Krebs Heritage Museum
85 S. Main St.
P.O. Box 1519
Krebs OK lahoma 74554
918-426-0377 / 918-423-7191
Use the links below to navigate the site
Home Page link will take you back to the beginning of the
History of the Museum
information on the founder and museum's beginning
Old Photos link will reveal
images of a younger Krebs at work and play
Krebs Historical Society
Krebs History link tells
a small portion of our rich history
HISTORY OF KREBS
The name Krebs was chosen in honor of Judge Edmond Folsom Krebs. From
all information available the year was 1873.Judge Krebs was of mixed German
and Choctaw ancestry. He was born to Placide and Rebecca Folsom Krebs on
October 25, 1821 in Winston County, Mississippi. He had eight brothers
and six sisters. Edmond Krebs was a judge for the Choctaw Nation , Indian
Territory in the 1880’s. The courthouse that he presided in still stands
in North McAlester, Oklahoma, though it has been moved several times since
it was first constructed in 1876. It is probably the oldest structure standing
in the McAlester/Krebs area.
The Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railroad ( MKT or KATY ) built it’s
North-South rail line through the area that is now known as McAlester in
1872. With the advance of the rail line came many people and the need to
tap the valuable recourse, coal, that nature had blessed this area with.
The KATY formed the Osage Coal and Mining Company to harvest the coal that
it needed to operate. Excess coal was sold on the open market. The Choctaw
Railway laid East-West tracks that intersected at present day McAlester.
The richest deposits of coal in Indian Territory laid directly under Krebs.
The coal deposits streched from McAlester Eastward to and beyond the Arkansas
State line. Most of the small towns along this line owe their existance to
coal. By 1895, 15 coal mines had been opened in Krebs. Krebs suffered
the worse coal mining disaster in Indian Territory / Oklahoma history in
1892 from an explosion in mine #11. This explosion killed over 100 men and
boys as young as 12 years old and many were buried in a mass grave that is
in North McAlester.
The initial workforce in the mines was made up primarily of immigrants
from the British Isles. In the 1880’s many immigrants from other areas
began flowing in to supplement the legion of workers needed to conduct
the trade. The majority of new immigrants were from Continental Europe
and by far the Italian people made up the lions share of immigrants coming
in. Over the decades Italian restaurants have been established which
are known the world over.
Krebs was incorporated in 1903 and Mel D. Reed was elected first Mayor
of the town and Bob Miller was elected the first Chief of Police. The City
school system was consolidated in 1907 and that same year President Roosevelt
issued a proclamation declaring Oklahoma a state.
The Krebs Opera House was re-built as a brick structure in 1903 after
the first one was destroyed by fire the previous year and it and the St.
Joseph's Catholic Church were the first brick buildings to go up in Krebs.
It was the only place for miles around that featured stage shows. Many fine
road shows played here and moving pictures were shown in the Opera House,
also. The Dreamland Theater later became the popular movie theater in Krebs
and it was owned and operated by Mr. & Mrs. Dave Holstead.
Krebs was served by a two coach passenger train, on a Missouri, Kansas,
and Texas Railroad Branch Line. The train was called the Nellie. Krebs had
her own KATY depot in the downtown area and a depot south of town on the
East-West line, later to become the Rock Island Railway. The Nellie served
9 towns from McAlester to Wilburton, through Krebs, Carbon, Adamson, and Patterson.
Passenger service, express and mail were transported by the Nellie.
An interurban electric streetcar line served from McAlester to Krebs, Alderson,
Bache, Dow, Haileyville, and Hartshorne. It was possible to visit any of
the towns along the route for less than a dollar.
Krebs had an Italian Band that played in a double-decker bandstand in
downtown Krebs. There were at least five bandstands between McAlester and
Hartshorne that the band played at on weekends providing entertainment for
families from all over. Lots of families rode the street car to these sites
for picnics and festivals.
Krebs had 5 different newspapers at different times: Krebs Eagle, Krebs
Cyclone, Krebs Banner, Krebs Advertiser, and The Oklahoma Miner.
The old timers in Kerbs will tell you that there was a small store on
nearly every block in Krebs in the first one third of the 20th century when
they were growing up. Some were tiny one or two room shacks and others were
an extra room on the family residence. A couple of the structures are still
in existence including Mrs Giacomo’s Store, Powell’s Grocery, and Jim DeFrange’s
store, though none have operated in decades. Joe Michael operated a dry
goods store since the teens of the last century till the late 1970’s,
with the exception of a year or two when he served in World War I. The store
is still in operation by his nephew.
Dr. Robinson was the first doctor to move to Krebs in 1894. Later Dr.
George Turner became the coal company doctor and in time formed a partnership
with Dr. Richard Pemberton. The last doctor to maintain an office in Krebs
was the late Dr. Thomas T. Norris. Dr. Norris came to Krebs from Crowder,
Oklahoma after the death of Dr. George Turner.
The Terrapin Derby originated in 1929 when Mayor J.T. Sadler visited
the Miller Brother's Shows in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Mayor Sadler brought
the idea back to Krebs as a fundraising idea. The Derby was a success and
enough money was raised to purchase a new truck for the city. Over the years
the derby raised funds that provided vehicles and equiptment for one of
the finest volunteer fire departments in the region. The Terrapin Derby
is still conducted by the Krebs Fire Department on Labor Day weekend every
The city of Krebs maintains a city park which includes a nice baseball
park, a one kilometer walking track, picnic facilities, a two-story replica
of the gazebo that originally stood in the town square, and will soon include
playground equiptment. The park stands on a portion of the old fairground/racetrack
site of a hundred years ago. The original racetrack was a 1/8 mile banked
oval track where horses, sulkys, and early autos were raced. The Krebs Italian
Band played many festivals or 'festas' at the park
in bygone simpler times.
The only safe depository of the ultimate powers of
society is in the people themselves. T. Jefferson