Black Gold

Texas tea [1]… Or, in this case, perhaps Louisiana chicory?

Yep, Oil. That same bubbly that enticed Jed Clampett to pack up everything and move also emitted a homing beacon to the McPhail clan.

One Hardin Malcolm McPhail answered the call… at the ripe ol’ age of fifty-four.

Hardin had three wives and three children. It was with his third wife, Lucy, and his two youngest girls, Helen & Elizabeth, from his second marriage (their mother died from complications about a month after Elizabeth was born) that he made the trek to Louisiana sometime after 1913. [2]

But it was his oldest daughter, Nettie, child of his first marriage, who almost certainly pointed the siren in Hardin’s direction. [3]

That siren was employment at the Rio Bravo Refinery in Welsh, Louisiana.

Rio Bravo was founded in Welsh in 1907, the oldest of the Louisiana Refineries and by 1919 was producing 200 barrels per day and owned 350 tank cars [4]. The business apparently also provided housing for its employees, as Hardin and his family are listed in the 1920 Census with a street address of Rio Bravo Refinery. Hardin’s occupation is given as Porter. [5]

Hardin and family didn’t linger long in the Bayou State. By 1928, both daughters were married and returned to Kentucky. Hardin and Lucy disappear again for the 1930 census but are counted in the 1940 Census in Russellville, Logan Co, Kentucky.

Oldest daughter, Nettie, however, was a different story. Once landed in Louisiana, she left only briefly, quickly returning to forge the beginning of the Taylor-McLemore saga.

Notes & Sources

  1. I’m betting you are now humming the Theme from The Beverly Hillbillies.
  2. Hardin Malcolm McPhail married his third wife, Lucy McConnell, on 01 January 1913 in Logan County, KY.
  3. I am almost certain that Nettie was instrumental in her father’s move. But not absolutely certain. This is because of some confusion in the records. Hardin’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was reportedly born in Louisiana on 16 November 1907; some reports even go so far as to say Crowley, LA. But I haven’t found a birth record. PLUS, Elizabeth’s mother died in Kentucky just two months after Elizabeth’s birth. Then, to further complicate things, Hardin seems to have completely vanished from the 1910 Census.
  4. North American Oil & Gas: a supplement to the Oil & Gas Journal; 30 May 1919; p. 137.
  5. I have scoured the internet for information about porter duties as applicable to the refinery industry. But there’s nothing, nada, nil, zip, zilch… Of course, in railroad applications, porters assist the passengers and carry baggage [Wikipedia/Porter (train)] while modern-day classified ads list porter as a job similar to janitor or custodian [Chron.com/A Building Porter’s Job Description]. My guess–and I have no hard evidence to base it on–is that a porter in a refinery was responsible for moving product, either to or from the rail cars. I’m counting on you, Dear Readers, to set me straight.

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