Arthur Harvey

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Arthur Harvey
Arthur Harvey.jpg
Born (1895-09-26)September 26, 1895
Edom, Texas
Died March 22, 1976(1976-03-22) (aged 80)
Corpus Christi, Texas
Ft. Logan National Cemetery Denver, Colorado

Major Arthur Harvey was born in Edom, Van Zandt County, Texas, on September 26, 1895. He was a writer, businessman, oil pioneer, family man and a veteran of both World War I and II.

Early life[edit]

Prior to enlisting for military service, Arthur left school at age 16 to work in a sawmill in Rusk County, Texas, handling a canthook on the skidway for $1.50 a day. Another early job was pushing a wheelbarrow filled with mortar to help build a brick plant near Garrison, Texas. This job also paid $1.50 a day. This was six-day work, but he had to spend fifty cents a day seven days a week for meals. He then got a job picking cotton for fifty cents per hundred pounds of cotton—with free board. Between his cotton He made enough profit to make a good start toward growing a crop of his own in East Texas. He obtained what schooling he could at various times and places (Farmer).

World War I[edit]

Harvey enlisted in Henderson, Texas in Company "F" Fifth Texas Infantry and worked in the company office until he left for France in 1918. He was then transferred to the Second Division of the Regular Army where he was assigned to Company M, 9th Infantry (Harvey). He received battle stars at St. Mihiel, Champagne and Meuse-Argonne. Based on his military records he was active from August 5, 1917 until August 18, 1919 and he was promoted from private to Sergeant.

The IRS and Oil[edit]

After his discharge from the Army, he returned to Rusk County and married Elizabeth Gage of Laneville, Texas in 1919. He farmed in Rusk County for a year, but the crop was not successful. His savings were gone so he sold off all his land and paid off all his debts. He took the civil service exam in 1920 and became a railway postal clerk in 1920. Then he was called to [Houston, Texas]] to work as a chief clerk. That position ended in 1923. At this time, he and his wife resided at 706 Smith Street with their daughter, Elizabeth Inez Harvey (born January 15, 1921). This address, 706 Smith Street, is where the Federal building is now located in downtown Houston. From 1923 to 1926, Harvey worked as Chief Clerk in San Antonio, Texas. By 1926, Arthur Harvey had reached the top salary possible as a railway postal clerk. When he had gone as far as he could go in the Post Office, he began working for the Bureau of Internal Revenue Intelligence Unit (Harvey).

He handled many fraud investigations for what is now the Criminal Division of the Internal Revenue Service, being stationed in Dallas and Tyler and working throughout the nation. Eventually he would write the manual on what constitutes criminal fraud in tax matters. That manual was still in use many years later (Joyce Neville, July 10, 2006).

In 1928 Arthur's wife, Elizabeth Gage, died. Shortly after, he met Sylva Irene Vogelsong of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in San Francisco, California, where she was working for the IRS. They were married in 1929. In the years that followed they had two children: Arthur Herbert Harvey in 1931 and Sylva Anne Harvey in 1933. Around this same time, while still working for the IRS, Arthur began to learn something about the oil business by auditing some oil men. After intense study (the oil business was new at the time), he had a chance to make an investment in a percentage of royalty on 35.88 acres of real estate that soon became famous as the East Texas Oil Field, home of Spindletop and other historic gushers. With the money he had saved from oil royalties plus money earned when he continued to work for the BIR/IRS, he was able to drill his own well in 1939. He chose Marion County, Illinois, for his first operation, which resulted in the discovery of the Tonti oil field in 1939. This field has produced several million barrels of oil.

Since Mr. Harvey owned the center of this field, the "Tex" Harvey Oil Company was set up to handle its development. It was later sold. He took many chances and came up dry on nine different ventures until the tenth, which he drilled in Anderson County, Texas in 1941. This latest drilling brought on the discovery of the East Long Lake field, all of which was now owned by the Harvey Company.

In 1948, he began drilling wells in Midland, Texas. Although he knew that little oil had been found in Midland, he took a chance anyway. He drilled down 12,000 feet to a stratum in which oil had been found elsewhere in Texas. The hole was dry. Then Harvey wondered what he might have missed on the way down. Working his way back, he got a little oil. Finally, in the fine-grained hard packed sands of the Spraberry Trend at 8,000 feet, Harvey found oil in commercial quantities. Unlike the usual successful well that gushes from the beginning, Harvey had to pump his well to get it started [Time Magazine, family research]. As his output rose from 60 to 120 barrels a day, the rush began. As of 2007, the Spraberry Trend was the biggest oil "play" in the U.S. with 522 Spraberry wells completed, including 23 wells owned by Harvey.

In total, Arthur Harvey discovered the following oil fields: Tonti Field, Marion, Illinois; East Long Lake Field, Anderson, County, Texas; Angus Oil Field in Navarro County, Texas; Tex Harvey Oil Field in Midland and Glasscock Counties, Texas, and Arthur Harvey (Wilcox) Field in Washington County, Texas.

World War II[edit]

Arthur Harvey volunteered again for military service in World War II and was commissioned a captain in the Army Air Forces. He was sent to Italy as intelligence Officer (S2) for the 449th Bombardment Group (Heavy). This unit conducted strategic bombings in Northern Italy, Southern France, Yugoslavia, and other areas. The group was given a unit citation for its attack on the Ploieşti oil fields in Romania, vital to the Nazis. He retired as a major.

Later life[edit]

After Major Harvey returned to the United States, he resumed active management of the "Tex" Harvey Oil Company, of which he was president and sole owner. He published the book Creed of an American Business Man. In 1948 he purchased the Frederick W. Bonfils home in Arapahoe County, Colorado, along with 320 acres, for just over $158,000. Two years later, he purchased another 160 acres in what is now the Lakeridge subdivision for $80,000. A few years later, Harvey decided to sell most of his land. He joined Aksel Nielsen of Mortgage Investments Company and planned a community of 1,662 homes to be called Harvey Park. He sold 318 acres for #30,000,000, keeping 2 acres and his home. The new owner petitioned Denver, Colorado for annexation in March 1953 (Catlett). In 1962 Harvey sold his mansion, liquidated his Denver businesses and moved to Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Harvey retired in 1967 and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas with his wife. He died on March 22, 1976 and was buried in Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado (Section Q site 7142). Sylva Harvey returned to Denver, where she lived until her death on February 6, 1996 at age 100. She was buried next to her husband in Ft. Logan National Cemetery.

See also[edit]


  • Catlett, Sharon R. Farmlands, Forts and Country Life, The Story of Southwest Denver, Westcliff Publishers, 2007. pp. 156-157.
  • Crowell, Evelyn Miller, ed. Texas Edition: Men of Achievement, John Moranz Associates, Dallas, Texas, 1948. pp.66–67.
  • Farmer, Garland R. Realm of Rusk County, Published by The Henderson Times, 1951. pp. 185-188.
  • Harvey, Arthur. Arthur Harvey's Life History, written in San Antonio, Texas, 6 October 1926.
  • Holcomb, Frank, grandson. Family history research, 6 November 2000.
  • Neville, Joyce, Arthur Harvey's personal secretary. Letter. 24 April, 2005.
  • Neville, Joyce, Arthur Harvey's personal secretary. Personal interview. 10 July 2006.
  • "Prominent Businessman Of Denver in 1950s Dies." The Denver Post 24 March 1976, late ed.: 32.
  • Time Magazine, October 8, 1951.