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(E) SPINDLETOP CENTENNIAL - ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  07/22/2002 | Opinions | Unrated
(E) SPINDLETOP CENTENNIAL - ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY

 

SPINDLETOP CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: CROATIANS MISS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY
by Drucilla Badurina



Dear Mr. Spahich:

First, the distinction bestowed upon you in 2000 by the Republic of
Croatia is most laudable. A few years ago, I had the honor of accepting,
on behalf of Professor C. Michael McAdams, the Republic of Croatia's
State Honors presented to him at a ceremony at the Croatian Embassy.
You, he and others have been rightfully recognized for your many years
of tireless work in supporting and defending the Croatian nation's right
to self-determination as a free, independent democracy, often when it
was not popular even in the United States.

Your message of 6/18 which included various correspondence about Houston
and Rijeka as future sister cities, a possible honorary consul
generalship and other "news" items was very interesting. Hopefully,
these "projects" will be the just the beginning of a continuing endeavor
to enlighten present and future generations of Texans as well as
Americans nationwide about Croatia and Croatians.

Unfortunately, even though we're entering the second decade of Croatia's
independence, there still is a notable lack of any proactive,
continuous, effective education/promotion campaign or program about
Croatia and Croatians on the American scene.

What follows is an archival article by Badurina & Associates which you
may not have read and might be of interest to you. It might be of some
interest to Houston Croatians also.

The best of luck with the sister city project.

Sincerely,

Drucilla Badurina
President,
Badurina & Associates
e-mail: badurinapr@aol.com


BADURINA & ASSOCIATES
P. O. Box 5447
Falmouth, Virginia 22403
E-mail: USACroatia@aol.com
January 20, 2001

SPINDLETOP CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: CROATIANS MISS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured a report on the January 10
celebration in Beaumont, Texas commemorating the centennial of
Spindletop, the world's most important oil strike. This famous oil
field in Southeast Texas changed the course of history, inaugurated the
huge Texas oil industry and the petroleum era and, according to the
report, "helped to transform the United States into a superpower."

Spindletop is also known as the "Lucas gusher" named after mining
engineer, Captain Anthony F. Lucas, who discovered the oil field.
Spindletop was the ultimate confirmation of his belief that the area was
a natural petroleum reservoir, despite ridicule and skepticism about his
theory during the time of his exploration. Today there is a monument in
his honor at Spindletop and, since 1936, fifteen years after his death,
the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering has
awarded the Anthony F. Lucas Medal to notable individuals in the field
of petroleum development.

What NPR did not correctly report was that Anthony F. Lucas was a
Croatian immigrant, born in Split, Croatia in 1855. He was the son of
Franjo Lucic, a sea captain, from the Croatian island of Hvar. As was
common among many immigrants, he changed his surname from Lucic to Lucas
when he came to the United States. Yet, NPR's broadcast reported that
he was Austrian. While certain words on his Washington, DC tombstone
inscription such as Spalato and Illyrian (referring to his birthplace,
Split, and his Croatian ancestry) might baffle the average American,
these should be comprehensible and unambiguous to anyone doing serious
research about the subject. Nevertheless, most books and articles
published in the United States about Spindletop say Lucas/Lucic was
Austrian or German or Italian.

A 1995 article entitled: Captain Anthony F. Lucas: An Austrian Pioneer
by an associate professor of English and German at Lamar University in
Beaumont, Texas indicates the Texas Energy Museum in that same city has
a life-sized, talking figure representing Captain Lucas that explains,
in a German accent, that he was Austrian born. The writer says that his
surname is an Americanized form of the Slavic "Luchich" {sic}. This
particular article even appears on the Austrian Information web site.
Austria seems quite happy to claim Lucas/Lucic as its own!

