OIL IN EARLY WEST VIRGINIA.
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OIL IN EARLY WEST VIRGINIA.
Petroleum has been known to exist in West Virginia since 1859, when the oil region of the State began to receive a large influx of speculators and operators, and the lands immediately went up in price equal to what those lands on Oil Creek, Pa., were fetching. The rebellion, however, greatly retarded operations there, but since the subjugation of armed opposition to the government and the driving out of the guerrillas who infested that region, the boring of wells has recommenced, and there is every prospect that the enterprising men who are there engaged will be fully compensated by the abundant wealth they will realize, and thus discovery and exploration will be stimulated, and the small band of pioneers who first began the development of those vast sources of treasure will ere long grow into a large community of wealthy operators.
The priceless treasure is now being poured forth in undiminished quantity from the wells that have already been bored, and these number few, compared with what we shall see or hear of in the course of the present year, as the further development of the unbounded wealth that underlies the hills and valleys of that State, progresses. That development is, at present, in its infancy, but its growth will be rapid, and before the year 1866 rolls round, scores of adventuresome speculators will count in tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, and many others who now express their disgust at what they term " the great Yankee humbug speculation will come to grief, and bemoan that they had not enterprise enough to secure some of this unctuous treasure.
Parkersburg is the oil metropolis of the West Virginia District. At the junction of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, and connected with the north and west by a branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, it commands all the trade of the West Virginia Valley. It is within easy distance of Marietta, the metropolis of the Ohio district," of all the railway connections of the country, and but thirty-six hours from New York or Chicago. It is a straggling, imperfect unfinished town, which had, in earlier days, been prosperous, but upon which the blight of war had fallen and dried up the sap and vigor. Many rich men live here. How rich men could content themselves to live in a place as this, is a mystery of money-getting that I cannot explain.
The oil princes to use a common phrase do not spend all their wealth here, however. They make their money and hurry away with it, regarding this as a kind of oily Eialto, where good money is to be gathered up and carried to other markets. The class of men who live here are, therefore, unlike the men who ploughed up California and are now ploughing up Colorado. There is very little gambling, no bowie knives, and little of that primitive civilization which disgraced the Pacific coast and made a vigilance committee necessary. We are so near New York and Philadelphia that capitalists can come and see for themselves and return in ten days. The only difficulty is with the guerrillas.
If a man is nervous and not a believer in predestination he had better not venture far beyond the regions of Burning springs. Still this is merely a fear, that looks dismal when read from newspapers in Northern parlors, 'but is laughed at in Western Virginia. In 1861 there was really cause for alarm. In 1862 the guerillas had complete possession of the country, and a man's horse was about as safe as the life of a lamb in a wolf infested forest. Beyond that, however, no danger exists, or has ever existed.
No lives have ever been lost by oil hunters, and but rarely a horse is taken. Guerilla life cannot subsist on this regimen, and a journey from Parkersburg to Burning Springs is as safe as from Philadelphia to Germantown. Even beyond that point, and far on in the rich counties that are now regarded as neutral but dangerous ground, the military authorities are busily engaged in making arrangements for securing rebels and robbers, and in a few weeks Northern capital and enterprise will be permitted to enter
BURNING SPRINGS AND THEREABOUTS.
Although I began this paper by making Parkersburg the centre of the sketch, and, as it were, the base of operations for my West Virginia campaign, the town itself does not lie in what is geologically called the " oil belt." That is to say that no great oil deposits Have been in the country immediately around it. Yet to the north and the south, and the east and the west, we find many good wells and successful enterprises.
Why this plateau should be so barren cannot be accounted for, except as a freak of nature that we must submit to when we wander into these oily mountains and valleys. It should be constantly borne in mind that in dealing with Petroleum we have a science that is entirely new, and that all of our investigations have arrived at no rule by which to determine its nature of origin. I fancy, however, there are very few geologists or men of science among the busy crowds that are seen around Parkersburg. They cling to the Burning Spring as the nucleus of all their speculations. When land is bought the first question is, How far are you from the Burning Spring ? When land is sold, the seller is impressed with the belief that he is in the same belt with the Burning Spring. " Every road leads to Borne," and with the gentlemen in Wirt county, every road leads to the Burning Spring.
So like a true traveller, when I came to Parkersburg, and found all the world pushing to Burning Spring, I chartered a homely and comfortable Bosinante and went on my way along the Elizabeth pike, with the rest of oily mankind. Take the map of Virginia and you will find that in a southern direction from Parkersburg in the adjoining county of Wirt, a small creek empties into the Kanawha river, known as Burning Spring creek. There are a number of other streams in the neighborhood, such as Standing Stone run, Nettle run, Beedy run, Two Bines run, Chestnut run, and others that only make their appearance in the oil company maps. This point, lying in a southerly direction from Oil City, is the heart of the present Virginia oil region, and around it for a radius of fifty miles, embracing the counties of Tyler, Pleasants, Wetzel, Ritchie, Wood, Wirt, Boane and Calhoun, we have what is known as the Western Virginia Oil Territory.
The road was very soft and yielding, and a heavy shower of rain was falling as we rode along the Parkersburg pike. My companion was an old settler, one who had lived there all his life, and a man of mueh intelligence. His home was on the banks of the Kanawha, a few miles from Burning Spring, and he promised to accompany me to Elizabeth, help me ford the river, and send me on my way rejoicing. After leaving the town we pass into a low rolling country and find, for a few miles, the leaves and fields to be as unostentatious as those in Chester county. Very quickly the scene begins to change. Hills that we city people would gladly call mountains, seemed to rise and swell against each other as though in anger, venting their animosity in numerous small and narrow ravines, through which the falling rain kissed the mountain wrath. We were constantly ascending or descending a hill, and at every turn of the road we came to some unaccountable abyss, over which the moss was growing, and down in whose crevice dark streams of greasy water would arise. . Oil men had been here with sticks and divining rods, and wherever there was the odor of gas, or a mere globule upon the water, straightway its value advanced a thousand per cent.
As we approach Elizabeth we cross a very high hill and descend into a plain formed by the Kanawha river. Here we have the first indication that many years ago, when breaking a rock, and endeavoring to sink a salt spring, a stream of greasy water gushed forth, which became ignited and burst into flame, whereupon all the world for twenty miles came to see it, and those who were religious said their prayers, for, according to the Scripture, the world was to be destroyed by fire, and behold nothing was necessary to consummate the Divine decree but the application of a match. However, that generation passed away, and still another generation, until a people came who cared neither for fire nor Scriptures, and "began to offer the farmers large sums for their acres, and to bore for oil. Then the old men told the story of the fire, and, although the site was designated, men have hunted, and bored, and even prayed in vain for the burning stream. In 1860 at least three thousand people were in and around Elizabeth, boring for oil, and endeavoring to develop oil lands. There came a crisis. The price of Petroleum suddenly decreased, until the barrels, as they came from the hands of the cooper, were of more value than the oil that filled them.
