Indiana researcher’s “Informal History Notes” help preserve U.S. petroleum company legacies.


James Hinds of Columbus, Indiana, originally completed his extensively researched history of the Indian Refining Company in November 2003. His work documented the early histories of Havoline Motor Oil (through 1962) and the Texas Company, the future Texaco (through 1985).

“Emphasis was placed on Indian Refining Company and on an accurate account of Havoline’s early days,” Hinds noted in his “Informal History Notes” emailed to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society in 2023.

To best share his research findings, Jim Hinds added, “Please feel free to use (or not use) as you see fit.”


James Hinds Informal History Notes


HAVOLINE Motor Oil (through 1962)
The Texas Company / Texaco Inc. (through 1985)

Compiled by Jim Hinds, Columbus, Indiana
November 2003

In Memory of R. R. Hinds, Distributor



1. These notes consist of information which I (with appreciable assistance) have been able to piece together on the corporate history of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY, INCORPORATED, the origins of HAVOLINE Motor Oil, and (to a lesser extent) the history of The Texas Company / Texaco Inc. Emphasis was placed on INDIAN REFINING COMPANY, and on an accurate account of HAVOLINE’s early days, since surprisingly little such information (especially on the “old INDIAN”) is readily available elsewhere. They are by no means a comprehensive history of The Texas Company / Texaco Inc. but only attempt to cover those events which I believe were most relevant to the histories of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY and HAVOLINE Motor Oil.

2. I am aware that these notes conflict, in some details, with “The Texaco Story – The First Fifty Years 1902-1952” (Marquis James, The Texas Company, 1953) which has come to be viewed as the “official history” of The Texas Company. Based on information which I have verified through multiple, independent sources, however, it appears that portions of the material with which Mr. James was given to work were either erroneous or misinterpreted.

3. It is recognized that “The Texas Company”, “TEXACO”, “HAVOLINE”, “INDIAN”, “FIRE-CHIEF”, and “Sky Chief” are or were registered trademarks of Texaco Inc. (a subsidiary of ChevronTexaco Corporation) or of its antecedents. They are used here for informational and historical research purposes, only. These notes are in no way an official publication of Texaco Inc. nor of ChevronTexaco Corporation.

A Texaco station was among the 2012 indoor exhibits featured at the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma. Photo by Bruce Wells.

A Texaco station was among the 2012 indoor exhibits featured at the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma. Photo by Bruce Wells.


28 March 1901 – The Texas Fuel Company is among some 200 companies organized in the days immediately following the famed oil strike at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas. The company establishes an office in Beaumont.

4 October 1901 – John F. Havemeyer of Yonkers, New York incorporates The Havemeyer Oil Company under the laws of that state, for purposes (as detailed on its certificate of incorporation) related to “lubricating and all other oils of every kind and nature” (probably referring to whale oil, other animal renderings, and – possibly – to various seed oils, in addition to petroleum).

2 January 1902 – The Texas Fuel Company begins business.

7 April 1902 – The Texas Fuel Company becomes The Texas Company and incorporates under the laws of the State of Texas.

1 January 1903 –  “TEXACO” (having originated as the cable address of The Texas Company) is first used as a product name.

13 November 1903 – The Texas Company begins operations at its first refinery – Port Arthur [Texas] Works

14 November 1904 – Although its plant is physically located in the tiny northwestern-Indiana hamlet of Asphaltum, and 99.8% of its common and 100% of its preferred stock are listed in the name of 23-year-old Richmond M. Levering (a Lafayette, Indiana native currently residing in Chicago, Illinois), Indian Asphalt Company incorporates under the laws of the State of Maine. (While not recorded, it is speculated that the name “Indian” is an allusion to Indiana – meaning land or place “of Indians”.)

1904 – The Havemeyer Oil Company — having developed a unique cold-filtration process and blending package for oils — coins, and first uses, the name “HAVOLINE.”

1905 – Realizing that the Jasper County, Indiana oil field which it originally intended to exploit is effectively depleted, Indian Asphalt Company is persuaded (in “an extensive campaign by the [Georgetown] Board of Trade”) to move its offices and plant to Georgetown, Kentucky.

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1 May 1906 – Growing quickly in both size and scope, Indian Asphalt Company changes its name to INDIAN REFINING COMPANY. Its plant is upgraded to “refinery” status and its product line expanded to include paraffin wax, paint, “Sunset Engine Oil”, “Bull Dog Compound”, and “Blue Grass Axle Grease” in addition to asphalt. Richmond M. Levering becomes the first president of the renamed company and is soon joined in business by his father and mentor – Indiana banker, financier, and entrepreneur J. Mortimer Levering – who becomes the company’s secretary.

8 December 1906 – “HAVOLINE” is registered as a trademark of The Havemeyer Oil Company for use as a brand name on oils (not strictly motor oil) and greases.

5 January 1907 – Havoline Oil Company (a “spin-off” of The Havemeyer Oil Company) is incorporporated under the laws of State of New York. As with The Havemeyer Oil Company, its stated purposes include production, purchase, refining, sales, and other dealings involving “animal” oils and fats as well as “mineral” (i.e. petroleum) oils.

1907 – Construction of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY’s Lawrenceville, Illinois refinery is completed and the refinery begins operation.

1908 – Although continuing to operate its Georgetown refinery, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY relocates its offices to Cincinnati, Ohio. The company also begins operation of a small refinery near East St. Louis, Illinois.

20 May 1909 – As part of a program of rapid expansion, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY incorporates under the laws of the State of New York and purchases The Havemeyer Oil Company, Havoline Oil Company, and the by-now established “HAVOLINE” name (which is then registered as a trademark of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY as a brand name for lubricating oils – again, not strictly motor oil).

1909 – Production of HAVOLINE products at the Lawrenceville refinery begins.

1 December 1909 – Following a brief illness, J. Mortimer Levering (secretary of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY) passes away.

17 December 1909 – The Havemeyer Oil Company is dissolved.

2 September 1910 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (Maine) is chartered to do business in the State of Louisiana and begins operating a refinery in New Orleans.

1909-1911 – Also included in this period of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY’s expansion are the purchases of the Bridgeport Oil Company (Bridgeport, Connecticut), the Record Oil Refining Company (Newark, New Jersey), a small refinery in Jersey City, New Jersey, and control of a large storage station at Kearny, New Jersey. The company launches a program aimed at making a full-scale entry into the European market.

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16 March 1911 – Primarily in anticipation of expanding to the west coast, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA is created (and is incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey).

20 March 1911 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (New York) changes its name to INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF NEW YORK and becomes the principal operating subsidiary of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (Maine). The parent company’s main offices are moved from Cincinnati to New York City. Although its offices are moved, the company retains its close ties to the Cincinnati business community (which have existed since its inception as the Indian Asphalt Company) for many years. Its stock continues to be traded on the Cincinnati Stock Exchange and its board of directors includes (at various times) such well-known Cincinnati businessmen as William C. Procter, M. C. Fleischman, Lazard Kahn, and Bernard Kroger.

17 September – 6 November 1911 HAVOLINE Motor Oil lubricates the 28-horsepower engine of the first airplane to fly across the United States. Piloted by Calbraith Perry (“Cal”) Rodgers, the Wright EX bi-plane publicizes the new soft drink “Vin Fiz”, after which the the plane is named.

1 April 1912 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF LOUISIANA incorporates under the laws of the
State of Louisiana.

December 1913 – January 1914 In conjunction with a sweeping organizational and financial re- structuring, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (Maine) applies for and receives “authority to do business” in the States of New York and California. It assumes those functions formerly performed by INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF NEW YORK. The planned expansion to the far-West, however, is effectively cancelled and INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA is dissolved.

1915 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY closes its Georgetown, East St. Louis, and Jersey City refineries and abandons the company’s European venture (which has proven to be a severe financial drain due largely the First World War).

1916 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (Maine)’s president, Richmond M. Levering, resigns, as do several other senior officers of the company.

December 1918 – January 1919 In yet another reorganization, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF NEW YORK, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY OF LOUISIANA, Havoline Oil Company, the Record Oil Refining Company, and the Bridgeport Oil Company – all subsidiaries of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY (Maine) (hereafter referred to simply as INDIAN REFINING COMPANY) – are dissolved. The New Orleans plant is closed.

1920 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY purchases the capital stock of the Central Refining Company, which is located immediately north of the Lawrenceville refinery. The Central refinery facilities are ultimately reconfigured for lubricants manufacture.

1923 – The general offices of INDIAN REFINING COMPANY are moved from New York City to Lawrenceville.

1924 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY sells its remaining producing properties (consisting mainly of wells and leases in Illinois and Ohio) to the Ohio Oil Company (later to become the Marathon Oil Company).

1924 – The globes for INDIAN gasoline pumps are redesigned: a red “ball” with “INDIAN” arched above and “GAS” arched below (both in blue letters) on a white globe, replaces the reddish-brown and black “running Indian” design which was previously used. (One-piece globes also include “HAVOLINE”, in letters, vertically on each side.)

1924-1925 – Wishing to even more closely associate the two names, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY adopts a totally re-designed “HAVOLINE” trademark and virtually identical “INDIAN GAS” logo, both of which prominently feature the red-white-and-blue “ball” which had first been incorporated into the “HAVOLINE” logo in 1922. A “dot” is added to the middle of the “D” and above the second “I” in the word “INDIAN” (replicating the dots within the “O” and above the “I” in “HAVOLINE”). “INDIAN HI-TEST” Gasoline (made identifiable by red dye) is introduced on a limited basis.

1926 – The subsidiary Indian Pipe Line Corporation is sold to the Illinois Pipe Line Company.

May 1926 – The Texas Company introduces “New and Better TEXACO Gasoline”.

26 August 1926 – The Texas Corporation is incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware and, by exchange of shares, acquires substantially all outstanding stock of The Texas Company (Texas).

20 April 1927 – The Texas Company incorporates (under the laws of the State of Delaware) as the principal operating subsidiary of The Texas Corporation. All assets of The Texas Company (Texas) are transferred to The Texas Company (Delaware) and The Texas Company (Texas) is dissolved. The Texas Corporation becomes the “parent company” of the by-now numerous “Texas Company” entities and other subsidiaries.

2 March 1928 – The Texas Corporation acquires the California Petroleum Corporation, which is reorganized as The Texas Company (California).

16 August 1929 – Its chemists and engineers (led by Dr. Francis X. Govers) having perfected a revolutionary solvent-dewaxing process, INDIAN REFINING COMPANY introduces “HAVOLINE WAXFREE” motor oil, replacing “HAVOLINE –the power oil” (which had, early in the 1920’s, supplanted “HAVOLINE It Makes a Difference”). (An economy “Blended HAVOLINE” is also offered, primarily in bulk.)

By 1930 “HAVOLINE” sales (both nation-wide and overseas) not only remain strong but grow, markedly, following the introduction of “HAVOLINE WAXFREE”. But, while it had once been in the retail gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil markets (to varying extents) in over 25 states, the growing effects of the Depression, increasing difficulty in competing with the larger oil companies, the lack of reliable sources of crude, and (especially) the huge amount of money spent in developing the Govers solvent-dewaxing process, combine to force INDIAN REFINING COMPANY to retrench and restrict such marketing to Indiana,
Michigan, eastern Illinois, northern Kentucky, and western Ohio. (Within this limited area, however, the company still has a well-developed and efficient distribution and sales network. Into the latter 1920’s, for example, “INDIAN” accounts for some 20% of all gasoline sales in Indiana.)

1930 – The Texas Corporation introduces “TEXACO Ethyl Gasoline” (which is renamed “FIRE-CHIEF Ethyl” 15 April 1932).

August 1930 INDIAN REFINING COMPANY introduces a higher-octane “regular” gasoline which is made identifiable by green dye and which is dubbed “INDIAN Green-Lite” Gasoline.

14 January 1931 – The Texas Corporation gains controlling interest in INDIAN REFINING COMPANY, including the rights to HAVOLINE Motor Oil (and the all-important Govers solvent-dewaxing process) and INDIAN REFINING COMPANY’s
remaining active and inactive subsidiaries (the Indian Realty Corporation, the Central Refining Company, and the Havoline Oil Company of Canada, Ltd.). This also gives The Texas Corporation an established distribution and sales network
and entry into the retail gasoline market in Indiana, Michigan, eastern Illinois, northern Kentucky, and western Ohio – areas in which it has not previously had any significant presence. (The Texas Corporation limits use of the “HAVOLINE” name to motor oil, only; it is not again used on products other than motor oil until the mid-1990’s)

14 January 1931 – 15 March 1943 INDIAN REFINING COMPANY continues in operation as an “affiliate” of The Texas Corporation, although all sales outlets and company facilities and equipment are re-badged as “TEXACO.” Production of “TEXACO” gasolines begins at the Lawrenceville refinery. An “INDIAN”-brand gasoline becomes a “sub-regular” (priced below “TEXACO” gasolines) and is added to the product line at most outlets, nation-wide. Production of “INDIAN” gasoline is included at other Texas Corporation refineries. (It is during this period that “INDIAN” pumps bear a distinctive plate – either round or rectangular – featuring an art deco Indian beadwork design.) National marketing and sales offices for INDIAN REFINING COMPANY are opened in Indianapolis, Indiana.

