Farish, William Stamps (1881–1942)

By: Karen Collins

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 7, 2017

William Stamps Farish, pioneer in East Texas oilfield development, was born in Mayersville, Mississippi, on February 23, 1881, the grandnephew of Jefferson Davis and son of William Stamps and Katherine (Power) Farish. He attended school at St. Thomas Hall, an Episcopal preparatory school at Holly Springs, Mississippi. After receiving a law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1900, he practiced law for three months at Clarksdale, Mississippi, before moving to Beaumont, Texas, when oil was discovered at the Spindletop oilfield. He became supervisor of wells for Texas Oil Fields, Limited, an English syndicate. The next year he organized the Brown-Farish Oil Company, which did contract drilling and traded in oil. The firm became bankrupt at Brown's death, but Farish succeeded in borrowing money to pay creditors. By 1904 Farish and Robert Lee Blaffer had formed a partnership to do contract drilling and lease trading. The next year Blaffer and Farish moved to Houston to be nearer the Humble field. In 1915 Farish became president of the Gulf Coast Producers Association and subsequently was named president of the Texas-Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. In March 1917 he and others organized the Humble Oil and Refining Company (later Exxon Company, U.S.A.). Farish served as vice president for five years and in 1922 became president. In 1933 he became chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, which held substantial stock interest in Humble, and in 1937 he became president of Standard. He was one of the founders of the American Petroleum Institute and served as its president in 1926. At the beginning of World War II Farish was a member of the National Petroleum Industry War Council. He was married to Libbie Randon Rice in Houston on June 1, 1911; they had a son and a daughter. Farish died on November 29, 1942, in Millbrook, New York, while visiting friends; he was buried in Houston.

Dallas Morning News, November 30, 1942. Henrietta M. Larson and Kenneth Wiggins Porter, History of Humble Oil and Refining Company (New York: Harper, 1959). Who's Who in America, 1934–35.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Karen Collins, “Farish, William Stamps,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/farish-william-stamps.

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February 7, 2017

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