Our first story is about how bosses must quickly adapt to unforseen circumstances to maintain their dignity and authority. A driller, formerly a marine drill
sergeant, was unhappily sent a new floorhand by his head office who was a graduate of the roughneck training school in Baton Rouge. On arrival, the driller
greeted him, by barking, “Get over here, what’s your name?” “Paul,” the new man replied. “Look, I don’t know what kind of crap they’re teaching weevils
over in that school, but I don’t call anybody by their first name, the driller scowled. “It breeds familiarity and leads to a breakdown in authority. I call
my hands by their last name only: Smith, Jones etc. I am to be referred to only as ‘Drill,’ do you understand that?” “Yes sir, Drill,” came the reply.
Drill: “Now that we’ve got that straight, what’s your last name?” The new hand sighed, “Darling, my name is Paul Darling.” With only a moment’s hesitation the
driller then ordered, “Ok Paul, here’s what I want you to do.”
Our history today is about one of the key characters in the discovery of the East Texas oilfield, a place many of you are familiar with. Much has been written about the
life, struggles and role of promoter, lease hound and wildcatter Columbus Marion “Dad” Joiner whose tenacity was finally rewarded when the Daisy Bradford #3 was
swabbed in flowing 300 bpd of high grade Woodbine crude oil on October 5, 1930. His self-taught “Geologist” on the well, a D. (Doc) Lloyd, is not so well known.
A famous widely published picture taken at the well site, which most of us have seen, shows him, the very large fellow, 6 ft, tall and 320 lbs., shaking hands with
the slightly built Joiner, along with the rig crew and one H. L. Hunt. Dad joiner first met Doc Lloyd, only one of his many aliases, while peddling leases and
promoting in Oklahoma. Born in 1857, Lloyd’s real name was Joseph Idlebert Durham; he’d changed it to avoid pursuit by the hoard of women he’d left in his considerable
wake, including six wives and a passel of children. Early on, he’d worked as a drug clerk while studying medicine in Cincinnati. Bored with being a druggist and
physician, he took off in 1890 for the Idaho gold rush and got a government job analyzing ore samples. Combined with studying books from the Bureau of Mines, people
and the art of promotion, he awarded himself the title of “Mining Engineer.” He proceeded to mine for gold in Alaska and Mexico and added the title of “Geologist.”
Although not clear, his first oil field activity may have been in Mexico, since he later conducted “Dr. Alonzo Durham’s medicine show” across the U.S., peddling patent
medicines he mixed from crude oil. But his taste for geology and his alias Dr. A. D. Lloyd was the career and name he finally settled on just before encountering Dad Joiner.
Now Doc Lloyd may not have had any formal geologic training or degree, but he had an uncanny nose for finding oil. His oil finding theories included inspecting the
coloration of surface rocks and plants. Drawing lines between oilfields on a map of an area; wherever those lines intersected was where more subterranean rivers and
lakes of oil would be found. And maybe the best of all was to incorporate his imagination into the analysis and produce slick positive reports, including maps and proposed
well locations, which is what he did for Joiner’s Oklahoma leases. This allowed Dad to raise drilling funds. On the first location Lloyd picked, Joiner ran out of drilling
money at 3150 ft and had to abandon the well. A bit later, Empire Gas & Fuel Co. drilled 200 ft deeper on the site and found the giant Seminole oil field. Joiner abandoned
the second location with only oil shows. A few months later, the Cement oil field was found close by. Joiner had failed through no fault of Lloyd and later both claimed to
have discovered those two fields.
Joiner continued to work several other Oklahoma areas without success and in 1921 set his sights on Rusk County, Texas, where leases were dirt cheap since most major companies
had soured the area based on their geological and geophysical work, even though several already had large blocks under lease. Meanwhile, Doc had wandered through a dozen more
oil fields; many failed promotions; and got involved in Mexican politics and business deals, where he formed oil and gas companies that bore his name.
Joiner had managed to build a sizeable lease block and needed Doc to help acquire more leases and raise drilling money. Finally locating him in Ft. Worth, they returned to
Rusk co, where Joiner introduced Lloyd around as “Doctor Lloyd, a great geologist.” Lloyd went to work, tramping all over the county, disappearing for days at a time, he
was studying the area and mapping it to prepare one of his slick reports.
He obviously had considerable learning as revealed by his speech. And was so gregarious, fond of bootleg whiskey, bold in his pursuit of the ladies, captivating in telling
stories of faraway places and able to out-drink and out-eat anyone, the much impressed locals followed him wherever he went. And when he confirmed his six marriages, they
considered them to be such an awesome undertaking they could not be condemned.
Lloyd finished his report entitled “Geological, Topographical and Petroliferous Survey, Portion of Rusk Co., Texas, made for C. M.
Joiner by a D. Lloyd, Geologist and Petroleum Engineer,” and Joiner began mailing out hundreds of copies with a map, a letter to
potential investors and a supposed “confidential” letter from Doc to Dad on potential of his acreage that apparently was
inadvertently included. The map showed a salt dome, four major anticlines and a fault running through the Bradford farm.
Report terminology was correct and language was clear. Included were details of formations and their dips, description of a
leasing play where high prices were being paid, the implication that Joiner was already drilling, promising seismograph data and
other attractive information. This grand piece of work was sent to Joiner’s sucker list of potential investors, headed by doctors
and widows, the best prospects.
There was only one problem with the report: every single statement supporting Lloyd’s conclusions was completely untrue.
There was no salt dome, no anticlines, no faults, no leasing play, no well underway, no seismic, no such formations etc, etc.
However, there was that inadvertent confidential letter dated June 15, 1927. In it, Lloyd plainly stated that Joiner would find
one of the largest oilfields on earth in Rusk Co., that he would find the Woodbine pay at 3550 ft and was sure to make a well.
Astonishingly, these forecasts were spot on and were made three years and four months before the Daisy Bradford #3 found that
Woodbine oil only 14 ft. from where Doc Lloyd said it was, eventually precipitating the biggest U.S. oil boom ever. If Doc Lloyd
was not the best geologist ever, he was certainly the luckiest – or maybe there is something to that clairvoyance stuff.
A footnote to this story. Doc Joiner’s long streak of bad luck prior to the Bradford discovery almost torpedoed him again.
He arbitrarily moved Doc Lloyd’s selected location for his first well two miles to the east to the Bradford farm because he’d never
paid the widowed Miss Daisy the rental on her lease and she’d given him an extension to boot. If he’d drilled Doc’s site, he would
have been smack in the fairway of the field. And if he’d moved it a mere quarter mile farther east, he’d have had a dry hole.
Doc hung around Rusk County only a little while after the boom began and sort of faded away, although he’d likely have become a
millionaire if he stayed. He, Dad Joiner and Miss Daisy had a last photo made in front of the Bradford #3, which was published
nationwide. Women in far places saw it and, according to the stationmaster in Overton, every time a train stopped a different
woman got off sometimes with one or more children and started asking about Doc Lloyd. He did get around.
Clark, James A. and Halbouty, Michel T., The Last Boom, New York, Random House, 1972
Olien, Diana Davids and Olien, Roger M., Oil in Texas, Austin, the University of Texas Press, 2002