In Moonshine Well at Humble and Demonstration Is Remarkable. INTEREST IS INTENSECharles E. Barrett Declares That the Greatest of All Fields Is Discovered – Fine Oilin Quantities.
Published 10:26 am, Thursday, May 18, 2017
This story ran in the Chronicle on Nov. 7, 1904. Excerpts follow.
The drill in the Moonshine well at Humble is being sent on down in spite of the positively asserted fact that oil in great quantities had been encountered.
Operators who watched the demonstration this morning were convinced that a great field had been marked on the map, but the field manager for the company is quoted as saying that the demonstration “didn’t amount to much.”
Very early Saturday morning a message in cipher reached Houston from the man in charge of the rig. Translated the telegram is said to have asserted that oil had been encountered and instructions were asked. Meantime both pumps were set full force, driving slush and water into the well.
Operators who watched the demonstration this morning described it as remarkable. In spite of the fact that the drill is going down and great quantities of heavy mud are being forced into the well the stream is gushing up heavy with the finest product of oil known to this section of the state. The fluid is spreading over the ground.
“You can’t exaggerate the situation,” declared Mr. C. E. Barrett, through whose individual efforts the field has been developed. “They’ve got oil and in great quantities, of the finest kind. In spite of all their efforts it’s rising from the ground and spreading over the pools. It bubbles up with great force and the pumps are working hard against a great resistance. The field is in.”
Excitement on the ground is intense. Already a tank is being constructed and the Granberry well is expected to come in at any moment. The tank is being constructed in a gully. Dams are being thrown up and the natural course of the water is being changed at a point above.
In the opinion of Mr. Barrett the field at Humble will be greater than Spindle Top ever was. The quality of oil is better and it is believed that a gusher has been encountered.
The Moonshine well is owned by Shappe Bros., neither of whom is in Houston. It is 400 feet from the Barrett well and forms a triangle with the Granberry-Stail prospect. The driller, Mr. Young, was engaged by Mr. Klester in drilling the well at Cross Timbers that didn’t come in.
Work on the well has been going on for a month without interruption. Little was given out relative to the well, and even now the drillers and managers keep their secrets to themselves. It was stated this morning that the drill had been twisted off, but later this was denied. The well is said to be close to 1000 feet deep. Until oil was struck little attention was paid the prospect.
The force demonstrated this morning seems to indicate that, should the well be turned loose it would spout over the derrick in a great stream. It is declared that in spite of every effort to hold the oil down and conceal the fact that the field is in that land is selling at $8000 an acre.
What Mr. Barrett Says.
“They have oil in the Moonshine well and it is a gusher if they would turn it loose,” he declared. “I have spent over $14,000 exploiting the field and now it is in. We have the greatest thing in Texas and within a short distance of Houston. The oil is the best and the quantity is the greatest.
“On Sunday I sold an eighth of an acre of land at Humble for $1000. This morning I could have gotten $1500 for the same strip. Land is selling at $8500 an acre and the boom is on. My store and all my stock is for sale. We have the oil, and I’ll be too busy to attend to business here now.
“My well is coming in soon and we have the greatest of indications. You simply can’t exaggerate the conditions as they exist. We have the greatest thing in Texas within a few miles of Houston.
“The demonstration at the Moonshine well this morning was immense. In spite of all the slush and oil they were pumping into the well, the oil bubbled out in great quantities and the thing seems certain.
“Operators who watched the showing declared that in their opinion the well would go 10,000 barrels a day. The pumps are working with all powers, and you can tell by watching them that they are against a great resistance.
“No one needs tell what the discovery means to Houston. We have found oil and that of the finest quality in the greatest amount right here in Harris county and comparatively close to the city.”
The Work of Building Tanks.
The work of building tanks commended this morning, and it seems probable that all attempts at secrecy will be abandoned within the week. A gully has been dammed off and the course of the water changed.
It is said that the Granberry-Stail well will be brought in before many hours have passed and that arrangements have all been made. Great secrecy about operations in this prospect also has been demonstrated.
A reporter for The Chronicle attempted to interview Mr. Granberry this morning, but was met with a cold reception.
It is asserted by experts that three wells will be brought in at Humble this week. The three anticipated are the Moonshine, Barrett and Granberry-Stail prospects. As stated, the Moonshine is already as good as there.
The Granberry drill is, as asserted, almost through the rock and the Barrett drill is in about the same position. Work on the latter prospect was delayed over Sunday on account of trouble with the drill sent to the city for Saturday night. It re-commended this morning. The rock had been penetrated sixteen feet and seems heavy with oil that had seeped through the formation.
Great Excitement on the Field.
Those who returned from the Humble oil field this morning report the most intense excitement. Prices are going skyward and great amounts of property are changing hands.
The situation is said to be remarkable and the boom seems to give promise of rivaling that of Beaumont in the palmy days. Any who are willing to sell seems able to secure their own prices.
Hundreds are visiting the field, and this morning the train was crowded with interested parties. Automobiles and carriages were in great demand and the road from Houston was crowded with vehicles.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, Barrett started drilling at a site near what’s now Farm Road 1960. Others followed, including the Moonshine Oil Company of Walter Sharp, Ed Prather and Howard R. Hughes. The first gusher blew on Jan. 9, 1905, according to the association’s website. A tent community became known as Moonshine Hill.
“By March 1905 thirty-one wells in the field were producing an estimated total of 87,775 barrels daily, and some 10,000 people resided at the townsite, where stores, hotels, boardinghouses, saloons, and livery stables were in operation,” the association says.
The field saw three booms: in 1905, 1914 and 1929. The last hit a peak production of 650,000 barrels a month. By the 1980s, the field producing a small amount of oil and gas.
The Humble area continued attracting attention of wildcatters. On Jan. 9, 1905, this front-page item appeared.
Humble, Texas, Jan. 9.
– The Beatty oil well No. 2 came in this afternoon with a capacity of between 10,000 and 15,000 barrels per day. The well was allowed to gush for a half hour or more and sent forth a beautiful stream of pure oil.
It is the finest well yet developed in the Humble field and the oil men here are very much elated.
This well is situated just 100 yards east of the Beatty No. 1, which was abandoned a few weeks ago on account of the water encountered. Beatty No. 2 has been drilling just sixteen days, and the workmen were withdrawing the casing when it began to gush forth the oil.
Hundreds of people viewed the scene and much enthusiasm was aroused.