Two causes led to this. The world had not learned the uses of Petroleum, and the many surface wells threw forth so many barrels of oil, that the supply was larger than the demand, and the market became* overstocked. This disheartened capitalists, and lands fell. Then came the war. Virginia seceded, and the line of the Ohio became contested ground. McClellan crossed, but his forces were too busy with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to think of protecting the three thousand oil hunters then swarming along the Kanawha. Although there was no organized army of the Confederates in West Virginia, there was nevertheless a body of guerillas who were constantly harassing the country. The result was that a panic ensued. In a week the whole party left. The derricks stood in the field with the half bored well, the oil gushed up and overspread the ground, the houses were torn down for camp fires, and the whole enterprise perished. It is now rising again under the impetus of the great excitement in Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth is an astonished town to day. The people do not know what all this means. Their lands, that were but recently of no value but for sheep-feeding, are in as great a demand as turkeys on thanksgiving day. You will find, on looking at the map, that after leaving the Kanawha, at Parkersburg, we touch it again at Elizabeth. There is no bridge over the river, but we managed to ford it, and, taking the road that leads through the Two Rifles run, pushed directly on, leaving the river behind an clsriking for the headquarters of Burning Spring creek. I could not imagine a more disagreeable day than that on which I made this remarkable journey. The rain was pouring in torrents, a dead, steady, incessant rain, as though Jupiter Pluvius had become weary of this dirty earth, and was determined to give it a thorough drenching.
The run crosses and recrosses the road, and as the rain had swollen it beyond ail recent precedent, we were compelled to ford it at least twenty times, when another mountain arose before us. The road wound around the mountain, and as we came to the summit, far below the Kanawha circled its way, until the eye nould no longer distinguish it from the clouds. Notwithstanding it was November and of all days the most Novemberish) there was something ecstatic in the wild freedom of this gorgeous scenery. Go to West Virginia that you may climb the high hills and bow down before the sublimity of Almighty God. I checked the pace of my patient and homely Rosinante, and, thoughtless of the rain, of the journey that lay beyond, and the many miles I had given myself on the map, surrendered my whole soul to the enrapturing scene. Now that I write these lines far away from the Kanawha, and think of the Burning Spring, its mud and rain, and greasy waters, and eager, avaricious, hungry men, in muddy boots that glimpse of nature rises to the mind and brightens all.
The country was a wild and sterile appearance the banks of the river are often steep and perpendicular, while the valleys are generally narrow, and in many cases there are marshes and swamps running from the base of the hills to the banks of the river. The hills are generally from three to five hundred feet high, often covered with boulders of sandstone rock a heavy growth of timber, in almost all cases, covers the hills from base to summit, but which is rapidly disappearing before the woodman's axe. Evidently, nature has been convulsed and in trouble here at some time, and, judging from the appearance of the broken and shivered rocks, the struggle must have been tremendous.
All along the (Kanawha) river and on the banks of its tributary rivers, we find evidences of the great panic that suddenly strangled the enterprises of 1860. Every few rods we see the black and mouldering derrick and the unfinished well in the ground. The few brave men who remained have made princely fortunes the Rathbone's, Camden's and McFarland's being among the oil princes of this new domain. They made their money by buying these lands at low figures, sinking good wells, and disposing of their purchases to the companies recently formed in New York and Philadelphia.
Around the Burning Springs there are but few wells throwing up oil, and these are not recently developed, but the remnants of wells that have produced as many as one thousand barrels per day, in their time, the gas sending up the oil in a thick, rushing stream as high as the tree tops, so that no tank could hold it, and it rushed out into the river and covered the stream. The old " Eternal Centre " well is eccentric. It was discovered by one of the Rathbone's in 1860, and when struck the finder clapped his hands, and shouted, for he had found, he said, " the eternal centre of the great oil basin." It docs not flow in a stream, but every six hours sends forth a few barrels, making a yield of about twenty or twenty-five barrels a day. The other wells in this vicinity are pumping wells, and some of them reach as high as fifty or a hundred barrels a day. And yet, in justice to those who have spent large sums here, it must be said that when we speak of West Virginia we speak of a business that is in its absolute infancy.
THE PETROLEUM BELTS OF OHIO AND WEST VIRGINIA.
The whole of the State, called West Virginia, comprehends, geologically, the upper, middle and lower carboniferous series of sandstones and shales, in which are interstratified coal—cannel and bituminous limestone, fire clay, and iron ores, of various descriptions, generally rich in quality, and, in some places, abundant in quantity. In West Virginia in every county, in every township, and almost in every farm, coal exists, above or below water level, and iron ores also, The formation is generally very regular, almost entirely undisturbed. Since its first deposition at least, there is no evidence in any place of trappean, or ejected rocks ; no violent action, or extraordinary upheaval evidences can be seen anywhere. The only locality approximating a disturbed condition of the strata is the so termed " oil break," which crosses the Ohio, near Newport, into Virginia, and thence extends, in a southern direction, to Horse Neck and Bull Creek, in Pleasant County to Petroleum, in Wood California, on Hughes river, and Burning Springs Bun, on the Little Kanawha, in Wirt County. The same " break" crosses the Big Kanawha, above Charleston the Guyandotte, and the Tug, and Louisa Fork of the Sandy, where it enters the State of Kentucky. This so called
" oil break" is a simple anticlinal axis of the strata.
The dip of the rocks and shales from the crown of this axis, on both sides of it, varies greatly in different localities. Where it crosses the Ohio Biver, for instance, it forms a gentle curve, shown by the cliffs or ledges of sandstone in the hills both on the Ohio and the Virginia sides of the river. At " Horse Neck" and on the head waters of " Cow Creek" and " Bull Creek," this axis varies but little in form from its appearance on the Ohio. In some places I observed the rocks pitched steep for a short distance, then flattened off again, and thus forming slight irregularities in inclination, but nothing more than is commonly found in coal and other geological formations—nothing extraordinary or remarkable.
At or near to Petroleum, a station on the Parkersburg branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the rocks and shale's, with accompanying coal strata, pitch at a much greater angle than at any other place on this line of anticlinal, but even here there is no evidence of any sudden violent force having been exerted at any particular time from the result of subterranean action, protrusions of trap, volcanic, or other similar agencies, notwithstanding the assertion of some who represent the finding of volcanic matter, such as cinders, scoria pumice, magnetic iron ore, &c. At one point, not far from the station, in a railroad cut, the rocks dip at an angle of some 70°, approaching nearly a vertical position, as they rise the hill ; but even this dip is not a continuous one, for the same rocks, or at least the upper portion of them, are found curving and flattening off further west, and soon partake of a horizontal position.
