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100 Years Ago: March 29, 1923 Fairfield Times

  • Updated

The Times learns that the J.S. Beardsley family will take a year’s leave of the project. Mr. Beardsley has leased his improved ranch 5 miles east of Fairfield to W.H. Walters of Coaldale Alberta, who comes to take possession as soon as he can return to Canada and dispose of his personal effects. It is understood that Mr. Walters will also take over a considerable part of Mr. Beardsley’s livestock and machinery. Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley will join their five children now at Helena, or they will live until the end of the school year, when it is planned by the family to remove to California the family will be greatly missed from the Fairfield community, especially by the membership of the local community church, where they have taken an active interest both in the church and Sunday school.

Miss Pearl Charteris of Great Falls is a guest of Miss Juna Thorud this week.

Sam Ness was called to Shawnee, North Dakota, this week by the serious illness of his aged father.

A number of local basketball followers attended the game between the Choteau and Fort Shaw high schools at the latter place last Saturday evening. The game was closely contested, Choteau, winning by score of 18 to 14.

‘Round and About Town

Local News of Interest to Times’ Readers

John Cunningham has recovered sufficiently from the injury to his leg as to be able to be about again.

Father Maroney of Choteau will conduct a baptismal service in Fairfield today.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Hirshberg, and Mr. and Mrs. Mort Hirshberg attended the show at the Grand in Great Falls Wednesday evening,

Ed Williams and Miss Laura Barr, of the [Great Falls] Tribune mechanical staff in Great Falls, visited in Fairfield between trains Wednesday. (Ed. Note: Laura Barr, born in 1898, was a Linotype operator at the Great Falls Tribune. She also worked as a “printer” (as Linotype operators were often called) at Helena and Butte. She passed away in 1940, at the age of 42, at Cleveland, Ohio, where she was employed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin Olson entertained a number of their friends at cards at their home east of town last Saturday evening.

A jolly crowd gathered at the home of Mrs. Olaf Dale, last Thursday, when members of the West Branch of the Lutheran Ladies’ Aide pleasantly surprised her.

Gilbert Barr, accompanied by his mother, Mrs. J.F. Barr, drove to Great Falls last Saturday, the latter visiting her daughter, Miss Laura, and son, Paul, during the day.

A number of Miss Louise Zimmerman’s friends surprised her at her home Wednesday evening, about a dozen young people were present and a very enjoyable time is reported.

Mrs. Alfred Crawshaw returned recently from a pleasant visit of several weeks at the home of her parents at Fredonia, Kansas. She was accompanied on her return by a little nephew, five years old, who comes to make his home with Mr. and Mrs. Crawshaw.

H. E. Hyatt leaves today for Bethany, Missouri, there to see an uncle, who was stricken recently with paralysis. From there he will go to Ladoga, Indiana, to the bedside of another uncle, who is also stricken with the strange disease. One of the uncles is 83 years old, and the other is 86 years of age.

Gus Ludwig, who has made about all the good wells for domestic use on the bench, thinks the property owners around Fairfield need have no fear about having water in their basement, for the present, at least. In completing a well in the basement of Mrs. Fred Schoensigel’s house this week he found the water to be more than 12 feet below the surface of the ground.

The West Branch of the Lutheran Ladies Aide met with Mrs. E. O. Anderson on Thursday, January 18, and on January 4, the meeting was at the home of Mrs. Andrew Munson.

The picture show given by Reverend Harry strong of Choteau, at the Community church, last Saturday evening is reported to have been a very fine feature. The pictures, being  exceptionally clear and distinct. Rev. Strong has fitted up an ingenious device for securing power from a Ford car for operating a small dynamo, and with which he is able to secure ample voltage for his picture machine. It is to be regretted that the attendance was not better, but it used to be hoped the Choteau minister may be induced to come again when his entertainment can be better advertised.

Mr. and Mrs. M.T. Olson entertained at cards last Saturday evening. The guests were Mr. and Mrs. Peter Maren; Mr. and Mrs. O.E. Anderson; Mr. and Mrs. Everett Eastwood; Mr. and Mrs. John Eastwood; Mr. and Mrs. Lester Young; Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Shoquist. Five Hundred was played until midnight when a fine lunch was served. Mrs. E.O. Anderson had the high score, Mrs. A.J. Shoquist, and Mr. Peter Maren drew for the consolation prize. After lunch games were played until a late hour when the guests departed for their homes, pronouncing the evening a most pleasant one.

Paul Barr came up from Great Falls to remain until Monday, having been excused from the semester examinations for his good work in the classroom during the semester.

Project manager, George O. Sanford, and Irrigation Manager G. A. Benjamin, spent a couple of days this week checking records at the county courthouse.

Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Baker, recent arrivals from Coaldale, Alberta, are now comfortably located on the Cleiv unit which they have leased for the coming year.

