Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Annals of Jackson Township
Mrs. Betty Burkhart
The Oil Well Project
At one time Jackson township had
high hopes of finding a place with the rich oil fields of the country,
but for some reason, and the natives all agree what that reason was, the
huge bubble burst, dreams of wealth faded away, and a feeling of
injustice remained in the minds of the people.
The Johnstown capitalists were
confident of success and "expected to go down 1,800 feet at which point
they will have reached a depth sufficient to touch the third sand of the
county." It also stated that "a gusher from that locality helps us on to
the 25 cent oil."
The company formed was called
the Jackson Oil Company and Billy Richardson, George Page, and John
Gettings formed it. Several local men bought stock in it. What really
happened, no one could say definitely but from time to time, lasting
over a period of two years or more, the company put the owners off,
giving several reasons for doing so.
Well, the company claimed that
something went wrong with their drilling, that tools stuck, that
something got in the holes. But some of the men that were there at the
time recall that they made tests that proved the statement was false.
Gas was found at the Ribblett farm. Mary Davis of south Fork recalls
how he and his brother, Howard, as boys, struck a match and the gas
ignited. Milton Funk of Conemaugh, who was a boy of 18 at the time,
also recalls making experiments of his own at the location. It was
commonly thought that another company paid the local one to discontinue
the drilling. One night, when no one was around, all the tools and
machinery were moved away from the scene and the stockholders counted
their losses. The holes may still be seen, some of them of a depth to
be a danger to any unwary hunter. Several years ago, when Bert Gillin
lived on the Ribblett place a valuable cow fell into one of the holes
but was found in time and pulled with ropes to the surface.
Before this venture in oil
speculation, Jackson township residents had another experiment with one
who had dreams of making something out of oil, but there is no doubt in
the mind of the residents why his venture did not prove successful. He
purchased 50 acres of land in the township, where Nanty-Glo now stands,
and started to drill for oil, and --so he said-- found it. It caused
much excitement but he had to confess that he had no funds to finance
the enterprise. So, a syndicate was formed by several of the leading
Ebensburg citizens to purchase the property, only to discover that
instead of the oil coming from within, it was coming from without. That
is, it was out of the well before it was in it. It had to be poured in
before it could be pumped out.
The Ebensburg men held the property for many years, being reconciled to their loss, but the story has a happy ending for when coal veins were discovered in and around Nanty-Glo they laid their land off in building lots and, it is said by knowing ones, recovered the amount they invested, with interest.
To Be Continued Next Week