THE DEVELOPMENT OF PETROLEUM.
COLONELS THOMAS WATSON, grandfather of J. B. Watson, esq.(1) about 1810 began to operate for salt at the mouth
of Deer Creek. He sank a well there and manufactured some salt, but the supply of water failing, he undertook to
drill deeper. The "rig" of that day consisted chiefly of a spring pole, with one end fixed to the ground
and supported about midway by a prop. The tools were attached to the other end; a loop, or stirrup, was made in
a rope suspended from near the tool end, and with his foot in this, the operator swung the flexible beam up and
down to good effect.
After they had penetrated past the upper water veins, Abraham and James Watson, sons of Thomas, were working at
night with a lamp or torch, when to their alarm and amazement, the well took fire, burning the rig and the surrounding
structure. The drillers had a narrow escape from the flames. Not discouraged, Mr. Watson rebuilt the drilling apparatus
and continued the work, till he struck a stream of salt water mixed with a mysterious yellow fluid of a strong
odor, and very inflammable. Of course this made the salt water worthless, and the enterprise was abandoned.
Some time after Job Packer came into possession of the property, gathered four or five barrels of the fluid and
boated it to Pittsburgh for examination.
Its light color and salty admixture condemned it as lacking the good qualities of the Seneca oil found in springs;
and it was dumped into the river as a nuisance. Mr. Allen Wilson, at one time owner of the Piney mill, collected
some of the "stuff" and used it in lamps and torches for light. The property passed into the hands of
David Whitehill, and the hole was plugged.
In 1860, when petroleum was discovered in large quantities along Oil Creek, the well and the tract on which it
was situated — rough hill side land — was leased by Messrs. Jacob Hahn, Charles Hahn, and Jesse Thompson. The plug
was removed and a few barrels of clear oil of light color and gravity floated to the surface. This was hailed as
a great discovery; the hole was cleaned out and pumping apparatus put in; about 200 barrels were obtained and the
well then failed. The war, which then arose, checked further speculative investments.
On the revival of the oil furore in 1864, nine companies of eastern parties, forming really one composite syndicate,
were organized to develop the rich territory along the Clarion, which the Whitehill well and the springs along
the Clarion (in which the drainings of iron pyrites were often mistaken for oil) indicated as existing there. These
were the Davenport Oil Company; John Lyon tract; 318 acres; on Little Toby Creek, Highland township. Little Toby
River Oil Company; Samuel Duff tract; 318 acres; on Little Toby Creek, Highland township. Black Diamond Oil Company;
Breneman tract; 336 acres; on west side of Clarion River, Highland township. Highland Oil Company; William Reed
tract; 212 acres; on west side of Clarion River, Highland township. Greenland Oil Company; Daniel Gilmore tract;
212 acres; on Little Toby Creek, Highland township. Deer Creek Oil Company; at mouth of Deer Creek; 228 acres;
on west side of Clarion River, Beaver township. Whitehill Oil Company; 228 acres; adjacent to the former tract.
Clarion River Oil Company; Seth Clover tract; 286 acres; on west side of Clarion River, Highland township. Pennsylvania
Oil Company; Columbus Reed tract; 318 acres; on west side of Clarion River, Highland township.
Of these companies, W. P. Schell, of Bedford, was president; J. Simpson Africa, of Huntingdon, secretary and treasurer;
Walter W. Greenland was sent out as superintendent.
The Deer Creek Oil Company, as we have seen, bought the Whitehall property at the mouth of Deer Creek, consisting
of 225 acres; and the White-hill Oil Company, 228, adjoining this on the north. Early in May, 1865, oil was discovered
at a depth of 308 feet by a well on the Whitehill Company's tract, half a mile above the mouth of Deer Creek; at
first only a showing, the production increased without deeper drilling to ten barrels per day—Clarion county's
first producing well. Shortly after this the Deer Creek Oil Company's "Pocohontas" came in, gushing at
the rate of fifty barrels a day; the fluid came from a second or salt water sand.
These strikes sent a thrill of excitement through Clarion county speculative circles; and May saw a number of derricks
spring up along the Clarion in that vicinity, and on the banks of its tributaries, Piney, Canoe, Deer and Beaver
Creeks. But these high raised hopes were destined to be dashed to the ground. The Whitehill well survived about
a month, and the Pocohontas two; five hundred barrels of petroleum were shipped in barges from both. These wells
had merely happened on one of those small, easily exhausted pools of amber petroleum which have occasionally been
found here in extra-belt territory.