15 April 1932 – “TEXACO FIRE-CHIEF Gasoline” is introduced.

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1934 – Furfural solvent-extraction (developed by The Texas Corporation) is combined with the Govers solvent-dewaxing process in the manufacture of “HAVOLINE WAXFREE”.

1935 – Production of “HAVOLINE WAXFREE” at Port Arthur Works is begun in order to supplement the output of the Lawrenceville refinery.

May 1936 – “New TEXACO Motor Oil” (also produced with the solvent-dewaxing/furfural solvent-extraction process but with a totally different and less-expensive formulation than that of HAVOLINE) is introduced.

1938 – “HAVOLINE – DISTILLED AND INSULATED” is introduced.

October 1938 – “TEXACO Sky Chief Gasoline” is introduced (replacing “FIRE-CHIEF Ethyl”).

1 November 1941 – The Texas Company (California) is instructed to transfer all assets to The Texas Company (Delaware) and is then dissolved. The Texas Corporation “merges itself into” The Texas Company (Delaware). The Texas Company (Delaware) — hereafter referred to simply as “The Texas Company” — becomes the “parent company”.

15 March 1943 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY’s stockholders transfer all of the company’s property and assets to The Texas Company in exchange for shares of that company’s stock. The Texas Company discontinues “INDIAN” gasoline and all other use in trade of the INDIAN name.

24 April 1943 – An agreement is implemented under which The Texas Company (partially by what amounts to cash purchase but, primarily, through exchange of shares) secures all INDIAN REFINING COMPANY stock, which is then cancelled. (INDIAN REFINING COMPANY, INCORPORATED is thus liquidated and is placed in “inactive corporation” status by the State of Maine (under whose laws it was incorporated) 31 December 1943.)

30 April 1943 – The Texas Company creates a second “Indian Refining Company”, which it incorporates under the laws of the State of Delaware – a “shell” company which it lists as an inactive subsidiary.

1946 – “New and Improved HAVOLINE” is introduced.

1950 – “Custom-Made HAVOLINE” is introduced.

Early 1950’s Lubricants production at the Lawrenceville refinery is discontinued; the lubricants production facility is dismantled and portions of that area of the property are disposed of.

1953 – “Advanced Custom-Made HAVOLINE” is introduced.

1955 – “Advanced Custom-Made HAVOLINE Special 10W-30” is introduced.

26 August 1958 – INDIAN REFINING COMPANY, INCORPORATED is officially dissolved by the State of Maine.

1 May 1959 – The Texas Company becomes Texaco Inc.

1962 – New HAVOLINE cans are introduced. The “TEXACO” trademark replaces the INDIAN REFINING COMPANY-era red-white-and-blue “ball” in a totally re-designed “HAVOLINE” logo.

1980 – For numerous reasons (among them the expense of needed technological upgrades), the prospects for the Lawrenceville refinery’s future profitability have eroded significantly. Unable to establish what might be a viable alternative means of supplying product to the area, Texaco Inc. makes the decision to withdraw from the retail gasoline market in that portion of the upper Midwest traditionally serviced by Lawrenceville.

1982 – The marking of all 55-gallon TEXACO drums becomes black with a red band. TEXACO oil drums had, historically, been gray with a green band with two exceptions. Drums of multi-grade (SAE 10W-30 and 10W-40) HAVOLINE Motor Oil were painted dark blue with a gold band and “head”. Those of “straight-grade” HAVOLINE were painted dark blue with a white band and head – Texaco Inc.’s last remaining use of The Havemeyer Oil Company’s original colors.

March 1985 – The diminution of reasonably-accessible sources of suitable crude, the ever- increasing costs of compliance with governmental regulations, and other business considerations combine to make continued operation of the Lawrenceville refinery economically unfeasible. Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. (a recently-formed subsidiary of Texaco Inc.) completes the withdrawal from the retail and wholesale motor fuels market in a contiguous area spanning Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and
Wisconsin. The Lawrenceville refinery is closed.


Recommended Reading: The Texaco Story: The First Fifty Years, 1902-1952 (2012). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please become an AOGHS annual supporter and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact Copyright © 2024 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Histories of Indian Refining, Havoline, and Texaco.” Author: James Hinds. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: June 15, 2024. Original Published Date: June 21, 2023.

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