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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Selected Biographies: Joseph Bradford Thoburn (1866-1941)

Another noted early member of Wesley was Joseph B. Thoburn  (1866-1941).  He was noted for his 6 volume work on Oklahoma history ( a standard in schools for many years).  He is thought to have taken some of the earliest photographs of the Craig Mound at the prehistoric site called Spiro Mounds, and was instumental in helping to establish both Epworth College and Oklahoma City College.

He published numerous articles (36), founded the Chronicles of Oklahoma, and wrote some eight books and was a member of the 1903 Board of directors for the Oklahoma Historical Society.  "From 1913 to 1917, while in the University of Oklahoma history department, he conducted the first scientific excavations into Oklahoma's prehistory, including the cave-dweller culture of northeastern Oklahoma, the basketmaker culture of northwestern Oklahoma, and the mound-builder culture in Delaware, LeFlore, and Kay counties. He then joined the OHS staff in 1917, serving until his retirement in 1931." 

Additionally, an aunt was a notable Methodist missionary to India. Isabelle Thoburn (1841-1901).  Her brother was Bishop James Mills Thorborn and he wrote a biography of her,  Life of Isabella Thoburn, (Jennings and Pye, 1903) (A Free ebook at

Joseph Thoburn died March 2, 1941 after a stroke.  His funeral was held at Wesley Methodist Church, March 4, 1941. The services were under the direction of Watts and McAlce Funeral Services with internment set for Rose Hill. Rev. Hugh B. Fouke, senior minister of Wesley conducted the service.

His pallbearers were Allen Williams, M.M. Gibbons, Clifton Grossman, Roy Wheeler, Merle Woods, and Claude Hensley.  Honorary bearers included: C.S. McCreight, Robert A. Hefner, Dr. Earl McBride (also a "Wesleyite"), Gen. W.S. Kay, R.C. Bradshaw, and many others. 

(See general history entry here).

Joseph B. Thoburn. A Standard History of OKLAHOMA. An Authentic Narrative of its Developments from the Date of the First European Exploration down to the Present Time, including Accounts of the Indian Tribes, both Civilized and Wild, of the Cattle Range, of the Land Openings and the Achievements of the most Recent Period. The American Historical Society, Chicago and New York, 1916.

Ebook version here.
He is listed in the biographies THOBURN Joseph B. p. 760, 2192

Paul F. Lambert. Joseph B. Thoburn: Pioneer Historian and Archaeologist. Oklahoma Trackmaker Series. ublished for the Oklahoma Heritage Association by Western Heritage Books; First Edition edition (1980) ISBN-10: 0865460094 / ISBN-13: 978-0865460096

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A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

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1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma