October 25, 1929 – Cabinet Member guilty in Teapot Dome Scandal – 

Albert B. Fall, appointed Interior Secretary in 1921 by President Warren G. Harding, was found guilty of accepting a bribe while in office, becoming the first cabinet official in U.S. history to be convicted of a felony. An executive order from President Harding had given Fall full control of the Naval Petroleum Reserves.

Teapot Rock in Wyoming before "spout" collapsed.

Wyoming’s Teapot Dome oilfield was named after Teapot Rock, seen here circa 1922 (the “spout” later fell off). Photo courtesy Casper College Western History Center.

Fall was found guilty of secretly leasing the Navy’s oil reserve lands to Harry Sinclair of Sinclair Oil Company and to Edward Doheny, discoverer of the Los Angeles oilfield. The noncompetitive leases were awarded to Doheny’s Pan American Petroleum Company (reserves at Elk Hills and Buena Vista Hills, California), and Sinclair’s Mammoth Oil Company (reserve at Teapot Dome, Wyoming). Fall received more than $400,000 from the two oil companies.

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In Senate hearings, it emerged that cash was delivered to Fall in a Washington, D.C., hotel.  The Interior Secretary was convicted for taking a bribe, fined $100,000, and sentenced to one year in prison. Sinclair and Doheny were acquitted, but Sinclair spent six-and-a-half months in prison for contempt of court and the U.S. Senate.

October 26, 1970 – Joe Roughneck Statue dedicated in Texas 

Texas Governor Preston Smith dedicated a “Joe Roughneck” memorial in Boonsville to mark the 20th anniversary of a giant natural gas field discovery there. In 1950, the Lone Star Gas Company Vaught No. 1 well had discovered the Boonsville field, which produced 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas over the next 20 years.

By 2001 the Boonsville field in East Texas reached production of 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas from more than 3,500 wells.

Joe Roughneck plaque and statue on oil pipe in Boonsville, Texas.

“Joe Roughneck” in Boonsville, Texas. Photo, courtesy Mike Price.

“Joe Roughneck” began as a character in Lone Star Steel Company advertising in the 1950s. A bronze bust has been awarded every year since 1955 at the annual Chief Roughneck Award ceremony of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). In addition to the Boonsville monument, Joe’s bust sits atop three different Texas oilfield monuments:  Joinerville (1957), Conroe (1957) and Kilgore (1986).

Learn more in Meet Joe Roughneck.

October 27, 1763 – Birth of Pioneer American Geologist

William Maclure, who would become a renowned American geologist and “stratigrapher,” was born in Ayr, Scotland. He created the earliest geological maps of North America in 1809 and later earned the title, “Father of American Geology.”

After settling in the United States in 1797, Maclure explored the eastern part of North America to prepare the first geological map of the United States. His travels from Maine to Georgia in 1808 resulted in the first geological map of the new United States.

A rare 1818 geologic map of the United States by William Maclure.

“Map of the United States of America, Designed to Illustrate the Geological Memoir of Wm. Maclure, Esqr.” This 1818 version is more detailed than the first geological map he published in 1809. Image courtesy the Historic Maps Collection, Princeton Library.

“Here, in broad strokes, he identifies six different geological classes,” a Princeton geologist reported. “Note that the chain of the Appalachian Mountains is correctly labeled as containing the most primitive, or oldest, rock.”

In the 1850s, a chemist at Yale analyzed samples of  Pennsylvania “rock oil” for refining into kerosene; his report led to the drilling of America’s first oil well in 1859 (also see Rocky Beginnings of Petroleum Geology).

October 27, 1923 – Refining Company founded in Arkansas

Lion Oil Company was founded as a refining Company in El Dorado, Arkansas, by Texan Thomas Harry Barton. He earlier had organized the El Dorado Natural Gas Company and acquired a 2,000-barrel-a-day refinery in 1922.

Lion Oil Company gas pump and truck, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Founded in 1923 in El Dorado, Arkansas, Lion Oil will operate about 2,000 service stations in the south in the 1950s. Photo courtesy Lion Oil.

