A Brief History Of The North Texas Geological SocietyEstablished In 1923
The first quarter century of the North Texas Geological Society commenced in 1923 at an organizational meeting held in the spacious office of the Texhoma Oil and Refining Company, located on the tenth floor of the “new” City National Bank Building in downtown Wichita Falls. An enthusiastic crowd of geologists attended. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (A.A.P.G.) had organized in 1917. Its annual national convention, held in Shreveport, Louisiana in April 1923, was well attended by the large group of geologists stationed in Wichita Falls. The fellowship and opportunity for professional exchange enjoyed at this convention provided the impetus for forming our local society.
Geology was coming of age as an important tool in prospecting for petroleum. Shallow production of gas and oil had been found and developed in north Texas before World War I at Petrolia (1904), Electra (1911), Burkburnett (1912), and in Archer County (1912). The Burkburnett boom of 1918, and the discovery of shallow oil near Olney, Young County, in 1922, further established Wichita Falls as a headquarters city for oil operators.
An early surface geological map of Wilbarger County is dated October 1, 1917, and bears the names of geologists Frank W. Reeves, Roy A. Reynolds, Frank Gouin, and Ford Bradish, all then working for the Atlantic Oil Company. Gouin now lives in Duncan, Oklahoma. His detailed paper on the early history of development and surface geology of the southern Oklahoma oil fields recaptures the flavor of these bygone days (Gouin 1956).
Another who made early tracks across North Texas was William E. Wrather, a highly successful oil finder, who later became Director of the United States Geological Survey. In 1917 he lived on Ninth Street.
The pre-World War I geological staff of Producers Oil Company (later The Texas Company) included Wallace E. Pratt, Douglas R. Semmes, Arthur Iddings, H.H. Addams, William E. Hubbard, and Louis Coryell. A young man serving as an oil scout with this group was Sid Richardson.
For memories of these early days we depend on John A. Kay (President, 1934-35; Honorary Member, 1957) only member of our society now active who attended our organizational meeting. As a young high school student who excelled in mechanical drawing, he had been hired for the summer, 1917, by Wallace E. Pratt, Division Geologist for Producers Oil Company. John’s early experiences in the oil fields included field work at Ranger, Texas under H.H. Adams, and service with the Humble Oil and Refining Company as one of the first three employees of its Engineering Department, in 1920. At the time our society organized, he was a tall, slim, well knit, clean cut lad of twenty-three, in the employ of the Texhoma Company, who was striving to complete his formal education in geology at Southern Methodist University.
Lester A. Luecke, who still lives in Wichita Falls, was another early geologist employed by Texhoma. Fresh from The University of Texas, it was his first professional position. Lester spent most of his career in Mexico, Central and South America.
The society’s first President (1923-24) and a leading organizer, was Melvin m. “Dutch” Garrett, who later became one of the most prominent consulting geologists in Texas. Garrett had graduated from The University of Nebraska, and served in France as a Major in the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. At the close of the war he was hired by Harry Sinclair and sent to Angola, Portuguese East Africa, to do surface work in an area of oil seeps. After an extended stay in Africa, he returned to work in the Ranger, Texas district for Sinclair. In 1921, or 1922, he opened consulting offices in Wichita Falls, which he maintained until moving to Dallas in 1934.
Our first Vice-President was Israel Remington Sheldon, a graduate of Brown University in civil engineering, who later obtained a Master’s degree in geology, and taught in the public school system of Providence, Rhode Island. Sheldon was also an army officer, and is reputed to have to come to Wichita Falls to assist in closing Call Field after World War I. Curious about the oil fields, he first took a job as a roughneck. But, his talents and education were too obvious. He was soon hired by W. B. Hamilton, the President of Texhoma, as Chief Engineer and Geologist. Sheldon served as our second President (1924-25).
Wallace C. Thompson, late President of General Crude Oil Company, was our first Treasurer (the office of Secretary was not created until 1954). Thompson was a native of Chickasha, Oklahoma, and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, who had worked in the Navajo Indian country before coming to Wichita Falls with the Sun Oil Company. He and William Earl Hubbard of the Humble Oil Company wrote the first professional description of the early oil fields of Archer County (Hubbard and Thompson, 1926).
Our third President (1925-26), H.B. Fuqua, along with his colleague with Gulf Production Company, B.E. Thompson, wrote a similar paper on the early oil pools of Wilbarger County (Fuqua and Thompson, 1929). Fuqua later became a prominent banker in Fort Worth.
The first years of the Society were a time of expansion. Although the price of oil had collapsed from $3.50 per barrel to $1.00 in 1921, due to oversupply, conditions improved in 1922, and job openings and demand for geologists increased. At the peak period in the latter part of the decade, it is estimated up to 250 geologists were active in North Texas.
A hilarious moment was provided by our society’s original skit, presented at the 1924 National Convention of A.A.P.G. in Wichita, Kansas. With dramatic skill, V.C. Perini, John Kay and Clarence Hoffer lampooned the new breed of prospecting geophysicists just then entering the industry. Hoffer, playing ht part of a distinguished, professorial, German scientist, got stage fright and forgot his lines. His struggling, guttural “ahs”, “ers”, and “uhs” were perfect answers to probing questions.