On the eastern side of the axis the rocks have a more gentle dip, but stronger than that exhibited at " Bull Creek" and on the Ohio. In all these, so much talked of contortions and upheavals, attributed by some to Plutonic action, I could not see anything remarkably extraordinary or wonderfully strange, though it may appear strange to others that I could not detect this phenomena there. The truth is, such appearances are every day sights, common objects creating no sensation in our anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania, and the twisting and turnings, contortions and convulsions of the coal strata in Schuylkill, Lehigh, Luzerne, and other counties bordering on the anthracite formation of this State, are far more grand, far more extraordinary and wonderful, if you please, than anything of the kind known or existing in West Virginia, the so called " oil break " included.
In the early history of coal mining in Pennsylvania, the outcroppings of the strata were first attacked with pick and shovel. Nature had marked out the place for the drifts by showing in the ravines and on the road sides some little dark washings from the veins. "Where these did not appear it was supposed that no coal existed, and in numerous instances has it been the case, where one farm known to contain the black diamonds, because nature had developed them there, was said to be a coal tract, while an adjoining farm, less fortunate in being nature's favorite in having its coal exposed, was denominated a barren concern, notwithstanding a rail fence only separated the pieces of land.
Some such like ideas seem to creep into the minds of oil men in West Virginia. That the " break" is the only place where Petroleum exists, and that none can be found outside, or on either side of the anticlinal line before described. Nature sometimes exhibits on the surface the indications of the treasure beneath. The uplifting of the strata along the line of the Virginia anticlinal, gives an outlet for the gas which accompanies the Petroleum through the crevices in the rocks and shales, which of course are more numerous and probably larger where this so called disturbance is seen, and hence oil springs, gas springs and burning springs are found along the line of this broken unlifted strata, and here and there on this anticlinal clusters of oil wells are located, many of them, in the beginning, when the veins were first struck, " over flowed" or M flowed" large quantities of oil, some of them are " pumping" it by the hundred barrels daily. The anticlinal line is the line to locate upon—the " break," on both sides of which mother earth is barren of oil so say the " break" enthusiasts. But, methinks nature has not been selfish in her oleagenous gifts with us no more than she was in coal.
The line fence was no barrier to the continuation of a coal vein from one farm to another in Pennsylvania, and this anticlinal line in Virginia will be found to be the mere outlet or gas escape from reservoirs of oil outside of this so called break. When wells have been bored and the gas and oil springs penetrated, away off, from this line of demarkation, new outlets will be crealed, by which the gas will escape from its pent up position in the cracks and crevices, joints and cleavages in the strata beneath the surface, which will relieve, according to the number of them, the channels through which it now passes to find an outlet to the surface, through the openings formed by nature or those by man, made with the auger in boring for oil, on this line of anticlinal, the line of attraction for " oil men.
It is said that the sun crossing the line causes the equinoctial storm, but methinks there are other causes for the rain about that season of the year than that of the sun crossing an imaginary line. Other causes, too, will hereafter be found to account for the presence of oil along the antecline than the mere fact of the existence of this anticlinal axis in West Virginia being the source and only place of supply of this oil the so called " oil break." This inclination of the strata as seen at Petroleum continues in a southern direction to Hughes' river, where, in the vicinity of California, the axis is well developed, but with less pitch of the roads. At Burning springs, a tributary of the Little Kanawha, still further south, the dip decreases, and the antecline, instead of " ridge" shape, shows a greatly more flattened appearance. In the valley of this run there were formerly two burning springs, from which it took its name, and here around and contiguous to the site of the springs, which are a mile apart, and designated by the name of " upper " and " lower" burning spring the earth has been penetrated with the auger from a hundred to three or four hundred feet with circular holes four inches in diameter, and very many of them.
Some of these wells were sunk about the time the revolt took place in the South, and were, in consequence of that unhappy event, abandoned by those who constructed them. Probably many of them died on the battlefield, some on this side and some on that, fighting against each other, and these holes are monuments left to show that once they toiled in harmony. Other wells are in active operation and yielding quantities of oil. Very few of them, however, are bored as deep as they should be. The surface oil is comparatively exhausted, and it becomes necessary in this locality at least to penetrate rocks that have not yet been touched with the drill. Soring is a legitimate business there, and mother earth must submit to be bored a little more yet, ere she will yield greater supplies of this much sought after article of absolute commercial necessity Petroleum.
THE OIL DISTRICT.
Taking Petroleum Station on the N. W. Virginia Railway (the Parkersburg Branch of the Baltimore & Ohio R. R.,) as a centre, the oil regions, of "West Virginia as at present explored are each embraced within a circle, with a radius of about twenty miles, and within Wood, Pleasants, Ritchie and Wirt counties. Petroleum Station is situate about 17 miles in a direct line from Parkersburg, although it is 23 miles by the Railroad. This section abounds with a large number of creeks which empty into the Ohio, Little Kanawha and Hughes Rivers, and it is on the banks of these creeks or runs that the oil wells have been bored. The following is a list of them. Middle Island creek, McKinis Fork, Green's run, French creek, McElroy run, Horse Neck, Cow, Calf and Bull creeks, Carpenter run, Ira run, Big run, Briscoe run and Lee creek, all of which are feeders of and empty into the Ohio river. Worthington creek, Taggart's creek, Stilwell creek, Walker's creek, State creek, Turtle run, Lee's run, Creanis run, Ridge run, Standing Stone creek, Tucker's creek, Riffles run, Reedy creek, Dye run, Bridge run, Chesnut run, Sanderson's run, Nettle run, Sulphur Spring creek, Burning Spring creek, Spring creek, East Fork, Little Fork, West Fork, Honey run, 1st and 2nd Two run, Katy's run, Straight creek, Richard's run, Ann run, Yellow creek and Big Root run are feeders of the Little Kanawha river. Leisure run, Goose creek, Middle Island run and Flint run are feeders of the Hughes River between its junction with the Little Kanawha and where it branches off into two forks. Buffalo run, Addes run, Brushy Fork, Dotson's run and Cabin creek empty into the North Fork Hughes river. McFarland's run, Dickinson's run, Indian creek, Leather Bark creek, Grass creek and Spruce creek empty into the South Fork Hughes river.
Throughout the district the geological features are remarkable. On the summit of the highest mountains as well as in the depths of the lowest valleys, distinct and marked traces of a most violent upheaval are distinguishable. The rocks are in some places almost vertical. It is generally believed that oil is confined to the break, as the upheaval in West Virginia is called, but whether such is the case, it is impossible to say but it is an established fact, that it can be found at any point along the line of the " break " where wells are bored to a proper depth. In many places along this line of upheaval, oil and gaseous compounds issue spontaneously from the earth, from fractured rocks, the beds of streams and mountain sides.
The greatest number of fissures and crevices are fond, where the most violent geological disturbance has taken place, and these fissures must of necessity be filled with the precious distillation where oil abounds. Rogers, the celebrated geologist in a report of his survey of Virginia, 1339-40 states that the most abundant artesian salt wells, with their almost invariable concomitants, the liquid and gaseous hydro-carbons, were found situate upon, or nearly co-incident with, the artificial archings of the strata. It is not our intention to discuss the origin of Petroleum or to speculate upon the source from which the supply is derived in other localities, but we state incidentally that in West Virginia it is clearly furnished by the carboniferous formations.
This oil section being scattered over a considerable extent of territory, many persons from the east who visit it, see but little of it. They spend a few days there and see the operations on two or three of the creeks and report, on their return home, that they have traversed the whole of the Oil Region, whereas they have seen but a very small part of it. To make themselves thoroughly familiar with the vast resources of this region, they should spend weeks and visit the wells that have been and are being bored on the various creeks and runs that we have mentioned. At most seasons of the year the roads are tolerably good, considering the broken country through which they run.
By thus extending their observation they will see enough to convince them of the vast depositories of wealth which there lie hidden beneath the hills and valleys, in the reservoirs which nature has provided to receive these wonderful treasures to illuminate and lubricate the world.
CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY.
The oil region of West Virginia is comparatively undeveloped. About the commencement of the war, a determined spirit of speculation began to manifest itself. Speculators and operators swarmed into the country, and prices for lands went up to Oil Creek figures. A few successful borings were made 'at the Burning Springs, on the Little Kanawha, and on Oil Run, near the Northwestern Virginia Railroad, at Petroleum Station. The Rathbones, at Burning Springs, Wirt county, struck a flowing well, which yielded, probably, one thousand barrels per day. Quite a number of wells were commenced ; but the war waxing warmer, and the " sword " being " mightier " than the drill, the borers skedaddled, and guerrillas, by the way of divertissement between the acts of rapine and blood, " raised the devil " generally by forcing the carbureted hydrogen, which escapes so freely at the Burning Springs as to give origin to the name and opening the oil tanks*upon the water, literally " set the river on fire," lighting up the dark valley with its deeply wooded banks, as the burning fluid flowed luridly past ! These amusements lasted during the first summer of the rebellion, but more active work being on hand for the marauding pyrotechnists, the scene shifted, and comparative peace once more reigned in the valley of the Little Kanawha and Hughes River.
Adverture some oil speculators, however, did not return. Wells abandoned at a moment's notice, in a half finished state have continued to emit their gaseous contents undisturbed, almost up to the present writing. Those wells which had penetrated the oil receptacles, and commenced yielding the oleagenous treasure, were not permitted to lie idle ; but as soon as the bushwhackers vamosed, the owners returned, and, with little interruption, have continued to work them up to the present time. There being no longer apprehension of danger, the abandoned wells are now to be bored through, and the whole oil territory fully developed. The high price of oil, with the continued failure of the Pennsylvania wells, have contributed to the renewal of operations in this region. That a vast field of wealth is opening up to enterprising capitalists, there cannot be a reasonable doubt. Oil exists here in really wonderful abundance. Parties now sink wells with almost the certainty of procuring oil as in other localities wells are sunk for water, in the fissures of rocks, in the sand and mud, from which it can be disengaged by slight manipulation, or stirring with a stick. It is found oozing from rocks, and beneath the surface at variable depths from one to three hundred feet. I mention the latter as the extreme depth to which, any well has been sunk in this district.
The ordinary depth of wells is from one hundred and twenty, or even less, to two hundred and fifty. In but few instances have wells been carried to a "greater depth. What do these facts teach us ? That all the oil heretofore procured has been little more than the surface supply ! The true oil receptacles lie far deeper, and he who drives, by force of steam, the chisel to a proper depth, will be abundantly rewarded for his industry and labor.
PETROLEUM NO NEW DISCOVERY.
The evidence of oil in Western Virginia is no new discovery. Jesse Hughes, a famous Indian hunter and borderer, from whom the Hughes River derives its name, had occasion, in more than one instance, to test the healing properties of oil found floating upon its waters. Certain it is, those who composed the next wave in the advancing tide of civilization the rustic pioneer, who, by the force of his brawny arms let sunlight, into the forest, reared his cabin and planted his crop of corn, knew the value of Petroleum, or " rock," 11 bank," and " sand " oil, as they variously called it.
It grew into popular use, and no cabin was secure without a supply of " rock " and " goose ile," which medicaments were regarded as essential to the proper physical culture development of the rising generation. Oil grew into general use, and soon became an article of traffic. Of those who settled near the forks of Hughes River, at an early day, was George S. Lemon, from Bath County, Virginia. He was a tough lemon to squeeze, either for bears or pugilists, for he was a man of herculean frame and great vigor. Even now in his seventy-eighth year, and stricken with palsy, he shows what he was in his better days. When Mr. Lemon first emigrated to Hughes River the business of gathering oil for traffic was little practiced ; but, trading to Parkersburg and Marietta, he found there was a ready market for it, and commenced collecting it for sale abroad. Those who had heretofore gathered, did it for neigborhood traflic. The plan adopted by Lemon, as I have derived from himself and family, was, to commence about the 1st September, when the streams were low, and the oil supposed to be nearer the surface,) and prosecute the work until about November
THE DISTRICT ABOUND PETROLEUM.
About one and a half miles due north of Petroleum in Ritchie County, are the wells of a Wheeling company —fourteen in active operation. This company, which had commenced operations near Wheeling some five or six years ago, in the distillation of hydro-carbon oil from bituminous shale, had their attention directed hitherward by the discovery of coal, which, it was believed would render a greater percentage of oil than that which the company were working near Triadelphia, Ohio County, Virginia. About this period, the discovery of oil was made on the Alleghany, in Pennsylvania. A sagacious and practical member of the firm at once concluded that oil could be obtained in the valley of the Little Kanawha by boring, as its existence in springs had been known for years. Accordingly he selected a site on a small stream called Oil Run, purchased an hundred or more acres, and leased a thousand more. Operations were speedily commenced, and oil oh ! soon crowned their efforts. The experiment was a success, and other wells were speedily sunk. The " fever," as the greasy inspiration is popularly called, rapidly spread.
Lands went up and wells went down with amazing haste. An " ancient and pitch like smell " overspread the country. Had the rebellion not then broken out, who can tell but that the valley of the Kanawha may long ere this literally have overflowed with oil. The " fever " yielded under the excessive depletion inflicted by the sword. Speculators skedaddled, guerrillas swarmed around the Burning Springs, and, by way of amusement, applied the torch to the carbureted hydrogen gas which escapes so freely at all these springs, and by its highly inflammable character has given the name to the celebrated Burning Springs of Wirt county. Oil stock went down during the first three years of the war, if the rebellion did not but guerrillas having tired of their work, and the world needing light and lubrication, operations in the oil region have again been resumed, and the spirit of boring has again become manifest. It may be proper here to remark that the wells near this place have not been materially interrupted during the war. Those in Wirt County have suffered the most, the destruction having been general and indiscriminate. A new impetus has been given to the oil business by the discovery of oil in large quantities on Horse Neck and Bull Creek, about fifteen miles from this point toward the Ohio river.
