Albert P. McBride. In the oil and gas districts of the Southwest no name had a greater significance as an operator, developer, and as a vitalizer of the resources and industries covering several states, than that of Albert P. McBride of Independence. Mr. McBride began his operations as an oil well contractor and producer more than thirty-five years ago. He had supplied enthusiasm, faith and much of the material means necessary to develop the oil and gas resources of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Associated throughout practically all his career with C. L. Bloom, he bore the brunt of responsibilities in opening up the oil and gas districts of this section of the country, and passed successfully through the period of discouragement and vicissitudes.
He is a native Kansan, and was born in Miami County February 20, 1862. Doubtless the resourcefulness and energy which have characterized his own life came from his worthy ancestry. He is of Scotch, Irish and English lineage, and his first American forefathers, settled in Old Virginia as early as 1730. From Virginia the family went west to Tennessee. There is a record that James McBride accompanied by four brothers left the highlands of Scotland in 1730 and settled in the colony of Virginia. The names of the brothers were William, Jaseth, John and Andrew. All these brothers fought in the French and Indian wars in the notable campaign led by Braddock through the western wilderness of Pennsylvania. Three of them were killed at Braddock’s field. William and James were left to carry on the family lineage. William McBride subsequently lost his life at the hands of an Indian. Frost’s “History of Kentucky” records that the name of James McBride was found cut in the bark of a beech tree with the accompanying date of 1755. Evidently the owner of the name carved it in that tree after settling in the state. Thus he was identified with the earliest westward movement about the time Daniel Boone located in the Kentucky country. James McBride married a Miss Crawford, who was descended from the English nobility. Their son, William, married a Miss Lee, a cousin of Gen. Robert Lee. They had two sons and five daughters. Their older son married Nancy A. Taylor, and by her had thirteen children.
Among these thirteen children was Thomas J. McBride, who was the father of Albert P. McBride. Thomas J. McBride was reared on a farm, learned the trade of blacksmith, and afterwards became a minister of the Baptist Church. He lived in Bates County, Missouri, during the stirring events of 1859-60, and in the war served in Company E of the First Battalion of Missouri Troops from Cass County, and was also a member of George H. Hume’s Rangers. After the war he was a minister for many years, and in 1898 moved to Independence, Kansas, where he died October 24, 1904. He was always a democrat. In 1853 he married Lucinda Barnett, daughter of John Barnett of Tennessee, who was killed in 1862 by Capt. Erwin Walla’s gang. Rev. Thomas J. McBride and his wife had eight sons.
Fourth among them was Albert P. McBride. He grew up and had already reached a prominent place in the industrial activities of Kansas before his parents died. His parents celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, their golden wedding, on November 3, 1903, and this celebration was made notable by a reception at the home of their son, A. P. McBride, at Independence. Both parents died soon after this event.
Reared and educated in Kansas, A. P. McBride began well drilling by contract, when only eighteen years of age. Success had come to him largely because he had followed out one special line of industrial activity. There is probably no man of wider practical experience in this industry in the country today, and he had also been a close student of the technical and scientific phases of the many problems connected with the production of oil and gas. He took contracts for drilling his first wells in Jackson County, Missouri, and afterwards at various points in Kansas, Indian Territory, and also in the Far West and California.
In 1866, at the age of twenty-four, he formed a partnership with C. L. Bloom, who was then only nineteen years of age. Since then these men have been constantly associated. They operated with characteristic energy and vigor but with modest capital for some years in Kansas, Missouri and the Indian Territory, and gradually enlarged the field of operations until they employed hundreds of thousands of dollars where they had begun with only hundreds, and had a vast staff of trained and efficient men under their supervision.
In 1891 they began operating at Cherryvale, Kansas, and by 1892 their activities extended to Coffeyville. There they bought a half interest in the Coffeyville Gas & Mining Company, and managed that corporation for several years. In February, 1893, they established their main offices in Independence, and from there they have extended their activities covering a broad field, and the city had greatly benefited by the presence of their organization.
In 1893 Mr. McBride took the leading part in the formation of the Independence Gas Company, which drilled in many strong gas wells and inaugurated the permanent supply of natural gas to the City of Independence. Under that impetus Independence had had its great industrial development, with an almost unvarying supply of all the gas required for fuel and lighting. The first gas well put down for this purpose was drilled by McBride and Bloom in the month of February, 1893.
In old Indian Territory, the firm sank the first wells at Muskogee, and in 1896 at Eufaula in the Creek Nation they put down the deepest hole they had ever drilled west of the Mississippi River at that time, reaching a depth of 2,750 feet, gas being struck at 2,460 feet.
In 1900 the firm constructed a plant at Bartlesville, to supply natural gas to that city, and were half owners of the business for several years. They also put down the first well in Bartlesville and in the Osage Reservation, and owned very extensive holdings in the gas and oil territory of the Osage country for a number of years.
At one time the firm had from forty to fifty strings of tools working on their various contracts, but have since reduced their equipment to about half a dozen outfits. Mr. McBride is vice president and a director in the Consolidated Gas, Oil and Manufacturing Company, which succeeded the old Independence Gas Company above referred to. At one time McBride & Bloom owned 70 per cent of the $3,000,000 capital and they still own about a third of the stock. This firm was also instrumental in securing the location of the Western State Portland Cement Company at Independence, and they originally invested $100,000 in that plant.
