Los Angeles Oil Fields

Photographs taken in October of 1895 show a forest of derricks surrounding Crown Hill homes. Insert "Forest of Derricks picture"

The Witmer brothers had sold one of their lots on West Second Street to Edward L. Doheny and his partner Charles A. Canfield. It was on that lot in 1892 that oil was discovered. Entries in the Witmer Brothers' Ledger Book No. 4, indicate the purchase of oil shares from several oil companies which no doubt sprang from the Doheny-Canfield strike. Beginning in 1896 names such as American Crude Oil, Belmont Oil, Far West Oil, appear in the ledger.

An August of 1898 entry shows oil certificates, $2000. February 10, 1899 an entry reads: Lease Rex Oil Company, 389 barrels of oil - $742.10. Another ledger item shows oil in storage with Union Oil Company - 94 barrels from January 1899 to 315 in February 1901. There is a notation that after April 15, 1901 Royalty Oil (Doheny) would be Midland Oil Company. Rockwood Oil Company was another entry, possibly named for Rockwood Street, which is close to the area of the original strike. Doheny and Canfield's Los Angeles Oil Field was just the beginning of a new industry for California. The Signal Hill oil field remains today as a testimony to the wealth of the black gold unearthed initially on Crown Hill.

As interested neighbors, the Witmer family rode out in their trap to watch the proceedings on the oil wells just down the way from their residences. Shown here are Mary Agnes Lewis, her niece Mary holding the reins, the little girl's Aunt Victoria and her uncle Clayton. The year is 1895 and the well behind them was known as "Joker," the best oil producer on the hill.