Governor Hogg’s Texas Oil Wells
When the No. 1 Hogg well found oil in 1917, the discovery south of Houston ended a streak of dry holes dating back to 1901 – when former Texas Governor J.S. “Big Jim” Hogg first thought oil might be there and leased the land.
Gov. Hogg, the Lone Star State’s 20th governor, would die in 1906 and not see the latest Texas drilling boom he helped launch.
However, the family of Gov. Hogg would benefit from his unwavering belief in finding oil in region with a geology similar to the already famous “Lucas Gusher.”
The Hogg discovery was south of Houston, not east like the 1901 find where Spindletop launched the modern petroleum industry at Beaumont.
A decade later wildcatters became interested in Gov. Hogg’s orignial lease. Many would pursue opportunities in the increasingly prolific West Columbia oilfield of Brazoria County.
On September 7, 1917, the Tyndall-Wyoming Oil Company completed a well on the land leased by Gov. Hogg in 1901. Although the Hogg No. 1 well was a small producer, when the Hogg No. 2 well came in at 600 barrels of oil a day in January 1918, speculators rushed to lease nearby acreage.
The Hogg wells ended a succession of more than 20 dry holes dating back to 1901 – when Gov. Hogg leased 4,600 acres for $30,000.
Hogg, who served as governor from 1887 to 1891, believed the land would one day yield an abundance of oil. The two Hogg wells revealed West Columbia as a highly productive oilfield.
The 20-square-mile field, which yielded more than 119,000 barrels of oil in 1918 alone, led to a drilling frenzy.
Newspaper advertisements appeared across Texas. Many included $10 per share stock promotions enticing investment in the West Columbia oilfield – with a promise to pay out 75 percent of any net earnings to shareholders.
Many of the region’s new and inexperienced exploration companies would not survive in the highly competitive Texas oil patch (see Lucky Jim Oil Company).
Fortunately for his family, Gov. Hogg had stipulated in his will that the mineral rights should not be sold for 15 years after his death.
At its drilling peak, most wildcatters tried and failed in the crowded West Columbia oilfield. As operating and lease costs rose, most ventures did not succeed in raising enough capital. South Texas “poor boy” operations could not compete with larger companies. which could absorb costs of dry holes and continue drilling.
The Texas Company (later Texaco) – after drilling several dry holes in the West Columbia field – in July 1920 brought in the Abrams No. 1 well, which produced 26,500 barrels a day for six weeks. Also see Sour Lake produces Texaco.
The field, 50 miles southwest of Houston, “was the youngest of the first rank salt dome oilfields of the Texas-Louisiana coastal region, and at present is the most productive of these fields,” according to the 1921 Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. The West Columbia field reached its peak annual production – 12.5 million barrels of oil – the same year.
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