Tulsa Historical Society Hall of Fame
John Steele Zink
John Steele Zink was one of five members of the Tulsa Historical Society Class of 1992 Hall of Fame.
A chemist and industrialist, he is best remembered as the founder of Zink Ranch on 1,800 acres in the 1940s. He bought the property for $3 an acre in 1945 and began a ranching business that lasted about a decade.
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1917, Zink became a self-made millionaire thanks to dozens of patents for industrial burning and other mechanical processes. After inventing a high-tech burner that ONG refused to sell to customers, Zink resigned from the company and founded Mid-Continent Gas Appliance Company in 1929. It was later renamed the John Zink Company. The John Zink Company had amassed annual revenues of more than $15 million before he sold it to Sunbeam Corporation in 1972.
The ranch has now grown to 30,000 acres in northern Sand Springs and hosts Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Red Castle Gun Club, off-roaders, horseback riders, and numerous other outdoor enthusiasts.
b. June 2, 1860. d. December 27, 1926.
Sand Springs founder and patriarch Charles Page was one of five members of the inaugural class of Tulsa Historical Society & Museum Hall of Fame inductees in 1987.
Page established the Sand Springs Home on June 2, 1908, and equipped the organization with real estate and industrial operations to support its charities. The Widows Colony and orphanage continue to operate more than a century later.
Page was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin to James William and Mary Gottrey Page. Left fatherless at the age of 11, he helped his mother take care of his younger brother and vowed to her that he would take care of her and "all other mothers and poor boys and girls too" when he became a man.
Throughout his younger years he worked as a cook, railway dispatcher, general store clerk, lumberjack, logger, policeman, police chief, and hotel owner. He married his first wife, Lucy, in 1881 and adopted her son Willie. He continued to send money to support his mother until her death in 1891. After going broke during the Panic of 1893, he was back to square one, and moved to Colorado Springs in 1900.
The family moved to Oklahoma City in 1901 then Tulsa in 1903. He bought a hotel and began an independent drilling operation and struck it big in 1905 when "The Taneha" began producing 2,000 barrels per day. Lucy Page died of cancer in 1906.
Building his fortune through mining, real estate, and oil drilling, Page was well endowed when he set his sights on an uncolonized area West of Tulsa. He took over a failing orphanage in 1908 and moved it to the future Sand Springs area and by 1910 the Home was inhabited by fifty children and only continued to grow from there. All of the initial Home children were adopted by Page, and he refused to refer to them as orphans. To this day, the Home Trust funds 100% of its charities without state or federal funding.
Page helped establish various schools throughout West Tulsa and the Berryhill communities. He married Lucile Rayburn on July 22, 1909 and the couple adopted a baby girl named Mary Ann in 1912.
The City of Sand Springs was incorporated in 1912 and has grown to encompass 22 square miles with a population of nearly 20,000. The Page family officially relocated from Tulsa to Sand Springs in 1915. In 1920 Page built the Shell Creek Dam and founded the Sand Springs Bottling Company. He also owned the Tulsa Democrat newspaper. He offered generous land and financial incentives to attract companies to Sand Springs to provide jobs for his kids. Sheffield Steel, Kerr Glass Company, Southwestern Porcelain, Commander Mills, and Sinclair Prairie Refinery provided an industrial backbone for the community for nearly a century.
Page died of Influenza at the age of 66 but built a lasting legacy. Charles Page Boulevard is named for Page and runs for nearly six miles from downtown Tulsa to downtown Sand Springs. A statue of Page stands in the middle of the town's downtown Triangle Park, and Page Park and Charles Page High School in Sand Springs are both named for him. The Page Memorial Library was constructed at the request of his widow, and it has since been repurposed as the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum. A new Charles Page Library was also constructed in his honor. Charles and Lucile are both entombed at Woodland Cemetery in Sand Springs.