Heritage, Volume 12, Number 3, Summer 1994 Page: 19
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"There is a little town up here by the name of Midland...
You have the Roberts and Settles...on the east side,
Winkler on the west side coming in, Yates to the south
and the north end is wide open...Whether you men like it
or not, you are moving to Midland."
lished in Midland. Following Prairie Oil
and Gas in 1924, the Gulf Oil Company
later moved into Midland in October 1926.
The late Alden S. Donnelly of Honolulu
Oil Company, in a 1970 interview,
talked about Midland's emergence as the
new West Texas oil capital. Donnelly was
working as a geologist for the Honolulu Oil
Company that operated under the name of
Fisher and Lowrie of Denver when the
company became interested in the Permian
Basin as a possible oil producing province.
It appeared to have the greatest potential
of the nation because of the prolific Yates
Oil Field west of the Pecos. This field was
(and still is) one of the greatest oil fields in
the world. At 1,100 feet, the Yates had the
potential of 2 million barrels of oil daily
when the national demand at the time was
1.6 million barrels of oil every day.
Donnelly was sent to San Angelo first,
staying there about two weeks as there were
no roads between San Angelo and Midland.
"When it rained," he explained, "it
would take all day to come from San Angelo
to Midland, the geographical center (of the
oil play)." Honolulu's president A.C. Mattei
travelled to San Angelo from San Francisco.
He stayed in the hotel there for three
days, but he also was unable to get out to the
West Texas oil fields because of the rain.
Mattei came to Donnelly with a map
and told him, "There is a little town up here
by the name of Midland. It's in the geographical
center of this oil play. You have
the Roberts and Settles (Howard County
oil fields) on the east side, Winkler on the
west side coming in, Yates to the south and
the north end is wide open. They have a
nice hotel there, and a fellow by the name
of Senator Hogan is building an office
building." He closed the conversation,
"Whether you men like it or not, you are
moving to Midland."
So Donnelly and his team moved to
Midland on August 28, 1928.
By this time, all roads led through Midland,
as the business and administrative
center of the Permian Basin's extensive
drilling and oil-producing region. The as
cent and maintenance of Midland to this
prestigious position was because its civic
leaders saw the opportunity of attracting
oil operators and companies to the city as
the Basin's oil play moved toward and to
the north and west of Midland.
Included among those town leaders was
Dr. John B. Thomas, who came to Midland
in 1905 as an early-day physician. Dr.
Thomas in association with two other
Midland physicians, first had offices in a
small frame corner building at the corner of
Wall and Loraine. In 1919, however, Dr.
Thomas, John Scharbauer, and Clarence
Scharbauer bought the Llano Hotel, and
the doctor turned the second floor into a
hospital with an operating room.
In 1926 scouts, landmen, geologists,
promoters, company executives, and independents
flocked to Midland, and Dr.
Thomas and the two Scharbauers sold their
interest in the Llano; that building was
immediately converted from offices to
modern hotel facilities. The newcomers
filled it to overflowing.
Dr. Thomas then immediately planned
the erection of a six-story office building on
Loraine Street. It was paid for as it was
constructed. Although two top floors of
the building were reserved for Thomas'
hospital that opened for patients on January
1, 1928, four floors were planned to
provide office space for several major oil
While the Thomas Building's construction
was underway, Clarence Scharbauer
was building the new Hotel Scharbauer
across the street to the east at the corner of
West Wall and Loraine Streets, paying for
the half million dollar six-story structure as
it was built. One of West Texas' most
famous hotels, its lobby was the meeting
place for stockmen and oil men, and it was
said that more deals were made for either
livestock or oil than any other place in
Midland. Remodeled several times with
The Midland County Court House, left, was replaced soon after this photograph was taken. Midland's Gothic
jailhouse is shown to the right of the photograph. In the background (looking northwest) is the magnificent,
but imposing, Petroleum Building, opened July 3-4, 1929. It later became the Shell Building. Photo from the
Midland County Historical Museum Collection.
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1994 19
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 12, Number 3, Summer 1994, periodical, Summer 1994; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45412/m1/19/: accessed December 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.