By the early 1900s, well-publicized “gushers” in California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas had attracted many new and established oil exploration companies — and potential investors.

Despite national and sometimes international attention given to oilfield discoveries and the few companies that made “black gold” fortunes, hundreds of others went bankrupt trying. The Doughboy Oil Company’s investors did not find oil riches in Kansas.

Doughboy Oil Company Stock certificate, circa 1920.

Promising to drill in Wilson County, Doughboy Oil Company in July 1919 issued 400 shares of stock to investors.

By the 1920s, thousands of ventures like Doughboy Oil had been inspired by giant oilfield discoveries in Texas — Electra, Ranger and Burkburnett — that led to drilling booms. So many new companies incorporated that many shared the same oilfield vignette on their hastily printed stock certificates.

Most exploration companies quickly launched newspaper advertising campaigns to raise capital for the expensive process of acquiring leases and drilling a well. Some, like Doughboy Oil Company, printed maps to illustrate the oil potential of leases near proven production.

Map of Doughboy Oil Company oil well leases, circa 1920.



Details from the Doughboy Oil Company promotional map highlighting properties (in white) available for lease in Wilson County, Kansas. The map also shows 120 acres near Fredonia. There is no record of a successful Doughboy Oil well.

The Doughboy Oil promotional map highlighted the company’s properties “available for lease” all over existing oilfields in Wilson County, Kansas, and other producing regions. The gusher-laden map also shows Doughboy Oil wells on 120 acres near Fredonia.

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With a name perhaps chosen to appeal to returning World War I veterans, in July 1919 the company issued 400 shares of stock indicating that for all of the company’s lease blocks, a deed “is recorded in the Deed Records in the County Clerk’s office in every county in which we have acreage.”

The 120-acre Doughboy lease areas shown around Fredonia are near Benedict Junction, which is readily identifiable on Wilson County topographic maps. The Doughboy leases were indeed recorded, although there is no information about the company’s president, W.R. Pruitt.

Did Doughboy drill a Well?

True to the stock certificate’s promise, the Wilson County registrar of deeds confirms lease assignments to Doughboy Oil Company from the “Ole Oil & Gas Co. and the Interstate Oil Association for and in consideration of One Dollar and other valuable considerations.”

Also, a U.S. Geological Service topographic map surveys make the Doughboy 120-acre lease readily identifiable. These maps include locations of active and abandoned oil wells. But no wells, Doughboy or otherwise, are to be found on any of the leases.

Kansas Geological Survey’s comprehensive database of active and abandoned wells also does not report Doughboy Oil Company ever drilling any wells.

Speculators rushed purchase oil leases when there were known producing wells in an area; it was often difficult to find sufficient backers, secure the leases, drill wells, and be lucky enough to find oil. Dry holes were common and Doughboy may well have experienced this fate by 1920.

Detailed research into Doughboy’s Wilson County lease properties’ subsequent history is available at the Wilson County Registrar of Deeds in Fredonia.

First oil well west of the Mississippi River

Wilson County’s small town of Neodesha made petroleum history in 1892

On November 28, at a depth of just 832 feet, a cable-tool rig’s “steel bit chopped its way to find oil” in the garden belonging to T. J. Norman, a local blacksmith.

“Norman No. 1 was the first oil well west of the Mississippi River to produce a commercial quantity of oil,” proclaims the Kansas Historical Society.

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“This major oil discovery ushered in a new era for Neodesha and the state. By 1904, Kansas was producing four million barrels of crude oil per year and, in 1925, ranked fifth among the states in oil production.”

It was also the first well drilled in the vast Mid-Continent oil field that covers parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The Mid-Continent field became the major oil-producing region in the United States through the late 1930s.

Learn more at Kansas Well reveals Mid-Continent Oil Fields.

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? 


Recommended Reading: The fire in the rock: A history of the oil and gas industry in Kansas, 1855-1976 (1976); Myth, Legend, Reality: Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry (2009); The Extraction State, A History of Natural Gas in America (2021). Your Amazon purchases benefit the American Oil & Gas Historical Society; as an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact Copyright © 2023 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Doughboy Oil Company.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: November 3, 2023. Original Published Date: December 11, 2013.

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