Another important industry of Independence owes its origin to Mr. McBride together with H. B. Harmon. They were the promoters of its first brick plant. After being erected and completed, it was consolidated with the Coffeyville Vitrified Brick & Tile Company of Coffeyville. Mr. McBride had since disposed of his interests in this and in many other industries which he assisted in establishing. Along with these various industries, Mr. McBride naturally became an extensive holder of local real estate. At one time it is said that he owned fully 2,000 acres in Montgomery County.
In 1905 and 1906 A. P. McBride and T. N. Barnsdale of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, acquired several gas wells in Oklahoma, and in Montgomery and Chautauqua counties of Kansas, and organized the Wichita National Gas Company, with Mr. McBride as president and general manager. He held that post until February, 1908, when he nominated as his successor the late J. D. S. Neely. For fully twenty-five years Mr. McBride’s activities have been conducted on a large scale. He knows all the scientific phases of his work, and had made a study of the practical geology connected with oil and gas production, and also possesses that peculiar executive genius and breadth of comprehension which are necessary to the carrying out of enterprises involving a great amount of capital, efficient organization of men and equipment, and the organization and maneuvering of forces until a campaign is successfully carried out. He was one of the main factors in bringing about the organization of the Associated Oil Company, which was capitalized at $10,000,000, and of which he became president.
Since 1908 Mr. McBride had been operating extensively in Oklahoma, and now had producing wells in the Osage Reservation and in Okmulgee County, and is constantly broadening his operations in that state. Mr. McBride and C. L. Kimble of Independence own the M. B. K. Oil Company in the Osage Reservation. Since January 1, 1916, Mr. McBride had been disposing of many of his interests in Southern Kansas in order to carry on his prospecting for oil in Central Texas, on a line from Henrietta, Texas, to Santa Anna in Coleman County, where he and his associates have acquired extensive holdings of land and lease rights. His headquarters in Texas are at San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Mineral Wells. At the present time he and associates own 60,000 acres in Stephens and Palo Pinto counties, where they now have three wells in process of sinking as deep tests. These wells are on a line between Caddo and Jacksboro, Texas. In their opinion this country is certain to produce an oil field similar to the great Kansas and Oklahoma MidContinent field. The oil sands in this field are found at a depth of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. The field extends across Central Texas for more than 200 miles in length and from twenty-five to seventy-five miles wide, and includes the district around Wichita Falls and Henrietta and on to Point Rock and Santa Anna to the southwest. Those conversant with the situation predict the striking of some big oil wells and pools, and so far the chief requirement for successful operation in this field seems to be the drilling of wells to a sufficient depth.
One special achievement which was of the greatest benefit to Independence should be recorded in this connection. In the spring of 1913 Mr. McBride together with George T. Guernsey, L. M. Truby, E. C. Roth and H. O. Cavert organized what is known as the Independence Mining and Transportation Company. This company built a twelve-inch gas line out into the old Bolton gas field, and from leases owned by the Consolidated Oil & Gas Manufacturing Company and others turned back to the old Consolidated Company by the Kansas Natural Gas Company, they were able to furnish gas to manufacturers in and around Independence at a rate of 10 cents per 1,000 feet. This undertaking was stimulated by the fact that other pipe lines in Independence had raised the price of gas to manufacturers to 20 cents per 1,000. As a result of this strategic and bold move, many factories, including the Osage Window Glass Factory, which had been standing idle, were able to start up and Independence again regained its prestige in the manufacturing field. As a result the Independence Sash & Door factory acquired the old glass plant, and now had 250 men employed. It was also due to Mr. McBride’s efforts that Winfield, Wichita, Hutchinson and Newton and other western towns of Central Kansas, were supplied with natural gas.
Mr. McBride had his offices in the Beldorf Theatre Building at North Penn Avenue. He is a fourth owner in that building. He owned other city properties, but had sold much of his real estate. In 1901 and 1902 he built and furnished his handsome residence at a cost of $80,000 at 610 North Penn Avenue.
In politics he is a republican, and in 1904 was seriously considered for nomination for Congress. He attends the Episcopal Church, and is affiliated with Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; is a Knight Templar and Scottish Rite and Shriner; a Knight of Pythias; belongs to Camp No. 649, Modern Woodmen of America; Woodmen of the World; and Lodge No. 17, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and holds membership card No. 57 in Council No. 45 of the United Commercial Travelers.
In January, 1885, early in his business career, Mr. McBride was married at Garnett, Kansas, to Miss L. A. Clampitt. Her father, J. A. Clampitt, now a retired resident of Los Angeles, California, is an extensive owner of real estate. Mr. and Mrs. McBride have had three children: Albert P., Jr., born July 14, 1887, at Paola, Kansas, who was a helpful and energetic assistant to his father in his various business enterprises, died when in the full promise of a useful career at Banning, California, June 17, 1915, aged 28. Jesse P., who was born March 14, 1889, at Paola, Kansas, and is now engaged in business for himself in Chicago. Maudie Gertrude, the only daughter, was born December 25, 1892, in Paola, Kansas. She was married on the 31st day of January, 1917, to John Fertig of Independence, Kansas, where the couple now reside.