About the same time as the Pocohontas strike the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company's well in Milicreek township,
near the mouth of Blyson Run, of which Colonel J. B. Knox was superintendent, found heavy oil at nearly five hundred
feet. The vein proved a profitable one, as the oil answered well for lubricating, and about one thousand barrels
were shipped to Pittsburgh by flat boat. Abner James, the spiritualistic oil theorist, conceived faith in the Blyson
territory, and from 1872 to 1874 put down several wells there, but the search was fruitless, except to show the
meagerness of the deposit there. Not satisfied with these experiments, Judge A. Cook, in 1885, again tested the
mouth of Blyson, and found only a small showing of lubricating oil. It was obvious that the first well had drained
As may be imagined, the machinery of these early wells was primitive enough; much of it being the handicraft of
home machinists. Portable boilers were unknown; the string of tools then weighed about eight hundred pounds; the
auger stem was from one and a half to one and three-fourths inches in diameter; derricks forty-four feet high.
For the first several years none but copper tubing was used; the "seed bag" took the place of casing.
The improved machinery came from Pittsburgh, most of it from Fisher Bros.; the home made rigging was antique and
cumbrous, with cog-wheels, etc. The at of tool dressing was then a minor item; the engineer's was the most important
station at a well; there was no apparatus to regulate the engine from the derrick. These old wells averaged nine
hundred feet in depth; rarely one thousand feet was attained. The Black Diamond on the Highland township side of
the State road crossing was one of the deepest, 1,300 feet. It required from two to four months to sink a well
of average depth; seven feet a day was considered fair speed.
A universal belief, founded on the Oil Creek developments, obtained then, that the oleaginous fluid was to be found
only in the bottom of valleys on the flats near the water's edge. Consequently operations were confined to the
brink of the Clarion and its chief affluents for a short distance up. If some bold wild catter had left the barren
flats near the mouth of Beaver or Canoe Creeks, and started to bore on the uplands of those streams, with the determination
of drilling to the maximum depth, he would have been scouted as a visionary or a madman; but his enterprise would
in all probability have been rewarded by a rich discovery of the desired fluid, and the Clarion district would
have been developed ten years earlier.
The ill success of these ventures dampened further attempts of the like character, and people had settled down
to the belief that the golden age was as far off as ever which would see the earth respond to the persuasive touch
of the drill, and the coveted fluid burst forth to enrich the vales of Clarion county, when it appeared in an unexpected
quarter; and the operations begun there, slowly and obscurely at first, and afterwards with gradual and swifter
advance, took up their march of discovery. The derricks first seen at Graham's Landing and Foxburg were to mark
the progress of a new Eldorado into (perhaps through) the heart of Clarion county.
We will follow this interesting advance step by step, noticing in particular only the pioneer wells, those which
defined the belt, and those whose extraordinary production is worthy of special remark.
In the May of 1869, on the outbreak of the Parker's Landing excitement, the Graham's Landing Oil Company, consisting
of R. L. Brown, Simon Truby, W. H. H. Piper, William Robinson, and Robert Crawford, sank a hole at Graham's Landing,
immediately opposite Parker's, and obtained a three-barrel well, which increased spontaneously to eleven. It was
situated in the gulch at the mouth of the streamlet that falls into the Allegheny there. This was the first permanent
paying well struck in Clarion county. Soon after Duncan Karns met with success on the the James Pollock farm on
the heights back from the river. The well produced fifteen barrels. The Buckeye, forty barrels, below Graham's
Landing, was opened the same season. But the attempts to extend the territory inland, northeasterly, failed. A
small well on the McIlwain farm marked the limit of production in that direction.
Attention was then directed to a more northern line toward Foxburg, where a few pumping-wells of small importance,
on the Fox estate, were known to exist. Drilling on the Simpson farm yielded only barren results; it was evident
that a dry interval lay between Parker and the mouth of the Clarion.
In the fall of 1865 Messrs. Samuel Fox and Joel Fink commenced their well No. 1, on the east side of the Allegheny,
on the upper or "Reed" tract. Oil was found of good quality but in small quantity; in those days of Pithole
with its 500 and 1,000 barrelers, a well which pumped four or five barrels was deemed almost worthless, and this
received little attention. It must, however, be classed as Clarion county's first staying well of illuminating
petroleum. In the succeeding summer No 2 was put down by the same firm and also proved a small producer. No. 3
was drilled in 1867, and was shortly abandoned. Its machinery was taken down the river below the "Stone House"
and near the mouth of the Clarion, and on the 30th of September, 1869, No. 4 was struck with paying results.; about
fifteen barrels per day. About the same time the Gailey well on the south side of the Clarion, one-fourth of a
mile above its mouth, commenced to pump the same quantity. These ventures created some excitement and activity
in that vicinity, and soon quite a number of wells were under way.
In October A. S. Palmer obtained a lease from Mr. Fox, on the hillside above the station, and assigned it to Fertig
and Hammond. Fertig No. 1 struck petroleum in paying quantities. About this time operators began to see the fallacy
of the theory that oil would be found only in river bottoms; and rigs began to climb the hillsides. In the season
of 1869 also the Mead Bros. sank a well at the river's mouth on the south, near the end of the A. V. Railroad bridge,
and found oil; the Elephant well, farther up on the hillside, was struck about the same time, and the Island Queen,
on Stump Island, astonished the operators with a production of over 100 barrels a day. This well was first owned
by O. E. Shannon, — Hartley, — Washabaugh, Jno. Gailey, and E. H. Long, and became the property of Robert Gailey.
Nearly all these old wells about Perryville and the mouth of the Clarion are still pumping.
THE ORIGINAL PIPE LINE.
Gus R. Harms, of Petroleum Centre, and M. C. Martin, of Foxburg, had entered into partnership in September,
1869, to engage in the business of transporting petroleum from wells to the railroads. On October 19th they signed
the following agreement with Samuel Fox:
"For and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged,
I, Samuel M. Fox, of Richland township, Clarion county, Pennsylvania, do hereby sell and assign, and by these presents,
set over to M. C. Martin and Gus R. Harms, their heirs and assigns, for the period of five years from the date
hereof; the exclusive right of way over my land in Perry township, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, and my lands
in Richland township, Clarion county, lying near the mouth of the Clarion River, for the purpose of piping, transporting
and shipping petroleum oil over and across said lands for shipment on cars; provided always, that the rate of transportation
charged by said M. C. Martin and Gus. R. Harms, shall never exceed twenty-five cents per barrel. Should said rate
at any time be exceeded, this sale and transfer shall have its legal termination; otherwise, I bind myself, my
heirs and assigns, to protect said M. C. Martin and Gus. R. Harms, in exclusive possession of said right of way
for said term of five years; nevertheless the said S. M. Fox reserves for himself and his lessees on the east side
of the river, the right to ship oil of their own production, by car or otherwise, as they may see fit, and to lay
a pipe for that purpose. In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this 19th day of October, 1869.
"SAMUEL M. Fox." [L. S.]
The other part of the agreement is as follows, viz.
"In consideration of Samuel M. Fox having granted us the right of way through certain lands of his, for the
purpose of piping petroleum, we agree to lay a pipe across the Allegheny River, and to extend the same through
his lands in Perry township, Armstrong county, within two months from the date hereof, and to lay pipe to the tanks
of his lessees as soon after their wells become productive as conveniently practicable, and to allow him a drawback
of five cents per barrel on his oil piped over the river, unless our general charge should be reduced to fifteen
cents per barrel, when the drawback shall only be two and a half cents. We also agree, in case the oil passed through
our pipes shall amount to five hundred barrels per diem, to build an iron tank of not less than eight thousand
barrels capacity, for its reception. And at the end of every four months, to divide among our customers, pro rata,
any excess of oil that we may have received over and above what we may have given credit for.
"Witness our hands and seals this 19th day of October, 1869.
" M. C. MARTIN. [L. S.]
"Gus R. HARMS. [L. S.] "
August 1870, Soult and Dower struck a fifteen barrel well, on the hill top, Rupert tract, adjoining Fox's on the
northeast; the well was a short distance off the road to St. Petersburg. Martin and Harms laid a line from the
rack at the railroad to this well, necessarily across the Fox land; the Foxes construed this as a privilege not
accorded by the agreement, and their employees tore up the pipe. A suit ensued which resulted in mutual concessions.
In the mean time, about the close of 1870, Martin and Harms had joined with James Bishop and C. Myer, under the
name of the "Mutual Pipe Line Company," with headquarters at Foxburg.
