Whatever Happened to Standard Oil?
A highly abridged history of the petroleum companies that have used the ‘Standard’ brand name.
The Standard Oil Trust, led by John D. Rockefeller, was one of the most famous industrial organizations ever. The Trust controlled much of the production, transport, refining, and marketing of petroleum products in the United States. Originally, this was an attempt to make money on the home lighting market which was based on kerosene. The emergence of the automobile and its thirst for the formerly near worthless by-product called gasoline brought untold wealth to this industrial group. The break up of Standard Oil mirrors the more modern breakup of the Bell System, including a famous brand name: Bell for telephone service, Standard for oil. Like the “Baby Bells”, many of the “Baby Standards” kept the company’s name as they went into business for themselves. Unlike the various Bell companies, they were restricted from using Standard name in each other’s territory, and defended the exclusive rights to the name vigorously. More Standard Oils were created as some successor companies declined to use the venerable Standard name in favor of pre-trust identities and the other Standards expanded into those marketing areas. As national advertising and travel blossomed, the various Standards ended up in competition, often adopting the names of smaller oil companies they purchased. The goal of this site is to track the history of the Baby Standards, discovering what became of John D. Rockefeller’s petroleum giant.
Click here for answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
Standard Oil : Pre-1911 or go to 1911 1941 1961 Today
Before the Trust breakup, there were other Standard Oils. You need a timeline of Standard’s history to understand what happened to them.
1868: Standard Oil Company (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is organized. This was the first Standard Oil.
1870: The Standard Oil Company is incorporated in Ohio. This would later become Sohio, and was the leading organization in the Trust for many years.
1873: Ohio Standard purchases 50% of Chess, Carley & Company
1874: Atlantic Refining (est. 1866 as Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company) is added to the Standard alliance.
1875: Acme Oil Company and Camden Consolidated Oil Company join the Standard alliance.
1877: The Standard Oil Company of California (Ventura) formed by local businessmen in Ventura County, California, hoping for a future connection to the eastern company; Baltimore United Oil Company formed of parts of many smaller firms, including Camden Consolidated.
1878: Waters-Pierce Oil Company (formerly H.C. Pierce & Company) and Consolidated Tank Line Company came under the influence of the Trust.
1879: The Standard Oil Company (Ohio)’s marketing area included Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, the Rocky Mountain States, and California. Vacuum Oil Company (est. 1866) added to the Trust. Pacific Coast Oil Company acquired The Standard Oil Company of California (Ventura).
1880: Imperial Oil of Canada formed.
1881: National Transit Company formed to own and operate pipelines.
1882: Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (“Standard”) was formed to take advantage of New Jersey laws that allowed corporations to own stock in other corporations. It provided adminstrative co-ordination to the Trust. Standard Oil Company of New York also formed this year, and administered most of the foreign territories. The West India Oil Company formed to handle refining in Cuba & the Caribbean.
1883: Standard of Ohio’s midwestern marketing area was acquired by P.C. Hanford Oil Company, a Standard afflilate.
1884: Continental Oil (est. 1875 as Continental Oil and Transportation Company) was acquired by the Standard alliance to handle distribution in Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
1885: Standard Oil Company of Iowa was formed to handle marketing along the Pacific coast. Solar Refining Company formed. Buckeye Pipe Line formed.
January 1, 1886 – Standard Oil Marketing Map
1886 Standard Oil
E New England – Maverick Oil; Upstate NY & N. VT – Acme Oil (NY); NYC, S. VT, Hudson River Vally, Montreal – S.O. Co. NY; Jersey City – S.O. Co. NJ; Newark, NJ – Kirgan Oil Co.; S. NJ, DE, Philadelphia, – Atlantic Refining; PA – Acme Oil (PA); MD, VA, NC – Baltimore United Oil; SC, GA, FL, KY, TN, AL, MS, LA E. of Miss. R. – Chess-Carley; SE OH, WV – Camden Consolidated; N OH, MI, N IN – The S.O. Co. (OH); N MN, N WI, ND – Globe Oil (Standard Aff.); SE OH, S In, S IL, N MO, IA, KS, NE, SD, S MN – Consolidated Tank Line; N IL, S WI – P.C. Hanford; S MO, AR, OK, LA W of Miss. R., TX – Waters-Pierce; NM, UT, MT, WY, CO – Continental Oil; AZ, NV, CA, WA, OR, ID, AK, NW Canada – S.O. Co. (IA)
1886: Standard Oil Company of Kentucky was formed to absorb the assets of Chess, Carley, & Company. Also, Standard Oil Company of Minnesota was formed to absorb Bartles & Richardson in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Remaining assets of The Standard Oil Company of California (Ventura) liquidated.
1887: Ohio Oil Company formed; Globe Oil purchased
1888: Anglo-American Oil Company, Ltd. formed
1889: Standard Oil Company of Indiana was formed, centered around the Whiting, Indiana refinery, and was only in the production end of the oil business. The Ohio Oil Company purchased by the Standard Trust, its only customer. South Penn Oil Company was formed to explore and produce oil in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
1890: The Trust purchased the remaining shares of P.C. Hanford and transferred its assets to the newly formed Standard Oil Company of Illinois
1892: The Standard Oil Trust officially dissolved, Jersey Standard becomes the controlling organization for Standard. Indiana Standard’s capitalization soared when separated from Ohio Standard as a result of an attempt by the State of Ohio to break up the Trust. It purchased and absorbed Illinois Standard and Minnesota Standard, gaining a midwestern marketing arm. Standard Oil Company (Pittsburgh, PA) absorbed by Atlantic Refining.
