Reprinted from an early newspaper article...
In the late 1930's, rural residents of this area were like
those in many other areas and unlike their cousins who lived
in cities, towns and villages nearby. They had no electrical
power to provide them with lights, heating and other advantages
that their city cousins enjoyed.
During the spring of 1939, a group of residents of the Sinclair-Prairie
oilfield camp and farmers from the surrounding area met one
night at the Scrapping' Ridge schoolhouse five miles south
of Cleveland to see what could be done about getting electricity
to their area.
They attempted to solve the problem by turning to public
utility firms but this did not provide the answer as they
were told by the nearest privately-owned power company that
they were too far out to be reached by the companies lines.
The group was forced to look elsewhere.
An alert Cleveland Chamber of Commerce quickly saw the benefits
that could be achieved by extending central station electric
service in the rural areas. They offered their assistance
and started the ball rolling at the Chamber of Commerce meeting
on Monday evening, April 10, 1939.
Homer Richards, a resident of Cleveland who had worked on
construction of lines for newly organized rural electric cooperatives
in other parts of Oklahoma, was the speaker at the meeting
and suggested the possibility of organizing such a cooperative
in the area. The Chamber agreed to look into the matter and
Bob Breeden, editor of the Cleveland American, was chosen
to head a committee to determine the interest.
Four days after that Chamber of Commerce meeting, Oklahoma's
Seventeenth Legislature approved Senate Bill SB141 on April
14, 1939. The bill was known as the "Rural Electric Cooperative
Act" and was an act providing for the organization of
electric cooperative, non-profit, membership corporations
to engage in rural electrification in the state of Oklahoma.
As a result of the Chamber of Commerce investigation, a meeting
of interested farmers in the Cleveland area was held at 2:30
p.m. on Saturday, May 27, 1939 in the Arlington Hotel at Cleveland.
Those in attendance were Lester Findley, W.J. Comer, J.O.
Bunch, J.C. Byers, Neil Swan, Len Callison, W.N. Kenny, E.L.
Kelso, M. L. Gibbons, B.O. Moore, N.V. Wilcoxson, Roy Brodell,
J.M. Hamilton, A.G. Monforte, Frank Smith, E.G. Findley, D.A.
Bunch, E.M. Findley and A.C. Gibbons.
Speaking at the meeting was F.E. Stanley of Tulsa who had
assisted other cooperatives in getting started. The interest
of those in attendance was such that second meeting was called
June 3 in the old Arlington Hotel in Cleveland. The speaker
at this meeting was C.C. Bledsoe of a Tulsa engineering firm
who was in charge of several Oklahoma projects financed by
the Rural Electrification Administration in Washington, D.C.
A special meeting was then scheduled for farmers and landowners
in eastern Pawnee County. This meeting was held in the Cleveland
High School auditorium on the night of Saturday, June 24 and
was attended by about 50 people. Mrs. Roy Brodeu of Keystone
and B.O. Moore of Southfield were instrumental in setting
up this meeting. Speakers were Richards, Bledsoe, County Agent
A.R.Garlington, and Wilbur L. Morse, a Vinita attorney who
was assisting with the organization of cooperatives in Rogers
and Craig counties.
Another meeting was held on July 2 for the purpose of making
plans for formal incorporation of the cooperative and selection
of nine incorporators who would have the responsibility of
carrying the project through to its completion. About 30 people
attended this meeting and the name Consumers Electric Cooperative
was chosen. The incorporators were chosen and Morse was named
as legal counsel to assist them in organizing the cooperative.
On July 7, a pre-allotment survey was approved by the R.E.A.
(Rural Electrification Administration in Washington, D.C.)
for a 60-day period to determine how many rural residents
wanted electricity to their homes. The area assigned to the
new cooperative was the unincorporated area lying between
three other cooperatives located in Collinsville (Verdigris
Valley Electric Cooperative), Stillwater (Central Rural Electric
Cooperative), and Blackwell (Kay Electric Cooperative). This
area included portions of Pawnee, Osage, Creek, Payne, Noble
and Tulsa counties. Several years later, a small comer of
Kay County would be added to the territory served.
