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have four claims there of 160 acres each, and we have got contracts on them. Other people are interested, both in drilling and in many other ways.
Mr. Burtness. How many people were interested originally in each of those four claims?
Mr. GREEN. Eight.
Mr. Green. I think there were about 20 interested in each one of them. There were about 100 in all. Each man went in and got a certain amount, and then they pooled it together. That is the reason our company is called the Mellish Co. Consolidated. It is a consolidation of the men who made the original locations.
Mr. Raker. Have those original locators transferred their interest to your company?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir. In other words, they are still the owners, but they combined their interests so as to operate the property.
Mr. Raker. Do they still get a royalty?
Mr. Green. They do not get a royalty, but the company does, and they get dividends from the company.
Mr. RAKER. You would say it is a fair contract?
Mr. Green. Yes, sir; just the same as you and I might combine in order to get enough money to operate on. We are not trying to pull one another, and we are not trying to pull anybody, but we have come down here to show our equities and good faith. In this case, we have given the United States lands that were not worth 50 cents when we went there. We have made 55,000 acres of the 150,000 acres covered by this proposition potentially valuable for oil. We have made 55,000 acres of it potentially valuable for oil and, in view of that, do you not think that the United States is well paid? They never paid a dollar for this, and they did not even know that they owned the land. Do you not think that we have paid our bill to the United States? Do you think that the United States would be anything but absolutely dead mean to take $1 from us? That is the reason we think we are entitled to consideration. We have got to have some money, because we want to carry on (this oil business. We want to develop that land. We have developed it for the United States and, in that connection, please remember that we have conferred two benefits. One is the ordinary benefit that you people of California give the general public, and we have done the same thing. We found this land, or found that it was valuable, and you will not be giving us too much, comparatively speaking, if you give it to us. We do not stand like these other men or, for instance, we do not stand like the man who has spent money in developing stone, and then finds that he has made a mistake because stone is held not to be a mineral.
They say to him, “ you brought it in, and, therefore, you take your quarries, and turn the benefits that come from them to the public." You say the same thing to the phosphate land man. You say to the oil man, “Oil is not a mineral, but you have put down oil wells, and we will make a law that will give you a patent; take it and confer the benefit of that oil upon the public.” Now, oil is a big benefit to the general public. The brief here and the testimony before the Supreme Court will show that there was not a well there in December, 1918. There was not a well short of 7 miles away, and if that was not wild cat territory
Mr. RAKER (interposing). Seven miles is not far from a well, is it?
Mr. GREEN. I do not know. I have worked some wildcat land, and I have drilled dry holes within a hundred feet of producing wells. I have had a dry hole that cost me $40,000. It cost me $40,000 to drill it, and did not yield a drop of oil. Now, if
you should give us 640 acres of land here, do you think that all of that will be producing oil land?
Mr. MORGAN. The best evidence that it is wildcatting land would be the presence of dry holes between your producing wells?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir. You can go very close to producing wells and still not get it. To show you what lands were worth in that neighborhood when we located; let me tell you that across the river, a firm of drilling contractors made a contract to drill on a one-eighth rovalty, and the landowners give them a lease on 2,350 -8
acres to drill a well. Just a little farther back they offered at this time; I am talking about 1918. It may have taken 3 months, and sometimes 24 hours makes a difference. They offered 3,000 acres to drill a well on.
Mr. DYAR. Right beyond the river?
Mr. GREEN. November and December, before we discovered oil. When we discovered oil then it got to be gold and diamonds. It made all the difference in the world.
Mr. BURTNESS. After you discovered oil the sky became the limit?
Mr. GREEN. Exactly. Now, the sky did not only become the limit for 640 acres, and there is going to be a big limit as soon as this is cleaned up. The United States is going to get a big royalty off this land and a lot of fellows are going to lose lots of money; everybody is not going to make money, because even if you give us 640 acres I will guarantee you will find only about 2 wells out of 3 that will be producing wells, and probably 1 well out of 3 will be a good, big well. Take the report of the receiver, who is in the best of this pool farther up the river, and I am perfectly satisfied there is some of our land from which we will not get any oil at all. The best part of this pool is farther up the river; it is on the Burke Divide, and around there.
