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Glasscock, Charles Gus (1895–1965)

J. E. Conner Biography Entry

Charles Gus Glasscock, oilman, was born on December 16, 1895, in Leon County, Texas, the son of J. B. and Elizabeth (Armstrong) Glasscock. He attended public school at Longview and Blanco and Southwest Texas State College (now Southwest Texas State University) at San Marcos. Before World War I he and his three brothers performed as acrobats with Ringling Brothers; later they opened a vaudeville act at Madison Square Garden and performed on the big vaudeville circuits. In 1917 Glasscock married Lucille Freeman; they had two children.

After he was rejected for military service in 1917, he worked briefly in the construction and taxicab businesses, then in the Texas oilfields. In December 1919 Glasscock and his three brothers formed an oil syndicate. Not until 1927 did their well near Big Spring come in, and then Glasscock's career began a meteoric rise. In 1939 he moved to Corpus Christi and organized his own drilling company. His first venture into tidewater drilling was a rig in Corpus Christi Bay in 1948. Dissatisfied with the cumbersome method and expense of this new facet of the oil industry, he contracted with Bethlehem Steel for a barge-rig that could be towed to a drilling site for stationary mooring. The barge was 155 feet long and 52 feet wide, with a draft of 5½ feet. The jackknife derrick was 132 feet high. The lower section of the barge could be dropped to the floor of the bay, and the upper half could be elevated on caissons above wave interference. The unit cost $700,000. Auxiliary barges carried equipment and supplies. The successful innovation resulted in the construction of fleets of similar rigs. Use of the barge-rigs revolutionized tidewater drilling, made Glasscock the biggest offshore driller in the state, and gave him national prominence. When the United States returned the tidelands of Texas to state ownership in 1953 (see TIDELANDS CONTROVERSY), new problems soon developed with deepwater drilling. Another Glasscock innovation resulted in "Mr. Gus," a modified barge-rig equipped to drill a 15,000-foot well. Its cost exceeded $1 million. It was also a success and was soon emulated by competitors all over the world.

Glasscock also had extensive holdings in oil properties and real estate, with ranches in Texas, Montana, and Wyoming. He served on the staffs of governors Robert Kennan and Jimmie Davis of Louisiana and Governor Price Daniel, Sr., of Texas. He was a strong supporter of the University of Corpus Christi from that institution's founding. Glasscock died on January 25, 1965, in Corpus Christi.

Joseph L. Clark, Texas Gulf Coast: Its History and Development (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1955). Corpus Christi Caller, May 8, 1962, January 26, February 2, April 5, 1965. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, October 15, 1951, January 13, 1957, January 23, 1966. Corpus Christi Times, September 12, 1962, January 25, 26, 1965. Lucille Glasscock, A Texas Wildcatter (San Antonio: Naylor, 1952).


  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Oil Entrepreneurs and Wildcatters

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

J. E. Conner, “Glasscock, Charles Gus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.