George Bissell (Unknown- 1894)

Feb 21, 2007 | Posted in Essays, People

George Bissell

George Bissell

George Bissell was a man with a vision: he is credited with starting the oil industry rolling. Before becoming involved with oil, Bissell worked as a professor and a journalist. In New Orleans, he became a school principal and finally a superintendent but eventually earned a law degree.

Poor health made Bissell leave the south. While he was visiting a friend at Dartmouth College, he happened to see a bottle of Pennsylvania Rock Oil and saw the possibilities of using it as a lighting source. He helped to gather a group of investors who hired a scientist, Benjamin Silliman, to analyze the oil. Silliman's report was favorable, so Bissell and others hired Edwin Drake to find a way to collect the oil. Drake's method of drilling oil brought about a rush to discover oil as exciting as the earlier gold rush days.

Bissell became very wealthy after he bought, sold, and leased land in the Titusville area. Dartmouth College benefited from Bissell's wealth because he donated money to build a gymnasium. Bissell's vision profited him and helped to shape the world as we know it today.

Yergin, Daniel,The Prize. Simon and Schuster, New York, New York 1991

Reprinted Courtesy of the Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry