of Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX
“Don’t Cut My Tomato” / By : Bill Swearingen
I was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on Saturday afternoon, July 26, 1941
to Bill and Hilda Marie (Williams) SWEARINGEN ( b.6-Oct.-1919) . Bill
was from Texas and grew up in Oil Towns across Texas. His dad, William
Richard SWEARINGEN (b. 16-Jan-1879) , for whom I am named, grew up in
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas and got into the Oil Business about
1900. He became a Drilling Contractor and owned several Drilling Rigs
before his retirement after WW2. Daddy Billy, as us grandkids called Wm.
R., got married in Corsicana in July 10, 1904 to the Miss Mary Elizabeth
RUSH ( b. 21-April-1878) of Clio, Barbour County, Alabama. They were
married at the First Methodist Church in Corsicana, TX . He moved the
LEE Rig to Spindletop in 1902 and shortly after he bought the Rig from
Mr. LEE and began a career that would last 45 years.
Daddy Billy and Mamie SWEARINGEN moved to Beaumont where they drilled
for about 6 months, then off to Sour Lake, TX, and then onto Pelly
(Baytown) and back to Beaumont, and on to San Antonio. It was in San
Antonio that he heard about drilling opportunities in New Mexico,
Territory. They packed up their two rigs and headed out to El Paso by
train and then on by wagon to Artesia, NM. Their first child, Wave was
born August 5, 1905. She was named for Dr. HECK’s 18 year old daughter,
Barbara Wave HECK. Their second child, Wyline, was born in Corsicana on
28-April-1907 and their third child, Bernice Mae was born 23-Feb-1910 in
On one of their return drilling trips to Beaumont, their last child, a
son, was born. William Paul SWEARINGEN born Dec. 12, 1914 and grew up in
the Oil Field Camps. William Paul was named for his dad and his dad’s
brother, Paul. Before Bill graduated from Uvalde High School, young Bill
had mastered ALL the skills required to operate a drilling rig. This
included : Boiler man, Roustabout, Rough Neck, Floor Man, Lead Tongue,
Derrick Man, Driller and Tool Pusher – the BOSS of the whole business.
These skills would later come in handy.
Bill graduated from Uvalde High School in 1932 and went on to the
University of Texas at Austin where he graduated with a Bachelor’s
Degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1936. After Bill graduated from High
School, his folks moved back to San Antonio. Bill had planned to go into
business with his dad after graduation from U.T., so he had no interest
in talking with the Interviewer, Jimmy GIBBONS from The Texas Company
from New Orleans, Louisiana. There was a long line of 20 or 30 new P.Eng.
grads waiting to be interviewed. When asked by a classmate if Bill would
be interviewed, he said NO, he had a job lined up. But when Bill came
back to the P.Eng. Lab in the afternoon, the line was down to 2 grads
and Bill became #3 in line.
Bill decided to get in line and see what the offers included. He was
relaxed as he already had a job, so he talked freely with Mr. GIBBONS
and told him of his training in Oil Field work. Before he left that day
he had a firm offer from The Texas Company.
Bill drove back home to San Antonio and talked with his dad and told him
about his job offer. His dad told him to take the job as it was 3-times
more than he would be able to start with if he and his dad went into
business together. So he took the Texaco offer and was ordered to go to
New Iberia, Louisiana and meet with his new boss, Blanchard Goldsby
WILLIAMS ( b. 5-Jan-1895) .
Back in those days ALL new-hires started at the Bottom in the Labor
Gangs, who were called Roustabouts. Bill already had those skills and in
fact could have taken over the duties of “Driller”. He was assigned to a
Drilling Rig as one of the Floor Men. He worked in that job for 3 months
and then was promoted to Lead Tongue and right before he was to be
promoted to Derrick Man an Engineer from New Orleans learned that Bill
was also a qualified Surveyor. From 1937 to 1941 ALL Wells drilled in
South Louisiana were surveyed by Bill SWEARINGEN.
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© Copyright 2001 Edward L. Williams & Barbara