On this day in 1894, a water-well contractor accidentally discovered the Corsicana oilfield, the first in Texas to produce oil and gas in significant quantities, while seeking a new water source for the city of Corsicana. Civic leaders of Corsicana needed a dependable water supply to promote commercial development. They contracted with the American Well and Prospecting Company to drill three water wells. The drillers took the first well to a depth of 1,027 feet, where they encountered oil. The first modern refinery in Texas, operated by the J. S. Cullinan Company, opened at the field in 1898. During its first century of operation, the field produced about 44 million barrels of oil; annual production peaked in 1900 at more than 839,000 barrels. The Corsicana field established the potential for commercial oil production in Texas; the industry has had incalculable effects on the state's subsequent development, public revenue, and culture.
On this day in 1927, Texas poets Vaida Stewart and Whitney M. Montgomery married. Vaida was born in Childress in 1888; Whitney was born near Eureka, Texas, in 1877. They established their home in Dallas and in May 1929 launched Kaleidoscope (later Kaleidograph), which they issued monthly until 1954 and quarterly from 1954 to 1959. Both Vaida and Whitney Montgomery won numerous prizes from the Poetry Society of Texas and from the Texas Institute of Letters, of which Whitney was president in 1940. Vaida Stewart Montgomery died in 1959, and Whitney Maxwell Montgomery died in 1966.
On this day in 1870, a Mr. Tuck, the grand master of the Masonic Lodge of Texas, laid the cornerstone for Temple B'nai Israel at Galveston. Rabbi Jacobs of the New Orleans Portuguese Synagogue officiated. It is believed that this was the first time an ordained rabbi functioned in Texas, though a Jewish congregation was meeting in Galveston as early as 1856. Temple B'nai Israel is the oldest Reform Jewish congregation in Texas. Under the leadership of Rabbi Henry Cohen, the temple played a role in welcoming Jewish immigrants to Texas during the Galveston Movement in the early twentieth century.