SEARCH
Filter by:
Audio
Video

 

Patillo Higgins Interview [part 1 of 7]

  • Normal
  • Large video
  • Large content
  • Full video
"rtmpconf":{ type:"flv", file:"rtmp://streaming.lib.utexas.edu/cah/mp3:texoilindustry/_e_toi_0018", baseUrl:wgScriptPath + "/extensions/player/", streamServer:'streamserver.ufm.edu/vod', width:"480", height:"1", config:{ showBrowserControls:false }, poster:"/index.php?action=ajax%26rs=importImage%26rsargs[]=%26rsargs[]=480", controls:{ _timerStyle:"sides" } }
Search
Terms:
 
 
 
Table of contents 
  •  Birthplace 
  •  Homes 
  •  Names and Dates 
  •  Education 
 
Index 
  •  Beaumont, Higgins house in, T19:4 
 
Map 
Loading Google Maps...
 
Transcript 
  •  PIONEERS IN TEXAS OIL NAME: Patillo Higgins INTERVIEWER: W. A. Owens TAPE NO. 19 DATE: July 1952 
  •  Higgins: Well now, you just want me to tell where my father was from? 
  •  Owens: Yes. 
  •  H. Well now, I, I forgot lots of it but in hearing my father, what I'm going to tell you is what he said. 
  •  That he, among some of their relatives, were living in a foreign country. 
  •  It might have been Ireland, it might have been England. 
  •  But anyway, I think by water, or on a boat, they stopped at New York. 
  •  Well, at New York, they divided. 
  •  About half of that crowd went north; the other half went south. 
  •  And I'm on the south — I fell in on the south side. 
  •  Now my father — 
  •  selected — my father's father, my grandfather — selected a place in Georgia to move to. 
  •  And he had, he had a lot of slaves and everything, you see, and he run a big farm. 
  •  Raised cotton. 
  •  Now my father's father was a kind of a mechanic, himself, you see. 
  •  I think he had shops, shops to do work with. 
  •  You see, on a big farm you need shop work lots of times. 
  •  Patch up a wagon wheel or something. 
  •  But he was a good mechanic — my father's father was. 
  •  As time went on, my father helped him in farming. 
  •  I used to hear my father talking about 
  •  hauling cotton to a little town where they had rail transportation. 
  •  Now I forget that, I'd have to study all that out, but it was somewhere I believe in Macon, Georgia. 
  •  I'd have to study all that, I could fix it up then, take our Bible and check with that to get all of that. 
  •  But anyway, my father's father had a lot of slaves, quite a little bunch. 
  •  He used them for his farming. 
  •  -2- 
  •  He raised lots of stuff. 
  •  I used to hear my father talk about his barn to store corn in — they raised all kinds of stuff like that. 
  •  But my father was big enough to help him do the work and he'd send his cotton into town. 
  •  They'd sell it to somebody there — someone buying the cotton. 
  •  And that's the way they got along, and finally, my father moved to Henderson, Texas. 
  •  He stayed there some time. 
  •  Then he moved to Beaumont. 
  •  He stayed there some time and then moved to Sabine Pass. 
  •  But before we went to live at Sabine Pass, I was born in Beaumont. 
  •  O. What date? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  O. What date were you born? 
  •  H. Well that's what I was telling you a while ago. 
  •  O. Yes, will you tell me again? 
  •  H. Yes. Uh, it was, uh — 
  •  uh, let me tell you the location. 
  •  I was born on the place — a good house. 
  •  It was right on the east side of the Beaumont Square, the Courthouse Square, east side of the Courthouse. 
  •  I was born right in there. 
  •  And later on, we moved to Sabine Pass. 
  •  I don't remember what year. 
  •  O. Was it 1863 you were born? 
  •  H. Yes. 
  •  Woman's voice: 1862. 
  •  H. 1863. That's what I was going to come to — 
  •  W. 1862. 
  •  H. after telling where I was born — 
  •  O. Yes. All right. Fine. 
  •  H. — in that certain town. 
  •  We stayed there. 
  •  Well, we, uh — 
  •  My father — I don't remember just who he got the place, or whether they had it built, but my father had made money in his operations. 
  •  -3- 
  •  He had lots of Confederate money, which he lost — all of that — but anyway he had built a home, or bought a home at Sabine Pass, and it was the best house in that whole town. 
  •  Strong, well-built. 
  •  And it was on account of the elevation — the town had been laid out into lots you see, but my father had a whole block and had built his house just about middleways of the block. 
  •  Well now anyways it was a fine house. 
  •  Now when they would have them storms come, people would come to our house to be safe. 
  •  That shows that we had a good, substantial house. 
  •  Well now, we had a storm and I remember all about it just the same as if it had been yesterday. 
  •  The storm started in and a lot of people struck out for our house and we had a house full of them. 