1895: Standard enters the promising Kansas oil fields under the name Forest Oil buying out Guffey & Galey.
1896: Indiana Standard purchased the marketing rights to Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri from Kentucky Standard. (The) Standard Oil Company of Kansas and Standard Oil Company of Missouri organized due to anti-Standard sentiment in those states. SO (Kan.) was only a refining concern.
1897: Empreza Industria de Petroleo organized in West Virginia.
1899: Indiana Standard purchased Ohio Standard’s remaining eastern Michigan and eastern Indiana marketing areas. Standard Oil of Missouri dissolved.
1900: Pacific Coast Oil Company (est. 1879) was purchased by Standard Oil.
1901: Republic Oil formed to ‘compete’ with Standard by Standard stockholders, operating in secret. Galena-Signal Oil Company formed by merging of Galena Oil and Signal Oil.
Kansas Oil & Gas Company absorbed the assets of Forest Oil.
That same year Prairie Oil & Gas Company, another Standard company, absorbed Kansas Oil & Gas.
1905: Jersey Standard acquired Carter Oil, Marion Oil, Washington Oil, Crescent Pipe Line, and South-West Pennsylvania Pipe Lines from National Transit
1906: Standard Oil Company of California was formed to take over the Pacific coast marketing area of Pacific Coast Oil and Iowa Standard. Iowa Standard was liquidated prior to the Trust breakup, despite being mentioned in court papers. Also that year, Standard Oil Company of Nebraska was formed from Indiana Standard assets in response to an anti-monopoly campaign in that state. Republic Oil was dissolved and its assets sold to Indiana Standard, Ohio Standard, and Waters-Pierce.
1909: Standard Oil Company of Louisiana organized by Jersey Standard. Navarro (Corsicana) Refining Company & Security Oil Company severed from Standard in a Texas court decision.
Manhattan Oil Company absorbed by Anglo-American Oil Company
1910: Standard Oil Company of Brazil organized, absorbs Empreza Industria de Petroleo
Standard Oil of Colorado was chartered in Denver in 1922, the unused charter was recinded in 1926. In 1927, it was re-incorporated as Standard Oil Company of Colorado and sold stock by 1930 to small investors trying to get a piece of the fractured Trust as the demand for gasoline increased. The company had no oil wells, no refineries, and no gasoline stations. In 1930, Indiana Standard was extending its “Standard” marketing area into Conoco territory – Colorado and other Rocky Mountain states. After much confusion, in 1931 Indiana Standard sued Colorado Standard over the use of the Standard Oil name and won. In 1934, the suit was upheld and Colorado Standard was relegated to the footnotes of history.
Stan-o-conn Standard Oil of Connecticut was chartered as Standard Coal and Charcoal Company in Stratford, CT in 1915. The company’s local focus and lack of an oil connection at the time left it beneath the radar of Socony. The company survived the Great Depression and became Standard Fuel after WW II. After the great re-branding of Esso as Exxon in the US, the local copyright to Standard Oil became available. Standard Fuel took the opportunity and became Standard Oil.
Standard Oil Company of Galicia, Ltd. briefly existed in France, probably in the 1890’s, with no connection to the Trust except wishful thinking.
Standard Oil pre-1911 . Standard Oil in 1911 . Standard Oil in 1941 . Standard Oil in 1961 . Standard Oil Today
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do you know what happened other to oil companies besides the ones listed on this site? A: Probably not. Your best bet is to contact the government in the state it was chartered.
Q: I inherited this stock certificate or found it my relative’s papers. Do you know what this is worth? A: No. You should consider asking a lawyer or stockbroker. As a representation of equity in a corporation, odds are your paper is worthless. As an antique document, you may have a valuable collectible. I strongly urge you to go to http://www.scripophily.com/ to find out more. Many of these old stocks are worth over a hundred dollars or more to a collector.
Q: Do you know what happened to any employees or managers of these oil companies? A: No. I don’t have any of the old personnel records. Your best bet is to contact the company in question or its successor, or possibly the local government in the area they were employed.
Q: Do you have any connection to these companies? A: Mostly as a customer. Employees within ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, bp and ConocoPhillips are, or were, aware of this site. I value their input. This site is mirrored in bp’s Intranet, with my permission.
Q: Would you be willing to do research on former Standard Oil employees, stock certificate value, and / or other oil company histories? A: Yes, but that would take time and money. Private investigators would probably be much cheaper and work a lot faster.
If you any have thoughts, comments, additions, or suggestions, Click here to E-mail the webmaster. Information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge, and is current as of the last update. If you have differing facts or better information, please contact me, especially if you represent a company who shares the Standard Oil heritage.
This page first posted February 8, 2000.
This page last edited Saturday, April 03, 2004
In 1980 or so, Standard Oil of California published a bar graph form of this site, named the same as this site “Whatever Happened to Standard Oil?”. Mark Greaves scanned in his copy, and it is linked here for your perusal. This is a very big graphic. You have been warned.
LEGAL NOTE: The use of oil company logos and names on this website is meant to educate, illustrate and clarify, and is not meant as a challenge to the copyrights of the companies represented on this site, their predecessors, or their successors.