Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series I: Alphabetical files A-L

Series II: Alphabetical files M-Z

Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Kirby Petroleum Company / George Sawtelle Executive records, 1921-1967, bulk 1931-1953



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kirby Petroleum Company
Title: Guide to the Kirby Petroleum Company / George Sawtelle Executive Records
Dates: 1921-1967, bulk 1931-1953
Abstract: The materials in this collection are from the Houston-based Kirby Petroleum Company and the records of George Sawtelle, president and later chairman of the company to 1965. This collection consists of 2.5 cubic feet of photographs, correspondence, business records, clippings, and technical papers. The primary correspondents are John H. Kirby, Clint Murchison, Cooper Ragan, and George Sawtelle. This material provides a valuable look at the early days of the oil industry in Texas. In particular, this collection documents through correspondence the concerns and business goals of oil men from the 1920s through the 1940s.
Identification: MS 504
Extent 2.5 cubic feet (2.5 linear feet)
Languages Materials are in English.
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX

Historical Note

The Kirby Petroleum Company/George Sawtelle records offers a glimpse into the early 20th century oil boom in Texas primarily through the correspondence of George Sawtelle, who served as president of the company for more than 20 years. Sawtelle died September 4, 1967.

The origin of the Kirby Petroleum Company can be traced back to 1921 when John Henry Kirby, a pioneer in the development of the Houston business community, formed Kirby Petroleum Company, an oil and gas exploration and development company. Kirby Petroleum Company operated as a Houston-based independent oil and gas exploration and development company until 1956 when, after the sale of its producing properties, the remaining non-producing acreage was merged with three other independent oil and gas companies to form Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company, a publicly traded company. As a result of the mergers, the Murchison family of Dallas, later noted for its ownership of the Dallas Cowboys, owned approximately 35 percent of Kirby. Kirby VenSyn Petroleum Company changed its name to Kirby Petroleum Co. in 1957 and adopted the name Kirby Industries, Inc. in 1967. As of 2005, the company, still based in Houston, is known as Kirby Corp. although its primary business is transporting bulk liquid products on the Mississippi River System and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Kirby Corporation. (2001). Company History. Retrieved March 23, 2005 from http://www.kmtc.com/corp/history.cfm

George Sawtelle was born in Wheeling Virginia on February 27, 1892. He graduated in 1916 from Lehigh University with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. In 1916, he was in the U.S. Army and stationed on the border with Mexico. During World War I, he served in France in the Seventh Field Artillery Brigade and rose to the rank of captain. His brigade commander thought highly enough of the young captain to write Sawtelle a letter stating that he had been recommended for promotion to major. That letter is located in box 5, folder 4. From 1920 to 1921, Sawtelle, a longtime football enthusiast, served as an assistant football coach at Northwestern University. He joined Kirby Petroleum Company in 1922. In 1924, he was the general manager and chief geologist of the company. Eventually, he rose to the presidency of the company, a position he held for more than 20 years. He resigned as chairman of the Kirby board in 1965. As the result of a heart attack, he died Sunday, September 3, 1967 in Austin, Texas.

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Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 2.5 cubic feet of photographs, correspondence, business records, clippings, and technical papers. The materials are from the Houston-based Kirby Petroleum Company and the records of George Sawtelle, who was president of the company for more than 20 years. The inclusive dates for the materials are 1921-1967, although the bulk of the materials cover the years 1931-1953. The primary correspondents are John H. Kirby, Clint Murchison, Cooper Ragan, and George Sawtelle. This material provides a valuable look at the early days of the oil industry in Texas. In particular it documents through correspondence the concerns and business goals of oil men from the 1920s through the 1940s. In addition, the personal correspondence of George Sawtelle reveals his close ties to family and business colleagues, as well has his charitable work. This collection does not contain significant amounts of published corporate materials, such as annual reports or press releases.

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Arrangement

This material is in alphabetically arranged files by the name of the correspondent or subject.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Kirby Petroleum Company / George Sawtelle Executive records, MS 504, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Christian, W. G.
Kirby, John H.
Ragan, Cooper.
Sawtelle, George.
Murchison, Clint.
Pratt, Wallace.
Subjects (Organizations)
Kirby Petroleum Company--History--20th century
Subjects:
Oil well drilling rigs
Oil well drilling rigs--Texas.
Petroleum industry and trade--Texas--History.
Petroleum--Texas--History.
Oil fields--Texas.
Houston (Tex.)--History.
Texas--History, Local.
Houston (Tex.)--Business, industries, and trades--Petroleum.
Houston (Tex.)--Business, industries, and trades--Oil field equipment.
Houston Geological Society--History.
Subjects (Places)
Texas, East
Texas, West
Formats
Clippings
Correspondence
Form letters
Personal correspondence
Telegrams
Memorandums
Technical papers
Black-and-white photographs
Digital images
CD-ROMs
Photographic postcards
Business records

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Kirby Petroleum Company / George Sawtelle Executive records, MS 504, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

Mary Alice Sawtelle of Houston, Texas, donated this material to the Woodson Research Center in February 2004.

Accruals

No future additions are expected for this material.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series I: Alphabetical files A-L

box folder
1 1 A-B: Business and Personal Correspondence from or to George Sawtelle, 1946-1967
2 C: Business and Personal Correspondence between George Sawtelle and C.E. Cook and others, 1937-1967
3-4 Correspondence of Christian, W.G., 1922-1923
5 D: Correspondence to or from George Sawtelle, 1928-1966
6 Correspondence of Davis, Morgan, 1945-1966
7 E: correspondence, 1929-1967
8 "Estimates on Refinery," 1922
9 F: Correspondence to G. Sawtelle, 1948-1955
10 G: Correspondence, 1929-1956
11 Guideline for Applying Protective Coatings to Underground Pipelines, 1929
12 H: Correspondence, 1938-1965
box folder
2 1 Houston Geological Society, 1929-1959
2 I-J: Correspondence, 1928-1967
3 K: Correspondence related to leases and Kirby Oil, 1928-1953
4 Kirby, John H., 1922-1930
5 Kirby Petroleum Company: corporate history, clippings, 2001-2002
6 Kirby [Petroleum Co.] correspondence, memos; folder 1 of 2, 1921-1946
box folder
3 1 Kirby [Petroleum Co.] correspondence, memos; folder 2 of 2, 1921-1946
2 L: Correspondence, 1940-1966
3 Lehigh University, 1948-1964

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Series II: Alphabetical files M-Z

box folder
3 4 M: Correspondence, 1929-1954
5 Mattinson, J.A., 1932-1937
6 Mays, Gene, 1929-1936
7 Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Assoc., 1941-1943
8 Mincon, map, correspondence, DMEA project on Elk Ridge properties, Colorado, 1956
9 Minister, H., 1932-1934
10 Moncrief, W.A., 1928-1940
box folder
4 1 Muldoon Well, 1941-1942
2 Murchison, Clint; dissolution of Kirby [Petroleum Co.], 1940-1955
3 N: Correpsondence, 1930-1962
4 Neath, J.A., 1939-1957
5 Correspondence with F.C. O'Keefe, Oahu Railway and Land Company, and Oliphant and Co., 1951-1959
6 Opinions on Oil Leases, 1930-1937
7 Pratts, Wallace, 1938-1960
8 P: Correspondence, 1944-1960
9 R: Correspondence, 1944-1967
10 Ragan, Cooper, 1932-1937
11 Ragan, Cooper, 1938-1955
12 Reiter, Bosey, 1937-1940
13 S: Correspondence, 1929-1967
box folder
5 1 St. Thomas High School - George Strake, 1939
2 Sawtelle, George, 1923-1959
3 Sawtelle, George, 1960-1966
4 Sawtelle, George,: clippings, obituaries, memorials, birth certificate, military record; 1918-19676
5 Sawtelle Family, 1940-1944
6 Sawtelle Family, 1954-1965
7 Stroube, H.R. & W.C., 1933-1936
8 Suman, John R., 1939-1953
9 T: Correspondence, 1942-1963
10 Texas Oil & Gas Conservation Assoc., 1931-1933
11 V, W: Correspondence, 1951-1965
12 Y, Z: Correspondence, 1925-1962
13 Yates Field, 1935-1945
14 Photographs (printed scans and CD), n.d.
Photos include an original portrait of George Sawtelle, ca. 1960s, and an original image of a man standing on a stack of pipe, ca. 1930s. The other images are prints of scans from original images, which also are contained on the CD as high resolution tif files. The scanned images include subjects such as oil gushers, derricks and roughnecks from the 1920s and 1930s.

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