Batson, Texas former post office
Gibson, May 2013
|History in a 55-Gallon
1891 to 1898, the town was known by the post office name Otto after R.
Otto Middlebrook - an early settler who probably did something noteworthy to earn
the honor, however our source was unable to provide details.
had originally been settled before 1840 by the two Batson Brothers. These two,
as well as other residents, first lived in mud houses (talk about humble origins)
unaware that they were sitting on top of millions of barrels of oil.
In October of 1903 the Batson-Oid field was discovered near Pine Bayou, a mile
north of Batson. Both town and post office moved to be closer to the action -
and action it was, with an estimated 10,000 workers, camp-followers and innocent
bystanders showing up to witness history-in-the-making (and maybe make some money
as well). The new town was named for Eli Batson, a Batson Brother descendent.
Two schools were in operation in 1897 with total enrolment of 68 students.
Batson has all the businesses to guarantee success. Stores, a livery stable, a
blacksmith, four hotels and ten saloons made Batson a town to be envied.
By 1906 Batson had three schools to educate the 252 children of oil workers, and
a bank. As oil production fell, so did the population. It receded to a mere 600
in 1927. The New Batson field was discovered in March 1935. The population rose
to 1,000 by the 1930s. The population was down to 200 from 1950 to 1970 and it
has decreased further to the current 140.
on the Oil Field >
Former Post Office/Oil Patch
Museum interior today
Gibson, May 2013
former post office once housed the Oil Patch Museum
"[I was told that
the museum] has moved to a more modern structure next to the Community Center."
Gibson, June 1, 2013
TE Photo, November 2007
Post Offices | Texas Museums
Oil Patch Community Center|
Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, August 2007
More on the
Oil Field The
discovery of the Batson field was chronologically sandwiched between Spindletop
& Sour Lake (1901), and Humble
(1905). The four together established the first Gulf Coast oil fields.
The area had drawn attention as early as 1900 when "signs" of oil were noticed.
However a 1901 shallow exploratory well yielded nothing. Two years later, inexperienced
speculators S. W. Pipkin and W. L. Douglas, organized an oil company financed
by Beaumont backers eager
to find a new strike. On October 31, 1903 oil was found at only 790 feet. Initial
production was 600 barrels a day. Six weeks later a second well brought in 4,000
barrels from a depth of 1,000 feet and a third well was soon producing 10,000
barrels daily. By the end of 1903, Batson Field had an annual average of 4,518
barrels of oil each and every day.
In January 1904 a new well brought
in 18,000 barrels a day. Drilling increased to a frenzy. Prior to 1930 no regulations
existed to prevent operators from sinking as many wells as they wanted - as close
to one another as they wanted. March 4, 1904, set a record when more than 150,000
barrels of oil was brought up. The peak yearly production was reached in 1904
when 10,904,737 barrels of oil were recovered. In 1905 salt water started making
its presence known and the field started getting dry holes.1905 production fell
to about one-third of the 1904 figures.
Production declined for twenty
years, however in 1924 deeper wells reached oil at 3,600 feet. Production decreased
by 1931 and continued until November 1934. In 1935, annual production was back
up to a respectable 616,474 barrels daily. In 1939, the Railroad Commission of
Texas divided the field into Batson Field and Batson-New field. At that time,
the old field reported 190 wells. At the end of 1948 the total number of wells
drilled in the field was 1,450.
The "lifestyle" of the early East
Texas fields have provided historians with some of the more colorful anecdotes
in Texas history. No volume claiming
to be a history of the oil industry is complete without mentioning the hi-jinks
and borderline depravity of the Saratoga-Batson-Sour
"Batson is an early oilpatch town with a now operating sawmill
denoting it is now in the lumbering business." - Ken
Rudine, August 26, 2007
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