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Taylor, Orville P

Orville P. TAYLOR was born at Leesville, Campbell Co., Va., Sept. 15, 1838 and died in Wellsville Nov. 17, 1883. When sixteen he made his home with an aunt and received his education at Geese Seminary near Attica graduating in 1858. The same year railway contractors of Richmond, Va., sent him to superintend the construction of the first railroad in the Empire of Brazil, known as "Dom Pedro's Railway." On his outward passage the vessel was wrecked, and for 22 days Mr. TAYLOR with others clung to the waterlogged hull before it was cast on shore on the island of St. Thomas. In Brazil he acquired the warm friendship of the Emperor and was frequently entertained and consulted by him. He narrowly escaped death from a severe attack of yellow fever which debilitated him through life. Returning north in 1860, in January, 1861, he married, at Canaseraga, Cornelia, daughter of Chauncey F. and Harriet S. CLARK, and granddaughter of Stephen and Ann MUNDY, prominent pioneers of the town of Burns. A loyal Southerner he took his bride to his Virginia home and cast in his lot with his state and the Southern Confederacy as a soldier until the end of the Civil War. "He was brave, daring and gallant, possessed that determined resistance that so long prolonged the war against the crushing odds of superior force and wealth," and was wounded in the first battle of Manassas. Accepting uncomplainingly the result of the war he came to Canaseraga in 1865 and engaged in the manufacture of cigars. In 1870 he made his home in Wellsville and extensively increased his business. His life from this time is historic. To him belongs the just credit of the development of the Allegany oil field. The Bradford Era, a most competent authority, thus outlines his connection with this industry:

There are few people in the oil regions who do not know Mr. TAYLOR as the Father of the Allegany field, and the stories of the trials and discouragements of his first efforts in this direction are familiar to almost every one. It seems as if a dispensation had selected him to pave the way to this field of wealth. It has been said by those who are familiar with the defeats which characterized his first efforts in Alma, that not one man in a million would continue in a fixed purpose in the face of so many discouragements as he did. The stories of his trials and subsequent triumphs would read like fiction. Many believe that without his remarkable pluck and indomitable will, which no defeat could swerve, the Allegany field with its wealth of oil would be unknown to day. True it is that no one can dispute his claim to be the founder of this producing section which stands next to Bradford in point of importance as an oil field. Mr. TAYLOR first became interested in ventures in Alma during the year 1877. His first venture was on lot 26 Alma. At a depth of 1,015 feet, they encountered a thin stratum of rock -- about 6 feet in all -- which contained some gas and a showing of oil. The rest of the company were discouraged with the result of this venture, but Mr. TAYLOR believed that this was a conclusive evidence of a producing rock in Allegany county. He next became interested in what has since been known as the Pikeville well on lot 118 Alma. It was finished in November, 1878. The bit cut through twenty feet of sand and Mr. TAYLOR thought it might have made a two barrel producer. They Wykoff well was drilled in the winter of 1878-9. The bit cut through a hard close sand and proved the third failure in the list. The first of Mr.. TAYLOR's ventures which have any omens of encouragement was the Triangle well No. 1. It was completed in June 1879. This well has an interesting history. After a series of experiments it was pronounced a failure, although it proved the correctness of Mr. TAYLOR's belief that an oil bearing rock underlaid the rugged surface of Allegany, and his faith that a producing field would be opened here grew stronger, while the Triangle well No. 1 gave him a point to work from. The Brimmer Brook well was drilled during the succeeding autumn. it was the dryest of all Mr. TAYLOR's previous experiments. The Triangle well No. 2, which was Mr. TAYLOR's next experiment, was a better well than No. 1, and gave the owner the first foothold in this field. then followed No. 3, a hundred rods southwest of No. 2. This was regarded as the first paying well in Allegany field. It was finished about the 4th day of July 1880. During the same summer the Campbell well No. 1, on lot 7, Bolivar, in which Mr. TAYLOR was interested, was finished, and about the same time Mr. TAYLOR finished a dry hole on the WILLIAMs farm, lot 27, Bolivar. The latter was as dry as a well could be, though afterwards paying wells were obtained within a stone's throw. Only those acquainted with Mr. TAYLOR during his first ventures in Allegany county, know the discouragements under which he labored. One dry hole succeeded another, and the expense of wildcatting exhausted his bank account and drained his pocket book. After the completion of his second or third failure, outside capital was slow coming in, and Mr. TAYLOR'S zeal and continued faith in the field was regarded as an evidence of fanaticism rather than a praiseworthy zeal. Monied men withdrew their support from his wildcat schemes and his friends laughed at what they regarded as his crazy ideas. It is related that at one time after his credit had run quite low, a committee of his neighbors called upon him, and earnestly petitioned him to dis-continue his more than useless drilling in Alma and return to his legitimate business. They urged him in the interest of his family to try and earn an honest living.  Before the old Triangle well No. 2 was finished the drillers refused to work any longer without a payment of their past indebtedness. Being unable to meet his obligations, he was compelled to take hold of the temper screw himself. He and his son Charlie, who was nothing more than a boy, made a screw themselves and drilled the well through the sand. Mr. TAYLOR in speaking of his early struggles in this part of the field said no one took any interest in his work, and he seldom had any company but the chipmunks and robins. The Triangle wells Nos. 1, 2 and 3 however were small, the Campbell well No. 1 was pronounced a failure, and the Williams well on 37, Bolivar, being dry, Mr. TAYLOR had not apparently scored much of a triumph at the close of the year 1880, although he had fully demonstrated the fact that oil existed in Allegany county. The completion of the old Richburg well in the spring of 1881 opened a new era in the history of the Allegany field, and Mr. TAYLOR's prosperity dates from this time. During the Cherry Grove excitement Mr. TAYLOR took an interest in that field with the common result. Mr. TAYLOR's predictions for the Allegany field have been more than realized.