  •  The wind kept blowing, the water kept getting higher and higher until it began to burst in on the floor. 
  •  The house was set, I think, about two foot from the sill above the surface, something like that. 
  •  Well, the water finally kept getting up and the little waves coming in, spraying — the wind was blowing so hard [sound of airplane passing] 
  •  It just blew them to pieces. 
  •  [unintelligible] 
  •  Well now, I was tickled by it — I wanted to see it get higher. 
  •  There was a pile of dirt in the back yard and they watched that and the water kept coming up till it covered it up. 
  •  The water was going over that pile of dirt. 
  •  And I heard my father talking to the men there, 
  •  and finally the wind dropped down a little and changed its course, 
  •  began to blow back the other way from where it was coming from the Gulf. 
  •  Well now, I heard my father telling that if the wind had lasted the same way another hour that our house would have been washed away. 
  •  And I heard him talking and he told the other men that he was going to raise his ground up thirty feet. 
  •  And they couldn't understand what he meant. 
  •  And I heard every word of it. 
  •  Well, how he explained it to them that he was going to move to Beaumont where they already had the ground. 
  •  It was already built, all he had to move. 
  •  -4- 
  •  So he made the move. 
  •  And we bought the place near the Courthouse in Beaumont. 
  •  W. Kinda funny to — 
  •  H. Now let me get back to the Sabine Pass place. 
  •  We have an elevation there, they call it the Higgins Hill. 
  •  I remember that just as well. 
  •  And we were living on the Higgins Hill. 
  •  And we were living in a good house because the neighbors around would always head for our house when them storms would come. 
  •  And they come every once in a while, you couldn't always tell just what time of year, but they would come in. 
  •  Well, my father made a deal.  Now, his property was more valuable than the Beaumont property. 
  •  And he made a swap with some heir and got the Beaumont place. 
  •  A doctor built the house — 
  •  W. Dr. Hawley. 
  •  H. Dr. Hawley. 
  •  And it had got down to where it was owned among the heirs and divided up — the property and so on — that George Hawley owned the place and he made the swap with my father, and we raised to high land — we went to Beaumont. 
  •  The house, the Hawley place — he was a doctor and he built him a little building, out. 
  •  It had two rooms, a big room was all fixed up with shelves, and it had a back room to it and then come the residence building. 
  •  And then at that day and time we had the finest house in Beaumont. 
  •  Later on, they built another house. 
  •  It was a finer home. 
  •  The man, he was a stock man, 
  •  livestock. 
  •  He built a finer house. 
  •  O. How did your father happen to name you Patillo? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  O. Why were you named Patillo? 
  •  H. Well, all I know was I was named after one of my father's brothers. 
  •  -5- 
  •  He had a brother named Patillo. 
  •  Now where they got that name, I don't know. 
  •  Of course, I could take out Bibles and memorandums and stuff and find out. 
  •  But it take good while to do all that. 
  •  But if you was fixing up something that would be kept for a record, turn it over to the States, let them compile it among their papers they are holding, 
  •  it would be all right. 
  •  But you see now I wouldn't want like just to start in the middle of it and commence, I want something to back up. 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. I'd want it explained where I come from — 
  •  W. Dad 
  •  H. — all such as that. 
  •  W. Pop. You say you were born December the fifth, 1863. 
  •  H. Yes, I know that. 
  •  W. Your father told you? 
  •  H. Yes. 
  •  W. Is that it? 
  •  Now the family Bible has it 1862. 
  •  H. Well, whoever wrote that down, they made a mistake. 
  •  Because they followed it up, they knew when my birthday come — my father and mother. 
  •  And that's the date they left it in. 
  •  W. That's the date you recognize. 
  •  H. I know. 
  •  Whoever wrote that down in the Bible just made a mistake 
  •  of one year. 
  •  That don't make any difference. 
  •  O. How early did you start work? 
  •  H. Start to work? 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. [clears throat] Well, 
  •  the first work I done I bunched shingles at a big shingle mill. 
  •  In the neighborhood there were several boys and we'd get together a bunch of shingles. 
  •  They paid us so much a thousand for stacking them. 
  •  -6- 
  •  See, they had a little frame we'd set the loose shingles in, the binders and stuff, 
  •  then they had the poles to press it down tight, and then build, uh, then the top wire 
