(from Allegany County Republican – 11-22-1877)


(researched by Mary Rhodes; transcribed by Ron Taylor)


The Wildcat Derrick Burned


Wild Excitement !


$800 Damage and Ten Days Halt in the Work.


Emotional Insanity !


On Monday evening, about 7 o’clock and just as the drill was entering second sand at the Wildcat well on the Honeoye, and at a depth of 700 feet, a sudden burst of gas, accompanied by small quantities of oil, shot out of the casing , and, instantly igniting from the stove in the derrick, enveloped everything in flames.

The gas jets shot clean above the derrick, and  the sight was a grand one.  The comely derrick, which was the just pride of Honeoye, lasted but a few minutes under this fiery ordeal.

Mr. Ittai J. Elliott, who was seated within the derrick at the instant of explosion, barely made his escape.  He lost his hat, and was severely burned about the hands and face.

The driller’s vest hung upon a nail in the derrick, with a good silver watch in one of the pockets.  The watch is to-day a sick relic of its former usefulness.

The flow and steady blaze of gas continued from the casing all night and far into Tuesday, when it was put out.  At intervals on Tuesday it was re-lighted to satisfy doubting visitors.

The information reached this village about 3 or 4 o’clock of Tuesday morning and the excitement spread like wildfire.  A great many of our citizens visited the well and witnessed for themselves the flow of gas and the work of the fire.

The loss of the derrick will be $400, and the cable nearly as much more.  Ten days must elapse before the work can again proceed.

On Wednesday (yesterday) morning the driller came to this village.  He is certain that the well is filling with oil ! and has not the doubt that the Wildcat well and the Honeoye section will prove valuable oil territory.

To say that the people of this village and vicinity are enormously excited and intensely happy over this discovery, is doing but faint justice to the subject.  In it our citizens see the probable fulfillment of high hope and a happy release from the grasp of hard times.

Already Wellsville bristles with renewed business activity.  Oil operators and strangers are arriving and looking into the “promised land.”  Stock shares are in great demand and are held at a high premium with only occasional sales noted.

There are yet about 160 shares ($10 each) unsold, but these will be given in preference to those who already own stock in the Wellsville and Alma Oil Company.  Outsiders will scarcely be able to get in.  Notice of this sale will doubtless be given this week, and the sale take place some time next week.

To say that new companies will now be formed and a thorough ‘test made’ of all the probable oil territory near us, is to express the simple facts.  The result cannot well be doubtful now.  Already there is lively talk of putting down a well within the limits of this village, or near it, and a company will soon be organized for that purpose.

As we go to press everybody is happy, and high hopes light up the faces of citizen and sojourner.

Next week we hope to add to the good news.



Plenty of Excitement.

The past ten days have developed a generous degree of excitement respecting the oil interests of this locality.

It seems to be a well settled fact that oil exists far to the east and something to the north of the Bradford fields, and former efforts to obtain it, coupled with present operations at Canisteo and upon the Honeoye, give strong color to the proposition that only a few miles south of this village the precious fluid not only exists, but is soon to be produced.

As previously stated in these columns an efford was made some years ago to find oil at Whitesville, in the town of Independence, this county, and about 12 miles distant south east from Wellsville.  The drill was sent down some 700 feet, and in what is now understood to be the “second sand,” oil was found in small quantity,---The Bradford fields were then unknown, and the presence of oil in large quantities in the “third sand” was a yet undeveloped fact.  The well was abandoned, but, as the sequel shows, is soon to be drilled deeper and a competent test applied.  We hear that the W. H. Granby, Sheriff Withey and others are to undertake the work, having leased lands in the neighborhood.

A company of Wellsville and Alma gentlemen has been formed within a few months, and, as our readers are already familiar, are pushing the drill at the Wildcat Well, on the Honeoye in the town of Alma, on lands owned by Ittai J. Elliott.  The first sand was struck about ten days ago, and tallies with the Bradford formations.  On Saturday last the presence of “slush” oil was observed, and on Monday a fair flow of gas was indicated.  To say that excitement prevails among our citizens, is only to quote mildly.  Stock shares in the well were in great demand and a handsome premium was offered for them.  Second sand is expected to be reached this week, and every one seems confident that success is certain to crown the efforts of the pioneer well on the Honeoye.

On Monday evening it was rumored that the Bradford Oil Company had offered $10,000 for the well and leases of this company, doubtless to prevent immediate development of this territory, but it is by no means probable that such efforts will succeed.

The Bradford company is about to put down a test well on the Eleven Mile, about frive miles from the Alma well, and this is a fair indication of their faith in the territory as a paying one for oil.

In Genesee township, PA., south of Willing line, Messrs. Hart and Konkle, experienced operators from Rochester, have recently leased 2,000 acres in a body, and are preparing to erect a derrick and start the drill.

At Canisteo, Steuben county, the greatest excitement prevails over the discovery of small quantities of oil found in the second sand.  In spite of the rumor which prevailed last week that this was a hoax, it turns out that toil was actually found, with abundance of gas, and there is every indication that the Canisteo well will reward the enterprise which set the drill in motion with generous success.  A few days more will settle the question there, and if oil is found in any considerable quantity, the hopes of our local operators will be greatly strengthened.

A few years ago a well was sunk at Almond, but not deep enough to make a fair test.  A few days ago this hole was uncovered and found to exude considerable quantity of gas.  It is quite certain that, should oil be found at Canisteo, this well be deepened.  On the same creek, and at the saw mill two miles this side of Hornellsville, surface indications so plainly point to the existence of oil that the proprietor of the mill proposes to erect a derrick, and, from his mill power, give the locality a fair test.

But the eyes of our citizens are now turned upon the operations immediately to the south of us.  If oil is produced there, Wellsville at once becomes the center of extended operations, and will spring into significant importance as the outlet for the productions and natural base of supplies.  It will be a glad reverse leverage on the long depression caused by the hard times and will be hailed with delight by our citizens all.  Of course, if oil is found on the Honeoye, at Genesee Forks, and at Whitesville, there will be ample tests of territory made nearer this village, and it is by no means certain that we have not the precious fluid close to our very doors.  Co-incident with these circumstances will come substantial tests of promising territory in the towns of Genesee, Bolivar and Willing, and not unlikely in Wirt.  And should it prove that our county shall indeed be blest with this hidden treasure, we can heartily unite in congratulations, crow over good luck, forget political quarrels, all get ich and prepare to die happy.  So mote it be.

On Tuesday evening an enthusiastic meeting of citizens of the town of Willing was held at Shongo, to take action on the best means to protect so much of their town as is believed to be ‘on the belt’ from speculating leasing parties, and to insure the earliest development of their territory by responsible companies.  Mr. W. H. Granby of Belmont made an offer, and committees were appointed to investigate leases and plans and report at an adjourned meeting on Saturday evening.  Our neighboring town is pretty shaken up and we hope the best of good results may follow.  They are taking the true course.






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