E . W. Marland was one of the two most famous figures in
the oil business in the United States. He had the largest oil
production ever recorded. Marland was a hero to the children,
and a very well respected man by adults. He was very
knowledgeable in both businesses of law and oil. E . W.
developed Ponca City from nearly nothing and became one of
the wealthiest men in America.
E . W. Marland was born on May 8, 1874, in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. He was named after his grandfather, Ernest
Whitworth Marland, a very well known and liked British
educator. As a child, Marland attended Park Institute, the finest
academy in Pennsylvania (John J. Mathews, pg. 217-236).
Both of his parents, Alfred and Sarah Marland came from
very wealthy backgrounds, so Marland grew up in an affluent
family and home. Money had no real value to E . W. After
graduating from Park Institute, Marland had high aspirations of
being in the military, so he applied to West Point. When he was
turned down because of failing his physical requirements, he
decided to study law at Michigan University, and follow in the
footsteps of his father.
Marland served as a Democrat in the 73’rd U. S. Congress
from 1933 to 1935. In 1935, his last year in Congress, he ran for
Governor of Oklahoma and was elected with ease. He served in
this position from 1935 to 1939. Marland started into a
promising law practice, and after only a few years, his business
was prospering. After a short time as a lawyer, Marland decided
that he was not the man for law and that law was only a small
business that led to a much larger occupation, so he went into
the oil business. Marland was a very good lawyer but just did
not like the profession (Oklahoma Almanac, pg. 541).
During his law career, Marland developed Ponca city from
a small trading center between towns to a very attractive town.
For the public, free of charge, Marland donated a polo field, a
large golf course, and several tennis courts. He also assisted in
the building of the Pioneer Woman Statue (Rex Harlow, pg.
As an oilman, Marland was one of the world’s leaders in oil
production. He was the head of the scientific development in
the petroleum industry. He was also the head of a
$125,000,000 oil company. During his oil business time, he
built a $1,000,000 office building and refinery in Ponca City
with more than 5,000 people employed. This made him one of
the wealthiest men in America. He also found the first oil field
in West Virginia, which inspired him to drill in other states.
Marland discovered after only a short while that oil was the
business for him (Edwin C. McReynolds, pg. 368-377).
After exploring West Virginia, Marland decided to explore
Oklahoma. During this exploration he found an oil field in
Bartlesville and started drilling on the next vacant lot. Out of
the first nine wells he drilled in Oklahoma, Marland found one to
produce nothing, seven gas producers, and one that produced oil,
which proved the mid continent field theory. In 1913, twenty
eight gas wells were drilled with no dry holes. This was a great
accomplishment. In 1917, he developed Garber Field, one of the
best oil fields in Oklahoma. On December 31, 1927, E .W. had
well over $100,000,000 in gross assets and the largest refinery
and company to be found in the country. With his oil he easily
filled two to three refinery fields and had the fastest growing oil
business ever (Chas. N. Gould, pg. 830).
E . W. Marland died on October 3, 1941. He was a great oilman and a
person of pride to Ponca City. He helped put Oklahoma on the map and
give Ponca City a chance at greatness. Marland was a well respected
man and there was a genuine sense of loss. It was the end of an era.