  •  on over and drive three nails in it, and that's got your bunch of shingles. 
  •  A person would need four bunches of shingles to the thousand shingles. 
  •  W. How old were you? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  W. How old were you then? 
  •  H. I don't — I don't know. 
  •  I'd have to study that out and work it out. 
  •  W. Was that after you quit school? 
  •  H. I might have been somewhere around twelve years old. 
  •  W. Was that before you quit school? 
  •  Were you still going to school then? 
  •  H. I kind of believe it was after. 
  •  W. After you — 
  •  H. Yes, after. 
  •  I don't remember that. 
  •  But I know we used to work then and we made quite a little money out of it. 
  •  W. How old were you when you sold fish? 
  •  You and the boys had a fish cart, you sold fish. 
  •  H. My father had a little cart 
  •  and I think he made it all — he made the body and all. 
  •  He might have bought the wheels. 
  •  But it was a little hand cart. 
  •  It had shafts to it just like a regular cart like when you hitch a horse, it's got two shafts to hitch him up in there. 
  •  Now a boy — take that, let's say that's a boy, then these two shafts coming out, 
  •  the boy'll get in there and take hold of the shaft one side in each hand and pull it around. 
  •  Sometimes one of the boys would walk behind the cart, and we'd haul our fish out and sell them. 
  •  Haul them out over the neighborhood. 
  •  We caught lots of fish. 
  •  And they were fish, too! 
  •  Fine ones! 
  •  I finally caught one fish that weighed six hundred pounds. 
  •  Now that's a good big fish for a boy to catch. 
  •  Six hundred pounds! 
  •  Now it was a sturgeon. 
  •  Had a head shaped sorta like a dog's head. 
  •  There was — take dictionary to find sturgeon. 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. They have pictures of them, on the little dictionary right there, got the picture of it. 
  •  W. Well Dad, you — 
  •  H. That's the name on it 
  •  "sturgeon." 
  •  -7-  
  •  W. — after bunching those shingles, that was after you quit school, wasn't it about? 
  •  H. I believe it was. 
  •  W. Ask him about his edu— how long he went to school? 
  •  H. And then — 
  •  O. How long did you go to school, Sir? 
  •  H. I don't remember that. 
  •  But I tell you what, I worked some — grades — we didn't have grades. 
  •  We had names for it. 
  •  History, I got up into History. 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. I was studying History when I quit school. 
  •  I had done fairly well in Physics 
  •  and Grammar. 
  •  I knew a little something about it. 
  •  I had a little trouble with my teacher about Grammar. 
  •  I left my, just a small book, I left my book at home and I didn't have a good grammar lesson. 
  •  So my teacher got after me about it and he said "Now —" I told him it was at home. 
  •  And he said, "Well now, I want you to bring your grammar and I want to put you back in the class studying grammar." 
  •  I told him, "All right." 
  •  Time went on and I didn't bring it and he asked me probably two or three times more. 
  •  And then finally he asked me one day when he was sitting by his little table. 
  •  He called me up. 
  •  I went up there and talked to him. 
  •  He said, "Well, did you bring your grammar today?" 
  •  And I said, "No, I forgot it. I didn't bring it today." 
  •  Well, he picked up his switch. 
  •  He had a switch, probably about that long, fairly good little switch. 
  •  He caught hold of one end of it at the butt end in his right hand, then he caught hold of the top and bent it around. 
  •  He says, 
  •  "Don't you think I ought to whip you for that, not bringing the grammar today?" 
  •  I said, "Well, I tell you, I don't believe you can whip me." 
  •  So he twisted his stick around a little while and laid it down, and told me I could go back to my seat. 
  •  And that was the last, that was the last time I studied grammar. 
  •  I know a little about grammar, and then 
  •  I don't — there's lots of times you talk when you don't need grammar. 
  •  -8- 
  •  You see? 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. I got that just like the oil business — right up in my head, the grammar part. 
  •  O. All you need — 
  •  H. I can make them understand what I'm — lot of them fellows that use certain kinds of words you don't know what they mean and they don't even know it themselves. 
  •  W. Dad, there were no public schools there — 
  •  H. Huh? 
  •  W. You never went to a public school, did you? 
  •  Were there any public schools in Beaumont? 
  •  H. No, I think it was a private school. 
  •  W. All private schools. 
  •  H. The man's name was McLaughlin. 
  •  W. McLaughlin. 
