Notable Citizens

O W Killam011KILLAM, OLIVER WINFIELD (1874-1959). Oliver Winfield Killam, oilman and town founder, was born on April 27, 1874, in Lincoln County, Missouri, the oldest of seven children of Winfield and Katherine (Macgruder) Killam. At the age of eighteen he entered La Grange College in La Grange, Missouri, where he excelled in football. In 1896 he graduated from the law department of the University of Missouri. Soon thereafter, he moved to Joplin to establish a law practice, but after only six months he abandoned law in order to work in zinc mining. With no experience or knowledge of the industry, Killam began working as a laborer. In 1898, only six months later, he became manager. In the spring of 1902 he met and married Harriet (Hattie) Smith, the daughter of a prominent physician in South West City, Missouri; they had three children. The couple moved to Grove,

Oklahoma, where Killam established a successful lumber and mercantile business. In 1907 he became politically active as a strong advocate of Oklahoma statehood. In 1910 he won a seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where he remained for four years. Also in 1910 he established Locust Grove, Oklahoma. In 1914, Killam was elected to the Oklahoma Senate, where he served for four years and befriended the first governor of the state, Charles N. Haskell. In 1919, Haskell suggested to Killam the idea of moving to South Texas to look for oil. Killam sold his business and property, abandoned his promising political career, and, in the spring of 1920, moved to Laredo.

He secured an oil lease on the Hinnant Ranch in Zapata County. After erecting his first oil derrick, he purchased a rig and began drilling. Mirando Oil Company Hinnant No. 1, as it was called, proved a failure. Killam’s second attempt, Hinnant No. 2, was lost because of bad casing. Success finally came with No. 3, on April 17, 1921. At 1,461 feet the well came in and pumped about twenty barrels a day. It became the first commercial oil well south of San Antonio and encouraged others to join in exploration. In 1921, with Colon Schott of Cincinnati, Ohio, Killam developed the Schott oilfield, just south of the fledging town of Mirando City, which he had established. Killam’s biggest and most successful gusher, Schott No. 2, produced 300 to 400
barrels of oil daily, plus several million cubic feet of natural gas. Photographs of the well flowing wild, plus accounts of its success in newspapers all over the state, encouraged the South Texas oil boom of the 1920s. After the development of the Schott field many South Texas cattle ranchers began leasing large tracts of land to explore for oil, and Mirando City soon became the center of the fast­growing South Texas oil business. Killam next established the Texpapa Pipe Line Company in order to carry the oil to tank farms or railroad tank
cars. In 1923 he established the Misko Refineries at Mirando City in order to capitalize further on his investment.

During the 1930s he served as president of both the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and the South Texas Chamber of Commerce.qv He was named “King Petrol” at the Oilmen’s Jubilee by the oil operators of the
Laredo district on July 4, 1937. In 1956 he was named Outstanding Citizen of South Texas by members of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association of Laredo. In only a few short years, Killam became one of the best-known wildcatters in South Texas. He died at the age of eighty­four on January 1, 1959.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Michael F. Black, ed., Mirando City: A New Town in a New Oil Field (Laredo: Laredo Publishing, 1972). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Laura Lamar Ramirez
From the University of Texas Web Pages, Texas Handbook Online


George L. Buck

Newspaper article submitted by William Layton.  Acticle written by George L. Buck’s granddaughter Janice Hinds.

