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 tour
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


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 year.

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