  •  H. Now he was a rather old man. 
  •  I guess he was way up in his fifties. 
  •  Between fifty and sixty years old — he was getting along. 
  •  We'd call him an old man at this day and time. 
  •  O. What work did you do after the fish selling? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  O. What kind of work did you when you quit — after you quit selling fish? 
  •  H. Well, I was just going to mention that. 
  •  I worked for this sawmill company. 
  •  It was just one block from our house, where they built the sawmill. 
  •  The sawmill was built on the river and they got their timber down the river. 
  •  The first work I did was to wheel sawdust. 
  •  Now there — the top of the hill running down and they had a floor on the surface below. 
  •  But then it was two stories to get to the top of the hill, you see? 
  •  The next building on top was two stories and the floor of the sawmill was up like a two-story from the bottom. 
  •  Well. 
  •  Now, they had a log way from the mill. 
  •  It would go down on the slope to get down to the water — the floor on the water level. 
  •  -9- 
  •  So they'd pull their logs and they would do their sawing. 
  •  The sawmill part was up on what you might call a separate floor. 
  •  Well, now we wheeled this — 
  •  there was three boys, I think — 
  •  there was the Garvan boy — 
  •  they all lived close to the sawmill and they give us a job wheeling sawdust. 
  •  Now we'd take — we had wheelbarrows. 
  •  We would go in there and the chutes from the saw would come down into our wheelbarrow. 
  •  And they had a little kind of a chute or something, I don't know just what you would call it. 
  •  They had a little trap door fixed for it. 
  •  You can close it up and if you wait a little while, and they'll keep sawing, sawing steady, release — open that door and let it into our wheelbarrow. 
  •  If a little of it would waste out onto the floor, we would take our shovel, rake it up and throw it back into our wheelbarrow. 
  •  Get the wheelbarrow and one of the boys would go and the others would get their wheelbarrows under. 
  •  We done that for some time and then, then I got to work from that. 
  •  They had a planing mill. 
  •  I worked in that — doing all kinds of work. 
  •  The next work they put me to oiling up the machinery and keeping it all cleaned up. 
  •  That's from the big sawmill. 
  •  Now like with all this dust, the sawdust, getting on the shafts — 
  •  and they brush all that off. 
  •  And then the boxes, I kept it oiled. 
  •  The big boxes opened and had oil cans and I kept it greased. 
  •  O. How had you learned about machinery? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  O. How had you learned about taking care of machinery? 
  •  How did you learn about taking care of machinery? 
  •  H. Right there on the — 
  •  O. On the sawmill. 
  •  H. Yeah. 
  •  O. You didn't learn anything from your father about that? 
  •  H. They had a good engineer 
  •  O. Yes. 
  •  H. and he showed me what to do and that's all they had to tell me. 
  •  -10- 
  •  I kept it cleaned and I kept it greased. 
  •  The engineer didn't bother about greasing the machinery. 
  •  Just some little parts about the engine, something or other like that. 
  •  Everything worked all right. 
  •  Lots of things happened. 
  •  Right funny. 
  •  They, they finally put that circular saw there. 
  •  They finally put in a band saw and that was kind of dangerous. 
  •  Now, the mill would cut a hundred thousand feet a day. 
  •  It was a whopping mill. 
  •  And they could try the band saw out. 
  •  Well, something got the matter, one day. 
  •  Now the house was built out of just boxing lumber, rough, never been painted. 
  •  But they had big openings, big windows, where you could open them. 
  •  They had shutters they could open up; 
  •  rain or something, close them. 
  •  And now, something got the matter with the carriage there one day, 
  •  and uh, somehow, the sawyer, he looked up from the band saw and they had a little trinket of metal as a guide, 
  •  that would guide the teeth and it would keep the saw from running off of the pulley. 
  •  Well now, the working — there was three men worked on the carriage all the time and the sawyer; four operated it. 
  •  Well, 
  •  something got the matter with the carriage and the sawyer run it up to the front you know, 
  •  the sawyer was saying, he was telling about making way. 
  •  And then they had the track go on where they would cut the lumber off and pile it up here where the saws were 
  •  and then to go out on rollers till it begin to come to the "edger," they called it; 
  •  and then from that to another place where they cut the lumber off into certain lengths, if it's a little long. 
