Home Drake Well Foundation About OilHistory.com The Author Contact
The Shot
Introduction and Rick Tallini
Uncle Gus
Augustus Pease
The Professional
Robert's First Shot
Composition of Roberts' Torpedo
The Suits and The War
The Accomplishment
Otto Cupler
Concluding Remarks and Erastus T. Robert

Augustus Pease (Uncle Gus’s Career)

Gus started out with the Harper Torpedo Co. at Rynd Farm north of Oil City on Oil Creek in the 1890’s. Miracles of survival happened from the very beginning. One of these was a narrow escape on Aug. 30, 1901, when hauling a wagon containing cans of nitroglycerin up Bully Hill in the Franklin area.

In 1906 Gus went into a short term partnership with Thomas Kelch of Oil City. They built a nitroglycerin plant at Bully Hill and established headquarters in the famous Oil Exchange Building (now gone) in Oil City. "Uncle" Gus became sole proprietor of this venture in 1910. He built a nitroglycerin factory across the Allegheny River from Brandon downstream from Franklin and had magazines at Franklin, Clintonville and Hendersonville which gave him a prominent place in the well shooting service in Venango County.

Advertisement in the Oil Region Reminiscences of 1907. This publication was a souvenir of the Twenty-first Annual Gathering of the Oil Men of Western Pennsylvania held at Conneaut Lake, July 25, 1907.

In 1910 the Brandon factory blew up and people were killed. Two of the deaths were residents who lived nearby. A house way over on the other side of the River was destroyed. Anybody boarding near to a nitroglycerin factory would be an uneasy tenant (a nitro works was the early equivalent of an atomic plant, maybe worse). Gus rebuilt his plant and then was injured badly when he accidentally hit a couple of drops of nitroglycerin while building a "catch box".

Gus Pease (the last name believed to be a spelling change) became quite a legend in the oil belt and his exploits are still heard of. The fact that he survived so many blasts (more than are described here) had the old timers scratching their heads. They don’t see how he made it.

It has never been positively demonstrated that Augustus "Gus" Pease was a relative. However, there was an Augustus in the family tree who was lost track of about the time when Gus appeared in the oilfields, hence "Uncle" Gus to me.


© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
all rights reserved