Whizbang is an all-timer when it comes to Oklahoma ghost towns. You really can’t get a better name than that. But, of course, there’s a catch. Whizbang wasn’t the town’s official name.
Whizbang was an oil boomtown in Osage County that sprang to life practically overnight in 1921 when E.W. Marland began drilling for oil. The population in Whizbang soared to as high as 10,000 people before the oil ran dry and the town faded away. The town’s official name was Denoya, the story goes that the post office didn’t think Whizbang was dignified and instead named the town after a local Osage Indian family.
Whizbang (or Denoya if you prefer) in the 1920s
No one is quite sure where the name Whizbang originated. Some say it was named after a popular cartoon character of the day, others say it’s a tribute to a madam at a town brothel. Another story has the name coming from the sound the oil pumps would make when pumping the black gold from the ground.
I was sent this picture from Ty Rainey. He says the family has always referred to it as the Yale Whiz-Bang baseball team. His great- grandfather, Oscar Robert (known as O.R. or Doc) Kidder, is seated in the top row on the far right wearing a sweater. Ty didn’t have much information on the team but I'm wondering if this was a team from Whizbang itself (as opposed to being from Yale.)
Photo courtesy of Ty Rainey
I did some research into O.R. Kidder and learned he was married in Ripley in Payne County which is about an hour from Whizbang. This article in the Ripley Bulletin from January 1917 is announcing he marriage of Oscar Kidder to Grace Laughter.
The Ripley Bulletin January 11, 1917
Ty says his great-grandfather was an outstanding pitcher but he made more money working in the oil fields. If you worked in the oil fields in the 1920s there’s a very good chance you worked in Osage County and found your way near Whizbang. It’s important to note that Ty says the picture was taken in Yale. Whizbang was a popular phrase at the time so it’s entirely possible that this is a Yale team just using the name Whizbang. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any firm records indicating one way or the other.
Pauls Valley Democrat June 1, 1922
A little bit more about Doc Kidder. Ty says he was offered a contract by the New York Giants but turned it downed because the oil money was better. We’re grateful to Ty and his family for sharing this picture with us. It's a great example of why we love what we do. We may not ever know the exact origin of the team or picture but we'll keep looking. If you know anything about this team, picture, or Doc Kidder please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
As a tribute to Whizbang we’re excited to offer this vintage t-shirt. Please click here to order yours today.