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C. L. Bloom. One of the most picturesque careers in the mid-continent oil and gas fields has been that of Camden L. Bloom of Independence. By an unusual capacity for hard labor and by a foresight seasoned by long and active experience he made one large fortune, which was swept away in the panic of 1907. With a few dollars realized by mortgaging his home, he made a new start, and today his operations and holdings would constitute another modest fortune at least.
His life began in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, March 14, 1868. His people, the Blooms, came from Germany to Pennsylvania about the time of the Revolution. His father was A. W. Bloom, who was long and prominently known in Kansas and died at Independence August 24, 1909. He was born in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, in 1837, and in that state he followed farming, though his chief business for a number of years centered in the rafting of extensive quantities of hemlock and white pine down the Susquehanna River. In 1877 he moved his family to Fulton County, Indiana, and three years later to Bollinger County, Missouri. In 1884 he made his next step toward the West, settling in Linn County, Kansas, and thereafter confining his attention entirely to farming. From Linn County he moved to Miami County, Kansas, and from there to Independence, where he lived retired until his death. He was a democrat in politics. A. W. Bloom married Rebecca MacCracken, who was born in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, in 1843, and is now living in Independence in the home her son has provided. Their children were: Enoch, who died in infancy; Minta, who died in Kansas City, Kansas, at the age of fifty-two, the wife of A. P. Stevens, who has charge of the car building department of the Frisco Railroad shops at Kansas City, Kansas; Harry, a farmer in Anderson County, Kansas; Camden L.; Retta, wife of J. E. Goens, of Independence, who is field manager for the Consolidated Gas, Oil & Manufacturing Company and who acquired all his knowledge of the oil business and has profited well by the instruction gained from Mr. C. L. Bloom; Grace, who lives at home with her mother; Maud, wife of H. P. Rouse, a merchant at Fredonia, Kansas; Lum P., an oil well driller at Wayside, Kansas; Dossa, at home with his mother.
No doubt a considerable part of Mr. Bloom’s success can be ascribed to the fact that he is a thoroughly practical man in all phases of the oil business, and knew the industry in a technical and many sided way before he reached a position where he commanded the operations and activities of large capital and many men. In his sixteenth year he began for himself as a tool dresser. While thus employed he first became familiar with the methods and requirements of deep well boring. About that time he became acquainted with one of the officers of the Western Security Company, which at that time had its headquarters in Ottawa, Kansas. This company sent him to take charge of a ranch in Linn County, Kansas, known as the Blue Grass Farm, where some very fine blooded horses and cattle were raised. He acquitted himself accreditably during the three years he managed that, and then on account of ill health he resigned and traveling on horseback took a bunch of cattle to the Ozark Mountains, and made a living by trading for a number of months until his health was fully restored.
In 1887 Mr. Bloom formed a copartnership with A. P. McBride under the firm name of McBride & Bloom. Mr. Bloom was still under age, but both he and his partner had the physical stamina and the resourcefulness which prompted them to take contracts involving very heavy responsibilities. They were the pioneer contractors in the development work in the natural gas field of Miami County, Kansas, where the first natural gas agitation in the state was begun. With few exceptions they drilled in all the wells there, and Mr. Bloom had complete charge of the field work of the firm. In the early ’90s, the firm drilled in the first two wells in the Neodesha section. That started the development of a very profitable oil and gas field.
The firm’s corporations were then extended to Coffeyville, where they accepted a proposition to supply that city with natural gas. They constructed a plant, piped the town and made a success of that as practically every other of their important undertakings. In 1893 the attention of Mr. Bloom and his partner was attracted to the City of Independence, and he took a prominent part in the Independence Oil and Gas Company. It was here that his abilities as an organizer had their first real opportunity. He began developing and obtaining control of great holdings of gas and oil lands that eventually brought their company to a position among the strongest financial institutions of the state. Not only did the firm place the Independence Gas Company on a high plane of efficiency so far as production was concerned, but they also led in the movement to secure to Independence the proper fruit of these great natural resources by attracting great industrial establishments for the utilization of the great volume of gas produced there. In this campaign for industrial building Mr. Bloom’s broad minded judgment and public spirit contributed an inestimable value to the city, and his services have always been highly appreciated by those who really understand the foundation upon which the prosperity of Independence rests. The firm of McBride & Bloom was chiefly responsible for the great oil development surrounding Independence, and though Mr. Bloom’s interests have been widely diversified he has always been especially loyal to the city of his choice.
For fifteen years he was president of the Consolidated Gas, Oil & Manufacturing Company, was second vice president of the Commercial National Bank of Independence and a director and stockholder in a number of corporations. The partnership of McBride & Bloom existed for sixteen years. Among other operations they drilled wells throughout Kansas, Indian Territory, Missouri and Texas.
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Though easily one of the wealthiest men of the state, Mr. Bloom always kept his wealth tied up in a multitude of enterprises and investments, and thus it was when the panic of 1907 swept over the country he was unable to realize quickly enough and soon found his fortune swept away, leaving him in debt to the extent of about $125,000. He was at that time forty years of age. He spent little time in lamenting what could not be helped and was quickly in the harness seeking to retrieve his losses. Throughout that period of depression Mr. Bloom credits much to the sustaining influence and devotion of his wife. They mortgaged their little home, raised $500, and with that he made a new start, and already he has not only cleared up all his indebtedness but is making rapid progress for the second fortune. As a contractor he is now running five strings of tools, four of them in Montgomery County and one in Uvalde County, Texas. In that section of Southwestern Texas he has taken leases on 50,000 acres, and only recently brought in the first well with a good production. For a year he had two men prospecting over Texas, and finally began operations in Uvalde County, where the prospects favor the development of a very extensive field. The Uvalde oil is of a twenty-four gravity.
At one time Mr. Bloom owned very extensive holdings in farm lands in southern Kansas, but has sold all that property. He owns a fine residence at 500 Maple Street and has other residence property in the Aggienette Addition to Independence. Another piece of property owned by him is an entire city square at the corner of First and Poplar streets, one of the most desirable locations in Independence. While helping himself he has always endeavored to help others. Several years ago he laid out an eighty-acre addition known as the Bloom Addition, which he sold on the easy payment plan to clerks and salaried people to furnish them opportunity to own homes of their own.
Mr. Bloom is associated with the Roth-Truby-Guernsey Company, a copartnership, and he has himself taken all the leases which constitute the holdings of that company. Under these auspices he developed and made a success of a gas field which had previously been given up by the Kansas Natural Gas Company. He has been manager since the inception of the Helen Oil Company, which owns holdings in Nowata County, Oklahoma, and the company was named in honor of his daughter. He is manager of the Bloom Oil and Gas Company, which has its holdings in Labette and Montgomery counties, Kansas, and this company has already progressed to the point of shipping oil. He is manager of a number of other concerns, and in every sense of the term is a man of large affairs. It was Mr. Bloom who approximated and closed the deal with R. M. Snyder for 75,000 acres of gas rights, which were the nucleus of the great holdings afterwards acquired by the Kansas Natural Gas Company. That company started operations with these leases negotiated by Mr. Bloom, and through the subsequent development the Montgomery County field produced more gas than any other field in the mid-continent.
Mr. Bloom is an honored member of the Independence Commercial Club, and is affiliated with the following orders: Lodge No. 780, Protective and Benevolent Order of Elks; Lodge No. 1, Woodmen of the World; Camp No. 649, Modern Woodmen of America; Lodge No. 17, Ancient Order United Workmen; the United Commercial Travelers; the Knights of the Maccabees. Politically he is independent.
For his first wife Mr. Bloom married in Bollinger County, Missouri, Miss Rosa B. Vance. Her father, A. J. Vance, was an attorney and also was extensively engaged in mercantile business. His daughter Rosa thus grew up in a home of comfort, was given a liberal education and was a highly cultured woman. Mr. Bloom himself started life with very little schooling, and he has always confessed a great debt to the influence of his first wife, to whose finely developed mind and character he owes not a little of his own education. He also educated himself by constant association with the best people since his business undertakings have brought him in contact with the leaders of business all over the country. Mrs. Bloom died in 1892. On October 10, 1895, in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Bloom married Mrs. Anna Belle (Spaulding) Steele. Her father, A. T. Spaulding, is a retired farmer now living with Mr. and Mrs. Bloom. Mr. Bloom showed not less wisdom in the choice of his second wife, who stood by him loyally in his time of adversity, and by advice and practical assistance has enabled him to establish his financial standing. Mr. and Mrs. Bloom have one child, Helen, who was born October 6, 1899, and is now a sophomore in the Montgomery County High School.