Swanson, John D 1974, 1975

From SWC Oral History Collection
Revision as of 21:03, 11 September 2015 by Heather (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Swanson begins with his childhood in Olney and early life in Electra, where his father worked in the oil fields. He continues with his service in the Navy, civic and political activities, outstanding personalities and the businesses he and his family has operated in Electra.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: John D. Swanson

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: December 17-18, 1974; January 8, 1975

Location: Electra, Texas

Interviewer: Fred Carpenter

Length: 6 hours


Tape 1, Side 1: Autobiographical data presented, Grandparents came from Alabama to Wichita County, Boyhood in Olney, Texas, Raised on an oil lease on W. J. Kunkel farm, Family members named, Father employed by Albert Crenshaw on oil lease, Swanson credits his success to Mr. Crenshaw, Education summarized, Not athletically inclined in school, Determined at an early age to be a drilling contractor, Albert Crenshaw discussed, John Swanson and brother Tom helped father on Crenshaw leases, Tom Swanson employed by Mr. Crenshaw at 13, Reasons for not playing high school football, Working for Mr. Kunkel discussed, College education offered by both Mr. Kunkel and Mr. Crenshaw, Could not decide if he wanted to move to Electra with family, Father got oil leases near Electra, Explanation of rod and tubing machine, Offered job by Mr. Calvin upon graduation from high school.

Tape 1, Side 2: Describes Ollie Presley giving him a tent, Remembers George Green, a friend, Explains wild cat oil well and gun perforating, Childhood memories of gun perforation, Recalls again trying to decide whether to move to Electra, Remembers excitement of seeing airplanes, Bombing of Pearl Harbor remembered, Moved to Electra in 1943, Lived on father’s oil leases, Worked with Franklin Love, Took job with Galloway Brothers’ well servicing business, Drafted into Army, Meeting with T. Leo Moore, mayor of Electra, and draft board member.

Tape 2, Side 1: Purchased oil lease in partnership with brother, Oil lease defined, Went to war (1944-1946), Enlisted in the Navy, Induction center in Dallas remembered, Assigned to cargo handling school, Served in South Pacific, Remembers black enlisted men, Remembers William Terrell, division officer and friend, Promoted Swanson to division Petty Officer, Days preceding atomic bomb recalled, Rumors on Saipan involved talk of bomb, Transporting occupation troops to Japan, Taking on of Japanese pilot remembered, Recalls going ashore in Nagasaki and being thrown in the brig, William Terrell, who later became lawyer and state, Senator from Ohio, further discussed, Discharged in Norman, Oklahoma (1946).

Tape 2, Side 2: Returned to Galloway Brothers, who had entered casing pulling and salvage business, Took job with North Texas Well Servicing Company, Brother suggested deepening 1800-foot well to 1900 feet, Well increased production, Cites post-World War II drilling prices, Drilling contractor was Simpson and Tweet Drilling Company, Offered $400,000 for oil lease in 1946-47, Purchased other pieces of property, Operated as Swanson Brothers, Recalls J & L Supply Company and cites lack of respect because of their youth, Remembers Tom Bailey and pipe for drilling, Adds information to earlier tapes, Dunham family of Olney mentioned in connection, with bank robbery in Walters, Oklahoma.

Tape 3, Side 1: Story of bank robbery (continued), T. Leo Moore discussed further, Tried to force train company to take on passengers, Mr. Lincoln mentioned, Remembers Electra during boom period, Sandfracking and waterflooding introduced, Bought first drilling rig in 1948, Manufactured by Wichtex Manufacturing Company in Wichita Falls by Mr. Edwards, Mr. Edwards described as pioneer in oil business, Frank Wood of Electra mentioned, Herman Mitchell of Iowa Park, son of Sue Mitchell, remembered and discussed Sue Mitchell lease acquired during his Navy service, Story of Mr. Mitchell getting mad at Iowa Park and deciding to move to Wichita Falls.

