Reuben C. Baker
Reuben Carlton "Carl" Baker, Sr. (July 18, 1872-September 29, 1957) was an American oil industry drilling pioneer. He established the forerunner of Baker International (ultimately Baker Hughes) in 1907 after developing a casing shoe that revolutionized cable tool drilling. In 1903, he introduced the offset bit for cable tool drilling to enable casing wells in hard rock and in 1912 the cement retainer that allowed casing to be cemented in the wells. Baker further improved the process with the float shoe in 1923. He is credited with obtaining more than 150 new or improved patents on oil drilling tools.
R. C. Baker was born to Mary Elizabeth ("née" Stroud) and Reuben Baker in Purcellville, Virginia, and grew up in Shasta County, California, where his father, a Civil War veteran from Chester County, Pennsylvania, was a farmer turned carpenter. Carl's older brother, Aaron Alphonso Baker, Sr. (December 10, 1867-September 15, 1942) had also gone into the oil business, after being a dry goods merchant in Fall River Township, Shasta County. Aaron was secretary of the Coalinga Petroleum Company, formed with six wells in Fresno County on January 23, 1905, capitalized with USD$75,000, and later sold to Samuel Allen "Al" Guiberson, Jr., on December 20, 1920.
Carl Baker started out in the oil business in the Los Angeles City Oil Field by hauling oil for USD$2.00 for a 12-hour day in 1894. He then moved from hauling to contract drilling (paid by lease holders to drill their well for them). In 1899 he moved to Coalinga, California where he continued to be a drilling contractor, introducing one of the first rotary rigs in the San Joaquin Valley that same year. As he drilled he started to see areas that he could improve the equipment. He invented an improved drill bit with a dovetail grove in the side with a hole extending across the grove with a shank, key, and screw. He intended to continue as a contract driller and use his improvements to make his drilling business more competitive.
The St. Paul Consolidated Oil Company was formed on September 24, 1910, USD$600,000 in capital, R. C. as president and W. T. Knowles as secretary, with five wells in Fresno County. On January 4, 1911, R. C. formed the Coalinga Lost Hills Oil Company with USD$75,000 in capital, Baker as president and Robert Lee Peeler as secretary. Carl and Aaron formed the Future Success Oil Company, with Carl as president and Aaron as secretary, with USD$100,000 of capital on May 3, 1913.
He then started working on a casing shoe, at the bottom of the casing. His idea in 1912 was to obtain a patent for his new shoe, assign the patent to a new company, the Baker Casing Shoe Company (formed in 1913 as a royalty-collecting entity), and then license the invention to third-parties to manufacture, market, and use the casing shoe, while he stayed in the contract drilling business. By 1918 he changed his business model to leave the contact drilling business and instead concentrate on developing improvements in drilling tools and patenting those improvements and then selling the tools to other drillers. That year he bought a machine shop in Coalinga. This was a similar business model transformation that was occurring about the same time in Texas with Howard R. Hughes, Sr..
On December 12, 1897, he married Minnie Myrtle Zumwalt (October 24, 1870-April 20, 1947), the couple moved to Coalinga from Los Angeles in 1899. They had two children, Thelma Ellen Baker (January 9, 1901-April 13, 1986; later Anderson) and Reuben Carlton Baker, Jr. (October 18, 1902-October 1, 1965). When he needed a better base of operations for the company he moved back to Los Angeles and bought a yard on Slauson Avenue.
In 1921 he started working on an improved and simplified dump bailer, and also a cement retainer. At the same time the Long Beach Oil Field was discovered and with that Baker returned to the Los Angeles area.
A few of the early patents that Baker received included:
- patent number 747,575, for a "Drilling Bit", on December 22, 1903-
- patent number 896,967, for a "Gas Trap for Oil Wells", on August 25, 1908-
- patent number 1,078,530, for a "Well Casing Shoe", on November 11, 1913-
- patent number 1,078,895, for a "Plug for Well Casings", on November 18, 1913-
- patent number 1,101,234, for "Pump-Plunger", on June 23, 1914-
- patent number 1,359,017, for "Shoe Guide for Well Casings", on November 16, 1920-
- California Death Records. - California Department of Health Services Office of Health Information and Research.
- "Carl Baker, Oil Pioneer, Dies", Petroleum Week, Volume 5, 1957: 32
- Walton, Hettie Ann; Eastburn Reeder, Harry Speight (1903), The Eastburn Family, Intelligencer Company, p. 78
- "Man Who Voted for Lincoln to Vote Tomorrow", San Jose Evening News, August 25, 1930: 19
- 1870 United States Federal Census. - United States Census Bureau.
- 1880 United States Federal Census. - United States Census Bureau.
- 1900 United States Federal Census. - United States Census Bureau.
- Division of Oil and Gas (1918). "Summary of Operations: Oil Fields". Annual Report of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor (State of California) 3: 109.
- Division of Oil and Gas (1921). "Summary of Operations: Oil Fields". Annual Report of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor (State of California) 7: 109.
- Independent Petroleum Association of America (1957). "R. C. Baker Turns Over Firm's Presidency to Ted Sutter". Independent Petroleum Association of America monthly 28: 23.
- Gulf Publishing Company (1957). "R. C. "Baker Resigns as Baker Oil Tool President". World Oil 144: 290.
- Division of Oil and Gas (1921). "Summary of Operations: Oil Fields". Annual Report of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor (State of California) 7: 142.
- Division of Oil and Gas (1921). "Summary of Operations: Oil Fields". Annual Report of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor (State of California) 7: 115.
- Rintoul, William (1976), Spudding In: Recollections of Pioneer Days in the California Oil Fields, California Historical Society, p. 63
- Carrier, Helynn Marie (1995), One Zumwalt Family, H.M. Carrier, p. 15
- Jeffery, Walter Henry (1921). Deep Well Drilling. W. H. Jeffery Company. p. 312.
- Copp, W. W. (1922). "Improved California Oil-Field Tools". Pacific Mining News of the Engineering & Mining Journal-Press (McGraw-Hill Company of California) 1–2: 260.
- "Baker Casing Shoe Co. Is Expanding in West". Petroleum Age (Petroleum Age Publishing Company) 9: 30. 1922.
- Independent Petroleum Association of America (1957). "Obituaries: R. C. Baker, Sr.,". Independent Petroleum Association of America monthly 28: 80.
- Gulf Publishing Company (1957). "Deaths". World Oil 145: 245.
- Petroleum Engineer Publishing Company (1957). "Deaths". Petroleum Management 29 (3): E-22.
- Patent # 747,575, United States Patent and Trademark Office, December 22, 1903
- Patent # 896,967, United States Patent and Trademark Office, August 25, 1908
- Patent # 1,078,530, United States Patent and Trademark Office, November 11, 1913
- Patent # 1,078,895, United States Patent and Trademark Office, November 18, 1913
- Patent # 1,101,234, United States Patent and Trademark Office, June 23, 1914
- Patent # 1,359,017, United States Patent and Trademark Office, November 16, 1920