Notice of our meetings and a list of our officers first appeared in the Bulletin of A.A.P.G. in 1926, as one of the first eight, similar, professional society notices, nationwide. Meetings were held on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at 6:30 P.M. in the Wichita Club, then located in the City National Bank Building. Noon luncheon meetings on a weekday commenced in 1930.
One of our society’s most important early projects was raising funds to aid in the expansion of the benchmark network across paramount importance of accurate elevations for both surface and subsurface geological work insured the success of the fund drive, and produced our treasury’s first surplus. During the peak of the surface mapping period, Dr. Charles N. Gould, Director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, would sometimes come twice a year to discuss surface stratigraphic ties and comparative terminology across Red River. Equally well received and stimulating were visits by Dr. Elias Howard Sellards, Director, Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. Sellards early work on the underground position of the Ellenburger, and that of his predecessor, Dr Jon A. Udden on the subsurface geology of the oil districts of north-central Texas stimulated workers to tie surface outcrops to beds penetrated in drilled wells, and to investigate the buried stratigraphy though examinations of well cuttings and cores (Sellards, 1920; Udden, 1919).
In many cases, the age of a producing horizon was a mystery, until competing oil companies began hiring specialists in paleontology to make exclusive, specific age determinations. Preservation of well samples and cores become organized and intensive. The Oil Scouts (originally “log thieves”) later became responsible for collecting cuttings, and a central sample cut which was administered by the President of the society for a number of years, was set up in the back of the Hamilton Building about 1936, during the K.M.A. boom.
About 1927, the Panhandle Oil and Refining Company organized the digging of an oil mine by hand to a depth of about 90 feet near Electra. A slab of the pay was given to the Smithsonian Museum. Geologist in charge for the company was James P. Bowen (President, 1929-30). He was assisted by James F. Gibbs (President, 1947-48).
Oscar Hudson’s first experiences in North Texas date from 1927 when he left Oklahoma University to join the Prairie Oil and Gas Company at Eastland, Texas. Oscar was assigned to surface mapping in Throckmorton, Young, Jack and Wise Counties, first under John T. Still, and later with Harvard P. Giddings. Paul S. Oles (Vice-President, 1932-33) was in charge of Prairie’s Wichita Falls office.
By 1930 shallow producing horizons has been developed in a trend extending nearly 250 miles from Duncan, Oklahoma to Coleman, Texas. The development of the tri-cone rock bit, capable of “carrying the breaks”, greatly increased the utility of rotary drilling equipment. A premier surface geologist and independent oil operator, Charles P. McGaha, was first to demonstrate the effectiveness of core drilling machine in mapping hidden geologic structure in this district. The first gasoline powered rotary rig in use in North Texas was also manufactured for his wildcat wells.
Interest in the potential for production of oil and gas from the more deeply buried rocks of the district was stimulated by Monroe G. Cheney’s studies of the pre-Mississippian surface, and associated stratigraphic work (Cheney, 1929). His young assistant at the time was an honor graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Pete M. Martin (President, 1939-40).
To pursue the search for deeper production, civic leaders and businessmen of the Wichita Falls area organized The Deep Oil Development Company in late 1929. The principal officers of the company were Frank Kell, Chairman of the Board; N. H. Martin, President; J. J. Perkins, Vice; J.S. Bridwell, Vice President; Harry Hines, Vice President and General Manager, and Sam Householder, Treasurer. The company employed H. F. Smiley (Vice – President, 1930-31) to summarize prospects for deep production from a study of geologic structure and stratigraphy (Smiley, 1930). He assembled data on all the important wells drilled into Strawn or deeper formation in Wilbarger, Wichita, Clay, Archer and North Young Counties (in all, 24 wells). Geologists contributing to this study included Ward C. Bean, Shell Petroleum Company (President, 1928-29); Fred W. Bush, H. Smith Clark and J. W. Minton, Sinclair Oil and Gas Company; B. E. Thompson, Gulf Production Company; T. E. Weirich, Tidal Oil Company; Ralph S. Powell, The Texas Company (President, 1933-34); Virgil Pettigrew, Humble Oil and Refining Company (President, 1932-33; Honorary Member, 1961); Alexander W. McCoy, E. W. Marland, Inc.; Ralph A. Birk, Bridwell Oil Company (President, 1931-31); and J. V. Howell, John A. Kay, W. M. Nicolls, and L. E. Trout (Treasurer 1925-26), all consultants. As a direct result of Smiley’s work the company discovered the prolific Chalk Hill oil field, Archer County, and established the first production from the K. M. A. reservoir, in March 1931, at No. 1 Munger “A”, Wichita County.
