Friday, November 2, 2007

East Texas’ Oil Beginnings

The history of Texas oil exploration began as far back as 1859, when a determined young entrepreneur, Lyne Taliaferro Barret leased 279 acres near an area in East Texas aptly named Oil Springs for its oil and gas seepage that had been observed by Native Americans and early Texas settlers for many years. His preliminary exploratory pursuits were unfortunately interrupted by the Civil War and were postponed until after fighting had ceased. In 1865, Barrte secured another drilling contract with the heirs of the previous owner of the site and formed the burgeoning “Melrose Petroleum Oil Company.”

The Melrose Petroleum Oil Company began drilling in earnest the summer of 1866 and was rewarded on September 12, 1866 when the “No. 1 Isaac C. Skillern” oil well was struck. It yielded ten barrels a day, quite modest in today’s terms of course, but had achieved undeniable historical notability as the first commercially producing oil well in Texas.

At that time, the price of oil was at $20 a barrel, but swings in price (in 1867 it dropped to $2.40 a barrel) left many investors impatient to see profits and that year Barret’s biggest investors withdrew their financial support, and many others demanded to sell their interests as well. In 1868, a dejected Barret was forced to close up shop on his “oil man” dreams and return to his previous humble occupation of general store owner in Melrose, Texas.

Though Barret’s naïve foray in the oil business could be considered a failure when looking at the financial risks versus the small rewards, his findings, called the “Nacogdoches field” continued to produce oil into the 1950’s for several different outfits. Barret secured his place in Texas oil history, and helped pave the way for the companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corp that call Texas their home today. In 1966, the Texas State Historical Survey Committee placed a historical marker on the site of the “No.1 Isaac C. Skillern”, forever cementing his key addition to Texas’ oil heritage. Texas continues producing the highest amounts of the precious commodity in all of the United States.

Visitors to Nacogdoches, Texas, are afforded the wonderful opportunity of experiencing and discovering the vast history of oil production for themselves. Barret’s 1848 homestead, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, has been restored and is now a fantastic bed and breakfast destination, and currently a 700 acre working tree farm as well.

About the Author: Bob Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

1 comment:

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