William Richard Swearingen
of Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX


Biography Index


“Don’t Cut My Tomato” / By : Bill Swearingen
[email protected]

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 Beaumont, TX.

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.

This Page Last Updated on 01/28/07
Navarro County TXGenWeb
© Copyright 2001 Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox