Much of our company’s beloved history is tied to Lewis Emery, Jr. Below is a timeline of his life and accomplishments.Lewis Emery, Jr. was born August 10, 1839 near the village of Cherry Creek, Chautauqua County, New York. He was the youngest of the seven children born to Lewis Emery, Sr. and Maria (Gilson) Emery.In 1840, Lewis Emery, Sr. contracted with the Erie Railroad to build a railway near Olean, New York, which became the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. By 1841, Emery, Sr. had built two miles of the Genesee Valley Canal. Due to nonpayment from the Railroad, Emery, Sr. severed ties.
Building railroads was not Emery Sr.’s only trade. He was a thorough mechanic and very adept in the varied details of the woolen manufacturing of cloth making. Having this background, Emery, Sr. decided to move the family and his livestock westward. The journey stopped in Jonesville, Hillsdale County, Michigan because of the loss of their livestock.
Learning of his mechanical and woolen trade background, the people of Jonesville and the surrounding countryside persuaded Emery, Sr. to stay. The people built a mill for him. Paying them back with the profits of his sales.
The Emery family stayed in Jonesville, Michigan for seven years. In 1848 Emery Sr. built a second mill and bought a large farm near the county seat of Hillsdale, Michigan. In 1849, Emery, Sr. moved his family to Hillsdale to reside.
Lewis Emery, Jr. was two years old when his mother and father moved to Hillsdale, Michigan. Emery, Jr. attended the country schools until he was nine years old. It was then that his father, Emery, Sr., had built the second factory and bought the large farm near Hillsdale to which Emery Jr., stayed until 1864.
Before the move to Michigan, Emery Jr. would accompany his father on his travels. Not only learning the trades of his father, but also his father’s hard work and accomplishments. By traveling with his father, this gave Emery, Jr. his father’s enterprise and initiative.
(When Emery, Jr was still young, he and his brother became owners of a flour mill having considerable success.)
Emery, Jr. went on to attend Hillsdale College. While attending Hillsdale College, Emery, Jr. met and later married Elizabeth A. Caldwell.
At the age of nineteen, Emery taught school at the District of Wheatland Township, Michigan for two years. After the two year period, Emery, Jr. returned to his father’s mill to resume working.
On December 29, 1863, Lewis Emery, Jr and Elizabeth A. Caldwell married at the home of Elizabeth’s parents in Vistula, Elk Hart County, Indiana. The following children were born to Emery, Jr and Elizabeth Caldwell Emery:
- Clara Louise Emery, born, July 20, 1865, died August 12, 1866
- Delevan Emery, born September 26, 1867, died August 15, 1911
- Grace Elizabeth Emery, born January 27, 1874, died March 2, 1941
- Earle Caldwell Emery, born December 12, 1875, died October 1, 1946
- Lewis Emery, III, born August 27, 1878, died November 8, 1941
Emery, Jr continued to work at his father’s mill until 1864. It was then that Emery, Jr., left Michigan to seek work in Edgewood, Illinois. There he built a mill and was involved in general merchandising.
In 1864, Emery, Sr. sold his mill and his farm and settled in Hillsdale, Michigan where he died, August 21, 1886.
In August 1865, as the war was coming to a close and business was coming to a standstill, Emery, Jr., left Illinois to seek other fields of interest. He started east for the oil fields of Pennsylvania. He first stopped in Pithole, Venango County, Pennsylvania, eight miles east of Oil City. Having only arrived with his span of faithful horses, he established a teamster business. The bulk of the oil production made was drawn by horse teams, giving Emery tremendous profit. Emery, Jr remarked on more than one occasion, “The old team served me in good stead.”
It was in Pithole, Venango County, Pennsylvania that Emery saw the first successful crude pipeline in operation. Invented and operated by Samuel Van Syckle, this pipeline covered a distance of six miles and connected the Miller Farm with a refinery in Pithole. Emery knew Van Syckle well and watched with great interest the delivery of oil through the pipeline.
He then realized that this form of transportation would not only replace the horse drawn transportation, it would be the cheapest, quickest and most efficient means. Transporting oil by pipeline was only one dollar per barrel. By observing this, Emery learned yet another trade.
With the rise in oil production and transporting, Emery was able to hire a relief driver. This freed him from constant travel, and gave him extra time to work as a tool dresser on a well near Pioneer Run, Pennsylvania. With his knowledge of machinery, he set a slipped eccentric, a displaced valve, and expanded or calked boiler flues. Not only was he making money in the teamster business, he was making money as a tool dresser.
While at Pioneer Run, Emery, Jr. located his first well, sharing in the ups and downs of the producers during that time. Emery displayed a remarkable capacity for research and acquired an extensive practical knowledge along the lines of this new industry.
Emery, Jr. attempted a second well with his partner, James McElhaney. When the well began coming in, McElhaney summoned Emery for help. Emery had been in bed suffering from over-exertion. Against Doctors orders, Emery, with his determination got out of bed and was determined to get to the well. Watching the oil pour down the side of a hill- about 400 barrels per day – ruining both flowing and uncompleted wells below, it was then he grabbed a shovel saying to the men, “Come on boys, life and property are in danger.” Emery later reported that “We managed to keep the oil from the valley by connecting the well to a large water tank and saved the entire Pioneer Run from ruin. We also saved the oil which was then bearing a price of four dollars a barrel.”
