A Guide to the Walter Benona Sharp Papers, 1865-1957
Walter Benona Sharp (1870-1912) was an oilman and inventor. He began his career contracting for the drilling of water wells in and around Dallas before working as a driller for Gladys City Oil and Gas Manufacturing Company in its first test for oil on Spindletop Hill. Because of quicksand Sharp was forced to abandon the well at 418 feet only thirty yards from the spot where, eight years later, the first gusher of the Spindletop oilfield came in. Sharp was also a pioneer driller at Sour Lake and Corsicana. Over the years he perfected a method for drilling in soft soil, which allowed drillers to finally penetrate the quicksands at Spindletop. After Spindletop’s success he began trading in oil leases and did a large drilling-contracting business. In 1902 he formed the Moonshine Company with J. R. Sharp, Ed Prather and Howard R. Hughes, which would later become the Texas Company. Together with Hughes and J. S. Cullinan he also developed the Sharp-Hughes Rock Bit.
Bibliography: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. " SHARP, WALTER BENONA," (accessed September 18, 2009).
The papers concern Sharp’s work as a driller and inventor as evidenced in letters, speeches, interviews, memoranda, charts, payrolls, vouchers, insurance policies, bank book, lease, magazines, pamphlets, clippings, maps and photographs. Included are an abstract of geophysics education; a list of prospective interviews for a history of Texas oil pioneers; and "Founding of the Texas Company: Some of Its Early History and a Few Reminiscences."
Walter Benona Sharp Papers, 1865-1957, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers