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Lyman Stewart

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Lyman Stewart
BornJuly 22, 1840
DiedSeptember 28, 1923 (1923-09-29) (aged 83)
Occupation(s)Businessman, philanthropist
ParentWilliam Reynolds Stewart & Jane Miller Irwin

Lyman Stewart (July 22, 1840 – September 28, 1923) was a U.S. businessman and co-founder of Union Oil Company of California. 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 to William Reynolds Stewart & Jane Miller Irwin in 1840 in Cherrytree, Venango County, 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 the construction of Stewart Hall at Toccoa Falls College.[5]

Lyman and his brother Milton contributed $300,000 towards the publication costs of the 12-volume "Christian Fundamentals." These volumes established the precepts of Christian Fundamentalism. The Stewart brothers also financially supported missionary efforts in China.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Lyman Stewart married Sarah Adalaide BURROWS on 2 May 1867 in Enterprise, Pennsylvania. They had three children William L., May, and Alfred C.[7] Lyman's sons were actively involved in the oil business. As children, they helped their father rather than attend school. William stayed involved with Union Oil , working every position, eventually replacing his father as president of Union Oil.[8] Alfred developed his mechanical aptitude while at Union Oil. He invented a multitude of drilling equipment. Alfred did not stay with Union Oil, he ran an automotive machine shop and continued inventing the most notable carburetors.[9] Sarah died 05 FEB 1912 in Los Angeles. On 26 Aug 1916, Lyman married Lula May CROWELL. She had been his private secretary for the previous eleven years. She was a graduate of BIOLA and a fervent supporter of its mission.[10]


  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.
  6. ^ The Missionary Review of the World Volume 47. Missionary Review Publishing Company, Incorporated. 1924. p. 595.
  7. ^ American Biography A New Cyclopedia · Volume 20..
  8. ^ Taylor, Frank J. Black Bonanza How an Oil Hunt Grew Into the Union Oil Company of California. Whittlesey House.
  9. ^ World Oil, Volume 48. Gulf Publishing Company. p. 72.
  10. ^ "Ventura Free Press". Sep 1, 1916. Retrieved 11 Apr 2024.

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