Oil Industry in White
Gary Edwards' project to record some history of the oil
industry in White
County interests me immensely.
It started me remembering
I remember when all of these "oil people" (mainly from Oklahoma
came in here.
There was NO housing.
It was considered
"civic" duty to take someone in.
I became aware of this one
weekend when I
came home from college and came bounding into the living
But none of
our furniture was there, and a strange man was sitting in a
My folks had rented out that room (and had
strung a curtain
across half of the kitchen to make another 1/2 room) and had an
couple living there.
I can't remember anyone of our neighbors who didn't take in
people cleaned out chicken houses and rented them.
neighbor put cots on
an open back porch, and workers slept there.
Many of the
single men were
glad to have home cooking and paid for the homemaker to pack
It sounds as if we were taking advantage of the workers.
However, I think
they paid only $5 or so a week.
In our case, the man lost
his job, and my
folks not only gave the couple free rent but also gave them
gasoline money for them to survive on.
They had at one time
been well of,
but the man said he had drilled 77 dry holes in succession and
everything, so he was reduced to just working at the lowliest of
were always grateful that my folks offered to and did stake them
they got on their feet.
Some families didn't want their daughters to date those "oil
course, that made them all the more interesting to me.
remember one night
asking my date, a Halliburton employee, what he thought of the
He replied, "They're strange.
They fry their
steaks, and they are
afraid of gas!" He was right.
At that time, no one around
here had ever
heard of grilling meat, and no one used gas.
enough to have
central heat had a coal stoker!
A prominent local attorney once remarked if we hadn't had that
new blood of all those people moving in, we would all have been
by now from intermarriage.
Our population had become rather
When those outsiders swarmed in here, many old-timers were
looked at the whole business with a jaundiced eye.
Little did we know that a new industry would revive and change
the face of White County.
Little did we know that many of
those new people
would remain here the rest of their lives, would contribute in
ways to the community and turn out to be some of the finest
people in the
We continue to be comfortably busy with letters and visitors to
Genealogy Library. We're open from 11 to 5 on Wednesdays. Come
Posted with permission from
THE CARMI TIMES
and CHARLENE SHIELDS
You are the 1871
since the counter was installed on February 12,