Object: Oil Sales Kit

2014_2_1

2014.2.1
Oil Sales Kit
Yuba Oil and Refining Company
American
Nacogdoches, Texas
ca.1922
Materials: Glass, Cloth

This object is an oil sales kit from Yuba Oil and Refining Company based in Nacogdoches, Texas. The kit is made up of several glass tubes that would have held various samples of oil and grease to be shown to potential buyers. The twelve long vials would have held the oil samples while the five shorter vials would have held the grease.

Early Oil Fields

Early Oil Fields

Oil in Texas has a long history and it originated in Nacogdoches. As early as 1790, grease that was on the surface of the Nacogdoches fields was used to oil axles of wagons that moved across the Spanish Trail. It was even used as a treatment for ailments like rheumatism, skin eruptions, cuts and bruises. In 1859, Lynis T Barrett began the first attempt to drill a well. However, the Civil War interrupted his work and he had to wait until after his service in the Confederate Army to begin the Melrose Petroleum Company. In the end, the company failed from lack of profits and the area was abandoned. From that point until the 1890s, five different companies drilled wells and only two made enough profits to last.

By the early 1890s oil wells were beginning to use pipelines and other transportation to take oil to newly operating refineries. The first of these was Lubricating Oil Company in Bayou Visitador. By 1918, Yuba Oil and Refining Company was created and owned by Mrs. P. K. Rideout. It began its operations in 1920 and was only in business for about ten years. The Yuba Company was located in Nacogdoches, Texas and was connected by a pipeline to Oil Springs.

Photo of Spindletop

Photo of Spindletop

The most well-known oil discovery in Texas was known as Spindletop and was found near Beaumont in Jefferson County. On January 10, 1901, a geyser reaching 150 feet height and releasing 100,000 barrels a day erupted from a drill site. Texas oil boomed and the surrounding country grew overnight as workers came to gain their share in the discovery. It was not long before Texas was known as a giant in the oil business and even destroyed John D. Rockefeller’s monopoly on it.

Earlier oil discoveries and the larger Spindletop boom all contributed to a growth in the Texan oil industry. Companies like Exxon, Texaco, and Gulf Oil (which was later bought by Chevron) all founded their businesses from Texan oil discoveries. The oil industry brought life to small town areas in Texas and contributed to innovations such as automobiles, airplanes, electronics and other high tech-fields.[Briana Miano, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Readings:

Burrough, Bryan. The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of The Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes. New York, New York: Penguin Press, 2009.

Rundell, Walter. Early Texas Oil: A Photographic History, 1866-1936. College Station, Texas: A&M University Press, 1977.

Spellman, Paul N. Spindletop Boom Days. College Station, Texas: A&M University Press, 2001. 

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