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Windmills in the West

Memoir of J.P. Miles

I came to old Clarendon as a well driller [in 1886] and went right out to Goodnight’s ranch. Another party had a machine. It was the first and at the time the only machine in the country and was owned by Arch Sherick and Ed Smith. They brought it in 1885 and had tried to drill wells before I came but had failed. There was no one here that understood the machine. I operated it and drilled the first well on Goodnight’s ranch at the old J. A. headquarters in 1886….I think the machine was freighted out from Wichita Falls.

I went from there down to the Quitaque Ranch owned by Goodnight and Adair and drilled three wells in 1887. I drilled three more over near Wayside in Armstrong County in the same year for the same ranch. Several drills were brought into this country in 1887 and 1888. I worked for Goodnight and Adair for a little more than two years drilling wells.

I came into New Clarendon in 1887 and drilled the first well there for D. H. White and Co., a mercantile establishment. The railroad had just come in and was wanting water. I left there and came up and put down two more wells for Goodnight. In the latter part of 1888 I put down the first well that was drilled in Claude, finishing on New Year’s day of 1889. Before this, water had been secured from the railroad company. There was hardly anyone in Claude before that time.

I put down the first well in the old town of Amarillo. Clabe Merchant and Colonel Barry owned the town site and hired me to do the drilling. I was still working for Smith and Sherick. They went broke and Frank Slay and I bought the drill. We came to Washburn and I put down a well for the railroad. We went 500 feet and got no water. It was the first well drilled for the railroad at that place. We were paid one dollar and a half for the first 200 feet, two dollars for the third 100 feet, two dollars and a half for the fourth, and three dollars for the fifth. We got 1,053 dollars for the well. We struck some water at 200 feet but the railroad wanted more and we went five hundred feet but got none.

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