Some may consider W. E. Hardesty the father of Garden City. Hardesty “sold 60 acres off of the northern end of his tract to be divided into town lots” for homes for the Texas Company refinery employees around 1915. These plots became known as Garden City.
In an April 18, 1938 Works Progress Administration interview by W.T. Holland, Hardesty said he arrived from Kentucky in Tulsa on Jan. 30, 1899. The area south of the train station was native oak woods. “Mr. Hardesty struck the Arkansas River on the way south, about where the 21st Street bridge now crosses it. “Here he crossed the river on the ice,” Holland wrote.
He leased 80 acres of farming land from a Creek Nation freedwoman named Anna Martin. The land was east of the West Tulsa business section on South Quanah, which was unsettled or open farming land in 1899. Hardesty brought his family out and farmed the land for 12 years. His first permanent home was on 40 acres of timber two miles south of his first lease that he bought from Lee Clinton in 1911. “A few years later, he bought some more land adjoining his first tract from the allotment of Fred Clinton,” Holland wrote.
“Prospering, Hardesty added to his holdings and ended up with 370 acres of good farmland. In the middle of his land, he improved his farm, fences and built an eight-room, two-story frame home, “a nice and modern home,” Holland said. Throughout his 40 years near Tulsa, he relied on wheat. “Growing wheat through these years has raised him from tenant farmer to be the owner of 370 acres of fine Arkansas River bottom land.” Wheat averaged 20 bushels per acre. But he grew oats, corn hay and raised some cattle and hogs. He killed and cured his own meat and grew fruit and vegetables. “Mr. and Mrs. Hardesty have four children and a number of grandchildren. Their home has always dispensed true Southern hospitality,” Holland wrote in closing. “They are now enjoying a well-earned rest, although Mr. Hardesty still manages his affairs and keeps abreast of the times. His descendants still live in the area, as recent as 1998, Southwest Tulsa News interviewed one of his daughters.
Garden City was settled in the early 1900's and incorporated in 1924. One of the original settlers was George Schmitt who farmed along what is now Elwood Ave. It is thought that the original settlers were the Winchester family. The first residents lived on Galveston St. and gradually the community spread to the west. Garden City is bordered by 36th Street to the north, 41st Street to the south, Elwood Avenue to the east and Southwest Boulevard to the west.
From the beginning community affairs centered around the school. The original school was located at 3667 S. Maybelle. The original structure is still standing and has been the home of the Pleasant family since 1940.
In the late 1920's or early 1930's the McBirney family donated land for a school which was constructed out of brick. McBirneySchool was located on a tract of land bordered by Nogales and Olympia Avenues and 36th Place and 37th Street. It was not only a school, but the community center for Garden City. When the school census declined the school was closed to students and the community and it was used for storage by the Tulsa Public School System. It was burned to the ground in 1974 at the hands of an arsonist. At one time Garden City had its own mayor and jail. It was annexed into the City of Tulsa at 11:50 p.m on June 30, 1950. On the night of the annexation, Garden City Mayor Oris C. Hoffman turned the town’s money, records and town’s seal to Tulsa city officials, including Mayor George Stoner. Garden City’s government was in the hands of a board composed of representatives of the three wards. The members of the board are Oris Hoffman, Frank Springer and Neal B. Tilley.
Newspaper reports indicate Hoffman went to the Tulsa city hall with an armload of books and records relative to the town’s business affairs. “While I am here,” Mayor Hoffman said, “I’ll write out a check for the amount of cash our town has on hand.” The check was for $2,437.98. Hoffman ended three years of service as Garden City Mayor when he turned over the records. He commented that he would be going back to his full-time job at the Mid-Continent Petroleum Company. The town’s 793 residents had mixed emotions about losing their identity and becoming part of the City of Tulsa.
Among those supporting the annexation into Tulsa were Mr. and Mrs. Carl D. Zeigler, Mr. and Mrs. Manuel O. Coffey and O. L. West. They circulated the petition for the annexation, supported by Carl Fite, who served as mayor of Garden City for four years. Opposing the annexation were Mayor Oris Hoffman and H.C. Schultz, who was mayor for 12 years. Schultz made a fiery speech against annexation when the first meeting was held on the question in McBirneySchool. There are still families related to the original settlers residing in the community, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th generations. Even though the community has declined in recent years, there is still a strong bond between the residents.