W. Scott Heywood

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Walter Scott Heywood
Louisiana State Senator from Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes
Preceded by

John Gamble

Alvin Olin King
Succeeded by

Ernest S. Clements

Sidney W. Sweeney
Personal details
Born (1872-05-21)May 21, 1872
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died November 28, 1950(1950-11-28) (aged 78)
Jeff Davis Parish
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Occupation Oilman

Walter Scott Heywood, known as W. Scott Heywood (May 21, 1872 – November 28, 1950), was a member of the Louisiana State Senate who earlier headed a family-owned company which struck the first oil well in Louisiana on September 21, 1901 near Jennings in Jeff Davis Parish.

Heywood was born in Cleveland, Ohio. As a young man, he prospected for gold in Alaska. With his brothers, Alba, O. W., Clint, and Dewey Heywood, he drilled for oil in California and at Spindletop near Beaumont, the first such strike in Texas.[1]

Oil strike[edit]

Immediately after drilling at Spindletop, Heywood was hired to drill the first oil well in Louisiana. A rice grower in Jeff Davis Parish in southwestern Louisiana noticed that flammable bubbles were rising from his fields. Area businessman formed S. A. Spencer & Company and leased some two thousand acres about the field. The company contacted Heywood, who after visiting the site determined that the landscape there was similar to the land about Spindletop. Heywood lit the bubbles with matches and produced a red flame with black smoke. Convinced that he had found petroleum gas, Heywood contracted with the existing company to drill two wells to a depth of one thousand feet for an undivided one-half interest in the acreage. Under the agreement, Heywood could organize his own Jennings Oil Company, which he founded on April 29, 1901. A rig was moved from Beaumont to drill, beginning on June 15, 1901, the first well, called Clement No. 1. The initial hole had to be moved. There was excessive heat and swarms of mosquitoes. At a depth of a thousand feet, no oil was found.[2]

The existing contract required that a second well be drilled within thirty days after the first one. A new agreement was negotiated which allowed Heywood to continue drilling beyond the bottom of the first well. If favorable conditions were found at 1,500 feet, he could proceed to an even greater depth. At 1,500 feet, no oil was discovered, and the team ran short of drill pipe. However, Heywood opted to order more drill pipe and continue to try. At 1,700 feet, oil was discovered in sugar sand. Additional drilling discovered 110 feet of oil sand. A casing was set with a gate valve, and after running a bailer the well gushed forth a four-inch stream of oil over 100 feet high. This spray of oil and sand lasted for seven hours and covered several acres of rice fields. However, the sand soon filled up the casing, and despite repeated attempts to clear it, the well was abandoned. Though the drilling failed, Heywood's work signaled the beginning of the oil boom in Louisiana.[2] Heywood thereafter owned and operated barges on the Mermentau River in southwestern Louisiana and constructed a pipeline from the oil fields to the railroad.[1]

Civic leadership[edit]

With his oil strike, Heywood relocated to Jennings, where he became active in civic affairs, including the chamber of commerce and the rationing board during World War II. He worked to secure establishment of the Jennings Municipal Airport.[1]

A Democrat, he served in the state Senate for one term from 1932 to 1936, during the administration of Governor Oscar K. Allen. There, he worked for passage of the popular homestead exemption law, still in effect in Louisiana.[1] His two-seat geographically large district, then unnumbered, included in addition to his own Jeff Davis, the parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, and Cameron. Heywood served with colleague Clement M. Moss.[3]

Heywood died in Jennings and is interred there at Greenwood Cemetery.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Heywood, Walter Scott". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Shelia Esthay, First Oil Well in Louisiana, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, accessed February 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880–2012" (PDF). legis.state.la.us. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ W. Scott Heywood obituary, Jennings Daily News, November 29, 1950, cited in A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography
Preceded by
John Gamble

Alvin Olin King

Louisiana State Senator from Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis parishes)

Walter Scott Heywood

Succeeded by
Ernest S. Clements

Sidney W. Sweeney