Production from the nearby Smackover oilfield helped the Lion Oil Refining Company’s refining capacity grow to 10,000 barrels a day. By 1925, the company acquired oil wells producing 1.4 million barrels of oil.

A merger with Monsanto Chemical in 1955 brought the gradual disappearance of the once familiar “Beauregard Lion” logo. The company has continued to sell a variety of petroleum products, including gasoline, low-sulfur diesel fuel, solvents, propane and asphalt.

Learn more Arkansas history in Arkansas Oil and Gas Boom Towns.

October 28, 1926 – Yates Field discovered West of the Pecos in Texas

The giant, 26,400-acre Yates oilfield was discovered in a remote area of Pecos County, Texas, in the Permian Basin. Drilled in 1926 with a $15,000 cable-tool rig, the Ira Yates 1-A produced 450 barrels of oil a day from almost 1,000 feet deep. Prior to the discovery, Ira Yates had struggled to keep his ranch, located on the northern border of the Chihuahua Desert.

“Drought and predators nearly did him in” noted one historian’s account, until Yates convinced a San Angelo company to explore for oil west of the Pecos River. With the Pecos County well 30 miles from the nearest oil pipeline and a storage tank under construction, four more Yates wells began yielding another 12,000 barrels of oil daily.

Ira Yates would receive an $18 million oil royalty check on his 67th birthday. Learn more Permian Basin history in Santa Rita taps Permian Basin.

October 27, 1938 – DuPont names Petroleum Product “Nylon”

DuPont chemical company announced that “Nylon” would be the name of its newly invented synthetic fiber yarn made from petroleum. Discovered in 1935 by Wallace Carothers at a DuPont research facility, nylon is considered the first commercially successful synthetic polymer.

Nylon found widespread applications in consumer products, including toothbrushes, fishing lines, luggage and lingerie, or in special uses like surgical thread, parachutes, and pipes. Carothers would become known as the father of the science of man-made polymers (see Nylon, a Petroleum Polymer).

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October 28, 1868 – Newspaper praises Explosive Technology

In Pennsylvania, the Titusville Morning Herald praised results of an explosive oilfield production technology, Civil War veteran Colonel E.A.L. Roberts’ patented nitroglycerin torpedo. “It would be superfluous, at this late day, to speak of the merits of the Roberts Torpedo,” the 1868 newspaper article explained.

“For the past three years, it has been a most successful operation, and has increased the production of oil in hundreds upon hundreds of oil wells to an extent which could hardly be overestimated.” (see Shooters – a “Fracking” History).

October 30, 1894 – “Golden Rule” Jones patents a Better Sucker Rod

Samuel Jones patented a sucker rod design for his Acme Sucker Rod Company, which he had founded in 1892 in Toledo, Ohio. With his “Coupling for Pipes or Rods,” Jones applied his oilfield experience in mechanics to solve the frequent and time-consuming problem of broken sucker rods. His sucker rod would soon make him a millionaire.

Samuel Jones oilfield sucker rod patent of 1894.

Samuel Jones had worked as a potboiler, pumper, tool dresser, blacksmith, and pipe layer.

Jones had worked in Pennsylvania’s oil region as a potboiler, pumper, tool dresser, blacksmith, and pipe layer. He became known as “Golden Rule” Jonesby establishing a better workplace for employees at his factory, where he shortened the work day and started a revenue-sharing program.

Jones ran for Toledo mayor as a progressive Republican in  1887 and was elected. He was reelected three times and served until dying on the job in 1904.

Learn more in “Golden Rule” Jones of Ohio.

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Recommended Reading:  The Salt Creek Oil Field: Natrona County, Wyo., 1912 (2017); The Bradford Oil Refinery, Pennsylvania, Images of America (2006); Early Louisiana and Arkansas Oil: A Photographic History, 1901-1946 (1982); Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain (1984); The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World (2015); Holy Toledo: Religion and Politics in the Life of “Golden Rule” Jones (1998). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society 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 bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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