Jean, in 1928. Virginia died in 1937. His third wife was Anna Witherspoon, whom he married in 1939. Wirt Franklin died at age 79 in Dallas, Texas, on September 24, 1962.


64 Cubic Feet (64 cubic ft.)

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Western History Collections Repository

Monnet Hall, 3rd Floor
630 Parrington Oval
Norman Oklahoma 73019