Skip to main content

What's in a Name? - Randy Hughes Middle School

What's in a name? - Puterbaugh Middle School

Head-shot of Mr. Puterbaugh

(Source: Oklahoma Hall of Fame Website. Retrieved from

Jay Garfield (J.G.) Puterbaugh (1876-1965) was a McAlester industrialist who earned great wealth in the coal and oil industries. Mr. Puterbaugh was a respected civic leader throughout his lifetime and the Puterbaugh Foundation continues to make significant contributions to the community and state many years after his death.

Originally from Kansas, J. G. Puterbaugh came to the South McAlester in 1902 where he founded he McAlester Fuel Company. This company became the selling agent for nearly all the mining companies then producing coal in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1931 the McAlester Fuel Company expanded to include the exploration and production of oil.  During World War II the McAlester Fuel Company became involved in the war effort, partnering with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. to produce McAlester coal for use during World War II.

He was influential in framing Oklahoma's mining laws after statehood and establishing the Oklahoma Public Expenditures Council. He also served as a vice president and director of the First National Bank.

Mr. Puterbaugh was instrumental in organizing the McAlester Hospital Foundation, which operated the McAlester General Hospital.  He served as foundation director from the time the organization began in 1947. He also played  a major role in setting up the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and served as its first president.

Mr. Puterbaugh was one of the original members inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1950. He received a certificate of achievement from the University of Oklahoma Alumni Association and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1954.

By 1956 he was recognized for his 50 years of continuous membership in the Indian Consistory of the Masonic Lodge. In 1957 he was presented a plaque from the McAlester Chamber, recognizing his contributions to the community and distinguishing him with "the highest honor of the people of McAlester." He was also a long time member of the McAlester Rotary Club.

J. G. Puterbaugh believed that libraries, books, and reference materials were the most important tools and that education was the first step toward the solution of social and economical problems.

With the money that Mr. Puterbaugh had, he had bought a mansion. With this mansion, he provided a home for his sister, his wife, Alene Webb Puterbaugh, his wife’s parents and several of her sisters. He died while on a business trip to St. Louis with his nephew, Tom Garrard, on July 30,1965.


For more information about J. G. Puterbaugh, visit J.G. Puterbaugh, Part 1, The Garrard Ardeneum Collection.