The discovery and production of the East Texas field in the midst of the depression sent oil prices plummeting under a dollar per barrel. It was six and one-half years before the oil industry of North Texas revitalized by completion of the Kadane-Griffith Oil Company No. 1 Mangold “A” well, for an initial flowing potential of over 2000 barrels per day, in what is now the southwestern part of the K. M. A. field. In a report, addressed in response to an inquiry, to Mr. R. S. G. Stokes, President, Geological Society of South Africa, Johnanesburg, and dated February 25, 1935, our then President, John A. Kay, states our membership of 45 petroleum geologists.
Robert Ingersoll Roth (President, 941-42; Honorary Member, 1961) remembers the depression well. He was an established regional stratigrapher with service with the Atlantic Oil and Refining Company, Tulsa, and I. T. I. O., Bartlesville, who had first identified Simpson rocks on the prolific Oklahoma City structure. He made his first trip to Wichita Falls about 1926. Later, after being out of work a year and a half, he joined the Humble in our city, in 1934, as regional stratigrapher and paleontologist. His job was to determine the age of producing zones. His territory was North America.
The Humble office in Wichita Falls at this time was headed by the renowned Bert Broday, one of the early organizers of the company. Sub-offices were maintained at Pampa, Abilene, Merkle and Cisco. Roth and Virgil Pettigrew were the only geologists on the Wichita Falls staff, until Tom F. Petty (President, 1938-39) arrived from Cisco in 1936. The job opening for Roth was occasioned by the resignation of young Vernon E. Autry (Treasurer, 1931-32) to go to work for Fain and McGaha, where he replaced J. Roy Seitz (President, 1940-41). Autry later established the West Texas Elevation Service in Abilene.
A frequent visitor about the time was Dr. Alfred Sherwood Romer, eminent vertebrate paleontologist, who came to dig and collect in the Permian exposures south and west of Wichita Falls. He was much assisted in his work by our members, Mrs. Augusta Hasslock Kemp of Seymour, Texas, and John A. Kay, and later expressed his appreciation to them by adapting their names for two species of pelycosaurian reptiles (Romer, 1937). Henry Craig of Olney, a close friend of Dr. Romer’s was similarly honored.
It is from Dr. Romer’s collection that the society’s symbol, the Permian reptile, Dimetrodon milleri, was chosen. An almost perfect skeleton of this species was found one mile southwest of Archer City.
In the late 1930’s the society began sponsoring an annual field trip. The 1939 Field Trip committee was headed by H. C. Fountain with Robert Roth and Karl Mygdal assisting. Exposures of the Pease River group and Custer was studied, commencing at Vernon, Texas, and covering 178 miles the first day to Mangum, Oklahoma, and 165 miles the second day to near Silverton in Briscoe County, Texas.
The problems of organizing a field trip in these days were far different from those we encounter today. Only the larger towns and cities had hotel accommodations adequate for large groups. In the small communities typical of field trip routes, overnight arrangements for housing and meals were commonly made in private homes. Tourist courts were rare except on the most heavily traveled highways. The word “motel” was not in the dictionary.
The following year, the Strawn and Canyon series of the Brazos and Trinity river valleys were studied under the leadership of Monroe G. Cheney, Pete Martin, Tom F. Petty, and L. E. Patterson (Vice-President, 1939-40) formed our Field Trip Committee. Diner cost a dollar a plate at the first night’s headquarters at the Crazy Hotel, Mineral Wells.
No review of this period can omit Ellen Posey (President, 1954-55) a native of Oklahoma, expert well sitter, and paleontologist. She came to this country with her family when her father was employed as Superintendent for Lone Star Gas Company at Petrolia. She obtained a Master’s degree, and for some time was on the staff of the Department of Geology, University of Oklahoma. It is typical of the times that she lost her job here with Cities Service Oil Company, as a matter of company policy, when she married Fred Bitgood in 1937.
Dan Heninger (President, 1943-44) arrived in Wichita Falls in 1938 to take over as District Geologist for The Ohio Oil Company. Struck on the wall of the company office were between 30 and 50 electric logs, collected by his predecessor, Coe Mills, and representing all the important electric log control in North Texas at the time.
The story of Paul E. “Murphy” Purcell (President, 1953-54) is most entertainingly told and illustrated by his wife and partner, Ann “Willie”, in private publication (Purcell, 1975). Perhaps most applicable here is her recount of experiences during World War II, trying to cope with housing shortages, moving vans, gasoline and food rationing, and lack of skilled labor (when “Willie” became a rodman).
Post war promoters were not as apt to talk bout the “drunk” driller on a wartime drilling operation as they were the “absent” geologist. Oil company staffs were grossly short of trained personnel. Those geologists who remained with their jobs found themselves doing double duty. Tom Petty, Dan Heninger, and others like them, often scouted wells and made scout check. Part of Wilmer Shirk’s job with Cities Service Oil Company was scouting. He transferred here from San Antonio in 1942. The roads were bad, and the tires worse, but at least a “C” card meant ample gasoline most of the time.