"Grass Flats" is the name applied to the strip of level land lying along the Clarion between the hillside
and the river, directly south of St. Petersburg. Most of this land belonged to Hon. Jno. Keating. In 1870 there
had been some isolated drilling done in this direction, with small results till on June 3, 1871, the Bovard &
Palmer well, "Nettie," at the southwestern extremity of the Flats near the bend, opened up this prolific
field with seventy-five barrels.. This marks the beginning of a new era in the history of Clarion county oil production.
A great number of wells were soon under operation, and in July the Tillman Jackson well No. 1, further up the river,
came in with a good production. Back from the Clarion the Lewis Collner farm, and the Shoup farm adjoining, proved
to be very rich territory. In January, 1872, the Fleming and Saisbery wells on the Collner farm were completed
and yielded between 400 and 500 barrels per day. In April Lady Harris No. 1, on G. R. Harris's lease from Collner,
added to the list of large producers.
By April, 1872, Grass Flats for its entire length, and the country between the river and St. Petersburg, were
covered with wells, yielding a product of between 30 and 400 barrels each. In the succeeding summer St. Petersburg
reached the climax of its prosperity, and was the scene of stirring activity and excitement unprecedented in Clarion
On October 23, 1871, the first well east of St. Petersburg, Marcus Hulings's famous Antwerp, on the Ashbaugh farm,
was finished and proved a fountain of the first quality, flowing two hundred barrels of oil through the casing
at first, and subsiding to the very respectable production of seventy-five barrels daily. This strike indicated
the existence of petroleum in large quantities in a new quarter, and whetted the zeal of speculators. In a short
while every available foot lying on a forty-five degree line between St. Petersburg and Turkey Run was in the hands
of eager operators. The fee simple of farms commanded $300 and $400 per acre, and "Pennsylvania Dutch"
farmers, who had toiled for years on their paternal acres without amassing affluence, suddenly found themselves
Hitherto, with Parker as a starting point, the general drift of development had been on lines ranging between twenty-two
and thirty degrees east of north. It was soon discovered that a bend occurred at St. Petersburg. A month from the
striking of the Antwerp, the well on the Hiram Neely farm (Richmond), owned by Patterson & Dickey, W. H. Nicholson
and others, came in with a large showing and confirmed confidence in the new territory; at that time these were
the only wells east of St. Petersburg. Soon after M. E. Hess's fine well on the D. Shoup farm advanced discoveries
one step northeast from the Antwerp. This was followed in March, 1872, by Smith, Cook & Co'.s 150 barreler,
in the same neighborhood; and on April 10th Harrington & Co. got a twenty five barrel well on Turkey Run, far
ahead of developments. Operations in this direction soon became extensive and covered so wide an area that it is
impossible to trace them, except generally. Among those completed in 1871-2 between St. Petersburg and Turkey we
may mention as notable: M. Hulings's well, on the Stubble farm, north of Richland furnace; J. W. Irwin's, 200 barrels,
on Little Turkey, Edinger farm. On the extreme northwest were the wells on the land of Charles Masters and Daniel
On the east the belt extended to the Isaac Neely farm, across Turkey Run, near its mouth, but northeast from that
point was uncertain and streaky, retiring in the direction of Richmond. On the Fillman place, however, considerably
east of Richmond, petroleum was found. On the west, or more correctly, northwest, the producing region did not
advance beyond the valleys of the small tributaries of Turkey Run, narrowing down north and northwest of St. Petersburg.
Dry holes on D. Hale's heirs, Salem township, and on the upper end of the farm of D. Knight marked the northern
limit, and inclined operations to the east, where good wells were found on the J. Hale and Knappenberger farms,
opening the Monroeville field. The maximum width of the belt was three miles, and so continued to Edenburg.
In June, 1872, Hess & Veary's well, on the D. Knight farm, opened up at the rate of two barrels an hour, and
on August 3o, M. Hulings again led the star of empire northeastward by a seventy-five barreler on the farm of George
Delo, in southern Salem township.
July 20, 1872, there were 233 producing and 106 drilling wells in the Clarion (third) district; by the middle of
September the producing wells numbered 300. About this time the Clarion producers met at St. Petersburg and resolved
on a month's shut down, and suspension of drilling, in conjunction with the outside fraternity, on account of overstock
and depression in the crude market; as a consequence, all but sixteen wells in the Clarion district closed operations.
