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The Drake Chapters
Introduction to the Drake Chapters
The Beginning of the Petroleum Industry
Oil Creek Before Drake's Well
Refining Seep Oil
Chemical Report of Seep Oil
Pinched Noses
Other Predicaments
Drake's First Visit to Titusville
Drake Commences Work at the Seep
Drake's Well
First Production
Petroleum Geology of the Drake Sand
Drake's Other Wells
Dismantling of the Derrick
The Deepening of the Drake Well
Among the First Players
Drake's Tomb

Chemical Report Of Seep Oil

Benjamin Silliman Jr., the Yale College chemist who Eveleth and Bissell hired to perform the principal and most effective analysis of the seep oil, finished his experiments April 16, 1855. His report was to be a major instrument in attracting stock buyers. Silliman emphasized the oil's value as an illuminant (after treatment) and found other beneficial properties and uses as well. Silliman had the key document for the promotion of oil and the new oil company, but nobody assumed the responsibility to pay him. His invoice was $526.08 and included $100.00 which was supposed to have been paid at the outset for him to begin work. Lucky that Silliman held the report until he saw his money.

The crude oil was a bit capricious with Silliman. His retort and other devices blew up during the analysis, costing another $75 to replace it. Hard to believe, payment for the analysis was left to fund raising efforts carried out in New York. These were unsuccessful. Tired of this, Eveleth dug "deep" and paid it himself. It is a wonder that oil ever got to market from Titusville with all these early omissions and pinching of banknotes.

The author saw an original of Silliman's report. It was offered for sale by a book dealer in the early 1980's. It was a simple pamphlet entitled "Report on the Rock Oil, or Petroleum, from Venango Co., Pennsylvania" and dated 1855. The dealer said that as far as he knew there were only three others in existence. One is at the Drake Well Museum. Of course, facsimiles have been printed over the years for library use.


© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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