Tape 3, Side 2: Story of Mr. Mitchell’s anger at Iowa Park (continued), Describes struggle of getting started in drilling business, Business with City Service Oil Company described, Remembers day of Eisenhower election, R. B. Anderson, manager of Waggoner Ranch, held, several Cabinet posts under Eisenhower, Effect of Anderson’s appointment on Swansons’, business with City Service Oil Company, Began working with Magnolia Oil Company, Effect of threat to get even with Frank Wood, Remembers buying leases around a Frank Wood well in Alabama, Marriage in 1949 recalled, Son John Allen mentioned, Brother’s unpopularity remembered, Takes credit for brother’s directorship in Electra bank, Partnership dissolved.

Tape 4, Side 1: Story of partnership dissolution (continued), Tom Swanson bought out John Swanson, Each drilling rig worth $100,000 at time of dissolution, No communication between brothers today, Each got one rig and some cash in settlement, Remembers trying to borrow money to buy Hastings oil properties (1960-61), Oil field depression, Trying to get started again described, Decided to build a low power operation, Births of Jimmy and Jerry Swanson, New rig finished in 1963, W. E. McBroom contracted him for 15 wells, Could drill a well in 48 hours, Averaged 145 wells per year with rig, Interest in flying described, Classifies self as Texas half-millionaire, E. C. Black mentioned and described.

Tape 4, Side 2: Ace Reid remembered, Full of life and "blow", Acquaintance grew after World War II, Tom Swanson disliked Ace Reid, H. A. Decker removed from board of Electra bank, Ace Reid’s speech to Electra Chamber of Commerce recalled, Feeling of freedom since separation from brother, Reaction to a supposedly Communist speaker at a Lions’ Club meeting recalled, Elaboration on John and Pat O’Neal, Speaks again of feud between himself and brother, Gives feelings on Electra, Outlines future topics of discussion.

Tape 5, Side 1: Recollections of Swanson Brothers years, Personality conflict with brother, Brief explanation of waterflooding, Further discussion of boom period brought by waterflooding technique, End of boom, Waggoner Estate closed refinery, Mobil moved offices away from Electra, Reiterates decision to split partnership, Freedom to participate in civic activities, Relates horror at appearance of Electra Civic involvement related, Was asked to be Chamber of Commerce president in 1967, Cleaned up town by removing old houses and junk cars, Rewarded for efforts, Remembers conflict between various departments of city, Traces relationship with John McKelvie, Sought to move business to Electra which would furnish jobs for women, Negotiations with Nardis of Dallas to build a plant in Electra.

Tape 5, Side 2: City council meeting concerning building for the Nardis plant, Decision to run for mayor, After gaining office, made plans to get Electra back on its feet, Hiring city superintendent considered, Attempt to get airport in Electra failed, Westex Manufacturing Company moved to Electra through his efforts, Embarrassment as mayor was city organization, Council meeting about police and fire station described, Resignation as a result of this meeting and actions of John McKelvie, Served as mayor, 1969-1971, Feels that situation in Electra is unique because of one-man control.

Tape 6, Side 1: Established a machine shop (1972), Run by Bill Dorland, Threading and collaring pipe for oil fields, Got respect from people because of this, Greatest desire is to make Electra a more desirable place to relocate, Would run for mayor’s office if he could get support from city commissioners, Compares Electra situation to Sharpstown, Tells of banking situation, Citizens of Wichita County mentioned, Mr. Decker, F. T. "Jack" Johnson, W. E. McBroom.

Tape 6, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1920s-1975

Bulk Dates: 1943-1975

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


Thank you for your interest in this oral history interview. Our oral history collection is available to patrons in the Southwest Collection's Reading Room, located on the campus of Texas Tech University. For reading room hours, visit our website. Please contact Reference Staff at least one week prior to your visit to ensure the oral history you are interested in will be available. Due to copyright issues, duplications of our oral histories can only be made for family members. If an oral history transcript has been made available online, the link will be provided on this page. More information on accessing our oral histories is located here. Preferred citation style can be found here.