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Archive - Langford Oil & Development Company, Wichita Falls, Texas, 1921-1920

Archive - Langford Oil & Development Company, Wichita Falls, Texas, 1921-1920


An archive of 27 documents concerning the Langford Oil & Development Company, Wichita Falls, Texas. These original documents are dated from 1919 - 1920 and include letters, transmittal envelops, maps, a newspaper article, authentication, a letter from the Railroad Commission of Texas, and a sales booklet with receipts for purchases of shares. The archive includes: 1. Undated blueprint map, 23" x 29 3/4" at neat line plus margins, several annotations in ink. Really four maps in one, this is a striking piece of persuasive cartography. Occupying the entire left half is a small-scale map of several dozen counties along the Red River border between Oklahoma and Texas. The map depicts county boundaries and towns, with oil fields indicated by clusters of white dots, including the Kemp-Munger-Allen, Burk Burnett, Electra and Park Fields in Wichita County. Derricks indicating wells being drilled, one of which-the Kemp-Munger-Allen-is shown gushing oil. Wells owned, or at least said to be owned, by Langford are highlighted with white circles, each connected to the title cartouche by dramatic white "swooshes" reminiscent of the legs of an octopus. At lower right is a larger-scale, circular map of the Wichita Falls area, and just to the left and above that are two other larger scale maps of areas along the Red River. Property boundaries and landowners are indicated, again with derricks depicting wells and Langford parcels circled. 2. Three typed letters (with envelopes) on Langford Oil & Development Co. letterhead, addressed to A. C. Harris of Pennington Gap, VA and dated Oct. 25 and Nov. 8, 1919 and Jan. 29, 1920. Two signed by company officers and one by a Perry Roop, who addresses Harris as "Cousin." All rather breathlessly encourage Harris to buy stock in the Company's "forty acres in Block 60," arguing that the success of nearby wells, the Kemp-Munger-Allen in particular, makes the investment a can't-miss proposition: "Our Company is practically financed and we only have a small block of stock left to sell, therefore, we would advise quick action if you desire to secure some more of this stock. This stock will not be offered at par, for more than ten or fifteen days from this date, as we are confident that this stock will be worth many times it's [sic] par value in the near future.""A well in Wilbarger County one-fourth mile from our ten acres is reported showing oil. We are certainly on the road to prosperity. Stock is selling like wildfire, and everybody is busy getting in with us." "I have just reached Wichita Falls and found my wife not serious, and have called on the Langford Oil & Development Company and find that their stock is selling fast." The letter ends "Respectfully, Perry Roop." A postscript to the Roop letter mentions that "the Company is sending you new blue print covering their present holdings," presumably the blueprint map included in this archive. "Congratulating you on your judgment in having already secured some of this stock and wishing you much success and happiness and advising you to wire your reservations, for any further stock in this company that you may desire to purchase, following the same up with your check, we beg you to remain, Respectfully, Langford Oil & Development Co. By C. H. Davidson, Sec'y and Treas." 3. Small oblong subscription book for purchase of Langford Oil & Development Company shares, Capital $5000,000.00, Par Value $1.00. Including record of sales by A. C. Harris to eight different individuals of a total of 220 shares at $1 each, all completed in Nov.-Dec. 1919. Stubs include names and amounts of stock purchased. 4. Printed certificate from the "Fulk National Detective Bureau," dated Nov. 21, 1919 and accomplished in manuscript, certifying that the Bureau has investigated the Langford Oil & Development Company and found all in order. Fulk appears to have been an actual business entity, though we find record of its operations having been suspended in Texas (1919) and California (1921), in both cases due to non-payment of taxes. 5. Four typed or mimeographed documents (with envelopes) sent by the Company to shareholders on different dates in March 1920, three touting progress on the 40 acres in Block 60 and one (dated March 11) announcing a shareholder meeting to be held on March 22 [!] Two of the reports are accompanied by subscription forms. 6. Mimeographed form letter (with envelope) on Langford letterhead, dated May 17, 1920 and requesting an "emergency subscription" to help defray the cost of repairing damages caused by a sudden rise in the Red River and resulting damage to the well. Reads in part, "It will cost us about Three Thousand ($3000.00) Dollars more than we anticipated to complete the well." 7. Three printed brochures (4, 4 and 8pp) touting the Langford Oil & Development Company. Accompanied by a fragment of the Fort Worth Record for Nov. 7, 1919 featuring an advertisement touting the Langford Oil and Development Company and photographs of Langford, the Davidsons and two other officers. 8. Typed letter on Railroad Commission of Texas letterhead, dated July 25, 1921, addressed to Mr. C. C. Harris of Scottsburg, VA, and signed by J.W. Hassell, Chief Supervisor, Oil and Gas Division. Stating, in response to Harris' query, stating that "The Langford Oil and Development Co. has only their organization report giving the officers of their company. If they are operating in this State they have failed to file the reports required by the Conservation law and the rules of this Commission." It is not clear whether "C. C. Harris" is a typo for the aforementioned "A. C. Harris," or perhaps a near relative. ========== Around 1918 or 1919 H. A. Langford established the Langford Oil & Development Company in Wichita Falls, enlisting among others C. H., E. M. and James W. Davidson as officers. All appear in local directories as living in rooming houses; for example James W. Davidson lived at 901 ½ 7th Street, which a helpful researcher in Wichita Falls recently described to me as "a flop-house." The firm itself appears in the city directory for 1920 only, with its address given at the Oil Exchange Building at 721A Ohio Street, the "roughest street in Wichita Falls," "where small-time operators could rent offices." That is all very interesting as in the Langord Oil and Development Company OPPORTUNITY brochure the potential investors were guaranteed that, "The men who organized this company and who are serving as officers and directors are business men of sterling worth. We are backing our judgment with our money. Our entire efforts will be put forth for success" or "Here Is a Business Proposition From Business Men. The Langford Oil & Development Company guarantees to spend $100,000.00 out of the sales of stock for drilling equipment, which will buy at least five new drilling plants with the necessary equipment for same. We further assert that we will set aside $150,000.00 to be used for drilling operations, securing additional acreage, etc. We further Guarantee that we will manage this Company honestly and conservatively, that we have nothing to hide, that our books will be open at all times for inspection, that we have this acreage described in this prospectus by assignment and contract, that our first drilling will be in proven territory, that we will devote all of our time to the efficient management of this company." "OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AT EVERY MAN'S DOOR ONCE, BUT IT DOES NOT USE A SLEDGE HAMMER." However, item #8, above, reveals that it was all hot air. This brief letter is addressed to C. C. Harris (a typo for "A. C. Harris?) from the Railroad Commission of Texas, the regulatory body at the time charged with overseeing the oil industry. In response to Harris's inquiry, the letter states that there is no record of the Company having engaged in drilling activities in Texas. (Bill E. Steward - Archivist for the Wichita County Archives). Minor restoration to map, expected wear to documents, overall in very good condition.

Inventory Number: 44733

$5,700.00