Oil Boom Town
In the early 1920’s less than 100 people were registered to vote in Hutchinson County but that was all about to change. In April of 1921, Gulf Oil discovered the oil in the Texas Panhandle on the Gulf #2 Burnett on the 6666 Ranch. In October of 1922, Gulf Oil discovered oil in Hutchinson County with the Gulf Dial #1 well. Later in January of 1926 Smith #1 well blew in at 10,000 barrels a day, and by the end of the year 800 wells were drilled., and Borger was known as the “World’s Biggest Strike.”
Ace Borger bought 240 acres from J.F. Weatherly for $6,000. Weatherly was one of Hutchinson County’s first residents. He began selling the lots on March 8, 1926 and made $100,000 that day. He sold out within 6 months and his grossing over $1,000,000. Within 90 days–tin, wood, and brick structures were up in the town of Borger, and since Ace Borger owned the lumber and brick yards, his fortune grew. Rooms rented for $50-$100 per month, and many rooming houses were occupied by 3 shifts of men; the bed was slept in 24 hours a day.
The Weatherly’s were surprised by the success of Borger and decided to start their own town next to Borger called Isom. It was located south of Grand Street. The Whittenburg family also opened a town site called Dixon Creek. Both towns were eventually annexed into Borger.
A large criminal element smelled the money and flocked to Borger. Borger’s earliest jail was a log where criminals were chained outdoors. As many as 80 men and women were booked at one time. “Two Gun Dick” Herwig, a convicted murderer from Oklahoma was the city’s chief law enforcement officer. He took bribes, and served as a procurer of customers for the hundreds of prostitutes who had to pay him so they could work here. Herwig organized and controlled all the liquor distribution and required payments for the product and for “protection.” Those who wouldn’t pay were beaten, murdered or otherwise made to leave town. Business owners--legitimate and illegitimate--had to pay him and his thugs to leave them alone. Chaos reigned supreme. Read more.
Peek into a typical household of the time, watch a movie with oil drilling footage, and much more. Hutchinson County Museum covers it all from the earliest beginnings to the present day. Plan your visit.
Oil drilling in one of the richest oil fields in North America. Near Borger, Texas in Hutchinson County.
Hutchinson County Historical Museum • 618 N. Main Street • Borger, TX 79007 • 806 273 0130
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. • Saturday 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.