University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Walter Benona Sharp Papers, 1865-1957

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sharp, Walter B. (Walter Benona)
Title: Walter Benona Sharp Papers
Dates: 1865-1957
Abstract: Walter Benona Sharp (1870-1912) was an oilman and inventor.
Extent: 1 ft. 8 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History,The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Walter Benona Sharp (1870-1912) was an oilman and inventor. He began his career contracting for the drilling of water wells in and around Dallas before working as a driller for Gladys City Oil and Gas Manufacturing Company in its first test for oil on Spindletop Hill. Because of quicksand Sharp was forced to abandon the well at 418 feet only thirty yards from the spot where, eight years later, the first gusher of the Spindletop oilfield came in. Sharp was also a pioneer driller at Sour Lake and Corsicana. Over the years he perfected a method for drilling in soft soil, which allowed drillers to finally penetrate the quicksands at Spindletop. After Spindletop’s success he began trading in oil leases and did a large drilling-contracting business. In 1902 he formed the Moonshine Company with J. R. Sharp, Ed Prather and Howard R. Hughes, which would later become the Texas Company. Together with Hughes and J. S. Cullinan he also developed the Sharp-Hughes Rock Bit.

Bibliography: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. " SHARP, WALTER BENONA," (accessed September 18, 2009).

Scope and Contents

The papers concern Sharp’s work as a driller and inventor as evidenced in letters, speeches, interviews, memoranda, charts, payrolls, vouchers, insurance policies, bank book, lease, magazines, pamphlets, clippings, maps and photographs. Included are an abstract of geophysics education; a list of prospective interviews for a history of Texas oil pioneers; and "Founding of the Texas Company: Some of Its Early History and a Few Reminiscences."


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Cullinan, J. S. (Joseph Stephen), 1860-1937
Hughes, Howard, 1869-1924
Prather, E. C. (Edward C.), b. 1855
Sharp, Estelle B. (Estelle Boughton), 1873-1965
Sharp, Walter B. (Walter Benona), 1870-1912—Archives.
Subjects (Organizations)
Gladys City Oil, Gas and Manufacturing Company
Sharp-Hughes Tool Company
Core drilling.
Oil exploration
Oil fields.
Petroleum industry and trade.
Spindletop Oil Field (Beaumont, Tex.)
Technological innovations
Baytown (Tex.)
Beaumont (Tex.)
Corsicana (Tex.)
Dallas (Tex.)
Houston (Tex.)
Shreveport, (La.)
Sour Lake (Tex.)

Related Material

See also Sharp (Mrs. Walter Benona "Estelle Boughton") Papers, 1899-1937

Separated Material

Several publications on the petroleum industry from the papers have been separated to the Texas Collection Library.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Walter Benona Sharp Papers, 1865-1957, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.

Detailed Description of the Papers



2G189 Letters:
Maps and charts
Proceedings and speeches
Historical information
2G190 Oil magazines
Interviews, "Pioneers in Texas Oil" project
2G191 Interviews
2G192 Insurance policies
3S3 Photographs:
Marker at site of first gas well in United States
[Equipment used in locating oil?]