Erle P. Halliburton
Erle P. Halliburton
“There was no such thing as the ‘good old days.’ They were filled with back-breaking labor that aged people before their time. Thank God that American inventiveness has given us the marvelous machines with which we now play and work.”
Erle Palmer Halliburton was born on a farm in Tennessee and attended school in Ripley, but his father’s death when he was 14 ended his plans for college. At that time, he began working in railroad construction camps, and at 16 he was operating a steam crane loading Mississippi River barges. He enlisted in the Navy at 18 and operated the Navy’s first motor barge. Back in the U.S. at 23 years of age, he became Superintendent of Water Distribution for the Dominguiz Company in California, the largest pressure irrigation project in the world at that time. The turning point came one year later, in 1916, when he was fired from his job with Perkins Oil Well Cementing Company. Cementing of wells was in its infancy when Halliburton was employed, and when he proposed several improvements, his ideas were rejected and he was fired. In 1920, after spending a few years perfecting his ideas, he had the opportunity to work with Skelly Oil Company near Wilson, Oklahoma. He developed his idea and soon expanded into other ideas for the oil field and in 1924, founded Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company. He purchased and operated a gold mine and hydro-electric venture in Honduras and engaged in farming and ranching. A great, but little-known philanthropist, he and his wife made many contributions to improve civic and educational facilities in Duncan, as well as assisting orphans, paraplegics, and overseas relief.
Erle Halliburton started his own airline in Tulsa in 1931 called Southwest Air Fast Express, or Safeway Airlines, which later merged with American Airlines. He was posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993.
Halliburton came to Durant, Oklahoma, in 1909.