John Lane of the Lowry neighborhood, is reported as having departed for Pennsylvania in the hope of recovering his health, which is not been the best of late. His sister, Mrs. Carbaugh, remains on the ranch, but she two, may decide to join her brother in the east later on.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ness entertained for dinner Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Everett Eastwood and children; Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Eastwood and family; Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Eastwood and family; Mr. and Mrs. E.O. Anderson; and family; Mrs. Edmondson; Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Olsen and family.



Test Big Lake Dome

After having drilled wells on the Big Lake anticline west and north of Big Lake, the south end of the anticline will be given a deep test by the Barnsdall-Foster people.

Showing in Bear’s Den

Oil has been encountered in the Bear’s Den well, being drilled in the Sweet Grass hills about 35 miles from Joplin, near the Canadian line, according to reports from what are considered reliable sources.

Salt Creek Railroad

Eastern Montana’s chances for still another railroad, one to the Soap Creek oil field in Big Horn County, have improved during the past week.

British Capital Interested

Drilling of a test well on the Blarney Castle dome, south of the international border, will be begun by the Spartan Oil company, an organization of English and Vancouver capitalists, according to S. W. Miller and F. J. Whitcroft of the company.

To Drill South of Chinook

The drilling outfit for the Ohio Oil company well on the Sherrard structure south of the mountains is being hauled out and arrangements made for a drilling crew. The well, it is reported, will be spudded in on section 17-25-17 east.

Two New Cat Creek Producers


Cat Creek #1 oil well, undated photo.

Mid-Northern-Green well No. 17 and the “56” Petroleum company’s No. 11, which were brought in last week, are both second sand wells, according to reports from the field. The Green well is in section 14-15-29, and the “56” hole just north in section 11. The Green picked up the sand at 1,450 feet and will make about 100 barrels daily, estimates show.

Six Drillings Near Pendroy

That six or more rigs will be in operation and development of the Pendroy field well under way within the next few months is freely predicted there. Two rigs, it is declared, will be set north and west of the town within two weeks, one on the Frank Miller place and the other on the Hines ranch.

New Homestake Producer

The Homestake Howling No. 1, on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of 9-35-2 west, Kevin-Sunburst, came into production last week at 1,772 feet with the hole carried 12 feet into the sands. About 200 feet of oil rose in the hole immediately but caving preventing shooting until the hole is cleaned and casing reset.

Best Strike of North

What is estimated as the greatest producer yet drilled in in the Sweet Grass arch was reported from Shelby a few days ago with the statement that within 30 minutes after the Ohio-Baker No. 3 was drilled two feet into the Ellis sand at 1,680 feet, heads of oil flowing 50 feet over the top of the derrick came three times, pouring 500 barrels of choice oil over the ground. Oil men agree that it is the biggest strike of any in the field. The well is on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 4, township 35 north, range 2 west.

Big Drilling Campaign

Announcement of a drilling campaign for volume of production that will justify the construction of a pipe line from Kevin-Sunburst field and a large refinery either in northern Montana or in Canada, was made by the Gladys Belle Oil & Refining Co. of Montana. The Gladys Belle now has two producers in the northern field and has 40,000 acres under lease including a large tract in the vicinity of the Beck Petroleum company’s well on Liberty dome, south of the Sweetgrass hills.

To Drill the Flatwillow

When the plans of A. O. Eberhart, three times governor of Minnesota, and a few associates, are set in motion, the extreme eastern end of the Flatwillow will again come into the spotlight, according to H. Ivarson, who asserts operations there will be begun within a few weeks. Mr. Ivarson spent several days checking up titles and arranging for the closing of leases in township 14, range 29.

Stevenson Refinery Over-Subscribed

Sunburst Refining company, the latest Stevenson organization, is not only financed, but $80,000 over-subscribed.

This is the announcement of John Stevenson, brother of President L. C. Stevenson, who had charge of the Refining company campaign. This enterprise was financed in record time, setting a new mark in Montana oil financing.

Thirteen days saw the refinery issue over-subscribed. So far as is known this is the shortest campaign in the history of the Montana industry. The issue was taken largely by stockholders in the other Stevenson companies, though a large amount of new Montana money was enlisted in this enterprise.

The refinery will draw its supply of crude oil from producing wells controlled by the Stevenson interests.

Stevenson’s Big Program Two hundred fifty wells.

That is the 1923 drilling program of the Sunburst Oil & Gas company in Kevin-Sunburst field, announced by L. C. Stevenson, president.

This number of wells will be drilled on Sunburst Oil & Gas acreage in the northern field. ‘l’he company will drill between 72 and 100 wells and the remainder will be completed under operating agreements with large Standard and Independent drilling companies.

The Sunburst company is starting a program of large proportions in order to secure sufficient production for the operation and expansion of its refining properties.

