The Osage Tribe of Indians held the first public auction sale for oil leases on Osage Reservation tracts November 11, 1912. Early sales were held under this elm tree. Bidders sat on bleachers around the tree and the auctioneer, Colonel E. Walters, "cried" the sales.
The first sale in which a 160-acre tract brought a bonus of $1,000,000, or more was March 2, 1922. One tract brought $1,335,000 and another tract brought $1,160,000.
On March 18, 1924 the opening bid on a 160-acre tract was $1,000,000. However the largest bonus ever paid for a tract was $1,990,000 on March 19, 1924.
A total of 18, 160-acre tracts have leased for a bonus of over $1,000,000, thus this tree under which these high bids were made, became known as the "Million Dollar Elm."