georg l. buck


STERLING, WILLIAM WARREN (1891-1960)W.W.Sterling. William Warren Sterling, lawman, son of Edward A. and Mary (Chamberlain) Sterling, was born near Belton, Texas, on April 27, 1891, and spent his early years on his family’s ranch before they moved to Beaumont in 1901. He entered Texas A&M at seventeen and two years later was working on ranches near Falfurrias and in Hidalgo County. During 1915-16, when political unrest in Mexico spilled over the Rio Grande border, he was a posseman and scout for the Third United States
Cavalry in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. During World War I he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Ninth Texas Infantry. Afterward he was in Mirando City as deputy sheriff and justice of the peace during the oil boom in Webb County. In 1927 Governor Dan Moody appointed him captain, Company D, Texas Rangers, and he was sent immediately to the boomtown of Borger. In 1928 his ranger headquarters was moved to Falfurrias. About this time the sculptor Gutzon Borglum used Sterling as the model for his planned Texas Ranger statue. In 1929 Sterling was in Pettus when an oil boom started there, and he helped stop the lawlessness. During the administration of Governor Ross S. Sterling he served as adjutant general (commander of the Texas Rangers and the Texas National Guard); in this capacity he closed the Red River bridge at Denison during the much publicized Red River bridge controversy between Oklahoma
and Texas in 1931. Sterling resigned from the rangers at the close of his service as adjutant general in 1933. As a colonel during World War II he helped set up selective service for the Eighth Service Command. Sterling managed the Driscoll ranches in South Texas and later appraised ranches. His book, Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger, was published in 1959. He was married to Zora Lou Eckhardt, and they had two daughters. Sterling died on April 26, 1960, and was buried in Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American, April 27, 1960, August 28, 1969. Brooks County Texan, March 22, 1929. Cattleman, May 1960. Corpus Christi Caller and Daily Herald, February 15, 16, 27, 28, 1915. Oran Warder Nolen, “Col. W. W. Sterling: Cowman, Texas Ranger and a Prince among Men,” Cattleman, June 1966. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

From University of Texas Web Pages, Texas Handbook Online

                                                                     Mr. Joseph S. Morris (Wildcatter)

Joseph S. Morris was borne in Cleveland, Tennessee, on September 8, 1902, a Son of Joseph P. Morris and Mayme Harris Morris both natives Tennessee. The family moved to Fowlerton, Texas, where the Elder Morris was engaged in developing and selling farmlands and where the younger Morris was educated. On March 2, 1932 Mr. Joseph S. Morris married Mrs. Hazel Summers of Galveston, Texas. Miss. Summers, Daughter of Mr. Jack Summers of Fort Worth, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Morris are the parents of 2 Daughters: Jean Elizabeth and Lynne Summers Morris. In 1919 Mr. Morris served his apprenticeship in the employ of Mr. Allen. At that time the firm was Newton and Allen, Contracting Firm for Drilling Services. In 1923 Mr. Newton sold out his entreats to Mr. Joseph Morris. This dissolved the firm of Newton and Allen. Then the new firm of Allen and Morris was formed in 1924. With a small start with just one light-drilling rig, the firm has steadily expanded its operation and now has ten heavy drilling rigs manned by a full force of experienced drillers. They have drilled 1,600 wells most of them in South Texas, with a few being drilled in North Louisiana and some in Arkansas. Recently the firm brought in the discovery well for Seabord Oil Company in the Dominican Republic. The First successful oil well completed on the Dominican Island in the West Indies. They also brought in the First flowing well in the Mirando Valley Field 1921. Mr. Claude Witherspoon was driller on the discovery well. The first gas well in the Bruni Field was drilled, the first 1,800 Ft. oil well at that level and the first deep pay in the 3,400 Ft. strata of the Bruni Field. They drilled the first gas well in the Mirando District in the Schott Field. They drilled the discovery well on the Chapman Ranch in Nueces County and the discovery well in the Luby Field. The discovery well in Larosa in Refugio County was drilled by Allen & Morris as was the first well for the Colorado Interest and the First well for Fred Shield in the Robstown District. The firm of Allen and Morris had been together for 16 Years in 1940. Mr. Joseph S. Morris now lives in San Antonio, and has offices in the Alamo Building when I corresponded with him in 1986. (The Historical Encyclopedia of Texas the 1936 Addition)

Article supplied to me by William Layton –

This article was scanned from The McIntosh Express (Laredo Community College Newspaper) and was written by William Layton.