J. J. Russell, Jr. (President, 1948-49) headed Sinclair Prairie Oil Company’s office here from 1938-45, before resigning to become an independent. Alone, he was placed in charge of all district land and geological work during the war. Part of his problems he solved, like others did, by teaching his office helpers to run samples. Lynn L. “Shorty” Hardin (Vice-President, 1946-47) followed Russell as District Geologist. Shorty was a veteran of the depression who had re-joined the company in 1934 at Eastland, serving there with John M. Mouser, scout and landman, and William A. Phelps, clerk.
Johnny Bob Moorhead and William I. Mayfield met in San Francisco while both were serving as naval officers during the war. Their next meeting came in 1946 in Continental Oil Company’s office in the Hamilton Building, where Johnny was District Geologist, and “Bill” became his assistant, along with Lennart T. Teir (Vice-President, 1947-48). Lennart had joined Continental in 1944. He vividly recalls 17 to 20 wells on report each morning, and weeks at a time spent in the field, hurrying from one well to another.
Some geologists, on entering military service, found employment in fields allied or related to their profession. George Wadsack found a job with John A. Kay. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps, first as Photo Officer Cadet, but wound up commissioned as Surveying Engineer Officer, 16th Geodetic Control Squadron. George’s travels, establishing accurate latitude and Longitude stations from Mexico to Brazil and Africa reached a climax in Arabia, where he met King Ibn Saud.
David Kemp Langford also thought he would be a photo officer, but found himself in armorers school instead. His proficiency at this was eventually rewarded by promotion to Major. While stationed at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, he met his wife, Venus.
George and David both returned to Wichita Falls after the war, the former being hired by Ralph A. Birk at Bridwell Oil Company in 1946. David set his sights on being an independent.
For years before the war, Ralph A. Birk had been addressed as “Colonel”. He was a graduate of Texas A& M, who had maintained a reserve commission. He insisted on being called up for active duty despite objection to his age and physical condition. He was placed in charge of military police for the city of Philadelphia.
Ethel Davis was teaching at Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia, when the wartime need for geologists was at a peak. She was hired by The Texas Company in New York City, and sent to Wichita Falls. Virginia Clair learned to fly before the war, and volunteered her services, ferrying P-38 fighter planes. After the war she worked for a time as a geologist for Reno Oil Company.
A list compiled in 1942 by Murph Purcell denotes the early wartime assignment of twenty-three local geologists and members of the society. Herman Hauptman (Secretary, 1976-77) was serving as an army lieutenant at Fort Sill. Later he would join the 97th Infantry Division in Europe as a staff officer in G-3 section. W. E. McBroom, Jr. was a civilian flying instructor for the Army Air Corps at Stamford, Texas. After the war he would try his hand as a commercial pilot for a time. The list is replete with familiar names, and may be found in society’s files located now in the Oil Information Library.
Our first post-war field trip, held in December, 1946, was led by Mrs. Kemp and Robert Roth. Exposures of the Wichita group were examined in southeast Baylor, southwest Archer, Throckmorton and Shackelford Counties.
In 1947, Samuel P. Ellison, Jr. was District Geologist for the Stanolind Oil Company here. Today, he is the Alexander Deussen Professor of Energy Resources at the University of Texas at Austin.
Our 1946 roster enumerated 76 members. Forty, or 53 percent of the total were major oil company employees. There were sixteen independent geologists (21 percent). The balances were employed by locally owned, or smaller oil companies (14), or service companies (6). An influx of new faces, many of them freshly educated at government expense, swelled our ranks to 131 members in December, 1948. Sixty geologists (46 percent) were employed by major companies, twenty-nine (22 percent) were independent, twenty-one were employed by locally owned, or smaller oil companies, and twenty worked for service organizations such as seismograph or logging companies. Hardin College’s Department of Geology was represented by W. C. “Dub” Hamilton.
It is with this influx of newcomers that this story ends, and a second one begins. At mid-point in our society’s history, our membership became more of a mix of the old and the new, the mature and the immature, the learned and the learner. Today, we owe much to the spirit and professional enthusiasm of our founders, and the determination of those who maintained and led our group through times of economic adversity and patriotic war.
October 21, 1976 David E. Gee
The North Texas Geological Society began its membership caught up in the excitement and endeavor of the post World War II expansion of the domestic petroleum industry. The population of Wichita Falls was about 50,000. There was a housing shortage, and rents were high. Air conditioning on the scale we know it today had not arrived and most downtown offices were equipped with large overhead electric fans to allay the summer’s heat. Heavy brass spittoons were also standard office equipment.
The society’s luncheon meetings were held on the first and third Thursdays of the month in the Texas Room of the Holt Hotel on Eighth Street. Attendance commonly exceeded 100 at these functions, as our ranks were swelled by the expanding staffs of the major oil companies.
The year 1949 found the Hamilton Building occupied by district or division petroleum exploration offices for The Texas Company, Humble, Stanolind, Gulf, Continental, Ohio, Cities Service, Superior, Bay, Warren and Anderson-Prichard. Phillips and Sinclair maintained offices in the Staley Building, Magnolia and Deep Rock in the Wichita National Bank Building, Pure in the Nacol Building, and Shell in the Radio Building on Indiana Avenue.
The Panhandle Oil and Refining Company had is own building on Seventh Street across Travis Street from the Wichita County Court House. Panhandle and Continental both operated refineries on the north side of the Wichita River between town and Sheppard Air Force Base. Who can forget their subtle odor, wafted across the city on a summer night’s breeze? One also risked being suddenly “gassed” by this perfumed at the ball game in Spudder Park when the wind shifted.
James E. Wilson, Jr. headed Shell’s geological staff, which included Joseph w. McDonald (Society President, 1949-50), A. K. Duncan, Beverly McMahon (Vice-President 1952-53), Ed Mathys, and Wichita Sheldon, among others. Wilson was transferred to Denver shortly, and later served as President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (A.A.P.G.) in 1972-73. George Hardison and Herman Hauptman (Secretary, 1976-77), former Shell employees, were busily engaged in consulting.
The Humble office under Tom Petty (President, 1938-39) included senior geologists Virgil Pettigrew (President, 1932-33; Honorary Member, 1974), Robert Roth (President, 1941-42; Honorary Member, 1961), and C. J. Cunningham, a relative newcomer, who transferred in from the Corpus Christi office in 1943. Charles A. “Dutch” Weeth joined this group in the Fall, 1949, as staff geophysicist under Joe Leonard, later succeeding to Leonard’s position under Joe Leonard, later succeeding to Leonard’s position as Division Geophysicist. For Dutch, it was like coming home, since he was born in Clara, Texas, and grew up in the vicinity. John A. Loftis, and W. T. “Bill” Slick, now Senior Vice-Presidents for Exxon in Houston, also worked here during the early 1950’s.
W. Lloyd Haseltine (President, 1945-46) was District Geologist for Magnolia. His staff included Roy Milks, John C. Freeman (President, 1952-53), and in 1950, David J. Cherrington (President, 1959-60). Frequent visitors to the Freeman household during subsequent years were John’s wife’s parents, the A. I. Levorsons of Tulsa. David’s son, Mike is a current member of the society.
The Ohio Oil Company’s geological department under Dan Heninger (President, 1943-44) comprised Leon Gaines, Don Franklin, and Al Giles during 1948. Shortly thereafter, Gaines and Franklin resigned, and Alvin Kollaja, Jack Mothershead, and Paul Giraudin (Vice-President, 1957-58) arrived as replacements. The latter was highly accomplished in wood working, and made the society’s rostrum. A. C. Baker (Treasurer, 1957-58) joined this group in 1951.
H.H. Bradfield was District Geologist for The Texas Company, assisted by senior geologist, Harvard P. Giddings, who later succeeded him. The young staff, mostly newly hired, included James M. Harmon (President, 1956-57), Carl Reutinger (Treasurer, 1972-73), and Robert D. Gunn (President, 1968-69). Reutinger already had a Master’s degree in Geology from Ohio State before entering military service in 1941. Following a course at Harvard, he was commissioned as a statistical officer, and served with the Fifth Air Force in Australia., New Guinea, and the Philippines. He joined The Texas Company as a geologist at Wichita Falls, in 1947.
In these days, Gunn was famous on the basketball court for a flat trajectory jump shot that couldn’t possibly go in, but often did. He served as a pilot during the war, returning to complete work for a degree in geology at the University of Minnesota, before reporting to The Texas Company in 1949.
Under Bradfield’s leadership, and based on his intimate knowledge of the geology, the company was highly successful during the so-called “Grayson County boom” in the early 1950’s.
During 1948-49, the geological department at Continental was expanded under District Geologist Johnny Bob Moorhead, and assistant, W. I. “Bill” Mayfield. Arden E. Kersey, R. F. “Bob” Mathews, G. H. Galney, David E. Gee (President, 1975-76), and R. W. “Ray” Heggland joined the office. Heggland, a graduate of California Institute of Technology, became Vice-President, Exploration, Western Hemisphere for Continental in 1972. Tom Beeson arrived from Shamokin, Pennsylvania to become a member of this staff in 1951.
Papers prepared by Moorhead and Gee on the petroleum geology and stratigraphy of the Forth Worth Basin were presented at the Brownwood, Texas field trip evening meeting of the Abilene Geological Society, November 2, 1950. A growing volume of subsurface well data spurred interest in establishing interregional subsurface correlations of time-rock units, particularly in the Pennsylvania and Permian systems of the Mid-continent area. Over 200 geologists, including many of our members, took part in this trip.
Senior geologists at the Pure Oil Company’s office were Carl Wheeler and Lyman Dennis (President, 1951-52). The former was a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, who first went to work for the Shell Oil Company in the early days, where he was a colleague of Ward C. Bean (President, 1928-29). During the depression in 1933, Wheeler and a fellow employee, Roy A. Grantham, were serving on Shell’s staff Graham, Texas, when they were laid off. Grantham came to Wichita Falls, and with plane table and alidades borrowed from John A. Kay (President, 1934-45; Honorary Member, 1957), founded the Wichita Elevation Service.
