John H. Galey Corsicana real estate developers convinced James. M. Guffey and John H. Galey of Pittsburgh (associates of millionaire Andrew W. Mellon) to come to Corsicana to help them exploit the region’s deposits of oil. By 1900, their Corsicana field was producing 836,000 barrels a year. In 1897, Corsicana’s town leaders convinced J.S. Cullinan of Pennsylvania to come to Corsicana found the first successful commercial refinery in Texas. The J.S. Cullinan Company later merged with two other firms to form the Magnolio Petroleum Company (later known as Mobil). As it expanded, the refinery needed new markets for its petroleum products, and Cullinan convinced the Cotton Belt Railroad in 1898 to run an experimental locomotive on steam created by an oil burner. Soon thereafter, most railroads began the switch from coal- to oil-burning locomotives. (Calvert, De León & Cantrell, p. 245.)
Patillo Higgins of Texas believed that the salt dome three miles south of Beaumont known as Spindletop would be a good site to drill for petroleum. Captain A.F. Lucas, a mining engineer, deduced from his work in Louisiana that Higgins was probably correct and decided to join him. (Calvert, De León & Cantrell, p. 245.) Patillo Higgins
On January 10, 1901, Captain A. F Lucas, with financial backing from the Mellon interests, made the most important oil discovery in Texas history in Southeast Texas at Spindletop
The blending of the technological expertise of the Hammill brothers of Corsicana and the money of the Mellon men tapped the Spindletop pool on January 10, 1901. For nine days Spindletop spewed oil unchecked, with between 70,000 and 100,000 barrels flowing from it daily. As word of the big strike spread, speculators of all stripes rushed to Beaumont. p. 245.
“The boom that Spindletop triggered would ultimately see oil surpass both cattle and cotton to become the linchpin of Texas prosperity.” (Calvert, De León & Cantrell, p. 243.)
Spindletop, Texas oil fire.Spindletop was the location of the first Texas oil well.
Oil Created many Spin-off Industries Oil-related spin-off industries: refineries, pipelines, asphalt, tank cars, ocean-going tankers, harbors, machine shops, oil and gas lawyers, petroleum engineering, petroleum geology, oil leasing, automobiles, roads paved, natural gas, petrochemicals
Starting as early as 1898, some locomotives ran on oil instead of coal.
Rotary drills and improved bits made deeper drilling possible and expanded the industry in 1926 to West Texas.
“HogTown”—Desdemona, TX. Environmental problems: derricks too close together, fire, health hazards, water pollution. Voluntary standards ignored. After World War I, the Railroad Commission enforced regulation. Beaumont Saloon near Spindletop, 1901.
By 1928, Texans owned 250,000 motor vehicles, and businesses that serviced these vehicles would become a major industry. (p. 248)
Texas Oil Production: • 1896: 1,000 barrels • 1902: 21 million barrels • 1929: 293 million barrels Nineteenth-century Texans never dreamed that oil and the state would become permanently intertwined in myth and economics. They had considered themselves as cotton farmers and cattle ranchers, but Spindletop changed that, ushering Texas into the twentieth century with a bang and making the state ultimately different from its southern neighbors. The History of Texas, pp. 243-244.
Percentage of Texans living in metropolitan areas: 1900: 17.1% 1939: 41%
In 1913, Dallas acquired one of the twelve national branches of the Federal Reserve System and took on the personality of a major financial and business center.
The commission form of city government, first developed in Galveston, served as a model for city reform that spread throughout the nation.
Texas cities began to develop modern amenities. • Telephone • Electric lines • Natural gas
Slightly more than 400,000 Texas women worked outside the home in 1930, an increase of about 25 percent over 1920. (p. 251)
In the 1920s, the number of women in the workforce increased. The increasing number of white married women in the workforce contributed to the concept of the “New Woman”: the vibrant and independent woman who made her own decisions, free from male restrictions and advice. The History of Texas, pp. 251-252.
Domestic servants waiting for the streetcar on their way to work early in the morning in Atlanta, Georgia, 1939 CREDIT: Wolcott, Marion Post, photographer. "Domestic Servants Waiting for Streetcar on Way to Work Early in the Morning. Mitchell Street, Atlanta, Georgia." May 1939. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945, Library of Congress.
Freedwomen washing laundry, Circleville, Texas Courtesy, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library Source: Texas: The South Meets the West, The View Through African American History in Journal of the West, Vol. 44, No. 2, (Spring 2005). p. 47.
Labor Unions in Texas Labor Unions never had a strong base in Texas. Texas State Federation of Labor; United Mine Workers Why union membership declined: 1. Lack of leadership 2. Hostility of business 3. Red Scare 4. Political leadership opposed labor unions Open Port Law: prohibited strikes and gave the governor the authority to intervene militarily to end strikes. See pp. 252-253.
