Smith, Levi (1869–1932)

By: Jane Spraggins Wilson

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Levi Smith, president of the Big Lake Oil Company and founder of the town of Texon, was born to Samuel and Elizabeth (Huggers) Smith on October 16, 1869, in Greene County, Pennsylvania. After school in Moundsville, West Virginia, and experience as a carpenter, he became a building contractor in West Virginia and Pennsylvania oilfields. Later, as a scout and lease man for Standard Oil, he met Michael Benedum and Joe Trees, who became life-long associates. When Benedum-Trees discovered oil in Illinois in 1905, Smith took charge of the field. He directed subsequent operations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas and was know as an honest, knowledgeable, and just manager. Benedum-Trees also sent him to Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Romania. In 1923 Smith became president of the Big Lake Oil Company and oversaw the development of the Big Lake oilfield. The same year, as manager of southwest properties for Benedum's Transcontinental Oil Company, Smith leased what eventually became the Yates oilfield. Between 1924 and 1926, wanting to prevent the recurrence of unsavory living conditions he had experienced in oil towns where he had worked, Smith presided over the building of a model company town, Texon, Texas. Smith was an Episcopalian, a Mason, and a Republican. He served as a director of a San Angelo insurance company and belonged to the American Club of Mexico City and the Pittsburgh Athletic Association. He was honored with the permanent chairmanship of the newly founded West Texas Petroleum Club in 1925 and in 1926 was its president. In 1929 Smith, who owned his own plane, had one of the first airports in West Texas built at Texon. He was married to Lucy Parriott, who died in 1915. The couple had two daughters. Smith died on July 10, 1932, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and was buried in Moundsville, West Virginia.

Samuel D. Myres, The Permian Basin: Petroleum Empire of the Southwest (2 vols., El Paso: Permian, 1973, 1977). San Angelo Evening Standard, July 11, 1932.
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s

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

Jane Spraggins Wilson, “Smith, Levi,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995