John Pierce Herrick (1868-1961), publisher, oil producer, and philanthropist, was the youthful newspaper publisher of the Sharon Leader (PA) who eventually owned 150 oil-producing wells and real estate and insurance businesses.
The collection consists of research materials relating to oil and gas production, refining, pipelines, transportation, and biographies of individuals involved in the oil business primarily in New York and Pennsylvania.
9.4 Cubic Feet
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Library
John Pierce Herrick, publisher, oil producer, and philanthropist, was born in Muskegon, Michigan, January 27, 1868. He was educated in the public schools of Cameron County, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved from Michigan. His father was engaged in the lumber business and died when John was 15. At 17, young Herrick taught school, and at 18, became a newspaper publisher of the Sharon Leader. He later founded and successfully conducted other newspapers in Pennsylvania and New York. He also, for many years, contributed regularly to the metropolitan newspapers in New York, Chicago, and Buffalo. Mr. Herrick denied himself a college education in order to afford his sister, Anna, an opportunity to study at, and graduate from, Cornell University and the University of Paris. In 1901, he entered the oil business as a small producer at Bolivar, New York, and gradually increased his holdings until, at one time, he had interests in 150 oil producing wells. He was one of the organizers, and, for ten years, president of the New York State Oil Producers Association. He aided in organizing the Pennsylvania Crude Oil Association in Ohio and West Virginia and served as a director for some years. The International Petroleum Congress elected him a member of the Board of Governors, and the American Petroleum Institute named him as one of their Board of Counselors. The Northwestern Pennsylvania Producers Association elected him an honorary life member. In 1912, he moved from Bolivar to Olean, New York, at which time he turned over his newspapers to two of his brothers so that he could devote himself to his oil, real estate, and insurance interests. Mr. Herrick wrote and published three books, Bolivar, New York: Pioneer Oil Town (1952); Empire Oil: The Story of Oil in New York State (1949), which recounts the discovery and development of oil and gas in New York State and has been used as a textbook in a number of schools of geology; and Founding of a Country Newspaper, Fifty Years Ago. Mr. Herrick made the original endowment for the Edwin Drake Memorial Scholarship at Penn State University in 1952 for qualified, needy students. Since that time, well over 100 Penn State Students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences have benefited from his generosity. In August 1955, Mr. Herrick became a permanent resident of Los Angeles, California, and resided there until his death on February 3, 1961.
The oil history collection consists of correspondence, and financial material such as over 75 agreements, leases, deeds, rights-of-way, indentures, stock shares, and certificates of incorporation. Several original contracts that date from 1700s, the early middle and late 1800s, and early 1900s are photocopies. (The location of the originals is unknown). The bulk of the collection dates from the 1930s-1940s. Areas covered are mostly in New York State, particularly around Bolivar and Olean, and areas of Pennsylvania concerned with the drilling of oil. Specific to the early history of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania and New York are ninety-five items including photocopies of maps, 1670, 1851-1885; an original map, circa 1865; a set of prints depicting early oil industry scenes circa 1960; and two valuation reports on oil properties, 1953, 1961. This portion of the collection also includes newspaper and magazine clippings, industry pamphlets and other papers relating to early wells, drilling, flooding, refining, pipelines, railroads, and transportation. Biographies of oil industry leaders and photographs of early oil industry scenes are also included. Material relating to the wreck of the Bradford, Bordell & Kinzua Railroad (B.B. & K.) in 1884 and the completion of the first pipelines in the 1880s are added highlights of the collection.