H. S. “Gus” Edwards was District Geologist for Stanolind in 1949. His staff included Walter L. Ammon (Treasurer, 1949-50), and Willis Alderman (Treasurer, 1951-52). F. E. “Potsy” Mellot (Vice-President, 1941-42; Honorary Member, 1971) headed Deep Rock’s office, and about 1952, was joined by Joe H. Jones, Jr., now of Vernon, Texas. Forrest H. “Skinny” Williams was the Staley Oil Company’s geologists. Colonel W. T. Knight’s company, Consolidated Oil, employed Joe Hersey as geologist. The firm of Kadane and Sons was represented in the society by Jack E. Kadane, a premier oil finder. Anderson-Prichard’s office in the Hamilton Building was opened by Lennart Teir (Vice-President, 1947-48) in until 1948. Lion Oil Company did not open an office in Wichita Falls until 1952. The original staff included Roy Dickinson (President, 1977-78), Earl A. Baldon, and Joseph A. Belvedere (Treasurer, 1967-68).
James F. Gibbs (President, 1947-48) was geologist in charge at Panhandle in 1949 but was shortly succeeded by Ralph McKinlay (President, 1950-51), for whom the McKinlay (Strawn) field in Clay County was named. Albert W. White was geologist at Fain and McGaha. Albert G. Wells, Jr. (President, 1969-70) was a newcomer serving with Akin and Dimock, independent oil operators. George Dimock maintained membership in the society until moving to Louisiana in 1954. J. W. Akin remains today, one of our most respected members. Wilmer Shirk directed Bay Petroleum Company’s operations.
The Phillips Petroleum Company staff, headed by Harry Brookby, included R. J. Adams, L. E. Mowrer, and H. H. Gilmore (Treasurer, 1958-59). Phillip D. Larson was District Geologist for Cities Service, and Calvin Buhrman (Vice-President, 1953-54) was his assistant.
Hard driving Joe Maucini was District Geologist for The Superior Oil Company, assisted first by David T. Richards, and later by John R. “Jack” Davis, Robert C. Honea (Treasurer, 1954-55), Charles Haworth (Treasurer, 1955-56), and Charles M. Browning, into the mid-1950’s. Davis transferred in from South America, and may be found today, retired in Lime Springs, Iowa.
Gordon Stine, who excelled in mathematics, was a geology graduate of the University of Oklahoma during the depression. He and Joe Cable formed the firm, Cable and Stine, Petroleum Engineers, and pioneered techniques of secondary recovery in North Texas. Gordon’s classmate, W. J. “Bill” Fowler was an independent geologist in 1949, specializing in prospecting from shallow oil on the W. T. Waggoner Ranch.
In these days, Roy Hogan (President, 1972-73) was working for independent operators, Neeld and Hood. Roy was originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father was a cable tool drilling contractor. He graduated in geology from Washington and Lee University before World War II, and worked for Shell in South Texas. As a bomber pilot during the war, he took part in the famous B-24 raid on the Ploesti oil fields.
Many of our members at this time were independent, including Carl T. Anderson, James P. Bowen (President, 1929-30), Jack Caudle of Bowie, Texas, J. Pickens Coleman, who later had much success in Western Canada, Orion A. Daniel, R. T. “Bob” Drake (President, 1955-56; Honorary Member, 1976), Don Kelly, Frank Mort, James N. Nixon, Frank Parsons, Hewlitt A. Russell, then in Graham, Texas, S. Gose Waggoner (President, 1936-37), and A. J. “Ab” Whelan.
Kirby Gee was manager for Schlumberger with offices in the Hamilton Building. He and his associate, Paul Elvington, later formed the Elgen Corporation, one of the forerunners of today’s Dresser – Atlas Division, Dresser Industries, Inc. The North Texas Well Log Service was located in the Staley Building and capably and most pleasantly represented by Betty Jo and June Humphries.
A familiar sight (and sound) making his rounds each weekday morning to oil company offices was Jimmy Maxwell, Sr., Times Oil Editor. His oil page on Sundays was avidly read, not only for its authoritative content, but for humor and clever wit, commonly expressed in the headlines of articles reporting otherwise ordinary oil field statistics. All of us came to know that a headline like “CLABBERED IN CLAY” meant that someone had gotten a dry hole in Clay County.
The inception of the Korean conflict in the summer of 1950 exposed a number of our members with military flying experience to return to active duty. So far as can be recalled, only Ken Bowen, then a young Humble geologist, suffered this interruption to his career. Military service of all kinds was represented in our membership, something many of us preferred to forget.
It had been traditional since the administration of Thornton Davis (President, 1927-28) for the retiring president to sponsor a party for the membership at the end of his term in office. This custom appears to have ended with Lyman Dennis’ party in 1952. It was memorable for the large, noisy crowd, which completely filled the main floor of the old Weeks Park Clubhouse, and for a brief, but bloody exchange on the “schnoz” between two members, done in the finest tradition of our society’s evening meetings.
