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Garvin County

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Pernell Oklahoma

Pernell, Garvin County, Oklahoma
100 yards wide and 3/4's mile long
from the Garvin County Advocate, October 1, 1994, Page 1 & 3

Written by Mike Tower and reprinted here with permission

(Author's note: I graduated from High School at Pernell back more years
than I care to discuss. When we moved there, the highway had been in less than 5 years.
Pretty remarkable, considering what I'm about to relate. For in the early part of
this century, the area presently identified as Pernell was home to 5,000 or so
folks. Sound far-fetched? Well, maybe it is--a little. But, way back yonder this
was the sight of some very heavy oil finds, and people flocked into the Pernell area.
There were so many people in there that the available out houses like to caught
afire from the near constant activity.)

Back in the 1890's there was not a community in Garvin County named Pernell.
There was a Thomas Pernell (also spelled Parnel) whose Indian allotmentlay
along the ridge that was to eventually become the town site. Mr. Pernell lived
about a mile south of the country store called Robberson's. In 1890, a
Post Office was established at William F. Robberson's store. The store was 24 miles
southwest of Pauls Valley on the end of a country farm to market road known locally
as the White Bead Road (as it lead to White Bead, some 20 miles to the northwest).
Around the store were enough houses to qualify the area as a community.
Although Robberson didn't amount to much, it was important to the area as a place
to buy because the roads were not hard surfaced and horse drawn
wagons are slow. Shoot, it would have been an all day drive, stay overnight,
and drive back the next day, just to
get a coke.

As late as 1912, W.C. Bolling and J.B. Russell, were petitioning the County that
people west of Wildhorse Creek had to have bridges and roads by which they could
reach the county seat. You might say it was a little primitive,
but things were about to change.

"SCUM BUBBLES ARE DISCOVERY CLUES." This was the headline in a 1920 Daily Oklahoman.

The article went on to describe how scums of heavy black oil and gas bubbles
in a water well on a farm in section 16-1N-3W, southwestern Garvin County,
led to discovery of the sprawling shallow Robberson oil field. Section
16 is west of the present highway through Pernell. Robberson was in the Southeast
Quarter of this section, filling out into the Northeast Quarter of Section 21.
Pernell was most all the Northwest Quarter of Section, on the east side of present highway,
through some parts did spill over into the Northeast Quarter of Secion 16. Aw, heck, get
your county map out and look.

Pierce Larkins, a consulting geologist, is reported to have gone down in
the water well to scrape the walls and gather samples of sand (now, boys and girls,
that is what I call trust. Cause ol Pierce, he had to rely on that ol
farmer to lower him into that well. What if ol Pierce didn’t find any
evidence of oil? Huh? What's to stop that ol farmer from cuttin that well rope,
and go get him a friendlier geologist?)

A surface survey followed and Larkins mapped the structure. That survey of oil
location is almost unchanged in present development by the drill.
Although Larkins completed his geological work in 1915, it was not until June,
1920, that Magnolia Petroleum Co., opened the field with a 40 million foot gasser
at a depth of 1,386 feet. Oil was discovered July 16, 1921, in Section 14-1N-3W,
with a flow of 200 barrels a day, to touch off a development program. By end of the
year drilling had spread over several sections and the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Co., had
completed a 1,000 barrel producer in Section 13-1N-3W.

Right here I'm gonna let Carol McConnell take over. Carol was a student of
my father's and after his death, we found a home work assignment Carol had
written that Dad had saved. I'm gonna give it to you just as she wrote it,
August 28, 1959.

In 1918, a Mr. Tom Boss dug a water well on P.W. Richardson's land. Instead of finding
water they found oil and gas. In 1919, they dug an oil well at this place called
Peter's Ridge, named after Mr. Richardson. The name was
later changed from Peter's Ridge to Pernell, named after Thomas Pernell.
The Magnolia Service dug the oil well.
When they struck oil, the oil boomers started moving in. The more boomers that came in,
the larger the town got.

Having installed a machine shop, drug store, grocery store, dry goods store, theater,
lumber yard, hardware store, café, bakery, and barber shop, made the town even larger.
It was three quarters of a mile through town, north and south, and it spread out east
and west. Most of the huts were for oil field workers, and were in rows on each side
of the road. At centerline the school and Post Office, and Old Robberson, both were
moved to present location in about 1922. Audrey Stevens was the first Post Master
at Pernell. Claud Sweeny was peace officer at Pernell for
several years.

