William Hawkins Abbott

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For other people named William Abbott, see William Abbott (disambiguation).

William Hawkins Abbott (October 27, 1819 – January 8, 1901) was a noted producer of petroleum who also built the first oil refinery. He was also engaged in a variety of other business activities.

Abbott was born in Middlebury, Connecticut, and became a clerk in the general store in Watertown, Connecticut, circa 1837 to 1844. He entered the general merchandise business himself in 1845, and married Jane Wheeler in September of that same year. He continued in the mercantile business, becoming interested in the petroleum business later on. He was one of the first people involved in the oil trade, and the refinery he built in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1861 was the first petroleum refinery. In 1862 he moved to Titusville himself, and there established the first retail coal business. He also established the first oil pipeline consolidation and revived interest in the Union & Titusville Railroad Co, which he reopened in 1871. He also served as the president of the 1st National Bank of Titusville.


  • Hannan, Caryn (2008). Connecticut Biographical Dictionary. North American Book Dist LLC. pp. 1–2. ISBN 1878592599. 
  • Henry, J.T. (1873). The Early and Later History of Petroleum: With Authentic Facts in Regard to Its Development in Western Pennsylvania ... the Parkers' and Butler County Oil Fields; Also, Life Sketches of Pioneer and Prominent Operators, with the Refining Capacity of the United States, Volumes 1-2. B. Franklin. p. 360. 
  • McLaurin, John James (1896). Sketches in crude oil: Some accidents and incidents of the petroleum development in all parts of the globe (2 ed.). p. 268.