Campbellsville, Tennessee

Campbellsville Oil Well

Wednesday, February 19, 1947
17 Carloads Machinery Expected To Arrive Next Week For Campbellsville Drilling
Company Plans To Sink First Well To Depth Of 5,000 To 8,000 Feet

     Within a period of days Giles County will witness the start of efforts to extract oil from choice acres of its land as the Standard Oil Company of California breaks ground on the E. W. Beeler farm in the Campbellsville community, 18 miles north of Pulaski, for installation of machinery for drilling a well that has already been designated by the company as the E. W. Beeler Well No. 1.

     Announcement of the company's selection of the site for the well was made Thursday night by R. W. Killen, land man with the California company, who has been in Giles County since August supervising the leasing of the 50,000 acres of land in the northern and southern parts of the county.

     Announcing that Loffland Brothers Drilling Company had been awarded the contract for drilling the well, Killen stated that the machinery and equipment will be shipped by train to Giles County early next week and will be unloaded either at Lynnville or at Ethridge, the place to be determined later this week.

     The general excitement incident to the start of prospecting in virgin territory is expected to be increased as citizens of this area witness the unloading of the 17 train cars required for transportation of the heavy equipment and see the line of loaded trucks moving to the construction site.

     With arrival of the equipment at location, trained crews will take over the "rigging up" including the assembly of a 126 foot derrick, a task that is expected to require 2 or 3 weeks for completion before drilling can be started.

     Although the rig will be capable of drilling 15,000 feet, Killen stated that the well probably will be drilled to granite, a variable distance expected to range between 5,000 and 8,000 feet which depth cannot be determined because if the lack of information available in this area since previous drilling has not occurred.

     With necessary power supplied by four Diesel engines, the work of drilling will be constant through the twenty-four hours with the day divided into eight-hour shifts. Eighteen experienced workmen will constitute the drilling crews, with 6 men working each shift under the supervision of trained personnel.

     While the condition and nature of the soil encountered in the drilling will determine the extent of time required for digging the well, it was estimated by Killen that the depth may be reached within 2 to 4 months.

     Labeling the well as a "wildcat well", Killen explained that the term "wildcat" is applied to wells that are developed from surface geological work and that since this particular well falls in that classification, it is impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy what type of ground will be found below the surface or what the outcome of the drilling will be.

     In the event that the well proves successful, it is to be expected that land owners in the county will realize substantial profits and that business in general will show a natural upward trend due to the rersultant increase in population.

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A SHORT TIME LATER...............


     PULASKI, Tenn. -- (Spl) -- The slender steel fabric of a derrick has risen above the countryside, as drilling in the quest for oil begins on the E. W. Beeler farm in the Campbellsville Community about 18 miles north of here.

     The well is to be drilled for the California Company, a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company. The California Company holds oil leases on approximately 50,000 acres of Giles County land.

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Giles Week THE GILES FREE PRESS Thursday, June 25, 1987

By Johnny Phelps

Unexpected visitor was Giles oil driller in 1947

Two weeks ago, I was going through old photos and newspapers upstairs in the Pulaski Publishing building.

I came across several photos of oil wells, and written on the back of one was March 1947. J. H. Smith, the late editor of THE PULASKI CITIZEN, had written: "The derrick construction workers are digging holes to pour concrete for an oil well located on the Beeler farm at Campbellsville."

This was most interesting, so I began searching all the material I could find on oil wells during the years 1947 and 1948.

It was most difficult, but I gathered my material and at 9 a.m. Monday I began to write Giles Paths number 128. About 30 minutes later, Jo Goolsby, the secretary at Pulaski Publishing, called me out front to see if I could help a visitor. Well, I didn't want to go, but duty called.

"I am looking for some old papers or anything about Giles County," the man said. "My name is Tommy Horne and I come back to Giles County once a year to visit. That Giles Paths series is what I would like to see," he said.

Well, I was impressed. After all, this guy lived in Lafayette, La. I invited him back to my office and began searching through the files for some old Giles Paths papers.

I asked him why the iterest in Giles County.

"I am not a native, but I spent about five months here in 1947," he said. "I was an oil driller. Can you believe that?" he asked with a smile.

I turned sharply and asked where. "Oh, it was up around Campbellsville on the Beeler farm," was his answer.

