Sunbright area was first settled in the early 19th century. It was originally known as "Pine Top", but was renamed "Stapleton" after the Staples family set up the town's first post office in the mid-19th century. When the railroad was constructed through the area in 1879, the Stapleton depot was named "Sunbright," and the name was eventually applied to the entire town.
In 1916, an oil field was discovered in the hills immediately west of Sunbright, and the city thrived for several years as an oil shipping hub. An oil well was in operation within a year, and 15 wells were in operation in the Sunbright area by 1927