Oil Is Found Everywhere


January 1, 1901

DT Ham and DW Dixon are large land owners and prominent residents of Latah.  They have spent several days in a careful investigation of the oil and gas discoveries recently found in Pine City, Washington.

They are satisfied that the oil deposits are found in many places when the geological formations are favorable.  They have returned to Latah and are making a careful prospect of the area.

A drill has been set to work at a point two miles west of Latah.  Yesterday afternoon they discovered a flow of gas. When lighted, it maintained a steady flame for some time which followed the course of the drill several feet into the earth.  They raised the drill and it was covered with an oily substance that burned readily.  It is assumed it is petroleum.  The volume of gas is at least 50 times what escaped, according to David Ham.

January 4, 1901

Gas has now been discovered at Thornton, Washington.  There is considerable excitement on the farm of James Baker, three miles south of Thornton.  The news has spread quickly all the way down to Colfax, 17 miles south.

Mr Baker owns 2,400 acres on Thornton and Cottonwood Creeks.  His oil find has attracted a very wealthy Spokane investor – Charles Sweeney.   Sweeney has already leased 1,800 acres near Rosalia, including the Donaloe Farm to the south.  Sweeney has offered Baker 10% of whatever is found and Baker has refused.  Examination shows there is an abundance of gas on the Baker Farm.  In the wheat stubble on the land a glass bottle has been inverted into a gravel bed where gas has been smelled.  The bottle filled up with something unknown, and upon lighting, a brilliant flame shot out of the bottle.  It burned for several minutes and caused a stir.

January 5, 1901

Eleven Rosalia farmers today entered into contracts with Spokane parties for the drilling of wells for oil, coal, or gas.  The deals are for 2 years.  If anything is found, the deals extend for an additional 25 years and the royalty will be 10% of whatever is discovered.

The investors have formed a company, selling 50 shares for an acre for the stock.  The deals have been registered in the Whitman County courthouse.  The investors are leasing areas varying from 160 to 250 acres.  The entire group is excited.

Mr Hanauer of Spokane is the creator of the investment pool.  He is calling the company the Rosalia Natural Gas and Oil Company.    He is the operator and the biggest principal of that company, if anything is found.

During February a large amount of drilling is expected near Rosalia, Three wells are about to be sunk. 

The first well is on the farm of Henry Jones and is called the “Hole in the Ground” well.  It is at the end of Rock Lake.  His 12,000 acres have now been leased.  There is no money exchanging – just promises.  The depth of the gas is estimated to be at 400 to 600 feet.

Other Spokane men are now forming companies and leasing a lot of land all over.  Dr Newman and Mr Green are in Rosalia, forming the Rosalia Exploration Company.  They are concentrating on land northeast of Rosalia.  Professor Aughey, a well known geologist, is also in town.  He is making a thorough canvass of the area and gathering data. 

The latest farmer showing interest is Walter Davis.  He has 2,500 acres available for lease near Sunset.  He has seen surface indications of gas and oil on his land.

January 7, 1901

Oil is now being found near Garfield.  Not to be outdone, Garfield farmers have lit flames on areas with gas smells.  They say they found gas and oil years ago but just did nothing.

JW Cox has a well on his farm two miles from Garfield.  At 300 feet deep, he had abandoned the well because it did not give good water.  The fluid was covered with an oily substance.

On the JC Love farm another well had been drilled 285 feet deep.  When pumped, it also had bad water.  The discharge was muddy and filled with bubbles.

Now John Benson has a farm at Seltice Junction, near Colfax.  He claims on his farm he has a 225 foot deep well.  It also has bad water.   Years ago he plugged the well and forgot it.  Recently he knocked the plug out.  He was shocked when a loud explosion rocked the well.  He claims it is caused by escaping gas.

January 17, 1901

Professor Samuel Aughey has finished his report.  He confirms there are oil fields all over Whitman County.

January 19, 1901

More Colfax finds are being reported.  The farms of JB Harris are a mile from Colfax and he has discovered oil.   He struck a match to the oily substance on the standing water on his land.  It immediately ignited, showing the presence of oil.  The blaze continued for 15 minutes, burning bright and giving considerable heat.

Interest in the oil is increasing through the entire farm country.  

February 6, 1901

Prominent Vancouver, British Columbia capitalists are now pouring all over the farms in Whitman County, looking for oil and gas deals.  The wealthy Vancouver merchant Tom Dunn and his financer Harry Treat of New York have come to the area to see the situation for themselves.  They are very closed-mouth.

There are also representatives of eastern oil companies trying to buy leases in the area prior to drilling.

February 10, 1901

Oil residue has now been reported on the surface of Medical Lake. 

Rufus Wood says:

“Many early settlers recall that in the vicinity of Medical Lake the same indications exist as those  reported in the county near Rosalia.  Gas and oil were noticed as long ago as 1881.  They are still jn evidence today.”

“Mr Rafe owns 80 acres north of Medical Lake.  He said that some days gas and oil will be discovered at or near his farm because the formation is identical with that of other oil regions in Whitman County”.

JS Thayer owns 240 acres on the west shore of Silver Lake, a mile away from Medical Lake.  He  drove a metal rod 5 feet into the ground, pulled out the rod, and claims he found a “prospect hole” smelling strongly of oil with a strong odor of gas.

March 13, 1901

Ads are now appearing in the Spokesman newspaper selling 2-1/2 cent stock in Washington Oil Exploration Company.   A second ad has appeared, selling stock for 2-1/2 cents in Ohio Oil and Gas Company.

March 31, 1901

New oil area has been discovered in Wild Rose Prairie.  It is the new talk. The Prairie is 18 miles north of Spokane and the Diamond Oil Company is leasing acreage.

Professor Aughey has examined the area.   He speaks highly of the prospects.

And the oil mania is spreading.

The Wilbur Lewis farm is located eight miles west of Wayside on Dragoon Creek.  It is the new area of hope. There was seen a natural oil oozing out into a pool of water.  The oil spread  a sheen over the surface.  Looking at the color and sniffing the odor makes a person seem like they have discovered a real find.

Now things are going even further. 

There  are reported to be new oil prospects in the Colville Valley.  JA Fawley is an oil expert from Portland.

He has leased 800 acres for oil prospecting on behalf of a California Oil Company.  Fawley has formed the Colville Oil Company and is now selling stock for $1.00 a share.   50,000 shares have been issued.

The next weekend a gigantic half page ad appeared in the Sunday Morning Spokesman Review.  The ad is selling stock for 2-1.2 cents a share in the Spokane Natural Gas, Oil, and Coal Company.

A bigger ad appeared next for the newly formed Northwestern Gas and Oil Company.  They are offering a new way to buy.  The buyer simply pays a lump sum of $75 to buy 5,000 shares.


The rest of the year numerous companes are selling stock.  Large ads are now always appearing in the Spokesman newspaper.  Little actual oil is found. 

The entire oil finds all over the area have now turned into fraudulent stock promotions.



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