When they resumed, November 1, it was with a decreased production.
January, 1873, Lee & Plummer's one hundred and fifty barrel well on the Hummel farm was struck, and soon after
Hammer and Geyer marked an advance by success on the Exley farm, Beaver township. These were pioneer strikes in
new territory, yet notwithstanding the incitement they gave to operators, it was almost a year before the Turkey
City, Monroeville and Paris City (Pickwick) fields rose into prominence. Clarion oil operations made slow headway,
as a rule, before a field reached full development. The belt was a wide one, its length indefinite, and it required
a succession of rich finds to concentrate activity in a particular district. In this way the field was developed
On June 27, 1873, attention was suddenly diverted to northern Beaver township by a strike by John Turner and Walter
Lowry, at Bowers, three-fourths of a mile north of Edenburg—the St. Lawrence well, opening with sixty barrels.
This was miles ahead of previous developments, and in the furore over this discovery many producers left Turkey
City, Monroeville, and Pickwick before the lateral limits of that portion of the belt had been reached, and with
much advance territory untested. Shortly after the St. Lawrence, Hulings found oil on Canoe Creek, and September
9, 1873, Lee and Balliet brought in another large producer, a two hundred barrel well on the Bowers farm. This
prolific tract was bought by Wetter and Bleakly.
In January, 1874, Gray Bros. and Spargo on the Mendenhall property, close to Edenburg, brought the developments
a step farther south, while early in February, Smith, Cook & Co's., producing eighty barrels, following the
discovery at G. Exley's on Switzer Run widened the territory westward, and formed a link between Pickwick and Edenburg.
At this period there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities of the territory, except in Salem, where upper
Turkey Run formed a barrier on the west, and confined production to the corner. The summer of 1874 was an era of
great activity in the field around Edenburg, and that village rose into notoriety as a petroleum centre. Producers
began to discover, too, that a prolific field stretched southwestwardly, and started to retrace their steps to
complete the connection between the St. Petersburg and Edenburg regions. The oil trade, however, was very much
depressed, and operations progressed in the face of discouragements. Petroleum dragged along between forty and
sixty cents, and not till the spring of 1875 did the advance begin which culminated in the boom of 1876. To add
to this difficulty the producers who held their oil for a better market, were burdened with a storage rate of five
cents per month for every barrel.
Petroleum was found at Jefferson Furnace(2) and in the middle of July a sixty-barrel find on the farm of George
Kribbs — the future Beaver City—opened a prolific section. The belt now began to be defined on the northwest and
southeast. It was apparent that it would only truncate the corner of Ashland township, as it had done in Salem.
On the south it was less distinctly outlined, as it ran northeast in streaks, and was very "touchy" territory.
But beyond Blair's and Wentling's corners, and east of the Hanst and Ditman farms, on Canoe Creek, the most enterprising
wild-catting failed to show up oil territory.
In June, 1874, fifty nine rigs were up around Edenburg, and the average of production was twenty-nine barrels
to each well.
The year 1875 saw little extension southwest, but opened up rich fields in the front, and brought the Clarion district
to a pretty high stage of development. The field obtained prominence, but the daily average of the wells was lowered;
doubtless by reason of their increased numbers. The St. Petersburg region had begun to decline materially, but
Edenburg and Beaver City daily increased their production. The Kribbs well (Sept.), on the Beck farm, a mile south
of Edenburg, unexpectedly broadened the belt. Outside of this, the only discovery in the south worthy of notice,
was that on the farm of Eli Logue, near the Clarion, in northern Perry township. August, 1875, the Logue, Gailey
& Smullen well started off with two hundred barrels, and in 1876 the producing wells on this farm numbered
In 1875 one hundred and eighty-one wells were completed in the Clarion district, with a new daily production of
In 1872 the Antwerp Pipe Line Company entered the field, and in the same year a line was laid to Oil City by way
of East Sandy, adopting the latter as its name. The Antwerp line discharged their oil at Tylerton, on the Allegheny
Valley Railroad, between Foxburg and Emlenton. In 1874 the Emlenton line was laid. The Mutual was merged into the
Atlantic Pipe Line Company, of which Charles P. Hatch, of Titusville, was president, and A. W. Smiley, of Foxburg,
superintendent. In April, 1875, this company began piping oil to Sligo; afterward the terminus was changed to Foxburg.
