Financial information here “in progress B” probably will not find lost riches – see Not a Millionaire from Old Oil Stock. The American Oil & Gas Historical Society, which depends on donations, simply does not have resources to provide free research of corporate histories.
However, AOGHS continues to look into forum queries as part of its energy education mission. Some investigations have revealed little-known stories like Buffalo Bill’s Shoshone Oil Company; many others have found questionable dealings during booms and epidemics of “black gold” fever like Arctic Explorer turns Oil Promoter.
Visit the Stock Certificate Q & A Forum and view company updates regularly added to the A-to-Z listing at Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? AOGHS will continue to look into forum queries, including these “in progress.”
Badger Oil & Gas Company
Information about Badger Oil and Gas Company’s 1938-39 drilling efforts in St. Clair and Randolph Counties, Illinois, is available at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The Illinois State Geological Survey (Vol. Nos. 23-38, 1938-1939) has been digitized. A Google search for “oil and gas drilling report (1959)” will deliver the correct document (despite the “1959”), which will locate and track drilling progress on Badger Oil & Gas Company’s three wells.
The introduction provides an abbreviations dictionary; e.g., “D & A” means “Dry and Abandoned.” A close reading reveals much about Badger Oil & Gas Company’s challenges. Also online, the Illinois Oil and Gas Resources Interactive Map will show you Badger’s drilling sites where the company’s fortunes played out.
Bailey Gaunce Oil & Refining Corporation
Bailey Gaunce was an opportunist who joined the U.S. petroleum industry during the Great Depression to take advantage of the “oil fever” infecting businessmen and investors. At the time, fraudulent advertising claims could conceal shady schemes (see one example in Arctic Explorer Turns Oil Promoter) that led to courtrooms. Oilfield litigation would create precedent-setting legal decisions and regulations.
Before founding Bailey Gaunce Oil & Refining Corporation, newspaper records show Gaunce with a chequered history that included a $50 fine in 1918 for “disturbing the peace by shooting a pistol in the Ardmore (Oklahoma) rooming house.” In 1921 he was wanted by police for passing a $300 bad check. That same year, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals found Gaunce guilty of a Wirt, Oklahoma, manslaughter conviction, resulting in a fine of $500 and three months in the Carter County jail.
In the early 1930s, Gaunce returned to several state courtrooms as litigation began over the practices of his oil buisiness. In Bailey Gaunce Oil & Refining Company v. Duncan (1934), in Lousiana District Court, Shreveport Division, the court ruled against Gaunce, citing his unsubstantiated claims in advertisements designed to lure investors. Such “Blue Sky” claims often prompted defrauded buyers to sue.
Blue Sky laws had been enacted to protect investors from false advertising and operators from “engaging in any practice or transaction or course of business relating to the purchase, exchange, investment advice, or sale of securities or commodities which is fraudulent, or in violation of law, or would operate as a fraud on the purchaser.”
Bailey Gaunce Oil & Refining’s sales pitch claimed his company was drilling in proven territory: “Here was the amazing spectacle of a proven gusher field with seven sands, only one of them being developed and that one only partially so…A field where wells come in making thousands of barrels per day…With the operators having deserted it almost overnight for seemingly `greener pastures.’… A great field, lying almost idle and dormant throughout the years and finally almost forgotten ‘midst the rush and roar of other great fields which succeeded it.”
In the 1937 Wadley et. al. v. Gaunce et al., a Texas circuit court determined that Gaunce had owned a lease in 1935 and sold fractional interests or “units” to about 1,412 persons, making to each a conveyance but reserving a power to sell the lease in his discretion and binding himself to remit to each his pro rata share of the proceeds. Gaunce kept the funds and did not remit any to the defrauded persons. His fraudulent oilfield career was over.
Big Six Oil Company
The Big Six Oil Company’s fortunes were linked to the prospects of finding oil near the city of Moab, Utah, where they began drilling in 1920. A contemporary publication reported the company’s progress and noted on February 7, 1921: “A continual round of difficulties have been encountered” and “a week’s fishing job drilling was resumed, only to be stopped the next day when the bit broke.”
The well was ultimately unsuccessful, despite having been drilled later to a total depth of 5,345 feet (with a No. 28 Star Rig) by the Embar Oil Company. Big Six was still in operation as late as October of 1928 when it lost a well – “Hole caved and bit lost” – at a depth of 1,710 feet, but disappears soon thereafter.
Black Gold Petroleum Company
Black Gold Petroleum Company was an Arizona corporation that did business out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. By November of 1934, the company had drilled in Young County, Texas, including a 750-foot dry hole 3.5 miles east of Graham Texas (see Oil Art of Graham Texas.) This failure notwithstanding, Black Gold Petroleum drilled again in Trego County, Kansas – another dry hole; then drilled and abandoned an unsuccessful wildcat well in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma.