  •  You see, often logs are longer than the exact length. 
  •  And then, from there — they go from the clippers off on to rollers and to stacks on trucks to take to the lumber yard or to the cars direct. 
  •  The green lumber — load it on cars and everything worked all right. 
  •  Now let's see, seems like I got off on something — 
  •  -11- 
  •  W. Well, I think you were going to tell him about this band saw — 
  •  H. Oh, yes, yes. 
  •  W. — going out of the window. 
  •  H. Now, uh, something got wrong with the carriage and the sawyer was oiling it up, and the sawyer comes over and the sawyer forgot to put this thing that keeps the saw from going off. 
  •  So they went up and got the carriage all fixed and the sawyer got his lever and he pulled the lever 
  •  and he run the carriage up and going back opposite the skidway for the logs to go to it. 
  •  And the sawyer hadn't noticed about the saw being gone 
  •  And it was gone. 
  •  They started to put a log on and everything ready and he started like he was going to sawing and he found out his saw was gone. 
  •  Well, they looked around for signs of it and it had gone off and jumped through one of them big windows. 
  •  Oh, it was a long band saw but there's doubles you see, 
  •  and it had just hit there right and went on out into a pile of sawdust. 
  •  Now, if that had hit the wall up there, it might have killed a whole lot of them. 
  •  O. That's true. 
  •  H. They have all kinds of trouble around that business. 
  •  O. Did you work on the railroad, next? 
  •  W. No, the next job — 
  •  H. No. 
  •  O. What was his next job? 
  •  W. Next job, his next job, still in lumber — 
  •  H. No I, I could pin it then. 
  •  The railroad probably was before I worked in the mill, 
  •  I think it was. 
  •  No, the railroad had a switch built down the main track, got their lumber there, rode their cars there — 
  •  but I don't remember, I'd have to study all that over to get that — 
  •  but anyway — 
  •  W. The third work, you boomed on the river. 
  •  H. What? 
  •  W. After — I've got the third, uh — 
  •  H. Well now, after — 
  •  Yes, I didn't do — I done the railroad work first, I'm sure 
  •  you see, because I went over and they gave me a job on the river 
  •  and they put me in charge of all their timber work. 
  •  "Bud Higgins, he knew what to do, he'd never made a failure on anything, we'll try him on that." 
  •  Now they put me on an important job. 
  •  I looked after the scaling of the timber where they bought it from different people. 
  •  -12- 
  •  Now that was an important job, now, and it was risky. 
  •  Now like a man come down, he's got so many logs. 
  •  I'd look after it. 
  •  I would, uh, measure it, 
  •  and, uh, I added it up, 
  •  turned it over to the office to book. 
  •  They never, I never had any come back. 
  •  I always got it right. 
  •  I figured it out, just how many feet of lumber. 
  •  A man with so many logs — I'd add all that up, that shows I could add a little bit. 
  •  I didn't have any adding machine; 
  •  they all hadn't come out then. 
  •  W. Dad, those logs were brought down the river, weren't they? 
  •  H. What? 
  •  W. Those were logs that these people would bring down the river? 
  •  H. Yes. 
  •  Then they put me in charge of the whole logging outfit. 
  •  I had booms fixed to catch the logs, and lots of work done there. 
  •  They just turned it over to me and "You fix it like you want it." 
  •  And I fixed it. 
  •  They hired a boat, 
  •  had, uh,  
  •  drive piling. 
  •  I had a lot of piling drove there in the water — 
  •  then I had timbers cut, sawed at the sawmill in the sizes that I wanted fixed to make what you call a boom. 
  •  I got along with — they left everything for me because they knew that "Bud knows more about it than we do." [TAPE ENDS] 
 
Mark Video Segment:
begin
end
play
[Hide]Copy and paste this link to an email or instant message.
[Hide]Right click this link and add to bookmarks

Metadata

Title:Patillo Higgins Interview [part 1 of 7]
Identifier:e_toi_0098
Related:e_toi_0099
e_toi_0100
e_toi_0101
e_toi_0020
e_toi_0021
Description:Reel 19a: Higgins discussing his experiences in the oil industry
Country:United States
State:Texas
Date:1952/07/24
CreatorHiggins, Pattillo (interviewee)
Owens, William A. (interviewer)
Location:2A2
Source:Oral History of the Texas Oil Industry Records
Language:en
PublisherDolph Briscoe Center for American History
Rights:Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
Original Format:Audiotape (open reel)


The rich media version of this interview was created by Eric Cartier and Vivi Hoang in Fall 2010. Their work was made possible by the School of Information, University of Texas at Austin and the Institute for Museum & Library Services.