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
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
"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
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
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
--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
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,
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
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,
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,
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To see a larger picture with descriptions, click on the
small photos below.