Hager-Stevenson company, which has been acting as the wild-catting branch of the Stevenson organization, is now turning its attention to proven ac-reage. It is now drilling the Barth permit and will immediately start several other wells, according to announcement of Dorsey Hager, in charge of operations.

Cat Creek’s Magnificent Record

From 110 wells in Cat Creek is being measured the potential production of the field, which scarcely three years ago was a mere hypothetical proposition, with a questionable future. In a comparatively short period Cat Creek has been made to produce more than any field in Wyoming, outside of Salt Creek, and the peak of production is far from being reached. The record of Cat Creek for the year 1922 shows a production of 2,209,832 barrels, without accounting for oil consumed in the field for fuel.

Old Cat Creek Oil Field Well

The dry hole marker for the first oil well recorded in the Cat Creek Oil Field, Petroleum County, Montana.

During the first six months there were 3,525 tank cars of oil shipped out of Cat Creek. During the last six months of the year a substantial increase is shown, the number of cars being 5,292, or 8,817 cars for the year. The increase in the last six months of 1922 is due to the tapping of the second Cat Creek sand, which practically doubled the production. In round numbers, Cat Creek must be credited for the year just closed with more than $4,000,000 of new wealth taken from one of Montana’s natural resources.

Editor's Note: About “56” Petroleum Corp.

The name comes from the 56 investors. Each ponied up $250 to start the company in Miles City. On November 14, 1920, the Helena Independent printed a front-page article which included this story:

Smiling Joe Baker is from Oklahoma where oil wells are thicker than Indians in the Cherokee days . . . for several years Baker has been in the real estate business in Miles City. The oil business is something like the real estate on it is just 1,000 times faster - like jazz music compared to a Thanksgiving anthem . . . Baker told the Powder River people down in Miles City that it was a great big roulette game, and the people of Miles City like a roulette game . . . He picked out several pieces of ground (near Mosby) but failed to get his first choice; he took what he could get and landed in Miles City one day with a homesteader and a lease all made out. But the lease had to be signed by the wife of the homesteader who had gone to Wisconsin.

Baker went to a Miles City bank and told them his story. He did not have a cent of money over the railroad fare for the homesteader to take the lease to Wisconsin for his wife to sign. He persuaded the cashier of the bank to assure the homesteader that $14,000 would be waiting for him when he returned with the lease signed.

Miles City always comes through. The homesteader was no sooner on his way to Wisconsin that Smiling Joe Baker was out to sell 56 units in his oil lease for $250 each in order to raise the $14,000 to pay for the lease. In a few hours the money was in the bank . . . Baker secured a rig and started the drill. The lease was secured in early July, the well was “spudded in” in September, and November 1 the units which were sold to the original 56 subscribers were quoted at $12,500 each . . .

This is the well about which there has been more talk than any other well because it was wholly outside the big companies, had no big money in it and was only the private enterprise of a handful of Miles City businessmen. All kinds of stories were told of its value, but oil men know of but on was to estimate the value of a well. They say a flowing well in a promising field is worth $2500 per barrel per production day. If the “56” continues to give up 2,000 barrels per day, filling its four 500-barrel tanks every 24 hours, it is worth at this rate $5,000,000. (Note: in Montana in 1920, the price per barrel of oil was $3.07. At the time of this writing, Wyoming General Sweet Crude is going for $63.54. Based on the current (Mar. 24, 2023) price, at 2,000 barrels per day, the well would have a value of $103,450,000.)  If it is only a 1,000 barrel well when it strikes its gait, it is wort $2,500,000.

In the early 1932, “56” Petroleum was absorbed into Conoco.

In the January 5, 1946, issue of The Great Falls Tribune, a story by Ray Mondal appeared, “Greater Cat Creek Discovery Lures Numerous Operators.”

The story reads, in part:

The other company due to come back to life with a bang is the “56” Petroleum Corp. of Miles City. This company was originally composed of 56 investors, mostly Miles City railway men, who put in $250 each. For years, each of these investors received $250 monthly from the investment, with total amount not ascertainable at this time. The company has so far paid 140 dividends.

It’s main and only paying property in the Cat Creek field was the 260-acre Ihde farm. Only 60 acres of the farm proved productive, but from 1920 to the present, according to records of the Montana oil conservation board, this 60 acres has yielded 1,365,431 barrels of high-gravity crude oil.

Several years ago the company disposed of its shallow sand wells to the Century Oil Co., which in turn sold them to the Continental Oil Co. (Conoco), which is still pumping them.

However, officials of the “56” company said this week, the concern has retained ALL of the rights covering production from the deeper sands. According to a communication from company officials, “Actually we sold the first and second sand production to the Century Oil Co., with a contingent interest in lower sands providing a deep test was drilled within two years. The deep test was not drilled.”