MEXIA - A FAMILY NAME
The capital of Limestone County honors a learned family(they were especially versatile as linguists) who still lived in Mexia in the 1890's. The first of these to appear in Texas was heroic general, Jose Antonio Mexia, who carried on a lifetime feud with the Mexican president/dictator, Lopez de Santa Anna.
Mexia was born in 1800 in Jalapa, and his rather short life was ended in 1839 by a Mexican firing squad. He was a close friend of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and other Texas revolutionists. In the Mexia historical papers(now stored in the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley) there is an affectionate letter from William B. Travis, the Alamo Commander, to Mexia. They shared a common hatred for Santa Anna.
Mexia and his American wife, the former Carlotta Walker, owned a big land grant in Limestone County that included the future town of Mexia. Before the general's last unsuccessful revolt against the Mexican despots, he and Carlotta had transferred the title of the Texas lands to their children, Matilda and Enrique and Enrique had been given more land near Mexia by his godfather, Marianno Riva Palacios of Palacios, Texas.
Enrique seems to have lived part of each year in Limestone County and part on his great estates in Mexico. He was at times a Mexican general and member of congress. He built the first electric light installations in Mexico City.
When the Texas and Central Railroad reached Limestone County in 1871, Mexia became a town.
THE MEXIA FAULT
Although the emergence of Mexia as a vital oil field dates from November, 1920, for eight years the area had served as a major gas field, thereby giving some indication of what might develop. Blake Smith, a local businessman, organized the Mexia Oil and Gas Company in 1912 to explore for gas in the area. In forming the company he had persuaded one hundred Mexia businessmen, about all there were in the town of some four thousand, to pledge $1,000 each to drill ten wells. When the first nine produced only traces of gas, Smith appealed to the drilling contractor's gambling instincts and got him to drill another two for the price of what had been intended as the tenth and last. The tenth well was also a failure, but the eleventh justified Smith's faith. It became the cornerstone of the Mexia gas industry, supplying all Mexia's fuel needs, plus those of Waco, Corsicana, Mart, Groesbeck, and Teague, all within a forty-mile radius.
But like other gas fields before it, such as Corsicana and Petrolia, it began to slump, finally playing out at the height of Mexia's oil boom and creating an acute fuel shortage for the 40,000 who had swarmed into the town. Smith and his associates in the Mexia Oil and Gas Company were not distraught over the failure of their field, for they firmly believed that it also contained oil. They offered half interest in their 2,000-acre lease to any operator who would drill for oil.
Smith first approaced Colonel Albert E. Humphreys, successful head of the Homaokla Oil Company, but he was uninterested. His consulting engineer J. Julius Fohs, however, thought Mexia worth investigating and got W. A. Reiter and John A. Shepard to join him in the enterprise, the latter contracting for the drilling. They selected the L. W. Rogers farm, three miles west of Mexia, as the site of the well and spudded during September, 1919. Colonel Humphreys had kept his eye on the operations and decided it was worth a gamble. When Rogers No. 1 was finally completed at 3,100 feet on November 19, 1920, Humphreys' faith was justified-but not emphatically.
Humphreys had gambled not only on the Rogers well but on the entire area. His daring showed how the audacious wild-catter could make a quick fortune in Texas oil. Humphreys began building a 1,600 barrel tank and negotiated with the Texas Company to lay a pipeline to the field and to build a loading rack at the railroad in town. Then he and Fohs formed two new outfits and proceeded to lease 12,000 acres lying along the Mexia fault, where the Rogers farm was situated. With the completion of Rogers No. 1, Fohs advertised that the companies would "prove up the field", making an effort to "conserve as much of the oil as possible". Operators had come to realize that the spectacle of gushing, however exciting, ultimately reduced productivity, hence profits, and should therefore be curbed.
The Humphreys companies set about systematically to fulfill their goals. They drilled eight wells between Mexia and Groesbeck, bought a 352-acre plot two miles south of Mexia for a refinery, and contracted for a dam to create a 135-acre lake whose water the refinery would use. Humphreys' second well, Berthelson No. 1, substained his optimism in the field. When it began flowing 4,000 barrels daily in the summer of 1921, the Mexia boom began in earnest.
A number of companies came into the field and many good wells developed, including Blake Smith No. 1, Lile No. 1, and Henry No. 1. The real sensation came on August 21, 1921. The Western Oil Corporation's Desenberg No. 1, from a depth of 3,059 feet, began spewing forth 18,000 barrels daily, and the Adamson No. 1 surpassed that with 24,000 barrels per day. The latter continued to be the premier well along the Mexia fault. Little wonder that all roads led to Mexia and that they were jammed.
The area of heaviest production was called the Golden Lane, which was about one-half mile wide and ran right along the fault. In 1921 the field yielded 5 million barrels, with the number increasing in 1922 to 35.12 million. The peak day's production of 176,000 barrels came on February 12, 1922.
Anticipating the inevitable tapering off in the Mexia field, Humphreys and Fohs extended their explorations along the fault. Between Mexia and Corsicana, they brought in the Currie field on November 14, 1921. Its best yield was 13,000 barrels a day from twenty-two wells. The partners also tested around Kosse, twenty-eight miles south of Mexia. Their discovery well flowed handsomely for two days and stopped. While that Kosse venture proved costly, later drilling was profitable. Just north of the Currie field, the Boyd Oil Company struck oil at Wortham on November 22, 1924. The next year Wortham produced 16,838,150 barrels from three hundred wells.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief History of Mexia. Our name is as unique as the circumstances that added to the flavor of this area!