“A man never gets his beginnings out of his bones.”
Pioneer oilman and philanthropist Frank Phillips was born in Nebraska and grew up in Iowa, where he worked in a barber shop and a bank before hearing about the possibilities of oil near Bartlesville in Indian Territory in 1903. When he was only 29, Phillips used his savings from work and commissions as a bond salesman to found the Citizens Bank and Trust Company at Bartlesville. Success in banking and oil went hand in hand for Phillips and, in 1917, he and his brother, L.E. Phillips, incorporated the Phillips Petroleum Company with 27 employees and $3 million in assets. He would serve as chairman of the board until 1949 and the company would grow to more than 23,000 employees with assets exceeding $1 billion. Always interested in aviation, Phillips backed Art Goebel’s successful flight from Hawaii, the first non-stop flight westward, and supported Wiley Post in his test flights into the stratosphere.
The grand and historic Frank Phillips home, a 26 room neo-classical mansion, on Cherokee Avenue in Bartlesville was built in 1909 and was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1973. In 1925, Phillips bought land in the rugged Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma and called it Woolaroc, a ranch retreat for his friends and family.
In 2000, Frank Phillips was listed as one of the Fifty Most Influential Oklahomans of the Century by Oklahoma Today Magazine and he was once appointed as an honorary chief of the Osage Nation.
Phillips came to the oil fields near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1903.