On July 22, the persons selected as incorporators met to
complete plans for the survey and incorporation By this time,
it was discovered that there already was a cooperative with
the name Consumers Electric Cooperative so the group had to
select another name for the new cooperative. Mrs. Jack (Ida)
McCollom suggested the name Indian Electric Cooperative,
since the area to be covered was in the heart of what was
once known as Indian Territory. The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce
made arrangements to provide office space and Cleveland was
designated as headquarters.
Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of
State at 4:00 p.m. on August 1, 1939. Charter members who
read the Articles of Incorporation were Ben 0. Moore of Cleveland,
Mrs. Roy (Marie) Brodell of Keystone, A.L. Bishop of Cleveland,
Mrs. Jack (Ida) McCollom of Keystone; Mrs. Jake (Pauline)
Smedley of Cleveland, J.0. Bunch of Cleveland, Charles Green
of Mararmec and W.H. Rogers of Pawnee.
Formal and official organization was completed at a meeting
held in the Arlington Hotel in Cleveland at 8:00 p.m, August
5, 1939. The first Board of Trustees consisted of the nine
original incorporators. All of the trustees, with the exception
of A.L. Bishop and Ida McCollom were present at this first
meeting- Original officers elected at the first meeting were
Charles Green, president; B.O. Moore, vice president; and
Pauline Smedley, secretary-treasurer. Other business conducted
at the organizational meeting included adoption of bylaws
and a corporate seal in addition to other necessary business
which included the selection of Midwestern Engineering and
Construction Co. of Tulsa as the project engineering firm
Wilbur L. Morse of Vinita was confirmed as project counsel.
At the end of that first board meeting, W.H. Rogers became
the first member to resign. In submitting his resignation,
he explained that his father had been critically injured in
an automobile accident and that he would not be able to devote
the time necessary to serving on the board. In a subsequent
meeting on September 15, 1939, the board discussed the need
for having representation on the board from other communities
of the large area to be served in Indian Electric. As a result
of the discussion, several trustees expressed their willingness
to resign in order to make room for representation from outlying
districts by persons selected by residents of the outlying
communities. First board member to do so was Marie Brodell
who resigned at the following meeting on September 23. At
the same meeting, E.C. Bryson of Pawnee was named to replace
W.H. Rogers and H.G. Matherly of Olive was chosen to fill
the vacancy created when Mrs. Brodell resigned. The board
also accepted the resignation of A.L. Bishop at the November
18 meeting and named H.P. Laird of Morrison to replace him.
For the past several months, an intensive effort had been
made to obtain 600 signatures of persons who wanted electricity.
The goal was to build 200 miles of line to serve at least
three families per mile. To sign up, the farmers would agree
to purchase power from the cooperative for a period of one
year and pay a minimum charge of $3.25 per month once the
lines were extended to their residence. It seemed like an
almost impossible task and several methods were used in getting
signers. Several persons were hired as coordinators and survey
workers to reach people in the area to determine how many
wanted electric service and to get them signed up. In addition,
the board members and other interested persons would go from
farm to farm signing up persons for membership. The fee for
membership in Indian Electric was $5.00, which was hard to
come by in those days.
In order to meet a deadline of the R.E.A., the board at their
December 9 meeting instructed the project engineering
to prepare maps and data necessary for a loan application
to the R.E.A. for sufficient funds to construct whatever distribution
system the engineers found to be feasible on the basis of
applications completed in the consumer survey as of December
At their following board meeting on January 20, 1940, the
board was advised that the R.E.A. had received the application
and approved of any effort on the part of Indian Electric
to secure additional applicants who could be served by the
proposed distribution system as presently designed, and that
the cooperative could submit a supplement to its present application
to cover any extension of the lines which might be worked
out in the immediate future.
The resignation of E.C. Bryson from the board was also accepted
at the January 20 meeting and Cleo Eaton of Marland was named
as his replacement at a meeting held On February 10, 1940
after having been selected by applicants in Noble County to
be their delegate.
On June 1, 1940, the board passed a resolution to update
the loan application with the R.E.A. by the addition of several
more miles of line to serve other families who were anxious
to receive central station electric service. This addition
to the loan application completed the Project "A"
application and was for approximately 178 miles of line to
serve 491 families. It consisted of line territory - the Morrison-Watchhorn-Lela
area in Western Pawnee County, the Drumright-Olive area in
Creek County, and the Cleveland- Keystone area in eastern
Pawnee County. A number of scattered applications had been
received but that much more work needed to be done in order
to achieve the desired density of three residences per mile.
