Seeking information about relative who worked in Texas oilfields, circa 1930.


Researching her family’s distant connection to the U.S. oil patch, Marianne Jans of the the Netherlands discovered the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website. She hopes visitors to the site’s Petroleum History Research Forum might help add to her limited information about a great-great uncle who worked in Texas oilfields. He apparently was as a driller from the 1920s until the early 1930s.

Although details are scarce, Jans seeks news about her great-great uncle Ralph “Dutch” Weges — who in 1962 reportedly returned to the Netherlands by ship. His petroleum-related career included serving on merchant vessels.

Regarding his work in Texas, she has a 1927 letter of recommendation with some clues.

Marianne Jans' scan of the  August 1927 Barry Fuel Oil Company's letter of recommendation for her great-great uncle, Ralph "Dutch" Weges.

Marianne Jans’ scan of the August 1927 Barry Fuel Oil Company’s letter of recommendation for her great-great uncle, Ralph Weges.

“In papers he left behind, he also had a recommendation from his employer in 1927,” according to Jans. “J. Barry Fuel Oil Co. is not in your list of historic companies, so I am sending this document.” she added.

Transcription of the great-great uncle’s letter, dated August 9, 1927:

J. Barry Fuel Oil Co.
1501 Francis Avenue
Houston, Texas
                                           Aug 9th 1927
To whom it may concern:
This is acknowledgement that Ralph (Dutch) Weges
worked for me [&] Drilled on a number of wells
which I drilled as contractor for Humble Oil and
Refining [unreadable] Northern Field, Texas and [for] Texas Pacific
Coal & Oil [unreadable] Co, Texas.
His [unreadable] careful rig [unreadable] and was specifically good in keeping 
his equipment in good shape.
His work was good, wells finished properly and time 
just as good as other contractors in same fields.
                                                  RJ Barry

Not finding more information about the J. Barry Fuel Oil Company, Jans learned more about the two well-documented companies J. Barry worked with as a drilling contractor.

Humble Oil and Refining Company (now ExxonMobil) was founded in 1917. The company, which would discover many oilfields, in 1933 signed an historic lease with the King Ranch. The other company referenced in the letter was the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

In addition, Ralph Weges had other connections with the U.S. petroleum industry, according to Jan’s research. Her great-great uncle traveled overseas aboard the SS La Campine in September 1916.

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Launched in 1889, La Campine was an early transatlantic oil tanker owned by the American Petroleum Company of Rotterdam and later by an Esso subsidiary in Belgium (it was sunk by a German submarine during World War I).

“What surprised me, was that Ralph Weges was anyway on board two ships that transported cargo for Esso, now Exxon Mobile,” Jans noted. “So he already worked for a petroleum/oil company on these ships. First as a 2nd cook and later petty officer. Two other vessels, the Anacortes and the SS Vigo, I must research further.”

As her investigation into family history continues from the Netherlands, Marianne Jans seeks information about her great-great uncle’s overseas career, the  J. Barry Fuel Oil Company, and his role in Texas oilfields, 

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Citation Information – Article Title: “Driller from Netherlands.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: February 10, 2024. Original Published Date: October 24, 2023.


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