Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Illustrations

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pp. vi-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

The story of Everette Lee DeGolyer is a dramatic one. Decades after his death, the life of the man Edward R. Murrow referred to as “one of the greatest geologists in this or any other country”1 continues to attract interest. In his magisterial history of the oil industry, The Prize, Daniel Yergin wrote, “No man more singularly embodied the...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xviii

This study of the life of Everette Lee DeGolyer has been a thoroughly collaborative project. Its completion would have been impossible but for the patience, support, and contributions of many. For those who have encouraged me along the way, I offer my sincerest gratitude.
The origins of this book lie in work begun during my doctoral studies...

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Introduction: Prospector

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pp. 1-9

In 1916, Everette Lee DeGolyer purchased a two-foot-tall statue of a man and his horse. It was the work of Solon Borglum, brother to Gutzon Borglum, the famed sculptor of Mount Rushmore. Molded in bronze, the weary, bearded figure squatted beside his animal companion. Carefully handling samples of rock, the man peered intently, searching...

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1. Student

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pp. 10-37

For Everette Lee DeGolyer, the “red earth” of the western plains was in his blood. Born in Kansas in 1886, he spent his childhood in Missouri and his youth in the “red land” of Oklahoma. DeGolyer venerated this soil with all the fervor of a native son. But for DeGolyer, this earth had a special meaning that went beyond the typical, nostalgic...

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2. Geologist

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pp. 38-69

It happened on a mild winter’s night on the Potrero del Llano hacienda. It was well after midnight and two days after Christmas, but the American employees of the Mexican Eagle Oil Company were hard at work. They had just drilled past a depth of 1,911 feet when the well began showing signs of natural gas. Lou LeBarron had just arrived at...

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3. Executive

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pp. 70-97

When DeGolyer departed Mexico in April 1914, under the cloud of US military intervention, he reconsidered his future with Cowdray’s Mexican Eagle Company. Hired in 1909 as a field geologist, DeGolyer had offered his employer technical skills related to fact gathering and analysis of the landscape. His good fortune in locating the bonanza...

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4. Technologist

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pp. 98-128

In September 1924, Everette Lee DeGolyer wrote to Dr. David White of the United States Geological Survey to share exciting news. For the past several years, DeGolyer had been directing efforts to bring new technology to bear in oil prospecting. Geologists knew that geological formations of the Gulf Coast, called salt domes, were probable locations...

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5. Entrepreneur

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pp. 129-151

In April 1939, Everette Lee DeGolyer wrote to Henry Johnston to offer an explanation of failure. Johnston represented Case, Pomeroy, and Company, an investment house that had helped to finance DeGolyer’s Felmont Corporation.2 Felmont, which was primarily an oil exploration and lease-trading company, had not fared well. Three years...

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6. Scholar

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pp. 152-173

In the summer of 1938, Hal P. Bybee of the University of Texas wrote to Everette Lee DeGolyer with a suggestion. The university was in the process of establishing a series of distinguished professorships. Would DeGolyer consider taking a position as a distinguished professor of geology? Bybee added the tempting proposition that DeGolyer...

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7. Technocrat

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pp. 174-207

On a rainy Thursday in April 1943, three professional societies devoted to oil exploration gathered at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth for a joint wartime conference. That morning, Fritz Aurin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists delivered a presidential address titled “The Geologist in the War,” in which he reflected on the changing...

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8. Geopolitician

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pp. 208-242

April 1943 was a busy month, even for Everette Lee DeGolyer. Recently promoted to Assistant Deputy Petroleum Administrator for War, his responsibilities were demanding to say the least. Congressmen, agency officials, private oilmen, and even the Canadian government clamored for his attention.2 In addition to assisting his superiors...

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9. Sage

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pp. 243-262

As the 1940s ended, Everette Lee DeGolyer could look back on a decade in which he had scaled new heights in fame and fortune. Although policymakers often regarded the political views of other oilmen as tainted by financial interests, there was widespread respect for DeGolyer’s opinions. He was, as one college president put it, a “scientific...

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Epilogue: Legend

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pp. 263-268

Soon after Everette Lee DeGolyer’s death in 1956, memorials to his life began to appear in newspapers, professional journals, and magazines. All struggled to grasp the meaning of a life whose diverse achievements defied easy categorization. The Dallas Morning News hailed DeGolyer as “a symbol of Texas excellence: a great man...

Notes

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pp. 269-318

Index

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pp. 319-334

Back Cover

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