Although William S. Pratt entered the oil business in Wyoming in 1915, he soon moved to Kansas and organized the Wichita Eagle Oil Company.
Pratt started the Texas United Oil Company in July 1919. The Texas comptroller’s office reported his Dallas company produced more than 31,000 barrels of oil in the year’s last quarter.
Pratt solicited investment capital using newspaper advertisements placed across the country – in Troy, Syracuse, and Plattsburgh, New York; Spokane, Washington; El Paso, Texas, and Washington D.C.
From December 1919 through 1920, company advertisements promised: For Quick Returns and Unlimited Profits Invest With the Texas United Oil Company… 27 Wells Showing Initial Production of 8,700 Bbls. Daily.
However, one investment magazine described the company as unlikely to prosper. The assessment was accurate. By December 1920, Texas United Oil Company entered into receivership and did not emerge until April 27, 1921, reorganized and with a new president, Aldred S. Wright of Philadelphia.
Despite the reorganization, Texas United Oil Company did not survive long.
United States Investor reported a year later that Texas United Oil Company had very little value.
“It is of course not listed on any of the principal exchanges,” the magazine noted, adding that no dividends had been issued since 1920. “The company had about $1,300,000 stock outstanding and there was one public offering by people in Hartford, Connecticut, at $2 per share. Two cents per share is approximately the price now.”
Texas United Oil Company Chronology
October 1, 1919 – The Texas United Oil Company of Dallas produces 31,541 barrels of oil valued at $10,789 between October 1 and December 31, 1919, according to the Texas comptroller.
December 21, 1919 – In one of its first newspaper appearances, Texas United Oil Company President W. S. Pratt describes the company’s leases and production success in the Northwest Extension of the Burkburnett oilfield.
Pratt announces that the company’s trustees have resolved to increase capital to $5 million and he encourages potential investors to purchase Texas United Oil Company stock at $2 per share to enable “development of our many properties and the purchase of additional production.” – ad in Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington
January 3, 1920 – Texas-United Oil Company is promoted in an open letter advertisement sent from Electra, Texas, “to our stockholders and others” from J. R. Lucore, shareowner, of Olean, New York. Lucore reports very positive on-scene observations of drilling and production in progress. His endorsement follows:
“The Texas United is a sure and safe investment for anyone to buy stock in. No one need be in the least afraid to invest as large as one see fit and his investment will be the safest and surest of any company operating in the State…I expect to arrive home in a few days and will enlarge my stock order to you in the Texas United Oil Company on my arrival.” – ad in Gloversville, N.Y., Morning Herald
January 31, 1920 – Texas United Oil Company is reported as formed by a Declaration of Trust filed on July 2, 1919, with trustees L. W. Harrington, Herbert Bingham, H. C. Ralph and J. M. Davis. It receives a poor recommendation:
“Our information as to the management is that it is not as economical as it might be, and that operating costs are likely to be altogether too high because of rather poor judgment in planning the work.” – article in United States Investor
February 21, 1920 – The Texas United Oil Company of 1209 Half Main Street, Dallas, Texas, asserts that the United States Investor’s bad recommendation refers to another company of the same name whose headquarters is in Wichita and not Dallas. Texas United Oil Company protests that “conclusions relative to the Wichita enterprise cannot fairly be applied.” Investigation planned. – article in United States Investor
February 25, 1920 – Texas United Oil Company proclaims itself as “The King of the Oil Companies” and promises 30 percent dividends and $5 million in capital stock with 12 producing wells. – ad in Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington
March 13, 1920 – Texas United Oil Company promotion continues, citing “12 producing oil wells – over 3,000 barrels daily” and “30 percent dividends have been paid in 7 months” Shares are offered at $2. Agent is J. S. Miramon, Rensselaer Hotel, Troy “Salesmen wanted: Liberal commission. Phone for appointment.” – ad in Troy (N. Y.) Times
April 17, 1920 – J. S. Miramon, now of Barows Company, 141 Broadway, New York City, advertises “Wise Investors, Increase your income” with Texas United Oil Company’s “2% monthly dividends, with record of 39% in dividends past nine months.” – ad in El Paso (Texas) Herald
April 10, 1920 – Analysts confirm poor recommendation after consulting with Texas United Company, the New York City based owners of Texas United Oil Company. “We cannot do otherwise than classify this as the ordinary type of oil gamble, a quite unproven enterprise, depending for its future upon the skill with which it is managed. – article in United States Investor
May 15, 1920 – Tex-Uni-Co. (trademark for Texas United Oil Company) advertises 18 producing wells, two ready to come in per April 30 telegram testimonial by Ralph P Reed, president National Investors Protective Corporation.
“These dividends will make a total of 43 ½ percent in cash and stock dividends paid in less than one year.” A. E. Roberts and Co., Washington, D.C. – ad in The Federal Employee, Washington D.C.
May 30, 1920 – Texas United Company promotes its Texas United Oil Company (Tex-Uni-Co.) as having rapidly grown from its origins in July, 1919 with 389 acres and two 2 producing wells, yielding about 42 barrels a day of production grown until. – ad in Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York
Jun 2, 1920 – “For Quick Returns and Unlimited Profits Invest With The Texas United Oil Company” upstate New York advertisement proclaims “27 Wells Showing Initial Production of 8,700 BBls. Daily.” – ad in Daily Republican, Plattsburgh, New York
December 1920 – Texas United Oil Company enters into receivership.
February 25, 1921 – Advertising continues for twelve producing wells 30 percent dividends.” – ad in Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington
April 16, 1921 – Value of Texas United Oil Company plummets as it is reported to have “been the subject of much litigation of late…Texas United shares have declined to around five cents since their first appearance upon the market at $2 per share.” – article in United States Investor
April 27, 1921 – Texas United Oil Company emerges from receivership reorganized and with a new president, Aldred S. Wright of Philadelphia.
November 11, 1922 – Texas United Oil Company “is of little value …two cents per share is approximately the price now.” – article in United States Investor
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.