With hopeful prospects and properties in six petroleum-producing Oklahoma counties, Champion Oil Company began on October 25, 1919. The Muskogee-based company “engaged in the production of oil and the manufacture of casinghead gasoline.” Its balance sheet reflected more than $2.5 million in assets and the equivalent debt.
There were many exploration and production investment choices for investors seeking to cash in on the post-World War I Oklahoma oil booms. “For twenty-two years between 1900 and 1935 Oklahoma ranked first among the Mid-Continent states in oil production,” notes the Oklahoma Historical Society. “The state produced 906,012,375 barrels of oil worth approximately $5.28 billion.”
United States Investor proclaimed Champion Oil Company President Albert T. Woods as a highly regarded man of experience and ability. The magazine reported that Champion Oil had leased 2,000 acres of promising land in prolific Mid-Continent oilfields. The company’s stock sold for as much as $1.50 per share, with assurances that it would go to $2 a share.
Looking for investors to fund operations, the company peddled a prospectus promising 12 percent per year dividends. Sales were especially substantial in Cleveland and Syracuse, where salesmen earned a 15 percent commission.
Although the company apparently looked good to many investors, just two years later Poor’s Government & Municipal Supplement reported the company as “inactive at the present time.”
After stockholders had poured several hundred thousand dollars into the venture, Champion Oil Company was foreclosed upon and rendered bankrupt. U.S. Investor published a blistering indictment of Champion Oil and its president.
“Albert T Woods, the president and general manager, had shaken the dust of Muskogee and of Oklahoma from his feet, and had moved with his family to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he set himself up as an independent oil operator, under the name of the Albert T. Woods Company,” the magazine noted.
With Champion Oil stockholders left with worthless paper, Woods made a brief effort to exploit the loss. He pitched an idea to exchange obsolete Champion Oil stocks for shares of the Revere Oil Company. This Revere Oil scheme is described in Arctic Explorer turns Oil Promoter.
According to the Commercial & Financial Chronicle of July 10, 1926, Champion Oil’s final curtain came when company shares were offered in lots of 12,000 shares for $5 (common) and 7,000 shares of preferred for $15.
The stories of exploration and production companies joining petroleum booms (and avoiding busts) can be found updated in Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website. For membership information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.