Agriculture “Agriculture remained the major occupation and source of revenue for Texans into the 1920s. In 1927, for example, the value of Texas agriculture was three times that of oil and of manufacturing. And in Texas, cotton remained king. Texas far outdistanced other southern states, producing one-third of all the cotton picked in 1922, a position held through the end of the decade. No other crop rivaled cotton in either acreage planted or value yielded.” See page 253. However, cotton failed many farmers. See falling prices on page 254.
Between 1913 and 1920, the cost of living doubled, yet farm income did not increase. In 1910, 51.7 of Texas farmers were tenants. In 1930, 61 percent were tenants (50 percent of whites, 70 percent of blacks).
Boll Weevil. In 1921, boll weevils cost Texans one-third of their crop. (See pp. 253-254.) Dusting cotton for the boll weevil in NC, 1920s. A small, grayish, long-snouted beetle (Anthonomus grandis) of Mexico and the southern United States, having adults that puncture cotton buds and larvae that hatch in and damage cotton bolls. Source: Excerpted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright, 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
“As late as 1930, the population was still classified as 60 percent rural.” “The oil boom in the 1920s ushered in one of the more prosperous times that most Texans could recall. Yet as late as the end of the 1920s, the state seemed mired in the past; agriculture still dominated the economy, and segregation still defined race relations.” (Calvert, De León & Cantrell, p. 243.)
Farm women faced the greatest hardships in caring for their families and doing farm labor. In 1930, a study of white women: 57% cooked on wood stoves, 80% used oil lamps, and 63% washed clothes on a washboard. Black women: 99% used oil lamps and wood stoves. 1929 less than 5% of Texas farms had electricity, less than 8% indoor plumbing, less than 15% running water, 60% cars (most roads were unpaved), 32% phones. In 1929, a good picker earned $4 per day. Yearly wage of $485.35.
Location: Corpus Christi (vicinity), Texas Date: November 1942 Mexican cotton pickers helping to save the cotton crop which was threatened with ruin because of the wartime manpower shortage. USDA Photo by: Howard Hollum
Blacks were often pressured to work in the fields during the harvest season. Location: Kaufman county, Texas Date: August 1936 Plantation owner's daughter checking the weight of cotton. USDA Photo by Arthur Rothstein
The Farmer’ Union, organized in 1902 in Emory, Texas, grew into the 140,000-member Farmers’ Education and Cooperative Union. The union had goals similar to the Farmers’ Alliance. See p. 260.
The average family size declined from 4.6 in 1910 to 3.5 in 1930. Many women knew of contraceptive methods and abortifacients. Children still an economic asset in farm families. Urban women had fewer children. Foreign-born women had more children. In 1929, black Texans had a higher infant mortality rate (25% of black children died within the first year and shorter life expectancy (white males 59.7, white females 63.5, black males 47.3, black women 49.2)
Fenced in Ranch Demonstrating the passing of the Old West, the number of beef cattle and horses dropped between 1900 and 1929, while the number of dairy cows, mules, sheep, and goats increased.
In 1910, the Texas House of Representatives urged repeal of the Fifteenth Amendment. Urban blacks acquired some voting power as city bosses needed their votes. Section 1 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.Section 2 The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
In Nixon v. Herndon (1927) the U. S. Supreme Court ruled the all-white primary unconstitutional. In 1928 the state legislature defined political parties as "private organizations" not subject to federal law. Until 1944 most black Texans could not vote.
Thousands gathered in Paris, Texas, for the 1893 lynching of Henry Smith.
Spectacle lynching. The Burning and Lynching of Jesse Washington, Waco Texas 1916. Although accurate figures on the lynching of blacks are lacking, one study estimates that in Texas between 1870 and 1900, extralegal justice was responsible for the murder of about 500 blacks—only Georgia and Mississippi exceeded Texas’s numbers in this grisly record. Between 1900 and 1910, Texas mobs murdered more than 100 black people. In 1916 at Waco, approximately 10,000 whites turned out in holiday-like atmosphere to watch a mob mutilate and burn a black man named Jesse Washington. (Source: Calvert, De Leon and Cantrell, The History of Texas, pp. 189, 261-262.)
The lynching of Lige Daniels. August 3, 1920, Center, Texas.
A black boxer from Galveston named Jack Johnson was world heavyweight champion from 1908 to 1915, prompting the legislature to ban the showing of films of his fights.
Blind Lemon Jefferson and Huddie Ledbetter were pioneers of Texas blues music.