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Matamoras Minute: Oil wells

Oil was found throughout the area of Matamoras for many years. But the real boom that was to place the town on the map began with the opening of the Sistersville, West Virginia field and its extensions. Wells were drilled all around including sites within the corporation limits.

Cochran C. Stover was very prominent among those known as the “oil men.” He had been a superintendent for Fisher Brothers, oil producers of Pittsburgh. Working for them he built up three one million dollar leases in Pennsylvania. With the discovery of the Sistersville field, Fisher Bros. sent him to this area and he took up leases at Cochransville, a small community that once existed just upriver from Matamoras. The Cochransville properties were later sold by Fisher Bros. for a flat one million dollars.

In 1900 Stover opened the Jackson Ridge, Ohio field and as a result another million dollars was made for his employer. At that point Stover wanted to take up leases on Leith Run and Sheets Run in Grandview Township but the company balked. With confidence in his own skills, Stover left the Fishers and took up these leases on his own. Some 3,500 acres were eventually built up and Stover became the largest independent oil producer in the valley. More operators moved in as the word spread but Stover remained prominent.

His sites were equipped with all means of successful production. Water, gas, and air lines extended to all sections of the 3,500 acres. A gasoline plant was installed, and in the early development of this plant Stover started a boarding house with his men receiving the best of care.

Stover was the originator of the shackle line for pumping oil wells. With development came power houses and a machine stop. The enterprise moved from horse transporation to truck. And installation of modern machinery, much of it being invented by Stover himself, was achieved.

With the death of C.C. Stover in December 1920, his wife, Marietta, and foster son, Fred, took control of the business. By 1925 the Stover name had 235 producing wells. At that time the family lived on Broadway with the large machine shop near the home and an automobile garage that was said to be the largest between Wheeling, West Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio. The Stover building, built in 1913, is still a prominent feature in Matamoras today.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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