Lyman Stewart

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Lyman Stewart
BornJuly 22, 1840
DiedSeptember 28, 1923 (1923-09-29) (aged 83)
Occupation(s)Businessman, philanthropist

Lyman Stewart (July 22, 1840 – September 28, 1923) was a U.S. businessman and co-founder of Union Oil Company of California, which eventually became Unocal. Stewart was also a significant Christian philanthropist and cofounder of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now known as Biola University). He and his brother Milton also anonymously funded publication of The Fundamentals, the foundation document of Christian fundamentalism.[1] Stewart also helped found the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Stewart was born in 1840 in northwestern Pennsylvania, and worked for his father who was a tanner.[3] When Edwin Drake discovered oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859, Stewart tried drilling wells in the same area. After two disastrous attempts, he served a three-year enlistment in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry during the American Civil War.

Oil career[edit]

After the war, Stewart again tried to drill for oil, but he was still unsuccessful. In 1877, Stewart was introduced to Wallace Hardison (a relative of one of his friends). Hardison agreed to financially support Stewart, so they purchased some land where they hoped to find oil. They enjoyed some moderate success. When John D. Rockefeller started to consolidate oil holdings in the eastern U.S., Hardison and Stewart sold their interests to Standard Oil and moved to California.

Stewart and his partner found the success they sought in California. By 1886, the Hardison and Stewart Oil Company was responsible for 15% of all oil production in California. In 1890, they merged their interests with those of Thomas Bard and Paul Calonico to form the Union Oil Company. As president of Union Oil, Stewart heavily invested in new wells and expanded his company's market capitalization from $10 million in 1900 to over $50 million in 1908.


Stewart founded the Pacific Gospel Mission (now the Union Rescue Mission) in 1891. In 1908, Stewart, along with noted Christian author T.C. Horton, founded the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now known as Biola University).[3][4]

In 1917, he donated $4,500 to fund construction of Stewart Hall at Toccoa Falls College.[5]


  1. ^ Sandeen Ernest R., The Roots of Fundamentalism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1970
  2. ^ Pietsch, B.M. (September 2013). "Lyman Stewart and Early Fundamentalism". Church History. 82 (3): 617–646. doi:10.1017/S0009640713000656. S2CID 162838786. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Rasmussen, Cecilia (March 2, 2008). "Oilman's legacy lives on in L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  4. ^ "Bible school sets a solid foundation". Los Angeles Times. May 31, 2006. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  5. ^ "Stewart Hall". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 26 August 2021.

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