With the abrupt failure of the Jay Cooke & Company of New York, Emery was left with obligations that could not be protected in time and sent him to “the wall” hopelessly ruined. But having the characteristic enterprise and confidence in himself, he was looking for ways to regain his lost fortunes.
McKean County had always been of interest to Emery. He suspected that the hills held beneath them a vast lake of petroleum, waiting to be tapped into. Determined to test his ideas with a drill, he relocated to McKean County. Arriving with his dignity and confidence intact, he leased and purchased about 14,000 acres of timber land, without a dollar of capital. Just the confidence that the citizens of McKean County entrusted in him.
Emery’s legacy began, July 28, 1875 on what was known as Tibbets Farm, he drilled his first well, Emery No. 1 at Toad Hollow. (The location now is known as Songbird Road. It is the South Avenue side of Songbird Road.) This well began flowing October 26, 1875.
Yielding approximately 40 barrels per day, this proved to be a large fortune for Emery, Jr., wiping out his debt and proving to be one of the greatest oil fields in the world. This opened up for Emery, not only wealth, but also territory falling into his possession. Over 500 wells were pouring into Emery’s store-house.
The Bradford Era wrote:
Lewis Emery, Jr. is credited with striking oil in 1875 and starting the oil boom in the Bradford area. The land that he purchased at 6 ¼ cents per acre immediately skyrocketed to $1,000 per acre.
Emery continued to purchase surrounding leases and properties in the Bradford field which added to his wealth and success.
Emery Oil Company conveyed 10,000 acres to Minard Run Oil Company and the Company was officially incorporated on January 4, 1906.
With the passing of the Company’s founder and his father, Earle Caldwell Emery assumed the reins of President of Minard Run Oil Company in 1924.
Emery Manufacturing – September 1925
Emery purchased land next to the B, R & P & Erie Rail lines. It was on this land that Emery Manufacturing Company was built. At peak production, Emery Manufacturing Co. refined 50,000 barrels of oil per month and had a tank capacity of 100,000 barrels.
If you drive by American Refining Group today, the Mill Street part of the refinery is where Emery Manufacturing was built.
It was the purchase of the Quintuple (Quinntoople) tract in 1876 that paid the most dividends. Holding onto a quarter interest of this tract, he sold 4,020 acres to the Producers Consolidated Land & Petroleum Company for $125/acre. Adding to his own production, he became a millionaire.
As with any story, there has to be a villain. That villain in this story is John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company.
John D. Rockefeller, founder, chairman and major stockholder of Standard Oil Company had refineries in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It was during this time that Standard Oil Company was monopolizing the transportation of this infamous “black gold.”
Rockefeller began buying up pipelines, controlling the railroads, transporting agents and terminal facilities to force the independents to sell their oil at below market price, forcing them into bankruptcy.
F. Wayne Fesenmyer becomes the third generation President of the Company. Mr. Fesenmyer was married to Elizabeth Emery Fesenmyer, the granddaughter of Lewis Emery, Jr.
Frederick W. Fesenmyer, Jr. becomes the CEO and President of the Company after the untimely death of his father, F. Wayne Fesenmyer. Fred was a fourth generation President and remained in this position for 40 years before becoming the Chairman of the Board.
Minard Run Oil experienced rapid growth generating record corporate revenues and production. In the latter part of the decade, MROC ceased waterflood operations that had provided enhanced recovery of oil over many decades, and that had made the Company the fourth largest waterflood operator in the region (after Pennzoil, Quaker State, and Kendall). In keeping with the Company’s commitment to environmentally responsible operations, all water intake wells were plugged and abandoned in the 1990’s.
Declining production, general economic conditions and costly environmental responsibilities all combined to put pressure on the balance sheet. Timber sales during the decade kept the business afloat, but clearly a bold initiative was needed to assure the survival of this venerable Company.
The directors of MROC made a vigorous effort to revitalize the business and entered into a joint venture to begin exploring and drilling in the local McKean County oil patch. Modest production coupled with the rise in commodity prices helped to boost MROC’s bottom line. Soon other joint ventures were established and drilling programs reached 70+ wells per year.
Minard Run Oil’s first major acquisition led them to the Finger Lakes of New York when they acquired over 400 natural gas wells and 195 miles of pipeline from Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC and Arcadia Resources, LP. MROC self-funded this acquisition that included tangible assets, significant reserves, and undeveloped acreage greater than 100,000. Production from these wells tops 1 BCF annually. In 2014, MROC partnered with Seneca Energy to transport green renewable natural gas to market.
With commodity prices remaining low, the Team at Minard Run Oil made a conscious effort to increase revenues and the bottom line by acquiring nearly 100 natural gas wells and 65 miles of pipeline from EmKey Resources, LLC. MROC operations has greatly reduced the lifting costs and has maintained the more than 1 BCF in production in Chenango and Madison Counties, New York.
Meredith M. Fesenmyer succeeded her father, Frederick W. Fesenmyer, Jr., as the President of the Company on January 1, 2017. She became the fifth generation to manage the organization.
Continuing with their strategic focus to expand operations and their footprint in the conventional industry, MROC closed on the acquisition of Pennsylvania General Energy Company, LLC’s shallow conventional assets in early 2017. Minard Run Oil acquired over 1,100 wells and 30 miles of midstream assets that covers seven counties in Northwest Pennsylvania. With this acquisition, MROC added nearly 100,000 BBLs and 1.3 BCF annually to their gross production.