1865 - 1873. Five items pertaining to the first American oil boom in Pennsylvania: 1. ALS, March 5 1865, to Corporal M. W. Van Amber concerning oil wells in Pennsylvania: "Oil on the Brain". 2. The letter, dated July 23rd, 1865 and signed "Gene", describes the astonishing activity in Pithole. 3. Ca. 1860. Shipping Oil -- Story Farm. Stereocard. 4. Ca. 1873. Advertising card for Oil Well Supplies at Geo. Davis, Compliments of Webster Wagon Company, Moundsville, West Va. 5. 1869. 1869 Phillips Petroleum Stockholders Notice of Election of Trustee.
1. ALS, to Corporal M. W. Van Amber concerning oil wells in Pennsylvania: "Oil on the Brain": Signed letter from 'Libbie M. T.' dated March 4th 1865, Watertown, to a Civil War corporal in Washington DC. The Drake Well, drilled in 1859 along the banks of Oil Creek, Venango County PA, was the first commercial oil well in the country, spawning an oil rush to the area. The writer describes the interest in the Pennsylvania oil in her home town: "I presume you have heard about the oil wells in Pennsylvania. There is a man not far from here that put in one hundred dollars share and then sold the share for one hundred twenty thousand dollars. There is a good many here that has go the Oil on the brain, and I think Father has for he talks of selling out." Folded, 5 x 8" lined paper, with stamped envelope dated March 5 1865, Watertown, addressed to Corporal M. W. Van Amber, 10th NY Art. Washington DC. Very good condition.
2. "I can see more than fifty Derricks from here. I went down last eve to see the Island Well, it flows all of the time. I wish you could see it, it is a sight and if I stay here this Winter I will send for you and you shall see what their (sic) is in Oil dom (sic)." In January of 1865 two massive oil strikes by the Frazier and the Twin Wells transformed a quiet western Pennsylvania farm into the largest oil boomtown in American history. Pithole became the home of the first commercial oil well in the US and of the world's first oil pipeline. Oil production hit 6,000 barrels per day and the population swelled to 20,000 by Christmas.
The letter, dated July 23rd, 1865 and signed "Gene", describes the astonishing activity in Pithole and the hopes of the writer and other family members to establish a hotel there: "Our house is not quite ready, but we have to take what we can. We could have five hundred (guests) if we could keep them (and) get from ten to twelve Dollars per Week for Board". Gene, writing to his wife, asks her to send letters "direct to G. E. Graves, Pleasant Ville P. A. ... their (sic) is no Post Office here ..." Folded, 5 x 8". Cream lined writing paper. Very good condition.
3. Ca. 1860. Shipping Oil -- Story Farm. Stereocard.
For a beautiful silk dress plus $30,000 Mrs. William Story sold the oil producing Story Farm (Venango County, PA)-- the Farm went on to produce millions of dollars in oil over its almost one hundred years in operation. Its name was changed to the Columbia Farm, a joint stock company called the Columbia Oil Company was formed in 1861, and a young Andrew Carnegie became an early investor in it. The stereocard shows many barrels of oil piled along the shore of a river (probably Oil Creek) awaiting shipping. With the caption: '2800 Shipping Oil - Story Farm'. Yellow card stock, with 'American Scenery' printed at the right and left margins. 7 x 3 1/2 Very good condition.
4. Ca. 1873. Advertising card for Oil Well Supplies at Geo. Davis, Compliments of Webster Wagon Company, Moundsville, West Va.
Lithographed oval trade card for the Webster Wagon Company, a West Virginia wagon maker supplying the local oil industry, depicting a charming young girl dressed in flowered dress and white lace trimmed hat and gloves. With advertising copy on the verso, an illustration of a Webster wagon, and a stamp for Geo. Davis' Oil Well Supplies. 3 x 4". Very good condition.
5. 1869. 1869 Phillips Petroleum Stockholders Notice of Election of Trustees
Early printed letterhead announcement to stockholders of Phillips Petroleum Company, 62 Liberty Street, New York, dated March 20, 1869. Announcing a meeting on April 20th in New York, and signed in print R. C. Root, Secretary. 5 1/4 x 8 1/4. [With] A list of proposed Trustees (which includes R. C. Root) and a list of Inspectors of Election. Dated April 20th, 1869. 3 1/4 x 5". Very good condition.
R. C. Root was the publisher of the earliest map (Map Of The Oil District Venango, Crawford & Warren Counties, Pennsylvania) of the Oil District, printed in 1864, which shows the individual operating wells all along Oil Creek. Phillips & Co is shown in two locations, including at the Tarr Farm and at the extreme right side of the map. There was a William Phillips who started as a driller of salt wells, but noticed an oil slick on Oil Creek near the Downing Farm, and so eventually drilled two successful wells, both shown on the 1864 R. C. Root map. Item #18586