YIELD OF WELLS.
I have already stated that the company operating here have fourteen wells yielding oil. They are all in the valley of Oil Run, and within a distance of one mile. They are all worked by a simple contrivance, driven by a single engine. The arrangement is creditable to tbe ingenuity of Mr. Hamlin, a member and chief manager of the company. The wells have a depth of from seventy-five to two hundred and thirty feet, thus showing that the oil is not confined to a horizontal receptacle, as commonly believed. The oil from all these wells, with the exception perhaps, of two or three, is a heavy, dark, green fluid, with a specific gravity of about forty degrees. The other wells yield a lighter oil.
The former are finely adapted for lubricating purposes, the latter for illuminating use ; but as the company have a contract with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company to take all their oil, the product of their several wells are run into a tank and subjected to a temperature sufficient to cause them freely to mix. They are brought to a specific gravity of about fifty degrees, and barrelled for shipment. The monthly yield from these wells is over two hundred barrels but every well might be made to yield five times as much as now produced, by sinking deeper These wells have yielded over four hundred thousand barrels per annum for many years.
THE PROCESS OF BORING.
The process of boring is simple. A tall derrick is erected over the spot selected for boring. The derrick supports the tackle, &c, for drilling. A small engine, with much of the machinery improvised on the spot, drives the descending chisel, & The drilling and paction is a simple contrivance. The drill is about two feet in length, with a blunt flattened end about twenty-five feet of iron shaft weighing over four hundred pounds. The whole is secured to a stout cable, which, passing over a windlass, is worked by the engine, and controlled by one hand, who is relieved in turn, the two acting alternately as engineer and assistant.
I had forgotten to say that, in commencing operations, an iron tube, in joints of about ten feet in length, is let down into the earth until it rests upon rock. The drill then goes to work, and as it descends into the varied stratification, the tube follows. The drill having been driven to its length ten feet is withdrawn, and a sand-pump let down to remove the accumulated debris at the bottom of the well. The force pump is a copper tube, about eight feet in length, its diameter slightly less than the well, and supplied at the lower end with a valve opening upward. It brings up the contents of the well very thoroughly, which are examined with much anxiety by parties interested.
ROCK OIL, ITS GEOLOGICAL RELATION AND DISTRIBUTION.
My investigations have been directed chiefly to the oil of the coal rocks, and I propose in this paper to give some of my results. The rocks of Western Virginia and South Western Ohio may be divided into three classes, those which are almost entirely horizontal, those which have a dip of from fifteen to forty feet in the mile, and those which are broken and dislocated by an uplift. The strata of the Ohio River at Parkersburg up the Little Kanawha to within a few miles of the great oil wells are very nearly horizontal and probably contain few fissures, except such as may have been produced by the drying and shrinking of the rocks. There is not to my knowledge a single productive well in that region, although a large number of wells have been bored. The compact and broken clay shales and other strata rest upon the deep bituminous strata and furnish no spaces through which the oil vapor could rise.
Probably no such vapor is formed On the Great Kanawha River, at Pomeroy and vicinity on the Ohio River, in Athens, Morgan, Noble, Washington and other counties in Ohio, located on the coal measures, the rocks have more or less dip, and contain, as a probable result of the uplifting force, many fissures. These counties all furnish oil—Noble and Washington in considerable quantities. The salt wells on the Great Kanawha, at Pomeroy on the Ohio, on the Hocking and Muskingum Rivers and on Duck Creek, revealed more or less oil. But it is in regions where the strata have been the most disturbed and where the fissures are the most numerous, that the most oil is found.
I have recently traced a most interesting line of uplift and dislocation from the eastern part of Washington County, Ohio, to beyond the great oil wells on the Little Kanawha River. The direction of it is nearly north and south. ' It makes an angle of about 40° with the general course of the Alleghany Mountains. As seen in Ohio it presents a well marked anticlinal axis but with the eastern slope more steep than the western. At the anticlinal line are gas and oil springs. Fifteen or twenty miles further south, near Petroleum, Ritchie Co., Va., the uplifting force has been greater, and the strata have been broken apart and now stand at an angle of about 50°. These strata contain seams of cannel and bituminous coal, and are altogether new to me. A few miles further south and on the line of this geological disturbance we find, near where the Hughes River crosses the uplift, many new and interesting strata, which have been lifted up from considerable depths.
Between this point and the Little Kanawha River the anticlinal line is easily traced, the rocks inclining to the east and to the west at annules varying from 28 Q to 8°. The rocks are well exposed on the head of Standing Stone Creek, and at other points.
COAL OIL IN WEST VIRGINIA.
With the oil excitement at its height in Pennsylvania, of course it was not long before the coal oil business of West Virginia began to teem with busy operators, and enterprising capitalists diligently engaged in collecting the rich stores of Petroleum which were discovered in her territory. The first operators in Virginia were J. T. Johnston & Co., from near Pittsburg. These parties commenced their operations on Hughes river, Wii't county, in November, 1859. They bored a number of wells with varying success. Soon after Messrs. Hazlet & Co., of Wheeling, began to operate in the vicinity of Petroleum, a small town and station named from the product of the region,) on the line of the North-Western Virginia Railroad.
These gentlemen were more successful than the parties last named and this same vicinity has remained one of the most prolific portions of the oil regions of this State. We are at this time unable to give accurately the yearly yield of this region, yet we know that it has been and is still very great. * In the spring of 1860, Mr. T. D. Karnes leased, from Mr. John V. Rathbone, an old well which, in former years, had been bored for salt purposes. This well was situated on the Kanawha river, in Wirt county, eight miles above the town of Elizabeth, the county seat. In the hands of Mr. Karnes it proved very productive, yielding from fifteen hundred to two thousand gallons daily.
The oil now commanded a good price in the market, and it became manifest that this region (known as Burning Spring, from a gas spring in the, neighborhood) was certain to reward the labors of operators. The attention of many was immediately turned to this district, and when, in December 1860, Mr. J. C. Rathbone bored a well, and pumped from it daily from eight to ten thousand gallons of oil, the excitement became great. There were now three districts producing abundant supplies of Petroleum in West Virginia. Men of all classes—mechanics, lawyers, laborers of all kinds—turned their feet in this direction, and soon became actively engaged in the business of procuring oil. All the land in the immediate vicinity of the working or producing wells, and much at a distance from them, was leased or purchased by capitalists eager to embark in the business. Buildings in the neighborhood, which had rejoiced in the name of hotels or inns, were speedily crowded to overflowing; quiet farm houses, hitherto humble and unpretending dwellings, were forced from a quiet obscurity to a bustling notoriety. The farms of J. C.and J. V. Bathbone soon became a city of huts.
