The New East Texas Oilfield
East Texas during the late 20's and the early
30's was in a bad time of the depression that
the United States was experiencing everywhere.
Times were hard everywhere, and East Texas was
also in a bad way. Everyone was in search of
something to help them create a better way of
living, to raise above the poverty that had
seemed to blanket the country. Then something or
should I say someone did something to bring a
change to the way of life in East Texas. Columbus
Marion Joiner "Dad" as he would called, and his
oil well drilling that he was doing over in Rusk
County, in his search for oil. Dad Joiner brought
in his well and launched the great East Texas
oil field, bringing with it an unprecedented oil
boom to this depressed area, mostly small farms
and ranches. It happened so fast, like almost
overnight! East Texas became the "oil capital"
of America, People by the thousands began to
converge on America's newest oil field. Everyone
wanted his piece of the cake, rig builders,
roughnecks, pipe liners, pipefitters, teamsters,
engineers, geologists, land managers, anyone
with an idea of how to make money by way of the
sudden oil boom.
Also came the need of housing, food, clothing and
tools for all the thousands of new people coming
into the boom area. Supplies of all sorts were
quickly needed and for those who could supply
this for them, would become a premium business in
itself. Buildings were being built everywhere,
businesses were booming. Fame and wealth came to
some almost overnight, The talk soon changed
from cows and crops to drilling, oil, leasing and
royalties. People opened up their homes and took
in boarders. This new boom left no one hungry.
No matter where you came from or what you did
before , you could profit from the new black
gold that was being brought to the surface.
Columbus Marion "Dad" Joiner was born in
Lauderdale County, Ala. in 1860. Over the years
he had developed an avid interest in drilling
for oil. The geologists learned during the
1930's a lot about oil and where it was found,
but this taught them that not all oil is found
on top of a structure, that you had to drill deep
inside the earths structure to pull it out. "Dad
Joiner" leased 10,000 acres of land in Rusk and
Smith counties in 1927-1929. One of these leases
just happened to be the 978 acre farm of Daisy
Bradford. "Dad Joiner" started drilling the
first hole in mid summer of 1927, but then
abandoned it in Feb. of 1928 at the depth of
1.098 feet. He drilled a second time, but then
abandoned it in 1929 at the depth of 2,518 feet.
So he tried once again, a third time, and we all
know what they say, the third time is the charm.
The #3, Daisy Bradford, in January of 1930 was
drilled to 1,530 feet and by October 3, 1930,
with a loan from Daisy Bradford for $5,000, it
had reached a depth of 3,592 feet when oil
showed. On October 5, 1930, with a crowd of
4,000 landowners, leaseholders, stockholders,
creditors and spectators standing around
watching all day, the oil began to spout out,
enough oil flowed out that it put the well in a
range of approximately 300 barrels a day.
November 30, 1930, "Dad" sold 400 acres of his
Rusk County holdings to H.L. Hunt for
$1,250,000. February 1931, Humble purchased the
lease on which the Crim well was drilled for
$2,100,000. Three of their early managers of the
Humble Pipeline Company were Cap Foley, George
Lee and Hick Hensley.
October 20, 1930, Ed W. Bateman and others
spudded the Lou Della Crim well in the Eldridge
Sevier Survey, in Rusk County, about 4 miles
southwest of Kilgore......and about 10 miles due
north of the Daisy Bradford. On December 28,
1930, this well was drilled in, flowing 308
barrels of oil in 20 minutes and got a potential
rating of 15,000 barrels of oil per day.
The #1 Ashbey was drilled one mile west of the
Daisy Bradford well in Rusk County. This made
the 4 discovery wells of the East Texas field
and they were all completed in the Woodbine
Formation. By February 9, 1031, 4 main pipelines
had been completed. The Panola & Rusk
Pipeline, Iinland Waterways, Petroleum Marketing
and The Magnolia Pipeline from Arkansas to
In Kilgore, the block of buildings where the
bank was located ( Browns Drug, Saxton Grocery &
the bank) were removed in order to drill 24 oil
wells on one city block. This became known as
the richest block in the world.
Some of the merchants of the East Texas area,
mainly Longview and Kilgore, were: O.L. Norton,
Tom Richardson, G.W. Tate, Walter H. Cunningham,
E.H. Brawley, T.X. Reynolds (M System Stores),
Charlie Chaffin (Big Groceries), and Fred
Stuckey (Ladies ready-to-wear & general dry
goods and shoe store). There was Turpie Slade,
Mr. Landers (insurance), Crim Mercantile, W. B.
Goyne & Sons, Trip Elders (garage), Wylie Crim
(City Grocery, with son Conley and daughter
Aleene), Saxton Grocery, Brown's Drug Store
(operated by Sam Ross, the brother of Mrs.
Brown), Kilgore National Bank (a subsidiary of
the Commercial National Bank of Shreveport) run
by George Hays.
For Kilgore, the Laird's, Ben & Shack, were
instrumental in helping organize the Kilgore
College, along with Roy Laird who was Mayor of
the City of Kilgore. He also had a large part in
the development of the Laird Memorial Hospital.
There were Malcom & John T. Crim who ran the
Crim Mercantile Store. John & Ben Peterson who
were outstanding farmers in the area. They
expanded their ranch holdings into Harrison
County. After their death, it was sold to O.W.
Fox, and in drilling it for Lignite, it was
found to contain substantial deposits.
There was quite a flurry of lease buying in the
city of Kilgore. When the Miss Lou Della Crim
well came in it was a town of 800. One week
later the population had swelled to 8,000.A loaf
of bread or a quart of milk could be purchased
for 5 cents, a dozen eggs for 12 cents and you
could buy 6 hamburgers for a quarter. People
lived in tents, in their cars, Some even use
lumber from discarded pallets and cardboard to
cover the wooden slats. And some just used the
empty cardboard boxes,fashioning them in a way
to use as a shelter.