Clipped From The Olean Democrat

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VOL. IV. CLEAN, THE FIRST OIL MAN. THE MFE AND STRUGGLES OF COJL. E. I« DRAKE. Dying an Obfect of Cnarity* Wnlle Bringing WeaHfe to Thousands. Within a comparatively short time the great petroleum industry of this country has assumed such vast proportions, and has added so much to its wealth, that a history of the struggles of the first successful oil producer will always be a matter oi absorbing interest. Men are always found in every country ready to appropriate the honors that justly belong to others. Columbus was robbed of his just reward, of discovering America, for a time;and the attempi to rob Shakespeare of his well^earnec honors in the literary world, was not ' too base an act for men in our own time. Now that Colonel E. L. Drake the first successful producer of petroleum, is dead, whose portrait we give elsewhere, there are persons so lost to all sense o'f justice as to make the attempt to rob his memory of the justly earned fame. Their efforts will be without their cause is most unworthy. It was by the merest accident that Col. Drake's attention was first directed to the value of petroleum in 1858. Jonathan Watson, in company with Dr. F. D. Brewer, now of Westfield, N. Y., and others, were interested in lumbering They Owned a large tract of land on Oil Creek, on which an oil spring was located. They often noticed the oi flowing and running to waste on the surface of the water. There was a general impression among the lumber men that the oil was of the .same nature as the "Senaka Oil," which had long before been gathered by the Indians and sold as a medicine. Olc Nat Carey, a local character, had made considerable money (years be fore Jonathan Watson had settled in the neighborhood) by selling the oil as a cure for rheumatism and other ills. All this was made known to Mr. Watison, who was much interest ·ed in the spring, and imagined tha he had a treasure that would some day be a source of income. To ascer tain its true value, Mr. Watson took a bottle of the oil with him when in 1854 he made a visit to Hartford, Oonn^ his old home. Among others to whom he showed the oil was a »lebrated chemist, Prof. Bull, who had been Mr. Watson's Sunday schoo Superintendent many years before. business, he returned to New and made a report. His convictions were that the oil was very that it was under the surface in quantities, and that the way to it was to dnll a well. The firm his report and concluded to send again to tho West, as it was called, and gave him $1,200 to well down with. A suitable derrick had to be studied out, tools bad invented, changed and perfected, the $1,200 was gone before the was begun. Col. Drake having kept his employers informed of the progress and the exhaustion of his funds; of the company came out, and satisfied tirnself that the money judiciously expended,considering the many embarrassments, promised send the Colonel some money on return home. The company kept their word, and $1,200 more was This last instalment, after a few months, was exhausted, and yet well was not down more than or forty feet. The whole idea considered so supremely ridiculous that it was with the gfeatest he could get assistance to prosecute the work. In July, 1859, he the services of an old salt borer William A, Smith, and his two without whose aid; probably the would have been abandoned. Long and vexatious delays f in prosecuting the work, the hole tilling with water and the earth ing in. In this extremity the ity of fDrake came useful, and procured an iron tube sufficient reach the rock, thus shutting off water and preventiug any further caving in. Had Drake thought patetning this mode of casing he could have made a fortune ing the profits of the Eoberts Company. The pipe was driven feet before the rock was reached. They kept on at work notwithstanding the fact that the money exhausted, that is, the $2,400 raised the Seneca Oil Company, for by name was the company known, although Messrs. Eveleth Bissel were the principal stockholders. they kept at work, aided by Brewer, Mr.'Watson, Mr. Fleming and others. This aid was not in shape of charity but a loan, for Drake was a man of pluck and sensibilities, and would not accept chanty from any one. The three men quit working August 29th sundown, the system of working night turns being the creation of later day.

Clipped from
  1. The Olean Democrat,
  2. 17 Jul 1883, Tue,
  3. Page 1

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