Nothing could be seen but great piles of barrels, derricks, scaffolds, and cisterns ; nothing heard but the puff of the steam engine, and the click, click, of the drill. West Virginia now began to rejoice over her newly developed sources of wealth, and to look forward to a bright future. The " peculiar institution. " of Virginia had hitherto excluded many men from her limits. Indeed, so well understood had this fact become, that many of her best men, although not generally opposed to it, regretted the domination of this power here. Yet all now indulged the hope that the day was dawning which should see, before its noon, the wooded hills and neglected valleys of West Virginia doffing their rugged garb, and putting on the robes of a thorough and expanded cultivation ; and, as preliminary to this, they hailed with a welcome the coming of those who, reared and trained in the practice of active and honorable industry, should give their labor and substance to the development of the resources of their State. But these hopes were of short duration.
The active efforts of those who had moved to the new field of labor were only well begun when the hostile shots were fired upon Fort Sumpter. There were heroes sweating and delving in the oil regions as well as elsewhere. The promises of wealth which the oil regions had made, and which now seemed about to be realized, were forgotten. Princely fortunes lost their charms when an imperilled country called her sons to her defence, and now those who but recently came to these localities to pursue the avocations of peace, departed to practice the arts of war. Operations on any extensive scale were now impracticable and even if splendid results had not been impossible on account of a scarcity of laborers, the murderous raids of guerrillas would have completed what the other began.
A few who remained and endeavored to perpetuate what had been so well commenced, labored on, notwithstanding the new difficulties. Yet the predatory incursions of guerrilla bands made any large shipments of oil almost impossible. Nevertheless, despite all the obstacles thus interposed, and which were understood fully only by those who have been compelled to contend against them, there was produced at the one point of Burning Spring alone, in the year 1861, four million gallons of oil. In the year 1862, three millions two hundred thousand gallons were sent to market from this same point. The product of 1863 does not, probably, exceed two millions of gallons.
When, however, it is remembered that this large amount of oil was produced in one section alone of not over one mile square, and under circumstances the most unfavorable to production, the reader may form some idea of what might be done under circumstances that would deserve to be called auspicious. It must not be supposed that, in estimating the oil interest of West Virginia, the small tract or point just named embraces the entire oil-producing district of the State. Explorations made for the discovery of oil in West Virginia, it must be remembered, had only begun three years since. The force of circumstances concentrated the efforts of explorers in the territory around this district. Oil was first discovered here in abundant quantities. People naturally flocked to this point, and before curiosity and investigation had been able to exhaust the object of attraction here, and turn to search for new fields, the so-called secession of Virginia, with all its baneful evils, fell like a blight upon the land. While the supply from this district was diminished to some extent, other regions, unexplored, some of which are now proving as productive, remained untouched.
These territories, from which enterprise was banished by the war, remained, with all their mineral and oleaginous wealth, unrevealed, quietly waiting the time when, without the din and perils of war, the men of toil could enter the subterraneous chambers, and bring forth their treasures to the world. This period has at last arrived. Steadily the rebellious forces have been pushed and driven back, until this portion of West Virginia, at least, can be said to be entirely free from them. Men begin to feel again that they are safe and secure under the old government, and with this feeling comes the revival of business. But few days have elapsed since the development of an entirely new oil district. A few months since, Messrs.
J. B. Blair & Co., began operating on Bull Creek, and at the depth of 160 feet, on the 16th of March, they struck a vein of oil which has continued flowing at the rate of a thousand barrels of oil per day since. A curious fact connected with the oil beds here is the following : Commencing at Burning Spring, on the Kanawha river, we trace a belt or upheaving of the rock, causing a vein of rock some 20 feet in width to stand perpendicular on its edge, and running north one degree east, crossing Hughes river at the oil wells already spoken of ; also crossing the railroad near the oil wells of Hazlet & Co., and crossing Bull creek at the wells first spoken of, Messrs. J. B. Blair & Co.'s thence on and crossing the Ohio river, the oil district appearing to follow this upheaving or rather this upheaving appearing to designate where oil exists.
All along this line may be found gas or burning springs. As these gas springs are an excellent indication of oil, it may be safely said that oil will be discovered the entire length of this belt, thus giving West Virginia almost treble the amount of oil territory to that of Pennsylvania. Already borings have commenced on and all along this line ; probably there will not be less than one hundred wells sunk this season at different points, yet undeveloped, between Burning Spring and the Ohio river. That many will be successful cannot be doubted. Professor Bodgers, in an able article on the history of Petroleum, brought out last July, believes the great basin to bo near the Ohio river in this State. Indeed, the large yield of the wells on Bull creek, five miles from the Ohio river, recently discovered^ would seem to be proof of this assertion. It is not intended here to discuss the theory of the origin of Petroleum nor yet its composition, or the gravity of the several oils obtained in West Virginia. In regard to the latter, suffice to say they differ little from the Pennsylvania oils, a very able report of which we have from Professor J. B. Lesley, just published. Indeed, these great oil bearing districts differ but little in any respect, both being hilly, clayey soil, well watered, and with an abundance of timber.
It will be observed that the yield of Petroleum here during the year 1863 is less than former years. This, however, cannot be taken as an index of the real productiveness of the region ; it may be said this was all that was brought to market. In May last, the Kathbone district was, together with all the apparatus, burned and entirely destroyed by the rebel forces under General Jones. Twenty thousand barrels of oil were burned with it. The losses were heavy, and, of course, were severely felt, both in material destroyed and time spent in re-building had these disasters been averted, the yield would have been equal to former years. We rejoice to believe that the day is now come when, in peace and without hinderance, West Virginia will be permitted to demonstrate the true extent and richness of her oil districts. The wise and energetic administration of the affairs of the State is beginning even now to tell in its behalf.
Oil is brought to Parkersburg, the general oil market of the State, from Burning Spring during the spring and fall, by flatboats on the Kanawha river, at a cost of seventy-five cents per barrel : other seasons when the river is not navigable, it is wagoned at a cost of two dollars per barrel. It is well to mention here that a bill has recently passed the Virginia Legislature for the improvement of this river. A company has already been formed, sufficient stock subscribed, and we may expect that soon the Kanawha will be navigable all the year. From Hughes river and Petroleum districts the oil is hauled to points on the North-Western Virginia Railroad, at a cost of twenty-five to fifty cents per barrel, and from Bull Creek it is hauled to the Ohio river at a cost of fifty cents per barrel.
GEOLOGICAL & MLNERALOGICAL REPORT ON PETROLEUM LANDS SITUATED IN THE STATES OF OHIO AND W VIRGINIA.
On the line of the " great upheaval ridge," otherwise called the " Oil Break," an anticlinal axis of the stratification, running in a north and south direction through the States of Ohio and West Virginia, the most productive and profitable oil wells have been bored. Many celebrated localities for Petroleum, such as Little Muskingum and Duck creek in Washington County, Ohio ; and Bull creek and Horse Neck, in Pleasants; Petroleum and Goose creeks, in Ritchie and Hughes river and Burning Springs run, in Wirt Counties, in West Virginia, through which this " Oil Break" extends, are noted places for flowing and pumping oil wells, and previous to the commencement of operations in boring for oil, this line of anticlinal was remarkable for the numerous gas and oil springs, found in places along it, some of which could be ignited readily and would burn continuously.