By 1939 the company had issued 1,087,494.5 shares of capital stock to about 2,200 investors to fund exploration. Black Gold Petroleum Company assets included oil leases and equipment at that time. More recent ventures have appropriated the name of Black Gold Petroleum but more detail may be available through the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Block Oil & Gas Syndicate
In May 1921, the NAACP’s monthly publication (The Crisis – A Record of the Darker Races, Vol. 22, No. 1) reported incorporation of The Block Oil and Gas Syndicate, “by negroes at Little Rock, Ark.” The NCAACP continued: “The capital stock is $100,000. The president is J.H. Garrett; vice president, J.B. Johnson; secretary, S. Strickland; treasurer, Emma Garrett Merritt. Mrs. Merritt has 47 producing wells from which she is said to derive an income of from $30,000 to $47,000 a month.”
In 1923, The Oil Trade Journal reported that in Louisiana’s Haynesville oil field, Block Oil and Gas Syndicate drilled their No. 1 Aubrey well with no success; a dry hole. The company also drilled near Huttig, Arkansas. Contact the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for access to their comprehensive Arkansas Black History collection. Read about the First Arkansas Oil Well.
Block Six Oil Company
In August 1919 the Oil Paint and Drug Reporter noted that Capital Oil & Gas Company’s cumulative Texas production in April, May and June was only 135 barrels while Block Six Oil Company produced more than 19,000 barrels. At the time, oil sold for about $2 a barrel, so Capital Oil & Gas Company’s survival was unlikely.
Block Six was subsequently the loser in an often cited 1919 Texas Court of Civil Appeals decision (No. 9213) involving a lessors drilling obligations. Hayden-Burk Petroleum Company was heavily promoted in El Paso’s Herald newspaper after its holdings were absorbed by Texas Control Consolidated Oil Company. The paper reported the formation of Texas Control: “Huge Consolidation Expected to Stabilize Conditions in Burkburnett.”
Texas Control stock was offered at $1 per share with the enticement that “the Hayden-Burk well should be in within the next three days, which warrants much higher prices for the stock.” Trustees of Texas Control believed that taking over producing wells of other companies and operating them for royalty payments, “will be the salvation of the small or medium producers, the owners of which are unable to bear the expense….” (see Boom Town Burkburnett). Gin Site Oil Company is elusive, but reported production for the first three months of 1920 was 1,900 barrels. The Texas Railroad Commission maintains extensive records and may provide further insights.
Blue Ridge Natural Gas & Oil Corporation
Blue Ridge Natural Gas & Oil Corporation’s charter to do business was revoked January 2, 1958, by the state of Delaware after the company failed to pay its required taxes for the preceding two years.
Bluebird Oil & Gas Association
Bluebird Oil & Gas Association is one of many corporate creations fashioned by infamous oil stock promoter Henry H. Hoffman, who split his time between New York City and Houston. His ventures in addition to Bluebird Oil (or Blue Bird Oil), include Hoffman Oil & Refining Corporation, Interstate Oil Company, Turnbow Oil Corporation, and Ranger & Burkburnett Oil Company. In 1917 Hoffman pleaded guilty to fraudulently merging worthless oil companies into Butler Perryman Interests.
By 1922 the Schenectady Gazette newspaper was warning New York investors: “Henry H. Hoffman is said to have made years ago a substantial amount of money in a Texas oil venture, and ever since then has been trading on his good fortune inducing innocent people to believe that they would make all kinds of money by following him into new ventures which he has flung to the public and none of which has made good from an investor’s standpoint.”
Bug Drilling Company
Information about Bug Drilling is elusive. The company completed one natural gas well about two miles east of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, in 1951. The H. Nelke No. 1 well location (41°44’58.1″ North 77°20’53.2″ West) puts it alongside Heise Run Road on a map.
Trade publications like Producers Monthly tracked drilling progress of H. Nelke No, 1, which may have briefly produced natural gas, but not in commercial quantities. Bug Drilling had disappeared by 1960. About 50 years later its “orphan well” was targeted to be properly plugged by Pennsylvania’s Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program. The well bore was cleaned out to about 4,000 feet deep and a cement plug placed on top in 2009.
The Pennsylvania Treasury Unclaimed Property site notes certain Bug Drilling Company dividends as being liquidated.
Burkburnett-Center Oil Company
“Fowler’s Folly” blew in as a gusher on June 29, 1918, and launched North Texas’ famous Burkburnett oil boom. Within three weeks, fifty-six drilling rigs were at work as close as they could get to where Fowler’s well had come in. Investors and speculators scrambled to get in on the opportunity and the town greeted visitors with a line of derricks two-miles long.
By the end of 1918, Burkburnett wells were producing 7,500 barrels of crude oil each day and unrefined crude oil cost about $2.25 a barrel (42-gallons). In this environment and with eager investors, an oil company could hastily put together to field a drilling rig before the inevitable exhaustion of the field. Burkburnett-Center, Burk-Wonder, and Burk-B Oil companies all issued stock to fund their drilling operations and went broke when they failed to find oil – all of these stock certificates are likely uncancelled, unless some lucky stockholder sold shares before the certificate became worthless due to the company’s bankruptcy.
Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company
The December 1919, issue of The Petroleum Age announced in bold: “Louisiana Is Making Record – Repetition of Burkburnett Excitement Seems Certain – 15,000 to 20,000 Barrel Wells Are Common Events – Wells Cheap, Oil Valuable.” Within two months, E.S. Bilyeu had secured a lease for 20 acres near Louisiana’s Homer oilfield along with a 15-acre lease in Texas’ famous boom town Burkburnett oilfield. With these meager assets, Bilyeu formed the Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company.
Prolific oilfields like Homer and Burkburnett drew a multitude of investors, exploration companies — and conmen. The possibilities of “black gold” spawned enthusiastic promotions of many new ventures. Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company was among them. E.S. Bilyeu was joined in Baton Rouge by John C. Bryant and C.C. Nix. All three were subsequently indicted on four counts of using the U.S. mail to defraud.
Nix had sold about $4,000 in shares of Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company stock to unwary investors. He pled guilty and testified against former partner Bryant while Bilyeu, “the main instigator of the operations in the stock selling,” disappeared and remained a fugitive as late as 1924.
In court testimony, Nix said Bilyeu had recruited him into the Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company. The two had induced him to join the venture with the bonanza potential of Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil leases located only three-quarters of a mile from known production in the Homer and Burkburnett oilfields. Nix later found that the leases were actually six miles distant from any producing wells and of little value. The partnership broke up sourly.
During its brief lifespan, Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company published two recurring circulars (and distributed them via the U.S. mail) to attract investors and drive stock sales upward:, according to the publications Capital Oil News and Burk-Homer News. An assistant federal attorney presented evidence that the circulars “were filled with glaring accounts of opportunities to get rich by investing in the Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company.” One reported “Bryant Might Be Next Governor,” a presumed inducement for potential investors. “Defense counsel objected to the government’s questioning of Nix relative to Bryant’s gubernatorial candidacy, but the objection was overruled,” noted the Shreveport Times.
In Shreveport, the prosecution rested its case on March 6, 1924. Then came a series of character witnesses on behalf of the defendant Bryant. Burkburnett-Claiborne Oil Company shareholders were left with worthless paper shares.
Burk Imperial Oil Company
In 1920, Burk Imperial Oil Company (capitalized at $150,000) was reported to have completed at least two wells in Texas’ prolific Burkburnett oil field with its Waggoner No. 1 well producing 30 barrels of oil a day. Two years later, the Federal Trade Commission charged Burk Imperial Oil Company with “unfair methods of competition” when the company, “issued and published numerous false and misleading statements and concealed or withheld other material information relative to the organization, business, and properties…thereby deceiving and misleading the purchasing public.”
Burk-Tex Production Company
El Paso, Texas brokers first offered Burk-Tex Production Company stock for $1 per share in 1919. By May of 1921, company advertisements in the Oil and Gas News magazine proclaimed that the stock was earning “Three Per Cent Cash Dividends Monthly” and its companion, Burk-Tex Producing Company, was earning ten percent. Such misleading “Blue Sky” advertising claims were part of the securities marketplace of the time.
Just two months later, the two Burk-Tex companies merged into a new organization, also headed by W. W. Hunt, and took the name of Burk-Tex Producing Company. At that time, Hunt had two producing wells south of Burkburnett, Texas in the Texhoma field. But the newly created company’s first well (No. 1 Bonner in Freestone County) was shut down at 3,250 feet without success.
Many such under-capitalized ventures worked on a “poor boy” basis and were desperately dependent upon new investors monies to continue drilling. Because Burk-Tex Producing Company disappears after the expensive dry hole, bankruptcy was its likely fate, taking its predecessor companies with it.
Busseyville Oil & Gas
Busseyville Oil & Gas Company organized in 1911 with capital of only $5,000 and about 600 acres leased in the Kentucky’s Bussyville oil field. Company officers were: W.D. O’Neal Jr., Webb Holt Jr., M. Turner, and H.W. Bussey. O’Neal and Holt also incorporated Cochran Oil and Reuben Fork Oil companies in 1911 with Holt and Bussey incorporating Square Deal Oil Company in 1911 (capitalized at only $6000).
These entrepreneurs sold sufficient stock to enable drilling and Busseyville Oil & Gas Company is credited by some with drilling the first producing well in Lawrence County on property leased from W. D. Owens. Company circumstance as of May of 1918 can be found in The Southwestern Reporter, Volume 203 (June 5 – July 10, 1918) page 515 “Hughes et. al. v. Busseyville Oil & Gas Co.” Litigation brought the company’s fate to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. Read about Kentucky’s Great American Oil Well.
Butler Perryman Interests
In 1917, W. E. Turnbow was found guilty of “fraudulently merging eleven worthless oil companies into one big company, the Butler Perryman Interests, and with trying to sell stock in the new company to former stockholders in the eleven original companies.” He was fined $5,000. Henry Hoffman, former president of the Blue Bird Oil Corporation (one of the eleven companies), pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two-years and a $5,000 fine.
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. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.