Texas Birth of the Natural Gas Industry
Navarro County, Texas


Oil Industry Index

Texas Birth of The Natural Gas Industry
Researched by Carl Mirus
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", 1967
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society

After discovery of oil in 1894, this being before geology and petroleum engineering, there was drilling all over the county, especially in the Northeastern part.  This drilling developed gas production between Roane and Chatfield, and a little later, South of town on the Edens Leogill.

W. H. Staley and J. S. Cullinan both got into the natural gas business.  Staley as Corsicana Natural Gas and Fuel Co. and Cullinan as Corsicana Petroleum Co.  Staley was first in the field, but Cullinan was close behind.  Natural gas at .50 a thousand feet at once put the artificial gas supplied by the Corsicana Gas and Electric Co. at $5.00 a thousand feet out. (Used only for lighting)

The Corsicana Gas and Electric Company was started about 1890, and had their plant about where the Oil City Iron works is now located.   The gas was water gas made by spraying steam on incandescent coal.  Staley attempted to use the telescoping gasometer of the C. G. & E. Plant to store extra gas for cold spells but the gas leaked out.  With the exhaustion of local gas fields Staley's gas system played out, though for a while he got gas from the Mexia shallow gas field, somewhere around 1910 - 1912.

The Corsicana Petroleum Company system, small chip off the Stand Oil Company of New York, was of course better financed and as necessary lines were laid to other gas fields.  The Corsicana Petroleum Co. gas business has by various changes a part of the Lone Star Gas Company system, which may be said to have had its start here. Besides the gas production at Chatfield, and on the Edens leogue, there was much gas produced at Powell.  The McKie ranch had some spectacular gas wells which supplied the Corsicana Petroleum system.  About 1905, crowds of people would go to the McKie ranch and one of the gas wells would be opened and lighted.  The flame would burn a hundred feet or higher and was an attraction as exciting then as football games today.

Before becoming a part of the Lone Star, the Corsicana Petroleum gas business underwent a variety of names.  One was the North Texas Gas Company, another was Municipal Gas Company and etc.  Staley's first office and salesroom was in the Syndicate Bldg.  Then he moved to the old Schwartz home on the Navarro Hotel Corner and then into the Cooksey building, Now Butler and Calhoun's office.  He wound up in the building now occupied by Western Union, remaining there until he went out of business.

Corsicana Petroleum Co. had their offices in the Hardy Peck building along with the rest of the Cullinan business.  Later they had offices in different places, until Lone Star built the present office on the site of the W. H. Matchett home on Collins and thirteenth.  When Natural Gas first came in all cooking and heating was done with wood an coal, as $5.00 gas was too expensive.  To get people to use natural gas in stoves, conversion kits were sold which were put into the cast iron cook stoves, and into heaters.  But soon folks started buying stoves made for gas.

Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox