Pioneering Pentecostal Pastor: 1881-1944

The Rev. Oscar C. Wilkins was born in 1881 in Campbell County, Missouri. He died in May 1944 at Wesley Hospital (defunct but was located at 12th & Harvey) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was residing at the time of his death at 3225 NW 16th, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

He married Mae or May circa 1902 and in 1910 the U.S. Census shows they had two children and resided
at 225 West California Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Listed as roomer was Harry P. Lott, 38 from Pennsylvania. Both Wilkins and Lott identified themselves as ministers with a Holiness church.

Wilkins had come to Oklahoma from Missouri, by way of Texas before statehood in 1907. He and Rev. A.H. Beall with Rev. Harry P. Lott, who took a one time notorious saloon from the fringes of Oklahoma City's 'Hell's Half Acre' and turned it into a religious mission. The 'Blue Front Saloon' had been located at 7 West Grand and seen its share of wild and scandalous shootings and other activities.

The Blue Front Saloon was located at the corner of Grand Avenue and Santa Fe (7 Grand Avenue) in downtown Oklahoma City.  When  the saloon was established has yet to be discovered. It was mentioned as a wild locale in a newspaper account dated 1904. It was well known as a part of the rowdy "Hell's Half Acre" of Oklahoma City. Gunplay, gambling, prostitution and crime were rampent. The area had swiftly developed from its founding in 1889 and the town was filled with brick and morter structures within months of its birth. The saloon was described as being fronted by broad windows normally covered by blinds.

In 1904, a holiness school was opened  in western Oklahoma called the Beaulah Holiness School in the area of Becham and Carter counties. 1905, a group called the Fire Baptized Holiness Church, under the direction of J.H. King held a revival in the Lamont area. In that year, a group in Billings held a service where several people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and frightened many of the people attending the service!

In 1906, a revival began in far off Los Angeles that would have a direct impact on the life of many in Oklahoma. An African American holiness minister would begin a series of services in an old warehouse that would cross denominational, gender, and race lines in promoting a spiritual experience bringing the Book of Acts alive to a new century. These people sought redemption and experienced signs and wonders akin to the Biblical examples. People from across the nation who had been ardently seeking deeper spiritual experiences when to California to see first hand what was happening there. Some were shocked and left and others were certain that as Amie Simple McPherson would later say, "This is that", this was the experience the prophets had foretold. Those believed spilled out across the land sharing the vital new message of renewal and renewed spirituality.

In 1907, the notorious but now closed saloon was leased by two Holiness ministers and became the Blue Front Saloon Mission. In August of that same year the two men, R.B. Beall and O.C. Wilkins received what was known as the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' and spoke in other tongues. It then became one of the first pentecostal churches in the central United States.

In about 1907-08  the renovated saloont was being pastored by Rev. H.P. Lott. He had been in a revival in Billings, Ok in 1905 when one of the earliest recorded instances of speaking in tongues and the classical Pentecostal experience occurred in Oklahoma. Under Lott's leadership the mission expanded to include a rescue home for 'wayward women'. This was a common outreach by churches and civic groups in a time when girls and women were often seduced and abandoned in a society that was often unforgiving of such falls from a moral high ground. The local prostitution business also sometimes used deceptive means to renew their 'stable' of workers. Young, naive girls coming to the city for the first time were often easy targets to lure into the trade or to assault and coerce into working in one of the houses or, as they were coyly called, 'resorts.'

Long bearing the label as the first Pentecostal church in Oklahoma, the Mission was relocated to 317 West California in the first of several moves of the congregation as it transitioned from independent holiness mission, to Fire Baptized Holiness mission, to Pentecostal Holiness mission and finally full church status.  In 1921 it moved to 423 W. California and then after 1946  it moved to Blackwelder and N.W. 9th Street and remained a Pentecostal Holiness Church through the 1990's.

1945 [M.H.Collection]

In 1907-1910, names associated as pastors include Wilkins, Beall, Lott.   In 1923 at the 423 W. California, S.N. Greene, and in the 1930's Dan T. Muse, and in the 1940's S. N. Green. In the late 1970's, at the 9th & Blackwelder location, the names include Richard Goad and Marvin J. Hudson. [more will be added as research continues].


Some Sources:
McGill, Albert. Satan Came Also. 1955
Paul, Harold. Dan T. Muse: From Printer's Devil to Bishop. 1975
U.S. Federal Census
Oklahoman
P.H.C. Yearbook

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