Dennis T. Flynn
Dennis T. Flynn
“This enduring place of Dennis Flynn in Oklahoma's history is assured because he exemplified in his life the ambitions and achievements of a majority of the individuals who made up the infant domain and who vitalized it with their vision and industry.”
Dennis T. Flynn, inducted in the first class of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1928, was a businessman, attorney, and public servant widely recognized as one of Oklahoma’s founding fathers. His journey through life did not start with privilege. Born in Pennsylvania in 1861, Flynn was raised in an orphanage. He did well in school and like so many of his fellow Americans in the 1880s sought his fortune by going west. He settled first in Iowa but moved to Kansas where he became a newspaper publisher, townsite developer, and attorney. When a land opening was scheduled for April 22, 1889, in the heart of Indian Territory, Flynn used his political influence to secure an appointment as the first postmaster in Guthrie. Flynn helped organize the Republican Party in Oklahoma Territory and was elected a delegate to Congress in 1892. If for no other reason, he earned a spot as a true Oklahoma hero in 1900 when he ushered a bill through Congress called the Free Homes Bill, which cancelled the fees that homesteaders owed the federal government after they had been on the land for five years. With that one act, more than $15 million was pumped back into the struggling Oklahoma economy just as farmers and ranchers were on the threshold of America’s “Golden Age of Agriculture.” Flynn plunged into the business community when he left Congress in 1902. With his friend and partner, C.B. Ames, he organized a law firm and represented the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad in the territory. He also incorporated the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company in 1903 and added a subsidiary two years later called Oklahoma Natural Gas. Flynn used the success of both companies to help form a national utility holding company. When he came back to Oklahoma, he was active in his law firm and helped build the American National Bank, which later would merge with a competitor to become First National Bank of Oklahoma City. The life of Dennis T. Flynn fits the profile of Oklahoma’s pioneer generation. He was willing to take a risk. He was willing to serve his community. And he was a leader. As much as any of his contemporaries, he earned a place in the pantheon of Oklahoma’s founding fathers.
The Honorable Dennis T. Flynn was Oklahoma’s first Republican National Committeeman and served as Guthrie, Oklahoma’s first postmaster soon after he arrived in the Land Run of 1889.
Flynn arrived in Guthrie, Oklahoma on the first train entering the area on the day of the Land Run, 1889.