As soon as possible, these areas would be worked in an attempt
to submit an additional loan application for a Project "B"
whenever it proved feasible.
When the loan application was being processed, workers turned
their attention to obtaining right-of-way easements for the
lines and other important matters. The project engineering
firm, Midwestern Engineering and Construction Co. of Tulsa,
assigned C.D. Drake as their resident engineer on the project
to plan where the lines would go and in what order - Surveying
and staking began near Morrison on August 5, 1940 and moved
into the Cleveland areas on Monday, September 16.
The big news came in early August and President Green advised
the board at their August 10, 1940 meeting that an allotment
of $140,000 had been granted by the R.E.A. for a period of
25 years at 2.46 percent interest to be used in construction
of power lines and related facilities on Project "A".
The dream, which began 18 months earlier, was nearing reality.
Things really began moving fast now as the board turned their
attention to setting up an office and hiring personnel. Offices
were set up in the Thorne Building at 117 North Broadway in
Cleveland with rent for the first year being paid by the Cleveland
Chamber of Commerce. The board employed Carl A. Zink of Barnsdall
as the first project superintendent and he began his full-time
duties on August 12, 1940, at a salary of $150.00 per month.
Bert R. Ness of Cleveland was chosen as bookkeeper-stenographer
and he also began working August 12.
Five contractors submitted bids for construction of the "X"
section of the line with bids being opened in a meeting at
the Arlington Hotel on August 20, 1940. The Reinhart and Donovan
Company of Oklahoma City was awarded the contract on their
bid of $95,307.31.
Loan papers on the $140,000 allotment were prepared by the
R.E.A. on September 5 and forwarded to Indian Electric for
signing. Officials of Indian Electric affixed their signatures
on September 21, 1940. At this time, a debt ceiling of $150,000
Arrangements were made by the board on September 28 for obtaining
a truck and purchasing hand tools for use by crews in connection
with right-of-way clearing. The first truck was a second-hand
1930 Model "A" Ford 1/2 ton pick-up, Motor No. 906255,
which was initially rented at the rate of .04 cents per mile
and later purchased by the cooperative for use in right-of-way
clearing. A few months after, a second vehicle was purchased
for use as a maintenance truck. The new GMC 1/2 ton pickup
and related equipment was purchased in 1940 from Alexander
Motor Company of Cleveland at a cost of $585.65 and a custom-built
body complete with extension ladder was added to properly
equip it for its job.
Retail rates for electric service were adopted by the Board
of Trustees on October 19, 1940. The rate for farm and home
($3.25 Minimum Bill)
First 40 KWH 8 1/2cents $3.25
Second 40 KWH 4 1/2cents $1.80
Next 120 KWH 2 ½ Cents $3.00
All over 200 KWH 1 3/4 cents
A special meeting of members was held on October 26, 1940
for the purpose of approving action of the board on September
21 in connection with the loan and establishment of a debt
ceiling. A quorum of the members was present with a majority
approving the board action.
Coordinators and survey workers continued signing up persons
interested in receiving service with the goal of obtaining
enough applicants to submit a loan application of 225 more
miles of line as Project "B". At the same time,
work progressed on clearing right-of-way, which began in early
October on the west segment with many members working on the
crews as a means of paying for having their houses wired.
Line construction was started on November 11, 1940 and by
late December of 1940, the contractor reported 61 miles of
poles had been strung on the ground and 45 miles of poles
had been erected.
On December 7, 1940, the board signed loan papers for $5,000.00
from the R.E.A. for the purpose of making loans to members
to finance the wiring of premises to be served with electric
energy by the cooperative and for the purchase and installation
of electrical appliances and equipment.
Two more board members were named on December 21, 1940 with
the appointment of F.E. Arb from the Pleasant Valley area
around Yale and L.M. Wetzel from the Prairie Center district
near Morrison to fill the vacancies created by the September
28 resignation of J.0. Bunch and the replacement of H.P. Laird
who was unable to serve because of duty with the Armed Forces.
These new board members were nominated for the positions by
their friends and neighbors at "community meetings"
held for the purpose of selecting a representative for the
Arthur R. Schornick was employed by the cooperative as a
maintenance man in December. Other regular employees included
Zink, Ness, and Ester Warren who was employed on a temporary
basis as a clerk. There were also others employed temporarily
as coordinators, survey workers, easement workers, right of
way clearing crews, etc.
A membership certificate was approved for use by the cooperative
on December 21 for issuance to all members as their applications
were accepted by the board. In their previous meeting on December
7, the board accepted into membership all applicants who could
be served by the Project "X"', provided they had paid
their membership fee of $5.00 and complied with cooperative
The coming of a new year also brought a change in resident
engineers on the project with H.A. Brock replacing C.D. Drake.
In their January 18, 1941 meeting, the trustees opened three
bids for construction of member service installations (meter
loops) on Project "N", and accepted the low bid of $3,730.69
made by the Westgate Electric Co. of Columbus, Ohio.
Two new trustees joined the board on February 15 with the
naming of M.V. Covey of the Big Bend area and Paul Guinn of
Blackburn to fill vacancies which were created on January
18 with the resignations of E.M. Findley and Ben 0. Moore.
A 60-day extension was also granted to the general contractor
on Project "N" because of bad weather experienced in
the winter months and because of delays in obtaining some
Because of the extra office work involved as the date for
energization of the lines became nearer, an additional worker
was needed in the office. Faye Milstead was hired temporarily
as a clerk-typist on January 23.
On March 15, survey work on the proposed Project "S"
had reached the stage that the board authorized mapping of
the project and submission to the R.E.A. for an allotment.
At this time, the survey indicated that at least 103 miles
of line could be built with a density of two members per mile.
H.G. Matherly was elected by fellow board members as vice-president
to replace Ben 0. Moore who had resigned earlier. On this
date, the board was advised that a petition had been received
by the president which had been signed by 77 persons, 74 of
which were bonafide members which would be served by Project
"A" and calling for a full membership meeting to be
held in the Pawnee County Courthouse at the same date in March
of 1941. Acting on the petition, the board set the date of
April 7, 1941 at 1:00 in the afternoon for the meeting, and
instructed the secretary to mail proper notice of the meeting
to the full membership in accordance with the bylaws.
Construction of the distribution system of Project "A"
was nearing completion and a dedication service was scheduled
for 1:00 in the afternoon following the full membership meeting
on April 7.
April 7, 1941 was a big red-letter day in the history of
Indian Electric as it marked two important events - the first
full membership meeting and the first energization of lines
of the infant cooperative. The membership meeting was held
as scheduled and questions of many members were answered by
officials and employees of the cooperative. The meeting was
closed with 95 percent of those in attendance rising to their
feet as a vote of confidence for the management of the cooperative.
In spite of overcast skies which cut attendance and a downpour
in which crews had to work to make last minute preparations
for the event, a dedication service was held at the cooperative's
sub-station located 1/4mile east and two miles south of Morrison.
It was a big day, indeed, for those rural families to be served
with electricity by the 90 miles of line in the west segment.
The first outlet to be energized was for a loudspeaker which
carried the voices of those appearing on the program, When
the switch was thrown at approximately 2:15 p.m., the first
residence to be served was that of the J.D. Reaves family
and following the dedication service, those present visited
the Reaves' home to see their many appliances.
That was only the beginning though, as other areas had to
be served with electricity. The east segment near Cleveland
was nearing completion, as was the south segment of Project
"A" near Olive. In addition, many more homes would
be served when approval was given on the proposed Project
"B" and there was even talk of extending the lines
even further through a Project "C" if enough signers
could be obtained.
Saturday, April 19, 1941 was the big day for those members
in the Cleveland area as a dedication service was conducted
in front of the cooperative offices beginning at 1:30 p.m
with a band concert. The energization ceremony took place
at approximately 2:00 p.m with the switch being thrown at
the substation near the entrance of the Johnson Refinery.
Following that ceremony, the group returned to the main street
location for the remainder of the program which featured M.V.
Covey as Master of Ceremonies.
Energization of the third and final segment of the Project
"A" took place at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 15 near
Olive. The event was commemorated with a program on Friday
night at the Olive School House with board member H.G. Matherly
serving as Master of Ceremonies.
Energizing those first lines set off a chain reaction and
it readily became apparent that the job was just beginning
as others in the area wanted electricity in their homes too.
The completion of Project "W" completed the dream of many
rural residents who wanted electricity in their homes and
brought Indian Electric Cooperative off the drawing board
and into reality. From that beginning it has grown into what
it is today.