(Story From Cuba Patriot 11/23/1955; Pictures from Archives of David A. Howe Library-Wellsville,NY; Research credit to Mary Rhodes & Sidney & Sandra Cleveland for sharing the clipping from archives of the late Emma Lou King, former Historian, Town of Alma)

 Mary & John Moran  






Mary Moran, Bolivar's grand old Queen of Oil, attained a coveted mark this month.  She's one hundred years old.

The last living link between the present and the Richburg discovery well, which started the area's oil production, Mrs. Moran quietly observed the century mark at her home.

It was John Moran, her husband, who drilled in the Richburg Discovery well, on the John K. Reading farm, east of Richburg, on April 18, 1881, touching off the oil boom which old-timers refer to as the "Oil Excitement."

Mrs. Moran, a native of Ontario, Canada, was living in Friendship at the time, but moved to Bolivar in April, 1882.  She has lived there since then.

Of her family of nine children, (three boys and six girls), three daughters are still living:  Mrs. W. J. Hogan, the oldest; and Mrs. D. V. McCarthy, both of Bolivar, and Mrs. M. J. Haely of Olean.  Another daughter, Miss Olive Moran, passed away earlier this year.

She has a family today consisting of the three daughters, 16 grandchildren, 43 great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.

Her maiden name was Mary Jane McDevitt.

She was born Nov. 11, 1855 in Hillsdale, Ont.  She married John Moran, also a Canadian, on July 26, 1876, and came to the United States, living in Titusville, PA, while Mr. Moran was active in the oil country in that section.  In 1880 they moved to Friendship, and on April 1, 1882, they moved to Bolivar, where Mr. Moran had become a key figure in the area's mushrooming oil business.

John Moran passed away in 1904.

Noted for her cheery disposition and enthusiasm, Mrs. Moran has long been a familiar figure in Bolivar.  But for the past several years she has not been active, since she lost her eyesight.

She lives alone at 172 N. Main St., where two housekeepers, Mrs. Helen Green, R.D. Bolivar, and Mrs. Bertha Mahoney of Elmira, fondly care for her.

She has long been keenly interested in politics, keeping abreast of the political situation with her radio.  In her younger years, she was an avid card player and her children relate how she often would take delight in sessions of Five Hundred which would run into the early morning hours.

She raised four families, her family disclosed.  She was the oldest of eight children when her mother died, and she cared for her brothers and sisters.  Then there was her own family, and two sons of John Moran by a previous marriage.  And two other relatives, orphaned at an early age, were raised by her in later years.

After the original oil excitement died down and Bolivar began reverting back to a sleepy farm community, in the 1880s, her husband, with his sons, went west, following the oil excitements.  She remained in Bolivar with their family and for several years walked daily to leases outside Richburg to pump them herself.  She has long maintained that Bolivar will see oil boom days again.

The only living connection between the present and that day of long ago, in 1881, when the Richburg Discovery well came roaring in to start the area oil boom, Mrs. Mary Moran has a wealth of information concerning that historical event.

She recently related her recollections of how the Richburg Discovery well came to be drilled:  "After the discovery of oil in 1879 at Petrolia, NY, by Mr. O. P. Taylor, the settlers became oil-minded and restless.  The 64 dollar question was, 'Is there oil on my farm?'

Several test wells had been drilled in the county.  In 1880 my husband drilled one on Middaugh Hill between Scio and Friendship.  It was a dry hole.  Nevertheless my husband insisted that oil would be found somewhere between Bradford, PA, and Petrolia, NY.

"The winter of 1881 was extremely hazardous.  I recall that Mr. Crandall Lester, Mr. Edward Bliss and Mr. A. B. Cottrell came to my home in Friendship with horse and sleigh to interview my husband about drilling a test well at Richburg.

They had a packet of oil leases which they had secured from the local Richburg farmers and it was decided to drill a test well on 1/2 of the J. K. Reading farm on Richburg Hill, east of the village.

Two Friendship men became interested and took interests in the project with Lester, Bliss, Cottrell and Moran.  They enlisted Mr. O. P. Taylor of Wellsville, who had made persistent efforts to locate the pay streak, to join them.  The partnership was to be known as the Richburg Oil Co., each partner to own a 1/7 share in the venture.  Mr. Moran also took the contract to drill the well.

"The events which followed form a most spectacular historical background.  They are age-old stories to me which never grow old.  I hope yet that they may be put in drama of that far-past-oildom in Allegany County, New York."