In 1917, the Tyndall-Wyoming Oil Company’s No. 1 Hogg well discovered oil south of Houston and ended a streak of dry holes dating back to 1901 – when former Texas Governor James S. “Big Jim” Hogg first thought oil might be there and leased the land. Hogg, the Lone Star State’s 20th governor, would die in 1906 and not see the latest Texas drilling boom he helped launch. But the Hogg family would benefit from his unwavering belief in finding oil in region with a geology similar to the already famous “Lucas Gusher.”

West Columbia Texas oilfield derricks

A drilling boom resulted in the West Columbia oilfield reaching its annual peak production of 12.5 million barrels of oil a few years after its discovery in 1917.

Tyndall-Wyoming Oil completed its No. 1 Hogg well  50 miles south of Houston. Far to the east, a 1901 discovery at Spindletop launched the modern petroleum industry. A decade later wildcatters became interested in Gov. Hogg’s original lease south of Houston. Many would pursue opportunities in the increasingly prolific West Columbia oilfield of Brazoria County.

On September 7, 1917, the Tyndall-Wyoming Oil Company completed a well on the land leased by Gov. Hogg in 1901. Although the Hogg No. 1 well was a small producer, when the Hogg No. 2 well came in at 600 barrels of oil a day in January 1918, speculators rushed to lease nearby acreage.

Governor James Stephen "Big Jim" Hogg

Governor James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg (1851 -1906) was the first Texas governor to be born in Texas. His oil investment paid off a decade after his death.

The Hogg wells ended a succession of more than 20 dry holes dating back to 1901 – when Gov. Hogg leased 4,600 acres for $30,000. Hogg, who served as governor from 1887 to 1891, believed the land would one day yield an abundance of oil. The two Tyndall-Wyoming Oil Company wells were part of the giant West Columbia oilfield. The 20-square-mile field  yielded more than 119,000 barrels of oil in 1918 alone.

Newspaper advertisements appeared across Texas. Many included $10 per share stock promotions enticing investment in the West Columbia oilfield – with a promise to pay out 75 percent of any net earnings to shareholders. Many of the region’s new and inexperienced exploration companies would not survive in the highly competitive Texas oil patch (see Lucky Jim Oil Company).

Fortunately for his family, Gov. Hogg had stipulated in his will that the mineral rights should not be sold for 15 years after his death.

Busy street in West Columbia, Texas, during oil boom 1920s.

The Texas Company (later Texaco) was among companies that found success in the 20-square-mile oilfield in Brazoria County. The field yielded more than 119,000 barrels of oil in 1918 alone.

At its drilling peak, most wildcatters tried and failed in the crowded West Columbia oilfield. As operating and lease costs rose, most ventures did not succeed in raising enough capital. South Texas “poor boy” operations could not compete with larger companies. which could absorb costs of dry holes and continue drilling. The Texas Company (later Texaco) – after drilling several dry holes in the West Columbia field – in July 1920 brought in the Abrams No. 1 well, which produced 26,500 barrels a day for six weeks. Also see Sour Lake produces Texaco.

The West Columbia field, 50 miles southwest of Houston, “was the youngest of the first rank salt dome oilfields of the Texas-Louisiana coastal region, and at present is the most productive of these fields,” according to the 1921 Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. The West Columbia field reached its peak annual production – 12.5 million barrels of oil – the same year.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2020 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Governor Hogg’s Texas Oil Wells.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://www.aoghs.org/petroleum-pioneers/women-oilfield-roustabouts. Last Updated: September 15, 2020. Original Published Date: June 9, 2016.

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