Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

Cable Tool Drilling and the Klingler Family of Pennsylvania

Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

Cable Tool Drilling and the Klingler Family of Pennsylvania

Article excerpt

When I began to write this rambling piece on cable tool drilling, I planned to write a complete description of the drilling operations, the equipment used, and how it was used. However, I soon realized that I had only been an observer and not a participant and that my knowledge was too sketchy and second hand. The story would fill a good-sized volume. So I decided to write about the Klinglers and the part they played in the development of the petroleum industry. The story of Titusville and the Drake well is largely from Paul Giddens, Early Days of Oil.1 The rest is from memory and Dad's and my papers. This was written for Eugene L. (Jr.), George S. and James lTl Klingler.

My father once told me that the first sound I heard when I was born in the farmhouse in Mariasville was very likely the sound of a cable tool drilling rig that was drilling a gas well about 100 yards away I grew up in an oil and gas producing area in western Pennsylvania. My father, his two brothers, and sister's husband were involved in cable tool drilling, so that I had an interest in it that stayed with me and continues to this day.

The production of petroleum is thought by some to have started with the Drake well in Titusville in 1859. However, for an untold number of years the Indians had skimmed oil from the surface of streams and ponds. Later, oil was skimmed by early settlers in the area. It was used only as medicine.

About the year 1850, Samuel Iffier of Pittsburgh bottled petroleum, which was considered a contaminant, in his father's salt wells near Tarentum, Pa. It was sold as a medicine and it was claimed that it would cure rheumatism, gout, and neuralgia, cause the lame to walk, and the blind to see. Unable to sell all of it as medicine, about 1850 he devised a distillation process, producing carbon oil, equivalent to kerosene. This carbon oil replaced coal oil used in lamps, made from coal, and sperm oil which was becoming scarce. Sales took off, demand was greater than the supply and the price increased. The market was ready for the Drake well in 1859.

George H. Bissel, a lawyer, and partner, Jonathan G. Eveleth, bought a farm with oil springs about two miles from Titusville, and organized the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company They hired Edwin Drake, an outof-work railroad conductor, to go to Titusville and look over the property. They probably selected Drake as he had a free pass on the railroad.

Drake reported favorably and was instructed to drill for oil. Drake hired William Smith, and experienced salt well driller from Tarentum, who furnished the necessary drilling tools, assembled the necessary equipment, and erected a derrick. On 27 August 1859 they struck oil and the rest is history From most accounts the oil industry started right then in Titusville, but the 183 Encyclopedia Americana,2 reports large scale production in India before that time. The same article on petroleum does not mention Pennsylvania.

George Howard Klingler's Early Years

My father, George Howard Klingler, was born 24 January 1875, 28 years after the Drake well, on a farm near Mariasville, Pa., the youngest in a family of four boys and two girls. I know very little about his boyhood other than he finished the sixth grade in school, which was all that was provided. He lived the life of a farm boy, growing up in very primitive conditions. My grandfather's farm was in an area of small farms, wooded, rocky, and hilly Making a living was difficult.

He worked for a time as a barber in his brother Joseph's barbershop. He must have worked long enough to learn the trade, as he cut my hair until we moved to Emlenton where I went to the sixth grade.

By the time my father was 19 years old the oil play had moved south and west from Titusville3 to Venango, Clarion, and Butler counties in Pennsylvania, and western New York, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky The oil industry was a godsend to the young men of the area. …

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