Texas Times: Believe It or Not in Tomball, Texas

Senator John Cornyn
2012-12-07 08:46:45
If you are having trouble viewing this E-newsletter, please visit [cornyn.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm for the Web Version. U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Texas *Believe It or Not in Tomball, Texas* *By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn* For the residents of Peck, Texas, the beginning of the 20th century marked an optimistic time. Former Texas Sen. Thomas Henry Ball had succeeded in routing the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway through this small farming town in Northwest Harris County. The arrival of the railroad spurred other important developments, such as a telegraph office, a water station, and various facilities connected to the railroad. With these developments, Peck soon became an agriculture trade center in the region. To pay homage to the man who largely made this possible, the residents of Peck renamed their town Tomball after Thomas Ball on December 2, 1907105 years ago this month. Soon, Tomball had an operating school, electric lights and telephone service. By 1914, Tomball was home to a several stores, six hotels, two cotton gins, a blacksmith, a bank and a population of 350. The economy was flourishingso much so that businesses in neighboring towns were benefitting as well. According to Mary Roach of the Spring Creek County Historical Association, a caf in neighboring Hufsmith had to cook �a cow a day� to satisfy the appetite of hungry railroad workers from Tomball. Little did the residents of Tomball know, however, their good luck was about to turn even sweeter. In 1933, workers with Humble Oil & Gas Co., now Exxon, were drilling in Tomball on the property of J.F.W. Kob. At depths of 5,000 feet, they struck oil, which gushed up more than 100 feet into the sky. As Lessie Upchurch, the author of *Welcome to Tomball: A History of Tomball, Texas*, described it, "liquid gold shot up in the air." A mutually beneficial contract was negotiated by Humble Oil and the City of Tomball. Under the agreement, in exchange for exclusive drilling rights within the city limits, the residents of Tomball were promised free water and natural gas for 90 years. The unique contract landed Tomball in the syndicated newspaper series *Ripley�s Believe it or Not* as being the only city with free gas and water and no cemetery. Tomball was officially incorporated on July 6, 1933, with a population of 665. Soon, more than 25 energy companies were posted in Tomball and producing within a five-mile radius of the city. It came as no surprise, therefore, that Tomball quickly earned the nickname �Oil Town U.S.A.� With the arrival of additional oil companies, the population of Tomball eventually tripled. According to Upchurch, from 1933 through 1976, the city�s wells produced more than 100 million barrels of oil and 316 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Today, thousands of Texans call Tomball home. The city�s motto is the �Hometown with a Heart,� and much of the unique history of this Texas town is preserved by the Spring Creek Historical Association at the Tomball Museum Center. The Center holds a collection of several buildings from Tomball and the region, including a one-room schoolhouse, a log cabin jailhouse, church, and an original oil camp home that housed workers. While �liquid gold� may no longer shoot high into the sky, Tomball remains a true Southeast Texas gem that provides us with a unique glimpse back in time to a defining moment in Texas history. *Sources: Texas State Historical Association; the **Houston Chronicle* [link 1]*.* *Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget Committees. �He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee�s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.* Survey/Question [survey] Survey/Question [survey] [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/common/images/sn-twitter-tweet.png] [link 2] [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/common/images/sn-facebook-like.png] [link 3]

December 07, 2012

Believe It or Not in Tomball, Texas
By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

For the residents of Peck, Texas, the beginning of the 20th century marked an optimistic time. Former Texas Sen. Thomas Henry Ball had succeeded in routing the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway through this small farming town in Northwest Harris County. The arrival of the railroad spurred other important developments, such as a telegraph office, a water station, and various facilities connected to the railroad. With these developments, Peck soon became an agriculture trade center in the region.

To pay homage to the man who largely made this possible, the residents of Peck renamed their town Tomball after Thomas Ball on December 2, 1907—105 years ago this month. Soon, Tomball had an operating school, electric lights and telephone service. By 1914, Tomball was home to a several stores, six hotels, two cotton gins, a blacksmith, a bank and a population of 350.

The economy was flourishing—so much so that businesses in neighboring towns were benefitting as well. According to Mary Roach of the Spring Creek County Historical Association, a café in neighboring Hufsmith had to cook “a cow a day” to satisfy the appetite of hungry railroad workers from Tomball.

Little did the residents of Tomball know, however, their good luck was about to turn even sweeter. In 1933, workers with Humble Oil & Gas Co., now Exxon, were drilling in Tomball on the property of J.F.W. Kob. At depths of 5,000 feet, they struck oil, which gushed up more than 100 feet into the sky. As Lessie Upchurch, the author of Welcome to Tomball: A History of Tomball, Texas, described it, "liquid gold shot up in the air."

A mutually beneficial contract was negotiated by Humble Oil and the City of Tomball. Under the agreement, in exchange for exclusive drilling rights within the city limits, the residents of Tomball were promised free water and natural gas for 90 years. The unique contract landed Tomball in the syndicated newspaper series Ripley’s Believe it or Not as being the only city with free gas and water and no cemetery.

Tomball was officially incorporated on July 6, 1933, with a population of 665. Soon, more than 25 energy companies were posted in Tomball and producing within a five-mile radius of the city. It came as no surprise, therefore, that Tomball quickly earned the nickname “Oil Town U.S.A.” With the arrival of additional oil companies, the population of Tomball eventually tripled. According to Upchurch, from 1933 through 1976, the city’s wells produced more than 100 million barrels of oil and 316 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Today, thousands of Texans call Tomball home. The city’s motto is the “Hometown with a Heart,” and much of the unique history of this Texas town is preserved by the Spring Creek Historical Association at the Tomball Museum Center. The Center holds a collection of several buildings from Tomball and the region, including a one-room schoolhouse, a log cabin jailhouse, church, and an original oil camp home that housed workers.

While “liquid gold” may no longer shoot high into the sky, Tomball remains a true Southeast Texas gem that provides us with a unique glimpse back in time to a defining moment in Texas history.

Sources: Texas State Historical Association; the .

Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget Committees.  He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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