PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records

 

 

 


Manuscript Group 500
ROBERTS FAMILY BUSINESS RECORDS
1856-1938
115 cubic feet

* * * These records are held at the Drake Well Museum, Titusville, Pennsylvania. * *

To consult the records, please contact the museum curator at (814) 827-2797 to make an appointment.

The Roberts Family Business Collection consists of the records of W.B. Roberts and Son, Roberts and Sterrit, and the Roberts Torpedo Company and are located at Drake Well Museum, 202 Museum Lane, Titusville, Pennsylvania, 16354. Col. E. A. L. Roberts patented the use of the torpedo, black powder and the "super incombant water tamp" in 1864. Together, these innovations provided a highly valuable oil producing technique that was soon used in wells throughout Pennsylvania. The patents included three components: the use of a tin tube (torpedo), propellant (black powder initially and then nitroglycerine), and water in the oil well (superincombant water tamp). The water cushioned the torpedo as it was lowered into the oil well and provided weight to hold the explosive force down in the well so the oil bearing sandstone would be cracked. Men hired by Roberts dropped a pointed weight down the well to detonate the torpedo. This was called “shooting a well” and the men were called “shooters.” This collection contains the records of the nitroglycerine plants in Titusville and Bradford, Pennsylvania and Bolivar, New York, as well as the records of the employees who shot the oil wells, patents and related litigation documents, account records, annual reports of the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company, records of torpedos shot, correspondence and ledgers. Also present are business materials relating to the American Gas Improvement Company, Titusville Gas and Water Company, Hotel Brunswick, Roberts and Company Bankers, Mechanics Building and Loan Association, Dow, Fullagar and Coleman, Canadohta Club, Rochester and Tidioute Oil Company and the Rice, Robinson and Foggins Refinery of Titusville.


PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records