These surface " signs" as they are termed, led " oil men" to these particular spots to bore, and success generally has been the result. The first tract of " oil land," a part of the property I am desired to report upon, is on " Rawson's" run and tributaries, a mile south from " Horse Neck," where the famous " Gilfillen" well was bored, which flowed so copiously. " Rawson's" run is a most important location. On it the celebrated " Tack" well is located, with others of note belonging to the "American Oil Company," " Sharp and McKinney," Campbell, & These profitable oil wells, which are yielding princely revenues to their owners, are adjoining the " Maston Farm," and on it, the selfsame surface evidence for Petroleum exists, as those seen at the places where these productive wells have been bored, and the same as those seen on " Horse Neck" previously ; and moreover, this tract of land, embraces the same geological characteristics and topographical contour as the others, and lies immediately on the same " Oil Break," the same anticlinal axis of the strata, which crosses Horse Neck at the Gilfillen well and extends in a direct line through this " Maston Farm" which is only a short mile from Horse Neck.
The same causes produce the same results generally, and there is no reason to doubt the existence of immense supplies of Petroleum underneath the " Maston Farm." Rawson's run, on which the Maston property lies, is a branch of " Horse Neck run," which is a tributary of Bull creek. These runs are about five miles from the Ohio river, and is the first greatly important Petroleum locality after crossing the Ohio in Virginia. It is in Pleasants County. The shipping wharf is at the mouth of Bull creek. The Maston property presents a large amount of boring territory, the ravines are deep cut and the ridges deep sided. The tract is well timbered with various useful kinds of wood. There is on it a fine growth of white oak, which will become valuable when the property has been fully developed for oil, in the manufacture of barrels and tanks, for which purposes, this kind of timber is adapted.
The land, when cleared, makes good farming land and yields good crops, But its surface value is small in comparison to the worth of the Petroleum beneath, which may be drawn off from the cavities and crevices in the rocks below ; within the boundary lines of this tract of land, and in it is a vein of coal five feet thick, which supplies all the wells around Horse Neck with fuel. The next location, to which my attention was directed, was to other Petroleum lands situated on tributaries of" Fifteen Mile" creek, an affluent of the Little Muskingum river, in "Washington County in the State of Ohio, and lying on the same "Great Oil Break" above spoken of The " Burning Spring tract" is situated on a branch of Mill Fork, a tributary of Fifteen Mile creek. The name of this tract is taken from an oil spring of large size, one of the most extensive I know of, which burns from several jets of gas from below, and apparently constantly and regularly supplied. The celebrated " Paw-paw" oil region lies north of the territory I am reporting upon. The anticlinal axis, or so termed " Oil Break," crosses these tracts of land. The hills here are of the same geological formation as they are further south along the line of this " Oil Break " the strata consists of sand stones and shales, with limestone, iron ore and bituminous coal veins intervening.
One coal vein in this part of the country is seven feet thick in places where it has been opened. Lubricating oil, the most valuable in the market, worth twice as much as illuminating, on account of its scarcity, will in my opinion be reached on " Mill Fork," where the lands I am speaking of are located, by boring a moderate depth. The illuminating oils, of course will require deeper wells to tap them. The greatly productive oil localities of " Cow Bun" and " Newell's Bun," where wells are yielding largely, are south of the places referred to in this report. Hence the farms above named are admirably situated in all respects, geologically and otherwise, and promise to become, when properly developed, important productive and profitable territory.
Professor Peter F. Stout, Geologist, of Philadelphia, says of a tract on Carpenter's Run Upon Carpenter's Run I observed many indications of oil existents. The bubbling of gas in the stream at various points, saponaceous or oily matter following the gaseous exhalations, pebbles discolored, evidences of the existence of latent oil. Following this stream to the westernmost boundary of the property, I saw many other surface indications. The geological disturbances here were observable. Upon the other streams the same indications were prevalent. I am of the opinion that it will prove good Oil Territory. I was favorably impressed with the Estate, as well in regard to locality as to development.
FROM WAYNE COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA.
I was at Catlettsburg, Ky., yesterday, and met one of the three Massachusetts men here prospecting for oil. There has not been much excitement on the subject, for the reason, I suppose, that it is not safe for the men to go up the country. There is plenty of oil, I believe up the Big Sandy river. At least, there are abundant indications of oil, and two springs that will burn ! One called the Burning Springs, is thirty seven miles from the mouth of the Sandy, in Wayne county, near the Logan county line. I have never seen it; but heard it talked of and described many times. Not at all times, but most of the year, the spring will burn if set on fire, and has been known to burn for several weeks. Before the war, several wells were sunk on the Kentucky side of the river, but before anything was realized, the secesh excitement became so warm that men could not operate with safety.
The strangers, who have lately been here, have decided not to try to do anything until spring. They express themselves satisfied with the prospect. Commencing ten miles from the mouth of the Sandy, and extending to forty-seven miles from the month on both forks, the surface indications of oil are found, and in every place where they have bored, it is made certain that there is oil. Cannel and bituminous coal is also plenty. There is good prospect that a railroad will be built on the Virginia side of the Sandy, forty miles up into a marvellously rich coal region. When that is commenced, the oil wells will be numerous enough.
SALE OF CONFISCATED REBEL FARMS
Recently a sale was had at public auction of a fine lot of farms in the adjoining county, belonging to rebels before the war. A large number of loyal men of that county, who were never in the United States service, but have been arrested and sent to Richmond, or otherwise maltreated, brought suits for damages against prominent rebels who have abandoned their homes here, and gone into Dixie for personal Safety, or are in the rebel army. Judgment was easily obtained, and the real estate of the absent rebels has been seized to be sold and pay the damages. I know of no better investment for capital in West Virginia.
Certainly nothing could be safer or more sure to be profitable. There are about thirty of these farms, and 20,000 acres of land. One tract of 1465 acres belonged to the late rebel General Jenkins, is situated on the Ohio, and is nearly all very beautiful rich meadow land. Some of the farms are in a section called Terry's Valley, finely located, rich soil, with young orchards, and good roads to the Ohio river. Terry's Valley is fifteen miles from the mouth of the Gruyandotte river on the Ohio, by the turnpike, and ten miles to the nearest point on the Ohio. Nearly all these farms, now referred to, were kept in a high state of cultivation, and produced abundantly. I have often admired that part of the country, and wondered why northerners who occasionally get into these pleasant places have not more of them got in there. This property belongs to wealthy and aristocratic citizens of West Virginia who owned negroes, despised " mudsills," and felt that it was their duty to go off with their brethren of the east into rebellion. What personal property they could carry with them they secured, intending to come back and occupy their real estate when they had conquered the federal government, and made it safe to do so. But it is now all securely in the possession of others.