Mr. RAKER. Now, Mr. Green, you made a statement that I did not get from any of the witnesses. As I understand, between the south bank, along the land in controversy and on south into Texas, there is a strip of territory where you strike a little town, about 7 miles away.
Mr. GREEN. Yes; that is Burkburnett.
Mr. Raker. Between there and the bank of the river you say that for eight years before 1918 there had been wells drilled in that territory and that they were all dry?
Mr. GREEN. I say this, that there were holes there; that is, remnants of holes there, which showed that men had been experimenting and got nothing. Who drilled them I do not know.
Mr. RAKER. How deep?
Mr. GREEN. Oh, yes; there have been. You know, that as long as you stay on the structure you will find oil, but as soon as you get off you get dry holes. The first money I ever lost in oil was on the Republic well, and I was only 125 feet away from a producing well, and that cost me $1,000. If I could talk oil to you I could explain it, but it is pretty hard. It took me four years and cost me a whole lot of money to learn it myself.
However, that is our idea. Our idea is that we have paid our score to the Government and that you should give us a square deal. The bill provides that the Secretary shall grant us such permits or leases as we deserve.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Green, you are a lawyer?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you think of the clause I read from the oil leasing act about conflicting claims:
“In case of conflicting claimants for leases under this section, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to grant leases to one or more of them as shall be deemed just?"
Mr. GREEN. Well, if you say permits, leases, and patents, I would say that was all right.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you be willing to substitute this language for the language in the Sanders bill, the language in the Sanders bill giving a preference right to those who were first on the land?
Mr. GREEN. The first on the land ought to have a preference right. But, gentlemen, I would not like to tell this committee what I want them to do; you must know, because you know so much about it.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, you are succeeding pretty well, but I just wanted to get your views about this language; that is, substituting the language contained in the oil leasing act for the preference right referred to in the Sanders bill.
Mr. GREEN. If you put a patent in there and give us 640 acres we certainly will be in favor of it.
The CHAIRMAN. I want your views of this language.
Mr. GREEN. That language seems to me to be all right. The broader you make it the better we are suited.
The CHAIRMAN. I think I ought to clear up the matter and get your views to see whether our minds meet. Under the Sanders bill, if you were first upon the land, as a matter of right you would get the Testerman claims allotted to you, but under this language it is possible for the Secretary, if he finds there was good faith upon the part of some of your contestants, to allot a part of that to them.
Mr. GREEN. I can not object to that. Fortunately, there is nobody here, I believe, who ever attempted to say that we were not so far ahead of everybody else that they could not undertake to claim our land.
Mr. BURTNESS. If I understand the facts correctly, there are really no conflicting interests, unless it be with reference to a very small portion of the Testerman claims.
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir; and we would not like to say what you shall do if it will hurt somebody else.
The CHAIRMAN. None of the Texas people contend for your land?
The CHAIRMAN. Perhaps I was misinformed, but I was under the impression that you were driven off by the Texas rangers.
Mr. GREEN. That is right.
Mr. GREEN. As far as I know there are not, unless the Sam Sparks permit may cover a little bit.
Mr. COLLINS. Do you not conflict with the Burk Divide people on just a small acreage?
Mr. GREEN. They may conflict with us, but we do not conflict with them. We were ahead of them in staking it off, and if they have staked over us they are the junior stakers.
Mr. BURTNESS. On the acreage where there is apparently a conflict between the Burk Divide people and yourself, are there any wells?
Mr. GREEN. Yes.
Mr. GREEN. We put down the Burk Senator, Burk Bet, the Nachedoches, and we were putting down another well when we were stopped.
The CHAIRMAN. That would make four wells you put down?
Mr. Green. I think they put down, if I am not mistaken, about three wells, and they took our machinery, about $40,000 worth. You see, we had to get our machinery from California, and that is the reason there is a lapse of time between December, 1918. when we filed our applications in Tillman County. We filed our papers and then we had to wait, because we had to send to California to get rotary drills, and, as I say, our machinery cost $40,000. We brought California men there to do our work so that we would not have any spoiled job.
The CHAIRMAN. How much did your people spend on the Mellish claims—that is, the drilling?
Mr. GREEN. Pretty close to $120.000, as I am told. Of course, we have spent a great deal more money than that.
Mr. Raker. Who were the people that drilled the three wells; I mean the Texas people?
Mr. GREEN. Bass.
Mr. GREEN. I have not heard of any so far, and I would like to get them down in my country. You can not try these fights here, and all we ask you to do is to give us a tribunal, and a bill that is not so heavily weighted that we can not travel, and if our claims indicate to you that it is fair to give us patents make it possible for us to get them. I believe, in all righteousness and in all fair dealing, as we stand here asking for four claims, that they have earned enough and paid the United States in full, and that there should not be any objection to your giving us those claims out and out. Those claims of ours are not fresh, virgin claims. These men have been drilling them and taking our oil for a long time.
Mr. Driver. May I ask you two or three questions about your wells? How many of your wells produce oil?
Mr. GREEN. All.
Mr. GREEN. We struck the oil sands in two, and from the other one we had taken 200 barrels of oil. You see, we had to plug them because we had no means of caring for the oil. We could not waste the oil because that is against the law, so we had to plug the wells. We had no pipe lines, because this was a new field.
Mr. Driver. How did you protect your oil?
Mr. Greex. We plugged it and kept it from running out. That is when they took it from us, and when they took it from us they put a pipe line in.
Mr. DRIVER. After the rangers appeared and took possession of your wells, how long was it until you were served, or some one connected with your organization was served, with this process from a court?
Mr. Green. We were served with a process from the court the very night that we finished casing our well and took out the first 200 barrels from the first well.
Mr. DRIVER. Had the rangers appeared prior to that time?
Mr. GREEN (interposing). Nobody appeared; we had full possession of this up until the time we got oil; then they began to close in.
Mr. Driver. I understand, but it seems the rangers took possession of some of these wells before the court process from Texas was served. Did they take charge of your property before you were served with any process issued out of some Texas court?
Mr. GREEN. No, sir.
Mr. DRIVER. Then the first notice you had of an intention on the part of any one to claim your oil wells, or the property you were in possession of there, was when the process of court was served on you?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GREEN. It was served on us August 22, 1919, the day the well came in, the evening after our well came in. I ought to explain something that you gentlemen do not understand, perhaps. When a man drills wells in a wildcat country every fellow is watching him for miles around. He has some spy some miles away with a spyglass, and then he watches the man who is drilling.
Now, you can tell when a rotary rig is used, exactly how deep these men are going and for this reason: If you have your derrick 96 feet high, you use three 22-foot stems, and if it is 116 feet high you use four 22-foot stems, and when you pull up it is over 66 or 88 feet. Now, every one is hung up on the side; you know, you have to hang them on the side, and if you have ten 66-foot stems, that means you are 660 feet deep. see they can tell your depth very closely. They can watch and tell whether you are washing your sands or not; they can almost tell whether there is any excitement there if you get oil. Now, these men knew we got oil, because we went and put up casing. You see, the casing was very necessary, and these men could tell exactly what we were doing.
Mr. Driver. When this process was served, were you informed as to the party or parties who made claim to your properties?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DRIVER. He was not the one who filed this suit, because he claimed this property himself. Now, who was it that claimed your property?
Mr. GREEN. Mr. Sparks did not appear there, but they called it the State of Texas.
Mr. Dear. We may as well have this cleared up. The Bass people claimed under a Texas patent.
Mr. Driver. Let me go further. Were these people claiming as riparian owners or under a permit?
Mr. TESTERMAN. Let me explain. They claimed under a patent.
Mr. TESTERMAN. Yes; the patent ran almost across the river. It was one of those junior patents, what they call a junior patent, and the well was located north of the cut bank, out in the river. We reached the sand on the 13th of August, 1919, and drilled the well in on the 22d day of August, and they served process on me out of the Texas court on the 22d day of August, at 8.30 p. m.