I asked him was he serious, while grabbing for old photos. He was just as shocked as I to see them.

"That's me right there," he said.

Talk about luck. That's the way it happened.

It was true that Tommy Horne came to Giles County to drill oil. He stayed at the Hart House across from the Pulaski Electric System. His stay was only five months, but his fond memories have certainly grown over 40 years. Mr. Horne had his meals at Rank's Cafe across the street. He had noticed the young, good-looking waitress, Addie Ward. A couple of months later her name was changed to Horne. And on June 21, 1987, 40 years later, the couple would be back for their annual visit. Accompanying them is 88-year-old Duncan Ward of Knox Hollow, the father of the bride.

The June 9, 1948 issue of THE PULASKI CITIZEN headline read "Oil interest revived, California company renews land leases, approximately 80,000 acres under rental at 10 cents per acre."

--staff photo by Johnny Phelps

Tommy Horne points to the remains of Giles County's
first oil well dug in 1947 at a cost of $200,000.

The acquisition of the land started by the company in August 1946, when a crew from Corsicana, Texas, began securing leases that would be in effect for 10 years. The company also had the privilege of extending its interest to 40,000 acres in the Campbellsville area and 10,000 in the southern part of the county.

In March 1947, Horne and his crew arrived at the E. W. Beeler farm at Campbellsville. It would be the site of the first Giles County oil well. The actual drilling began in April.

The closing of the well in August 1947 came after granite was reached at 5,000 feet after about four months of drilling by the California company.

"I remember they told us after we reached granite there was no use trying to go any further," Horne said. "There just wasn't a bit invented at that time that would go through granite, because it was considered the base of the earth."

Tommy Horne and I drove the 14 miles from Pulaski to the Campbellsville area to take a look at the site of Giles County's first oil well, the one at which he spent five months as a derrick worker

We stopped at Fayne Ingram's farm and began searching for the remains of the oil well. We spotted several of the concrete blocks in a barn lot, and Tommy was quick to say: "That's it. It's hard to believe that is all that is left of the $200,000 it cost to drill that 5,000 feet."

"I remember making $1.20 an hour, and believe me, in 1947 that was big money. There were 21 of us working at the Campbellsville well, three shifts, 24 hours a day. It took us about five months to drill 5,000 feet. Had we been drilling in Louisiana, we could have gone 5,000 feet in two days," Horne explained.

"We did hit a pocket of oil here at about 3,000 feet, but we never could get it capped. I remember it was the only well we dug using clear spring water. We pumped it from back of a store in Campbellsville," he continued.

"I also remember well the school kids at Campbellsville and other people who stayed up there a lot and watched us drill. We finally had to post the land."

"Oh yes, Giles County was such a beautiful sight to me. When we rode out there the first day to begin drilling, we drove up Highway 31 toward Columbia. We were in a truck. We turned off and went through the Milky Way Farm. We were shocked at the beauty of this place and all those white fences and beautiful barns. It was just unbelievable to us."

"We were all sad when we had to leave Giles County, but after we didn't find oil, we had to go to other areas. Even though there were about six more wells dug over the last two years, we didn't do any."

Tommy Horne and I drove back to THE PULASKI CITIZEN and I began searching for more stories on other oil wells, and there was plenty of them.

July 14, 1948 - "Oil interests are busy in Giles County, 6,488 additional acres including Crescent View Farms, 844 acres."

July 21, 1948 - "Oil drilling was to get underway on the Earl C. Zuccarello farm near Campbellsville." This site was only three miles from the location of the first well on the Beeler farm. There were two wells drilled by the California company.

There was no oil found, but on Dec. 15 a Nashville Banner headline read: "Drilling to begin in Richland Creek area."

The first opening would be made on the Mary Cosby farm two miles south of Pulaski. It would be the fourth such well. Again, no oil.

In the late 1950s, oil was drilled for on the Guy Phillips farm south of Pulaski. Movie actor Robert Mitchum made a couple of trips to oversee land he leased  for oil exploration. Again, no luck.

In recent years, oil has been sought in the Cedar Grove area. The effort has been since February 1947 to find some of the black gold, but without success.

But driller Tommy Horne was proud to be part of the oil search in Giles County. And his life has been filled with 40 years of happiness because he struck it rich when he found his wife, Addie Ward.

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