The Buffalo Express in an article on the Allegany oil field says:


No. 1 Triangle was the first flowing well in Allegany county. It produced 10 barrels a day for some weeks. No attempt was made to save the oil. It was allowed to pour out on the derrick floor. TAYLOR passed through some of the bitterest experiences of his life while drilling the Triangle well. He was distrusted by all except a few tried friends. Just before the Triangle well was completed the jars broke. The nearest point to get them repaired was Bradford. TAYLOR was totally out of funds and could not borrow or secure the loan of a dollar, and went home, for once, completely disheartened. his wife inquired the cause of his despondency and when informed, to his great surprise, she offered to advance him the money needed. She had sold her gold watch, rings and jewelry to buy the necessaries of life, but her faith in his venture was great enough to ignore hunger. From the moment the well was finished TAYLOR's star was in the ascendant, and everybody was glad to acknowledge him as a friend.


Mr. TAYLOR possessed the southern characteristics of courtesy, ease and gentleness of manner. He was of medium size, with dark, piercing eyes and full dark-colored beard, and he possessed a personal magnetism and charm of conversation that carried conviction to his listeners. He was a deep thinker and had strong and convincing proofs to support his theories. He was an ardent Freemason, holding membership in Wellsville Chapter and St. John's Commandery of Olean. He was at all times ready to help a friend, and no deserving person ever went from him unaided. He was a kind husband and father, and more than all other places enjoyed the atmosphere of his home. He had three children, Charles O., William O. and Annie B. (Mrs. Grant DUKE). One of Mr. TAYLOR's staunchest friends was the gifted Enos W. BARNES. In an obituary written for the Wellsville Reporter, Mr. BARNES said: To him belongs the credit of the development of the Allegany oil fields. It required just his persistent pluck and perseverance, and he triumphed where a thousand others would have failed. The faithful wife never for once forsook him. In an hour when business men and friends shook their heads and refused further aid, her heroic devotion won for her a name not to be forgotten and ever to be admired and emulated. In the midst of his struggles with the fortunes and fatigues of oil developments, Mr. TAYLOR was elected president of the village of Wellsville and gave close and competent attention to the duties. In 1881 he ran as Democratic nominee for member of assembly. He ran 479 ahead of his ticket, and came out of the contest with marked credit. Death has drawn down the curtain upon an eventful and busy life. He will be missed and mourned in the truthful and conspicuous sense. A genial disposition, even when the horizon of his business and speculation was gloomy and full of apprehension, won for him a heartiness of respect and appreciation which will live green in long years to come.


---(John S. Minard, _Allegany County and its People. A Centennial Memorial History of Allegany County, New York_, W. A. Fergusson & Co., Alfred, N.Y., 1896)

Obituary-John Osborne Taylor, father of O.P. Taylor d.1885

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