Dan and Farris Wilks

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Dan Howard Wilks and Farris Cullen Wilks, also known as the Wilks Brothers, are American petroleum industry businessmen. Sons of a bricklayer, the brothers established Wilks Masonry in 1995. They went on to found an early hydraulic fracking company, Frac Tech, in 2002, and eventually became billionaires. In 2011 they sold their 70% interest in Frac Tech for $3.5 billion. They reside in Cisco, Texas.

They are major funders of conservative causes, including The Daily Wire, PragerU, and the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Ted Cruz.

Personal lives[edit]

Early lives[edit]

The brothers are sons of Myrtle and Voy Wilks of Cisco in Eastland County, east of Abilene, Texas. When the brothers were born, their father worked as a bricklayer and the family was destitute; the brothers once slept in a goat shed.[1][2]

Assembly of Yahweh (7th day)[edit]

In 1947 Voy and Myrtle Wilks along with Myrtle's father Charles Fenter were disfellowshipped from the Churches of Christ and founded a church which was at first called simply “A Church of Christ.” The church is not Christian, believing that Yahweh is the only god and that Jesus (called Yahushua) is a separate entity. In early 1952 Charles restricted communion to once a year rather than weekly and moved worship from Sunday to Saturday. The Fenters and Wilkses along with a few other families left the congregation and began to meet in private homes. When Charles died in May 1952 Voy took over the congregation and the couple and their five children continued to live at the home of Charles’ widow, Annie.[3]

In 1962 they adopted the name Church of God (7th day) (not to be confused with Church of God (Seventh-Day)), in 1982 the church became the Assembly of Yahweh (7th day).[3] Currently the Assembly of Yahweh (7th day) is a conservative Jews for Jesus-type congregation. It teaches that "the true religion is Jewish (not a Gentile religion)" and its members celebrate the Old Testament holidays rather than those related to the New Testament. The congregation considers the Old Testament historically and scientifically accurate. The congregation considers homosexuality and abortion to be crimes.[4][5]

Farris Wilks[edit]

Farris Wilks is married to Jo Ann and is the father of 11 children.[4][5] He is the current pastor and bishop of the Assembly of Yahweh (7th day) near Cisco.[3] In sermons, he has denounced homosexuality and abortion rights.[6]

Frac Tech[edit]

In 2002 the brothers founded a hydraulic fracturing company called Frac Tech.[7] In 2011 they sold their 70% interest in Frac Tech for $3.5 billion.[8][9]

Post Frac Tech business history[edit]

Idaho land purchase and restrictions[edit]

As early as 2016[10] the Wilks Brothers began purchasing large quantities of land in Central Idaho, mainly in Ada, Boise, and Valley counties. They restricted access to the locals with gates, with anti-vehicle ditches, and with no-trespassing signs appearing soon after their acquisitions. They informed Valley County that they were terminating leases to roads and snowmobile trails, including a main road which was the only access to public lands.[11] According to the United States Forest Service, some of the brothers' restrictions were illegal.[12] The brothers' frequent refusal to allow hunting, snowmobiling, firewood cutting and transit frustrated locals.[13] In 2017 a video emerged of an armed and uniformed DF Development security guard illegally expelling an outdoorsman from a public road, Forest Road 409 (Clear Creek Road), which runs through Wilks brothers land, on grounds of trespass. According to the Valley County Roads Department superintendent, the DF Development guard was in the wrong, as both the road and a 33-foot easement on either side belong to the county, and as such are public land.[14]

As of 2019 the Wilks brothers' shell company, DF Development, owned approximately 75,000 acres of land across 306 parcels in Valley County. Overall the Wilks brothers own about 200,000 acres in Idaho.[11]

As of 2018, many of the parcels of land owned by the Wilks Brothers have been listed for sale via Wilks Ranch Brokers, LLC. As of 2019, Wilks Ranch Brokers had listed 54,000 acres of Idaho land for sale.[11]

Montana land purchase and restrictions[edit]

In Montana, the Wilks brothers asked the Bureau of Land Management if they could swap a piece of their Duffee Hills ranch for a parcel of public land. This request was denied after local hunters objected on the grounds that the brothers had closed down an access road to the wild and scenic Missouri River.[15]

Political activity[edit]

Elections and campaigns[edit]

Political media[edit]

The Wilks brothers, along with political commentator Ben Shapiro, helped launch and fund The Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website in 2015.[19] Additionally, the Wilks Brothers provided early stage funding to Prager University, a YouTube channel and media company started by Dennis Prager to further conservative causes to a young audience.[20] They are major donors to conservative advocacy group Empower Texans.[18]


  1. ^ Montgomery, Peter (June 13, 2014). "Meet the Billionaire Brothers You Never Heard of Who Fund the Religious Right". American Prospect.
  2. ^ "The 41 Wealthiest Texans: Nos. 40 and 41: Dan Wilks and Farris Wilks: Dan Wilks (57, CISCO): $1.5 BILLION Farris Wilks (61, CISCO): $1.5 BILLION". Texas Monthly.
  3. ^ a b c "Our History". www.halleluyah.org. Assembly of Yahweh (7th day). Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b Swan, Betsy (4 January 2016). "Inside the Anti-Gay Church That Loves Kim Davis and Ted Cruz". Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b Conlin, Michelle (September 11, 2015). "Special Report: Touting morality, billionaire Texas brothers top 2016 donor list". Retrieved 7 July 2016; includes link to their statement of belief{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. ^ a b Casey Tolan; Matthew Reynard; Will Simon; Ed Lavandera (24 July 2022). "How two Texas megadonors have turbocharged the state's far-right shift". CNN. Retrieved 25 July 2022. Defend Texas Liberty, the group they fund, gave more than $3 million to Don Huffines
  7. ^ Durgy, Edwin (September 26, 2011). "The Forbes 400's Newest Undercover Billionaires: The Wilks Brothers". Forbes.
  8. ^ "Billionaires buy up land in Idaho".
  9. ^ Kong, Dinny McMahon And Kanga (2011-05-13). "Frac Tech Got $3.5 Billion". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  10. ^ "Texas billionaires limit snowmobile access on Idaho land, reverse course on logging".
  11. ^ a b c Blanchard, Nicole. "Texas billionaires put more Idaho land on the market". www.idahostatesman.com. Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Forest Service: Wilks brothers' gates on Forest Service road are illegal". KTVB.
  13. ^ "Texas billionaires put gates on popular Forest Service road near Boise". www.idahostatesman.com.
  14. ^ Rodine, Kristin. "Video of run-in revives worries caused by Texas billionaires' Idaho land purchase". www.idahostatesman.com. Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  15. ^ Lundquist, Laura. "Weyerhaeuser selling to timber investment group with Wilks Brothers ties". www.missoulacurrent.com. Missoula Current. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Big Money: Billionaire Brothers Give Ted Cruz $15M". The Daily Beast. 25 July 2015.
  17. ^ David Saleh Rauf, "Mega donors bolster tea party: Billionaire family fuels anti-Straus bid", San Antonio Express-News, January 22, 2016, pp. 1, A8
  18. ^ a b Weinberg, Tessa (February 7, 2020). "After scandal, will Empower Texans donors hurt or help in this Tarrant County race?". Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  19. ^ Stevenson, Seth (January 24, 2018). "The Many Faces of Ben Shapiro". Slate. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  20. ^ Bernstein, Joseph (March 3, 2018). "How PragerU is winning the Right Wing culture war without Donald Trump". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.