David Francis Craig. Independence is the home of one of the most widely experienced and prominent contractors and producers in the oil and gas fields of the Southwest. Mr. Craig was born in Pennsylvania, got his first experience in the oil industry there, and has followed the progress of oil and gas development in all the important fields of the United States. A man of great foresight and judgment, and of equally remarkable energy, Mr. Craig has accumulated business interests in various sections of the country, but for a number of years has had his home and business headquarters at Independence.
He was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, February 25, 1861. His people were originally Scotch, and his grandfather located-in Western Pennsylvania in Mercer County at a very early date and spent his life there as a farmer.
Jacob T. Craig, father of D. F. Craig, was born in Mercer County in 1829, and was one of the prominent farmer citizens of that rugged district of Western Pennsylvania. He acquired two of the old farms of Mercer County, the McElree and the old Irwin homestead, and at his death on March 4, 1911, left an estate of 200 acres. He was a democrat, active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a citizen of the highest standing. Jacob P. Craig married Hannah Irwin, who was born in Mercer County in June, 1829. She was a first cousin of the late President McKinley. Her death occurred at Grove City, Pennsylvania, in April, 1916. There were five children in the family: Sadie is the wife of A. J. Wilson, an oil producer, residing at Hanford, California; the second in age is David F. Craig; M. I. Craig is a carpenter and builder in Mercer County, Pennsylvania; Charles B. is still on the old home farm; Homer G. has risen to a place of large responsibilities in the oil industry, and has his home near Vera Cruz, Mexico, where he has charge of the oil interests of the Pearson Company. Homer graduated from the Grove City College of Pennsylvania in the classical course and at the head of his class. During the revolutionary troubles in Mexico in 1914 the company gave him a vacation of five months, when the trouble was at its height, and allowed him a salary of $500 for each month.
David F. Craig spent the first eighteen years of his life on his father’s farm in Western Pennsylvania. He attended the public schools of Mercer County, and on starting out for himself went to the oil fields of Bradford, Pennsylvania. Since then the oil fields of many states have attracted his services and presence, and from Pennsylvania he went to Allentown, New York, then to Maxburg, Ohio, following which he returned to the New York fields, afterwards was in Butler County, Pennsylvania, and at Lima, Ohio, and in West Virginia became an independent oil contractor and producer. He operated in the Findlay fields of Ohio and in later years has drilled oil wells all through Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. From Boulder, Colorado, he came to Independence in 1903 and from this city as his headquarters has carried on his contracting and producing activities.
As a contractor he put down all the water wells for the Santa Fe Railway Company between Texico and Ricardo, New Mexico. For many years he has been an oil producer on his own account. Only recently he sold most of his producing holdings, though he still owns a considerable acreage in Oklahoma and Kansas. At Sweetwater, Texas, he has some lands and also two business blocks and 220 acres of farm land. He is interested in a 3,500 acre proposition with nine producing gas wells at Mexia, Texas, and owns an interest in the old homestead back in Pennsylvania. Mr. Craig, is president of the Southern Oil and Gas Company.
His home is at 204 South Sixth Street, Independence. He is a democrat, and a member of Lodge No. 780, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at Independence. His favorite diversion is hunting. He has hunted in California, Old Mexico, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oregon, Southern Texas, and Northern Michigan, and few men in the country know so much about the big game preserves as Mr. Craig.
In 1890 at Mount Morris, Greene County, Pennsylvania, he married Miss Stella Victoria South. Mrs. Craig was born at Mount Morris and was educated there, and prior to her marriage assisted her father in the latter’s dry goods store. Her father, Jacob South, who was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, in July, 1840, and died at Mount Morris in May, 1910, was a school teacher from the age of sixteen to twenty-one, and afterwards was in business as a dry goods merchant. Mr. and Mrs. Craig have one son, Halleck Irwin. He is now making a record for himself as a student and athlete in the University of Kansas. He graduated from the Montgomery County High School at Independence in 1913, with a diploma entitling him to entrance at college without examination. He is now a member of the junior class of the Kansas State University. In 1915 he was the star pitcher on the university baseball nine and made the remarkable record of winning every game pitched. It was through his excellent work that the university won the Missouri Valley Championship that year. He has also played on the football team and is a member of the Phi Gamma Delta college fraternity. He is pursuing a law course in the university.