WEST VIRGINIA AS A PLACE TO LIVE IN
I could not conscientiously recommend any one to come here now to live, although investments in farms will surely be profitable. The trouble now, chiefly, is, that the guerrillas have broken up their organization, if they ever had any, and scattered into small squads to rob and steal. A schoolmistress, passing along a lonely road not far from Ceredo, was robbed of all her money, the amount she had just received for three months' teaching, by three raffians. A few nights ago three men went to the house of a quiet farmer, one mile from Ceredo, and robbed him of a few dollars, all he had, and boots and some clothing. Some of the citizens keep arms in their houses, and intend to use them if visited in that way. One of these shot one of a gang of six one night not long ago, but became frightened himself, and ran off, giving the robbers a chance to take their wounded companion away.
He has not been troubled since. Gen. Crook, commanding the Department of West Virginia, has issued a circular notifying the people that they must organize for their own protection, and recommends them to hunt the bushwhackers and kill them. Governor Boreman offers to furnish arms and ammunition. It will be done, and the guerrillas, will decrease every week, I hope.
WEST VIRGINIA AND OHIO OIL REGION.
The editor of the Boston Commercial Bulletin, the best authority in New England on Petroleum and mining matters, has just made a horseback tour through the Ohio oil regions, and refers to them as follows The richness of this portion of the oil producing country running through West Virginia and southwestern Ohio, is attracting the attention of capitalists. The great oil belt of Ohio in particular, which has received but little attention in comparison with other localities, gives unmistakable indications of an immense deposit of oleaginous wealth. We have recently made a thorough personal examination of a large portion of the Ohio regions in company with an early explorer and also an old pioneer, who years ago was wont to travel over them with axe and rifle on hunting expeditions long before the oil springs were thought to be anything more than a curiosity and in comparing the indications and external appearances as well as present developments with those of Venango county, Pa., which we visited last fall, we shall not be surprised at even richer developments here than those of that now noted country.
"It is an established fact that the Ohio oil is of more than double the value of Pennsylvania, owing to its superior quality and purity, while the large deposits of coal, on the oil lands renders fuel literally, cheap as dirt. We met during our excursion, two or three representatives of Boston capitalists, who, with that caution which belongs to our merchants, had gone out to see for themselves the character, position and probable value of the property before making investments. Besides the satisfactory tests showing the presence of oil, and the quality of that obtained from the wells already sunk, those who purchase in this locality now will probably be able to buy either of the original owner or first purchaser, while the Pennsylvania region farms have changed hands so often that there is but little chance at this time of obtaining any that are not worthless, except at fabulous prices.
LAND TITLES IN WEST VIRGINIA
Among the subjects which ought to require the strictest attention, from persons who are about to invest in the stock of oil companies, there is one matter of the most vital importance, which in the headlong anxiety which exists to make money, is very generally overlooked. In ordinary transactions, which are connected with transfers of real estate, or interests in it, no sane man would pay a dollar upon any bargain, unless by the advice of a good lawyer or convey answer, that the title was good, and that he was acquiring something which he could hold. To buy a law suit is not a popular method of investment, and hence the property owner, before parting with his money, takes the best advice. In this city the business of conveyancing has become a strict methodical science. Before a lawyer or a first class conveyancer will pass a title, he requires to be satisfied on many points. Astute conveyancers frequently find difficulties about past transfers, and trouble is given to obtain releases from parties who are supposed to have nominal interests, or proof is required that certain persons who have held contingent claims during their lives are actually dead.
Should all these matters prove satisfactory, the lawyer or conveyancer is prepared to " pass the title," the money is paid, and the new owner enters upon his purchase under the belief that his title is indefeasible. There is no description of real estate which requires more precaution, care and attention in the purchase than oil property, and no man should take hold of any leases in West Virginia without having had them thoroughly investigated. The titles', especially in Western Virginia, are mostly very defective, and leases, in a great many cases, have been taken up by mere boys, who did not know how a lease had to be legally made, who in addition to this have made up descriptions of the leased lands in such a shape, that when one comes out and compares the laws with the leases, he finds everything wrong and worthless. A law firm in this city, whose advertisement may be found on another page, has therefore, established a branch office at Parkersburg, for the purpose of investigating titles, drawing and executing deeds, etc.
A VISIT TO THE OIL REGIONS OF WEST VIRGINIA.
The Little Kanawha Valley In arranging my tour through the oil regions as the representative of the Press it occurred to me that, as West Virginia presented more romantic and peculiar features than any other part of King Petroleum's new and marvellously extending domain, it would be well to bend my steps thitherward. So I found myself in the cabin of a cosy Ohio steamer, sluggishly steaming along the narrow and long river that separates Ohio from Virginia. It was a cold November day, but we managed to coax enough sunshine out of the leaden skies to make our trip rather pleasant. It was in the morning when we left Wheeling, and the night was far advanced when we reached Parkersburg.
A reconnoitering party reported that there was neither room nor entertainment for man in the town, and we were content to pass the night in our little cubby holed state rooms, As the boat returned before sunrise, we were driven on shore by a pertinacious clerk—sleepy, sullen and hungry and disposed to be resentful towards the falling rain. I should certainly recommend Parkersburg to any gentleman whose propensities are amphibious. The delightful uncertainty as to whether we were on land or water, and the ingenuity with which every deceptive pool was scanned, would have been charming to philosophic men. We were not philosophers, who had huddled around the stove in the barroom of the Swann House and looked at the barkeeper deprecatingly, as men who had neither house nor home, and, therefore, were in the condition of uninvited guests or poor relations. We were nothing but poor oil hunters, who came merely to get rich. We had heard of the many feasts, and the great good things that Petroleum was giving his subjects, and we came as crumb-hunters. Where so much was given there might be something to spare, and what is the use of working for a living when we can prosper by our wits I believe this was the feeling of a majority of all who splashed through the mud and groped their way to the hotel. One of them was a sight-seeing gentleman all the way from England, who carried with him a number of old fashioned trunks, and, not being in the oil business, felt disposed to be cross.
We became friends, for I had neither oil stocks nor oil lands, and no interest in King Petroleum beyond the bright, golden, dazzling light that brightens up this page as I write. So we felt the sympathy of petulance, and the vengeance bestowed upon ill natured domestics and tardy waiting men, was sublime. My English friend gave us a dissertation upon coffee that astonished the breakfast-table, and when, after rejecting four cups, he expressed a profane willingness to go down into the kitchen and make it himself, the money-changers and speculators of Parkersburg began to feel that there was one of the number who could not be tempted into an uncomplaining allegiance to the new regime. I gave that Englishman my love, and when he told me through two weary hours, about the hounds of Yorkshire and the many virtues possessed by his cousin, the Lord of Koastbeef, I felt that my self-denial and long suffering found a slight return for his frankness and energy
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