Our local oil industry was not without its more flamboyant personalities during the early 1950’s. An eyewitness account depicts prominent wildcatter of the day, S. D. “Doug” Johnson, striding ahead across Eighth Street toward the Kemp Hotel Coffee Shop, dictating a letter to his faithful secretary, Pauline, who, with map-laden geologist, Gene C. Van Dyke (Secretary, 1952-53), formed his entourage.
In 1953, the society organized and commenced a major project, which culminated the following year with the publication of three well log cross sections traversing the North Texas area. R. T. Drake was chosen arbitrator of correlations by common consent. The committee for the North-South section, Cotton County, Oklahoma, to Young County, Texas, comprised John C. Freeman and Harvard P. Giddings. W. B. Armstrong and George W. Dimock were contributors.
Two East-West sections were constructed. The committee for the King to Grayson County, Texas, project included Lyman C. Dennis, Raymond K. Mann, Vaughn H. Hubbert, Kenneth E. Oglesby, Carl A. Wheeler, Ethel Davis Tripp, and James L. Deffenbaugh. Contributors were David E. Gee, Lynn L. Harden, and Homer F. Simmons. The Stonewall to Fannin County, Texas, section committee consisted of David E. Gee, Lynn L. Harden, Vaughn M. Hubbert, L. T. Teir, Hewlitt A. Russell, William P. Harvey, and Edward V. Mathys. John A. Kay and Robert J. Adams were contributors.
The society experimented with alternate sites for its noon luncheon meetings, eventually settling in 1955 on the Memorial Room of the Y.M.C.A. Evening meetings were occasionally held at the Texas Electric Service Company auditorium. Distinguished geologists who addressed us during this period included C. W. Tomlinson of Admore, Oklahoma, and M. King Hubbert, Morgan J. Davis, and Michel T. Halbouty of Houston.
In May, 1956, the society organized a two day field trip meeting at Mineral Wells, Texas, dedicated to the study of facies of Canyon and Cisco rocks exposed in the Brazos River area. Previous excursions sponsored by other groups in this general area, and in central Texas, had emphasized Strawn and older formations. Our study commenced at the Strawn-Canyon boundary under the able first day leadership of Robert Roth. The Cisco series was explored on the second day with John A. Kay’s expert guidance. General Chairman of the event was Charles E. Davis (President, 1973-74), then with Gulf Oil Corporation. James M. Harmon, Roy Dickinson, R. A. “Bob” Doak, W. L. “Deb” Pennington, Charles Haworth, W. W. “Buzz” Fauntleroy (President, 1956-57, Mathias “Matt” Gebel, and Irving Donosky staffed the various committees whose hard work insured the success of this meeting.
The petroleum an associated business community of North Texas had little idea of the trying times to come when it celebrated “Oil Progress Week” in late 1956. Upon nomination by a committee of the society consisting of Ashton Crain, John C. Freeman, and John A. Kay, one of our most distinguished members, Charles P. McGaha, was publicly honored for his achievements in the field of oil exploration.
During Ellen Posey Bitgood’s presidency, 1954-55, the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Phillips case resulted in Federal Power Commission regulations eventually fixing the price of natural gas at the well head. After considerable discussion, our society joined in the resolution of the Dallas Geological Society, and others, calling upon appropriate Federal officials, and members of the Texas congressional delegation, to vigorously work for enactment of clarifying and remedial legislation, and maintaining that such regulation would destroy incentive to search for new gas reserves, resulting in less gas to the consumer, and higher prices.
The truth of this prediction and multiple side effects of unrealistically low, controlled prices for energy affected us all. By January, 1955, the society’s membership had grown to 187, and it is believed reached a maximum of 224 members in 1958. Expenditures for domestic petroleum exploration and development peaked in 1956, but decreased by more than 30 percent over the next four years, severely restricting drilling activity. In terms of 1974 dollars, this trend continued until 1971, and its effects were partly manifest in the gradual withdrawal of major oil company personnel and offices from Wichita Falls. Between 1962 and 1968 society membership suffered a 50 percent drop around 100 members.
Closing of exploration offices, and staff reduction affected the entire apparatus our nation utilizes to discover and develop fossil fuels. Independent geologists, especially those newly thrust out on their own, found the problems of economic survival in the cheap energy era difficult. Many of our members were forced into other lines of work. The domestic drilling industry, so essential to the future, was severely dismantled, and its skilled labor force lost in a similar manner.
One of the side effects of price control on natural gas was decrease in demand, and softening of the price paid for crude oil. When American Petrofina (successors to Panhandle) reduced the price substantially below $3.00 per barrel in 1962, a protest was organized under the leadership of O. W. “Buzz” Fautleroy. An empty barrel was set up on a flat bed truck in front of the Eighth Street entrance to the City National Bank where the disgruntled could deposit their unwanted “Fina” credit cards. Buzz will also be remembered by us for his vocal renditions of popular songs, usually delivered towards the closing moments of dances sponsored by the Geologists Wives Club.