(Author's note; I knew Mr Sweeny when I was a boy. He was still an active police officer
and I was mighty impressed by that big ol colt he carried. The Garvin County History
gives this biography of Mr. Sweeny. Claud B. Sweeny came to Cherokee Town as a
of nine in 1889. This veteran peace office has been serving since
1914 when he joined the Pauls Valley Police force. He has held about
every law enforcement job there is in the county. He has been a county oil
field deputy, Sheriff, Deputy U.S. Marshal, and Chief of Police. He was Garvin
County Sheriff from 1914 to 1957, the longest any man has held that office.)

After the fields were drilled out it was necessary for the oil field workers to move to
other places. As the workers moved the town began to diminish in size.
It now consists of Dwight Tripps Grocery and Post Office, Frank
Walters General Merchandise, and Carol Henderson;s Grocery. There has been
two chruches built at Pernell, Baptist and Chruch of Chjrist.

Highway 76 now goes through Pernell

Pernell was named after Thomas Pernell because some of the stores and buildings
were built on his land.

Robberson and Pernell are just two of the many communities to boom and bust from
the production of oil. I was living at Maud Oklahoma, and remember to this day
how shocked I was over the devastation of a 'bust'. Seems I'd
recently been down town with Dad, for something or other and asked him why this
one end of Main Street was always so busy. He told me, in kind of an awed voice
that this was where the oil field men did their business.
And, boy, what a business they were doing. People lined up on the sidewalk trying
to get into a café, crowds in front of the supply houses, and trucks just roaring
in and out of the lumber yard. It looked like an anthill after a cow stepped in it,
only this was people running around, bumping into each other.

Later that same year, this section of town appeared to me to have just died over night.
I recall we had some kind of parade. Home Coming, I think, and I got to ride
on one of the floats. Well, sir, that float took me down to the end
of main where all the oil field supply stores, and lumber yards, and cafes were.
Only, they weren' t there anymore. Oh, the buildings were there. But they had boards
tacked across the doors and windows and yellowed foreclosure notices on the doors.
And, the bustling crowds were gone. All those men, just vanished, and it wasn't even
Sunday. When I asked Dad about what I'd seen, that was the first time I heard
about the boom-bust cycle of
petroleum production.

I remember being out on the football field at Pernell, watchin, as some ol boy
started walking the track around the hill where the football field was.
He was holding a divining rod, an aluminum divining rod. Well, I'd always
heard "water wishers" can allegedly find the proper spot for a water well with a
willow divining rod, which is a forked stick that the diviner holds by the fork
and follows the stress exerted by the pointy end. But, I couldn't for
the life of me figure out what the man expected to find with an aluminum divining rod,
so I asked him.

"Oil." he said.

Well, he looked sane, and he smelled sober, and he sure was business like.
So, I turned to my fellow student and asked him who the heck is that, and is he nuts.
Well sir, my friend looked at me, and just as serious as a Highway
Partol Trooper, writing a ticket , says, "That's ol so and so. He ain't crazy.
He finds oil thata way. Shoot, he's done been a millionaire 3 or 4 times.

But it wasn't until I read my Garvin County History book that I heard the phrase,
The Golden Trend. Well excuse my ignorance, but what the heck is a Golden Trend.

Well, I did a little research and found the Golden Trend is a fancy name for an oil field.
I found a description of this oil field that takes me off the ignorant list
at least on this subject. Again, that explanation comes for the Daily
Oklahoma, It goes like this.

"In 1945, Cities Services Oil completed its No. 1 Lawson, in Section 25-5N-4W,
to open the deep Lindsay Field, and also kick off a wildcatting campaign which
resulted in opening of the Golden Trend of western Garvin and McClain Counties..(1)"

"Wildcatters were on the march in 1946…the Southwest Antioch field was discovered;
it was describes as an "answer to a wildcatter's dream," for there was open acreage
(to lease and develop) at a fair price. This field spurred the development which sent
rigs all the way across western Garvin County, and within a year the area had
been dubbed "The Golden Trend." Katie and Maysville formed links in the trend play…with
development spreading on the Golden Trend, 3846 wells were completed (in Oklahoma)
in 1947…" Warren Petroleum, and affiliated companies, started building their
Garvin County Plants in the heart of the Golden Trend in 1948, ;a major
conservation program and one which made possible the unitization of several oil
fields there."…"The Golden Trend--now comprising more than 40 fields had not been defined,…(2)"

Garvin County has always been on the forefront of new developments in the petroleum
industry in Oklahoma. The importance of oil related industry to the economic
well being of our county can not be understated. We survive on the revenues generated
by oil and agriculture. Even if you are not directly engated in either industry. You are
affected by strengths and sort comings of both. That's not a moralization, it's just a fact.

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