Spindletop is indeed an important part of Texas history as well as
Croatian and world history, well known to many of the 20 million plus
people living in the state especially those educated in Texas elementary
and secondary schools. Spindletop is also well known nationally and
worldwide to millions of individuals associated with the petroleum
industry and ancillary companies. In fact, Spindletop is such a
significant part of Texas history that early in 1999 then Governor
George W. Bush and the Texas Legislature created the Spindletop 2001
Commission to plan and implement the state's official celebration of
that 100th anniversary. Former US president and Texas oilman, George H.
Bush, was the keynote speaker at the January 10, 2001 commemoration at
Spindletop. He reminded his audience that what began at Spindletop,
Lucas' discovery, was "not a misguided adventure but rather a
providential blessing to be used and shepherded wisely."

That event and others scheduled during the yearlong celebration would
have been marvelous promotional and educational opportunities for
Croatian American organizations and/or the Republic of Croatia's
representatives in the United States. However, none had the wisdom or
sagacity to seize these opportunities to definitively reclaim Captain
Anthony F. Lucas' Croatian identity, begin to successfully reverse
continuing historical error, and in the process, begin to effectively
promote Croatia and Croatians among those millions of Texans and other
Americans familiar with Lucas/Lucic and Spindletop but mistaken about or
unaware of his true ethnic heritage.

Undoubtedly, the Spindletop centennial was a ready made public relations
dream served on a silver platter. But Croatian American organizations
and Republic of Croatia representatives in the US were either
uninterested, unconscious or on another planet. They seem to have
missed or ignored the importance of this special opportunity to promote
Croatia and Croatians among Americans in the second largest state in the
US and home state of the new US president, George W. Bush. Their track
record for constantly, effectively publicizing/promoting Croatia and
Croatians among Americans in the US is negligible. Maybe they'll get
their act together in time for Spindletop's bicentennial. In the
meantime, almost ten years after the Republic of Croatia's independence,
the mechanical figure of Croatia's Captain Anthony F. Lucas at the Texas
Energy Museum continues to exclaim to thousands of tourists visiting
Spindletop that he was Austrian born.

Op-ed: from The Franklin Institute Online
http://sln.fi.edu/fellows/fellow2/jan99/spindletop.html

Drucilla Badurina and many others spoke about Spindletop for many years. Lets make a difference and organize acampaign to change label Austrian into Croatian. Someone needs to lead, where and whom to address, but a public exposure to the media (newspapers, TV etc) with couple of good articles published would be a GREAT start.We need 3 fine articles. Please supply.

Nenad Bach


Spindletop

Spindletop is the name of a small knoll just south of Beaumont Texas. 


Anthony Lucas, an Austrian-born mining engineer, has been supervising the drilling of an oilwell since October 27, 1900.His crew must install a new drilling bit on the string of a drill pipe. The date is January 10, 1901. The drilling crew begins lowering the new bit to the bottom of the hole. They run about 700 feet (200 meters) of drill pipe into the 1,000-foot (300-meter) hole. Suddenly, the well starts spewing drilling mud. The mud, a liquid concoction that carries rock cuttings out of the hole, drenches the rig floor and shoots up into the derrick.The crew evacuates the rig and waits to see what will happen. The flow stops. The workers return to the rig and start cleaning up. Without warning, mud erupts again. Then a geyser of oil gushes 200 feet (60 meter) above the 60-foot-high (18 meter high) derrick.See the photo to the right.The spouting oil blows all the drill pipe out of the hole. The blowing well elates Lucas and his crew as they watch the display from a safe distance. They estimate that it is flowing over 3 million gallons (over 12,000 cubic meters) of oil per day. In oilfield terms, that's over 80,000 barrels of oil per day.Before Spindletop, a big producer flowed 50 barrels (8 cubic meters )per day. The Lucas well produced 1,600 times that amount. It showed that buried layers of rock could contain tremendous amounts of oil. What is more, it proved that rotary drilling was an effective way to obtain it. Spindletop marked the beginning of the modern petroleum industry. 

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