The society, and the Wichita Falls Landmens Association, jointly sponsored the establishment, in 1966, of the Wichita Scouting Co-Op, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the purpose of gathering and preserving information dedicated to the purpose of gathering and preserving information on wells drilled for oil and gas in North Texas. This function had previously been performed by the major oil companies. Numerous society members were instrumental in organizing, and have served as officers and directors of this venture, which now operates the Oil Information Library in Hamilton Building.
The first regional meeting of the Southwestern Federation of Geological Societies (later the Southwest Section of A. A. P. G.) was held under the auspices of the North Texas Geological Society at Mineral Wells, Texas, October 22-25, 1958. J. H. Pittinger was General Chairman for the event. John A. Kay was Field Trip Chairman, assisted by Robert Roth, R. T. Drake, and W. W. Wilson (President, 1958-59). The excellent field trip guide book was edited by W. C. “Dub” Hamilton, and contained an extensive bibliography on the Canyon and Strawn series of North Texas compiled by Nance and Barbara Creager, and Forrest H. Muire (Treasurer, 1958-60). Others who played important roles in this successful meeting were Edwin L. Smth, Vice-Chairman, H. J. Fitzgeorge, Program Chairman, Ed L. Runyon, Exhibits, A. C. Baker, Entertainment, and E. W. McCrae (President, 1963-64), Publicity Chairman.
Our regular noon luncheon meetings were shifted to the Gourmet Room of the Marchman Hotel in 1965. Between 1967 and 1972, several stimulating evening meetings planned and presented by society members, produced good turnouts and very lively discussions. Subjects covered included the clinoform of the eastern shelf of the Midland basin, the Matador arch, faulting in Wilbarger County, unconformities in the subsurface Strawn group, the Cambro-Ordovician of Northern Texas, and the geology of the Forth Worth basin. Participants in these presentations include Robert D. Gunn, John C. Freeman, R. C. Choens, R. T. Drake, David E. Gee, Gary E. Henry (President, 1967-68), Carl Reutinger, and John A. Kay.
Following the destruction and replacement of the Kemp Hotel, and the conversion of the Marchman Hotel to a retirement home in 1972, our noon meetings were shifted to the Kemp room of the Downtown Holiday Inn, and reduced to the current one per month, September through May. The latter modification in our format has been applauded by all subsequent holders of the office of Vice-President, our traditional, and constitutionally designated, program chairman.
Our society was host for the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Southwest Section, A. A. P. G., February 7, 8, 9, 1968, and the 18th Annual Meeting, February 29, March 1, 2, 1976. Both meetings were held in Wichita Falls.
Winfield Scott Wallace (President, 1970-71) was General Chairman, and Robert L. Makins (President, 1966-67) Co-Chairman of the 1968 convention. Earl A. Baldon of our society was President of the Southwest Section. The technical program included papers presented by our member, Gary E. Henry, H. H. Bradfield, and John Thorton.
Charles E. Davis was General Chairman for the 1976 convention. An outstanding job was done by George M. Spalding (President, 1960-61) as Chairman of the Entertainment Division. Many of our former and future officers and directors were instrumental in the success of this meeting, including Dewey Bowling (President, 1974-75), J. L. Watkins (Vice President, 1968-69), Marty Ausanka (Secretary, 1974-75), Jeff Puckett (President, 1971-72), Roger Swanner (Secretary, 1972-73), and Ed S. Spragins, Jr. (President, 1976-77). Our member, Robert D. Gunn, was President of Southwest Section. Gunn and David E. Gee presented technical papers at this meeting. The session was highlighted by the presentation of the Southwest Section award for Professional Excellence to John A. Kay, only member of our society to be honored.
In May, 1973, the society established a scholarship endowment fund at Midwestern State University to aid in providing tuition scholarships to deserving students in geology. Subsequently, through donations from various sources, including many of our members, geology scholarships funds have been established in honor of Charles A. Weeth, Robert Roth, R. T. Drake, and John A. Kay. Our member Robert D. Gunn, Ed Harrington, Stanley Rugeley (Treasurer, 1978-79), and the family of E. W. Moran, Jr. (President, 1978-79) have also made significant direct donations to the Department of Geological Sciences for future development. Over the past twenty-five years, the department’s faculty, represented at various times by W. C. Hamilton, Rex Ryan (President, 1962-63), Maynard Stephens, Terrence J. Donovan, and J. L. Watkins, has played an active role in society affairs.
The North Texas Geological Society is extremely proud that one of its members, Robert D. Gunn was elected national president of our parent professional organization, A.A.P.G., in 1977, and is now serving in this capacity for the 1978-79 year. One of his greatest assets is the fact that he was diligent to learn and survive in a professional and business environment characterized by keen competition, yet tempered by mutual respect. This is the essence of the history of our society.
January 20, 1979 David E. Gee
The author is indebted to numerous members of the society for well conceived suggestions and critical reading of the manuscripts. Special thanks are due John A. Kay whose memory of events and constructive comment guided this work. Appreciation is also expressed Betty Gee and Mary Towry for typing the various drafts.
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