April 24, 1911 – Magnolia Petroleum founded –
The Magnolia Petroleum Company was founded as an unincorporated joint-stock association — a consolidation of several companies, the first of which began in 1898 as a small refinery in Corsicana during the first Texas oil boom.
As Magnolia Petroleum established service stations in southwestern states, Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) began acquiring the company in 1925 before merging with the Vacuum Oil Company in 1931. The new company, Socony-Vacuum Oil — the future Mobil Oil — included stations in 20 states operated by Magnolia Petroleum, headquartered in a Dallas skyscraper. Magnolia adopted the Socony-Vacuum Oil Pegasus logo, which began rotating atop the building in 1934.
Learn more in Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark.
April 24, 1917 – Petroleum Product for Eyelashes trademarked
Tom Lyle Williams, doing business in Chicago as Maybell Laboratories, trademarked the name “lash-brow-ine” as a mascara and “preparation for stimulating the growth of eyebrows and eyelashes.” Two years earlier, Williams had watched his sister Mabel perform what she called “a secret of the harem,” mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and applying it to her eyelashes.
The mascara’s key ingredient, Vaseline, had been patented in 1872 by Robert Chesebrough, a young chemist in Brooklyn, New York. Williams began selling tins of Mabel’s mixture by mail-order catalog, calling it “lash-brow-ine.” In honor of his sister, who worked with him in his Chicago office, Williams renamed the mascara “Maybelline.”
Learn more in The Crude Story of Mabel’s Eyelashes.
April 25, 1865 – Civil War Veteran patents Well Torpedo
Civil War veteran Col. Edward A.L. Roberts of New York City received the first of his many patents for an “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells.” The invention used controlled downhole explosions “to fracture oil-bearing formations and increase oil production.”
Roberts torpedoes were filled with gunpowder, lowered into wells, and ignited by a weight dropped along a suspension wire to percussion caps. In later models, nitroglycerin replaced gunpowder. Before the well torpedo’s invention, many early wells in the new oil regions of Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia often produced limited amounts of oil.
With its exclusive patent licenses, the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company charged up to $200 per torpedo “shoot” and a one-fifteenth royalty. Seeking to avoid the expense, unlicensed practitioners operated at night with their own explosive devices, reportedly leading to the term “moonlighter.”
Learn more in Shooters – A “Fracking” History.
April 26, 1947 – Oil Industry promoted on Radio
For the first time since its establishment in 1919, the American Petroleum Institute launched a national advertising campaign. “The theme of the drive is that the petroleum industry is a modern and progressive one, and is now turning out the best products in its history,” noted The Billboard.
“Radio this week struck real pay dirt as a ‘Gusher’ will come mainly from expansion of current air time on spot local or regional levels by the thousands of petroleum and related corporations,” proclaimed the weekly publication. API today is a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization representing major U.S. petroleum companies. It issues industrywide recommended practices, “to promote the use of safe equipment and proven engineering.”
April 27, 1966 – Ariel Corporation founded
After receiving a degree in mechanical engineering in 1954, former eighth-grade teacher Jim Buchwald founded Ariel Corporation in Mount Vernon, Ohio. “With little money to pay for a facility to house the tools, a room in the basement of the Buchwald family home is cleaned up,” according to the Ariel website.
Buchwald bought a lathe, a small hand-cranked rotary table and a vertical drill for manufacturing valves. “This room becomes the first Ariel machine shop, with an adjoining room functioning as Ariel’s first official engineering department.”
By 1968, Buchwald had built a prototype gas compressor that ran at the unprecedented speed of 1,800 RPM. His Ohio machine shop soon transitioned into a manufacturing facility, and Buchwald named the company after his favorite 1948 Ariel motorcycle. His company has become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of reciprocating gas compressors.
April 29, 2004 – Last Oldsmobile rolls off Assembly Line
The last Oldsmobile ever built (Alero GLS model) left the company’s production line in Lansing, Michigan. Founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897 as “Olds Motor Vehicle Company,” Olds sold America’s first mass-produced car, the Model R “Curved Dash,” from 1902 to 1907, according to Robert Domm in his book Michigan Yesterday & Today. In 1908, Oldsmobile joined Buick to become part of the newly established General Motors (GM).
April 30, 1929 – Marland Oil and Continental Oil become Conoco
After discovering several Oklahoma oilfields, Marland Oil Company acquired Continental Oil Company to create a network of service stations in 30 states. Future Oklahoma Governor Ernest W. Marland had founded Marland Oil in 1921; Continental Oil Company was founded in 1875 in Utah, where it refined oil into kerosene.
Headquartered in Ponca City, the new company retained the name of Continental Oil, but adopted the well-known Marland red triangle trademark, replacing the “Marland Oils” text with “Conoco.” In 2002, the company merged with Phillips Petroleum (incorporated in 1917), to become ConocoPhillips.
Learn more by visiting the ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.
April 30, 1955 – Landmen form Trade Association
The American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) organized as a petroleum landmen trade association in Fort Worth, Texas. Landmen research records to determine ownership, locate mineral and land owners and negotiate oil and natural gas leases, trades and contracts. With about 15,000 members in 2020, the association also has helped ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, according to AAPL.
Recommended Reading: Historic Photos of Texas Oil (2012); The Maybelline Story: And the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It (2010); The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World (2015); Michigan Yesterday & Today (2009); The Seven Sisters: The great oil companies & the world (1975); Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank (2008); . Your Amazon purchase benefits 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2023 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.