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Our Town, Corsicana Texas. On-Line

Corsicana, Texas.  History, Attractions and things to do

Hospitality at its best. Comeing directly to you from  Corsicana, Texas.
What region of Texas do we fit into?
Corsicana is home to many people, businesses and institutions. Famous for fruitcakes and host to Navarro College, Corsicana serves as the seat of Navarro County and is located equidistant from Dallas and Waco.
But where exactly is Corsicana?
It appears most residents describe Corsicana to outsiders in respect to its distance from Dallas.
"We are in the perfect place," "We're 50 miles from Dallas, 70 miles from Tyler and 200 miles from Houston."
The focus of the locale debate seems to be whether Corsicana is in East Texas or Central Texas?
An Internet search for Corsicana returned several different categorizations. It fell under the Northeast heading when it comes to record stores, campgrounds and live music venues. In travel and hotel, Corsicana is labeled as North Texas. Workforce Development is the sole place Corsicana is labeled as North Central, whereas it is simply Central Texas in terms of nursing homes.

Where do you think Corsicana lies?

"Texas is an interesting state. There are seven distinct climate zones which render El Paso as different from Texarkana as San Diego is from Charleston," Means said. "Although Corsicana, located in Navarro County shares some geographic and sociopolitical similarities to East Texas, if you compare us to a decidedly Central Texas area, and then to a decidedly East Texas area, you'll find we have more in common with clearly Central Texas areas."

In terms of the landscape and soil, Means points out Corsicana's similarities to Central Texas.

"When people refer to East Texas, they typically mean piney woods," Means said. "Our soil is black. Pine trees don't grow here, at least not effectively."

Regardless of whether Corsicana is Central, Eastern or North Central Texas, all residents concurred it is a great place to live.

"It's the best place in Texas," Mayor Sikes said.

"With our great infrastructure, water supply and utilities, it's the only place to be," Schliem said.    

Corsicana, Texas History


The County was named after Jose Antonio Navarro and the town after his parents' birthplace of Corsica. Navarro was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and early Texas Legislator. Other famous sons include "Lefty" Frizzell and Governor Beauford Jester.

Corsicana was one of the first cities in Texas to use natural gas for lighting and fuel. Oil boom occurred years before the famed Spindletop in Beaumont Area. Corsicana's downtown remains occupied and vibrant. The dates on buildings show a boom period between the end of WWI and the Crash of '28.

In 1985, Corsicana was designated as an official Texas Main Street City. The Corsicana Main Street Project works to assist in the revitalization of the downtown area through the use of historic preservation and economic development strategies.

Did you know......

Corsicana is where oil was first discovered west of the Mississippi. In 1884, the city hired a man to drill a city water well. Instead of hitting water, oil spurted from the well. The city fathers were so unhappy they refused to pay him . Thus Corsicana became the first Texas oil boom town.
In 1897 the states first oil refinery was built by a new local company called Magnolia Oil (better know today as Mobil). Another local startup, The Texas Company (Texaco) began shortly after.
In 1895, Lyman T. Davis made chili in downtown Corsicana and delivered it by wagon to saloons where it was sold for five cents a bowl with all the crackers you wanted. He later opened a meat market where he sold his chili in brick form, using the brand name of Lyman's Famous Home Made Chili. In 1921, he started to can chili in the back of his market and named it "Wolf Brand" in honor of his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill. A picture of the wolf is still on the label. In the 1920s, Davis quit the chili business when his ranch was found to have lots of oil. The company is now owned by The Quaker Oats Company.


In Kansas in 1890 Charles Rittersbacher and Horace Greeley Johnston organized a water-well-drilling business that they named the American Well and Prospecting Company. In 1894 they contracted with the Corsicana Water Development Company for three water wells in Corsicana, Texas. Work began on the first well in June at a site on South Twelfth Street, a few blocks from the business district. At a depth of 1,035 feet they struck oil and thus opened the state's first commercial oilfield. By 1900 the Corsicana oilfield was producing more than 800,000 barrels of crude annually and had the first refinery west of the Mississippi River.

Although they continued drilling some wells, Rittersbacher and Johnston soon concentrated primarily on repairing drilling rigs and other equipment. They had opened a small shop in Corsicana to repair their own equipment, but meeting demands for repairs from other drillers became a full-time endeavor. About 1900 Rittersbacher and Johnston purchased patent rights for hydraulic rotary drilling equipment from M. C. and C. E. Baker, brothers who had pioneered in that field. From that time the American Well and Prospecting Company began manufacturing and distributing oilfield equipment under the trade name Gumbo Buster. A rig manufactured by American Well and Prospecting and operated by the Hamill brothers of Corsicana was used to drill the A. F. Lucas well at Spindletop in 1901, thus ushering in the petroleum industry on the Texas Gulf Coast. Eventually Gumbo Buster equipment was used in every major oilfield in the world.

With the outbreak of World War II, American Well and Prospecting, like many other industries, converted its operations to the production of war-related materials. Among the items manufactured by the company were 1,000-pound semi-armor-piercing bombs and 240-millimeter shells. The plant operated around the clock and employed 1,000 people during peak wartime production.

American Well and Prospecting was a family-controlled operation for the first several decades of its existence. Johnston served as president until his death in 1930. Rittersbacher died in 1919, but his sons, Elmer and Edgar, held management positions in the company, as did Eliot Johnston and Lowell Estes, son and son-in-law of Johnston. On June 30, 1944, Bethlehem Steel of Pennsylvania purchased all the outstanding stock and assets of American Well and Prospecting Company. At the conclusion of the war Bethlehem resumed production of oilfield equipment at the Corsicana plant. Increased competition in the business of manufacturing oilfield equipment and hard times in the petroleum industry forced Bethlehem to close the plant in 1959.

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