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A Cooperage and the Heisman Trophy
Michael heisman, Cooper and Oilman
John Heisman, Football Coach
Tribute Plaque
The Trophy


At the very beginning of the oil industry in 1859 the sawmill of the Brewer and Watson Lumber Company was lucky enough to be just a few yards from Drake's well and near to subsequent early wells on Oil Creek.  Seeing the opportunity, the mill commenced to make wooden oil barrels as a sideline.  It was followed shortly by other barrel factories in Titusville and along Oil Creek at prominent places.  As the oil region expanded the cooperages did likewise. 

A Titusville cooperage founded in the late 1870's and known as the Stephens and Heisman Cooper Shop gained fame and a place in the history books because of a good photograph of the interior of the shop taken by oilfield photographer John Mather in 1887 and also because of Michael Heisman's second son John who was a part time apprentice there.  John Heisman graduated from Titusville High School in 1887.  While a student John played guard on the school's first football team for three seasons.  This introduction to football in Titusville led to a fabled career in that sport as a player and a coach.

The Stephens and Heisman Cooper Shop in Titusville, Pa., 1887.  Michael Heisman center with white hat.  The third boy in the left row is believed to be John W. Heisman after whom the Heisman trophy was named in 1936.  The workers are in the process of preparing the barrels for iron hoops.  The top hoop or band called the chime is already in place (see barrel which Mr. Heisman is touching) and other hoops are being criven.  These barrels may not have been intended for oil, and the hoops shown here may have been used temporarily in shaping the barrel since they are not band-like.  Mather photograph.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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