Oil Mens Wall of Fame Photo 1 of 1

Four to be inducted into the oil men’s Wall of Fame on Friday

By Caitlin Murphy

Wellsville Daily Reporter

Transcribed by Crist Middaugh


Bolivar - To kick off the final few days of the 2015 Pioneer Oil Days, the Pioneer Oil Museum Friday will be honoring four men who dedicated their lives to the oil fields that become major parts of history of the Southern Tier.

According to Kelly Lounsberry, vice president of the Pioneer Oil Museum Board of Directors and Consultants, the museum works in conjunction with the NewYork State Oil Producers Association (NYSOPA) to preserve the memory of those who worked in the oil business.

“People nominate people they’ve known in the oil and gas industry,” said Lounsberry. “We keep a database of the names, NYSOPA decides on who to induct. We’ve had a lot of people who have nominated family members and colleagues, so we have a very large database. WE run the ceremony and house the Wall of Fame plaques. NYSOPA provides financial support for housing the exhibit, so we work hand in hand.”

The 2015 NYSOPA Wall of Fame induction will take place at the Hahn and Shaffner site on Boss Street at 6 p.m. Following the induction, will be a wine ad cheese tasting even at 6:30.

The inductees for 2015 are Glenn Benson, Robert Murphy, Frank Putnam and Albert Shaner.

*  Glen Benson (1929-2014) was a 1951 graduate of Bolivar Central School. He served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean War. From 1983 until his retirement in 2012, Benson owned and operated Benson Oil Fields Explosives in Portville, where he worked with dangerous materials such as nitroglycerin on oil wells throughout local oil fields.

From 2006-2013, Benson served on the Allegany County Board of Legislators, where he served

Committees. He was also heavily involved in local organizations, such as the Bolivar Masonic Lodge, Jamestown Consistory and the Wellsville American Legion.

*  Robert “Tubby” Murphy (1927-2005) served in the United States Navy during both World War II and the Korean War. Originally employed by the U.S. Postal Service in Wellsville, he became a rural carrier in the Little Genesee post office and retired after 32 years of service.

For many years, Murphy ran the M and M Oil Company and pumped an oil lease in South Bolivar. He also was a member and post commander of the Kenyon Andrus Post 771 American Legion in Bolivar as well as the Elks Lodge 1495 in Wellsville.

Frank L. Putnam (1867-1942) was involved in the oil and gas business for most of his life. The founder of the Putnam Oil Company, he had a very active business, primarily in the Richburg area. The company drilled and operated a large number of oil and gas wells from the early 1920s to the early 1940s.

Putnam was also a prominent member of organizations in the Bolivar area, such as the Masons, where he was honored with 33rd-degree mason status due to his long and exceptional service. He was also a member of the Macedonia Lodge 258, P. & A. M. And the Bolivar Chapter 280, R.A.M. He was also a member of the Lodge of Perfection in Olean and the Consistory of Buffalo.

*  Albert “A.L.” Shaner (1865-19450 first arrived in Bolivar at 16 years old and shortly afterwards found a job in the booming oil industry. He soon saved enough money to became an independent oil producer and would become one of the largest producers in the area. He served as he president of the Allegany Refiners of Bolivar, one of his pet projects. In addition, Shaner was also the president of both the Richburg Supply Company and the Davis Oil Company. He was also a member of the board of directors of Messer Oil Company and a member of the New York State Oil Producers’ Association.

Shaner was also extremely involved in the local communities. He was vice president of Randolph Children’s Home and served as president of the Cemetery Association of Bolivar for 40 years. Shaner was also an active member of local Masonic groups such as the Bolivar Lodge, No. 280, Bolivar Chapter, Royal Arch Masons and St. John’s Commandery, Knights of Templar in Olean.

In addition, Shaner was a large part of building an early bank and the first gas station in Bolivar. One of his lasting contributions to the community was his support for the new Bolivar Central School building, where he also served as school board president for 15 years.