The only prolific fourth sand ever found in the Clarion field was that struck by J. W. Taylor, on the Knappenberger
farm, north of Monroeville, July 1, 1876. Oil showed up abundantly, flowing for a short period, and pumping 400
barrels per day for some time.
In 1876 an important well, owned by Gates & Vensel, doing fifty barrels per day, was struck near the Stone
Church, Jefferson Station. Major Henry Wetter got a 125 barrel well on the Beals farm, Beaver City, the largest
of the season, except Taylor's fourth sand well. But the most active drilling was on the extreme northeast front.
Hess & Bradley's small well, on the Dale farm, west of Shippenville, had first attracted notice to that quarter.
This was followed by a twenty five barrel producer in the same vicinity, owned by Jacob Hahn, and a fifty barreler
by Jacob Black. In March, 1876, Leedom & Patterson struck oil northwest of Shippenville, far in advance; the
Lehigh Company's hole, between Elk City and Shippenville, filled up with seventy-five barrels a day.
Wells completed, 804; new production, 10,015.
In the spring and summer of 1877 the Elk City field reached its height. Large wells were found on Joseph Kiser's
farm, Tyler's "Mudlark," near Elk City, May, 1877, produced seventy five barrels, and on A. R. Black's
farm adjoining were a number of paying wells. To the northwest some astonishing gushers, rarities in the Clarion
district, were found. The Antwerp Company's (afterwards Oak Shade) well on the Johnston farm spouted 400 barrels
a day after torpedoing, and for a considerable time maintained a production of 140 barrels. The Jerusalem tract,
J. M. Guffey, north of Johnston's, proved similarly lucrative. A fountain on the G. Howe farm, on the southern
boundary of Ashland township, flowed for a time 400 barrels per day; this well was owned by Baker Howe, A. Rittenhouse,
William S. Hess, and J. S. Oliver.
In the southwest a few large wells developed some additional territory or revived the old. Cram & Company struck
a large well on the Fisher farm in July, and later Hukill & Davis brought in a hundred-barrel well on the farm
of Mrs. Wentling. A mushroom town, styled "Slam Bang," at the crossroads, was the result of these discoveries.
The year 1877 was the banner year of Clarion's petroleum annals; it was at the same time a year of expansion, and
one of exhaustion. The older portions of the field were thoroughly overhauled, and the new territory found its
limits; these combined influences forced the production to its highest point.
As Edenburg loomed into prominence all the pipe lines, the United, Sandy, Antwerp, Oil City, American Transfer,
and Atlantic centered there, and as a consequence carrying rates became ruinously low; for a while five cents per
barrel. This competition—very welcome to the producers—was ended on March i2, 1877, by their consolidation with
the United Pipe Line, controlled by the Standard Oil Company, with central office at Oil City and branches in all
the prominent fields. There are two pumping stations in this county; one on Canoe Creek, near Edenburg, and one
at Turkey City.
In 1876 the Clarion district ranked first, with Butler county a close second, and in 1877, while ours fell below
the total production of Butler, it surpassed either the Bullion or Millerstown fields taken separately.
1877, 1,228 finished wells gave a new production of 13,944. barrels.
1878 saw a great falling off; the rising Bullion and Bradford regions attracted many from Clarion, and left the
field comparatively deserted. Many took with them the rigs and machinery from exhausted or unprofitable wells.
Activity was confined to efforts to discover an extension of the belt, but with meager results. A few small wells
were found about Shippenville, but the more numerous dry holes dampened ardor, and demonstrated the unreliability
and narrowness of the streak. So operations rested there.
1878, 325 wells completed; production 3,880 barrels; 1879, eighty-two wells, 720 barrels.
The period between 1878 and 1885 is an unrelieved blank as regards developments in this county. In February of
the latter year, Dietrich, Berlin, Young, Star and Maxwell, composing the Cogley Oil Company, sank a well on G.
N. Berlin's tract, Cogley's Run, in northern Ashland township; it yielded about ten barrels daily. This was the
beginning of the Cogley pool. It appeared afterwards that this well tapped the deposit near its northeastern edge;
subsequent developments retrograded to the southwest, reversing the general order in the Clarion field. Oil was
found north on the Fisher, Young and Exley farms, but on pushing further, on the Shippen, Kahle and Rickenbrode
tracts, the drilling was brought to a halt by "dusters."
About a mile southwest from the Cogley well Hess and Sackett struck oil on land of E. F. Heeter, Little Sandy.
The intervening country was opened by Koch Brothers' 100 barrel well, the largest of the field, on the farm of
Marvin Hess. The pike at Kossuth marked the southern limit, but few paying wells were found beyond it.
Cogley was a field of small operators and small wells; it was not long before it was seen that its days were numbered.
It reached its climax in November, 1885, with an average daily production of 5,416 barrels. In December, 1886,
Cogley's production was 1,361 barrels. During twenty months, commencing with May, 1885, and ending December 31,
1886, the Cogley field produced 1,723,295; a daily average of 2,895 barrels.
The striking of the Swartzfager well, June, 1886, south of Shippenville, which yielded at the start one hundred
barrels a day, awakened interest in that spot and stimulated wild tatting. Previously a very few operators had
succeeded in successfully crossing the pike. Gradually an extremely narrow belt, or rather a line, running northeasterly
from that road, was opened. After much testing Hahn and Wagner procured a few small wells in the neighborhood of
Paint Mills, and thereby established an extension of the Shippenville streak. Between Shippenville and Paint Mills,
however, there is an unproductive break of half a mile There are at present sixteen oil producing wells east of
the pike at Shippenville, averaging two and one-half barrels each.
The Clarion oil belt, taken in connection with the Butler county continuation, is in many respects the most remarkable
deposit of petroleum yet developed, extending as it does from Paint Mills here to St. Joe in Butler county. Along
this, oil yielding farm joins farm continuously with but a single gap for a distance of thirty miles, and with
a width varying from one-fourth to three miles. In Butler county a rich cross-belt of fourth sand underlies this
On March 1, 1887, Messrs. Hess and Sackett found oil on the farm of A. J. Kifer, about a mile south of Reidsburg,
in a second or stray sand. The well has been since yielding fifteen barrels daily of clear petroleum much resembling
that of Washington county. This strike has awakened interest in this comparatively untested territory, but until
the completion of more wells its value is only a matter of conjecture. The deposit appears to be a 45 degree prolongation
of the Armstrong Run (Arm. Co.) amber oil.
In connection with the Reidsburg field, tradition says that Marcus Hulings, formerly of Franklin, was a paymaster
in the War of 1812, absconded with the funds in his possession and came to the vicinity of the present Reidsburg.
It is certain that he purchased land from Hugh Reid in 18i5. In 1818 he sank a well on what is known as the "old
Reid farm," back of the academy a short distance. When he reached the depth of six hundred or seven hundred
feet, he was astonished by a strong flow of gas, which blew out the salt water. A little oily substance floating
iridescent on the water came with it too, which the owner and the neighbors recognized as Seneca oil or petroleum.
It appears that it came up in sufficient quantity to make the saline flow worthless, and the well was abandoned.
The spot is still marked, and on the water which bubbles up through the hole a thin coat of oil may be detected
at this day.
It was impossible to obtain the exact statistics of total production before 1878. The fragmentary records of
the various pipe lines were not preserved, and it was not till the United Pipe Line Co. in 1877 assumed control
of the traffic that a systematic tabulation was adopted. The pipe-line runs of the Clarion district were given
separately only for the years 1878 and 1879; thereafter, on account of their small production, Butler and Clarion
were united into the "Lower District," and so remained till 1884, when the Wardwell and Baldridge fields
entitled Butler county to distinct reports. During these years Clarion and Butler's production maintained about
an equal pace. The annexed table shows the daily average production of Clarion county for the years 1866-1883:
1) Colonel Watson was a soldier from this county in the War of 1812, and participated in the Black Rock Campaign.
He was not a member of either of the companies organized here.
2) A map of Clarion county, published in 1865, marks "Oil Company" on Turkey Run, near the site of Turkey
City. Two wells are indicated at Jefferson. Kribbs & Company have a well a little south of the Hanst farm,
on Canoe Creek. There is also the Lehigh Oil Company, west of Shippenville, where the Elk City district was developed,
and a well north of that point, near Baker & Richardson's well. The Lehigh Company did not put down a well
till 1876 or 1877.
3) These figures do not afford an accurate criterion of Clarion county's yearly average increase, as they represent
the output of the wells immediately or shortly after being struck, when they were at their best.