Biography of Tillman E. Dale

Tillman E. Dale. Distinguished as the oldest oil contractor and driller in the mid-continent fields, Tillman E. Dale, one of the substantial men of Chanute, Kansas, is one of the best known oil men in Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming, having operated in every field in earlier days in the business and is the pioneer in Neosho County. Mr. Dale was born March 1, 1862, in Buchanan County, Iowa. His parents were George and Mary Robinson (Davey) Dale, both natives of England.

George Dale, the paternal grandfather, was born in England in 1807 and remained in his own country until he found a young family growing up about him for whose welfare he was concerned and it was to the great land across the Atlantic Ocean that he looked to provide comfortable conditions for his children. Possibly about 1835 he brought his family to the United States and settled among the pioneers in Wisconsin, not far from Monroe. In 1856 he came to Allen County, Kansas, and worked on what is now known as the old Doctor Wakefield farm, near Humboldt. He died in Wisconsin in 1864.

George Dale, second, father of Tillman E. Dale, was born in England’ in 1828 and was only a boy when his parents came to America and settled in Wisconsin. He became a carpenter and builder and owned a sawmill in Wisconsin. In 1856, accompanied by his own family and probably by his father, he came to Humboldt, Kansas, and acquired a sawmill. This mill was burned during Price’s raid, in the early days of the Civil war. Deprived of his means of livelihood, and considering the neighborhood dangerous for his family, Mr. Dale started with them for Lawrence, driving the whole distance with an oxteam, and from Lawrence went to Buchanan County, Iowa. He enlisted for service in the Civil war in Wisconsin in 1863, joining a Wisconsin regiment, and was wounded in battle and died in the hospital from the effects of his wounds. In 1869 his widow and children returned to Humbolt, Kansas, where she died in August, 1904. Her maiden name was Mary Robinson, and she was born in 1829, in London, England.

John Robinson, the maternal grandfather of Tillman E. Dale, was born in London, in 1799, and died in California, in 1887. He came to the United States accompanied by his family and was an early settler in Wisconsin, near Monroe. He resided there as a farmer until 1868, when he removed to Humboldt County, California. His daughter, Mary, was twice married, first to a Mr. Davey, who succumbed to cholera which was epidemic in New York City when they landed, and the two first-born children, a daughter and a son, also died of this dread disease. There were two other sons, William and John Davey, the former of whom died at Humbolt, Kansas, and the latter in Iowa shortly after completing his service in the Civil war. The second marriage was to George Dale and three children were born to this union, namely: J. E., who resides on a farm situated nine miles northeast of Chanute; Lucy, who is the wife of J. B. Burns, of Humboldt, Kansas, who is a rural mail carrier; and Tillman E.

At the age of thirteen years Tiliman E. Dale closed his school books and began to work as a man when many youths consider themselves entitled to a much longer season of irresponsibility and play. For seven years he was engaged in the fatiguing tasks entailed by running and herding cattle on the range and following this became a stationary engineer for a flourmill operating at Humbolt. Mr. Dale continued there for ten years, when he became interested in his present line of business, drilling for gas and oil, and, as mentioned above, has operated in almost every field in the Mid-continent space that has seemed promising, and has drilled hundreds of wells. In 1898 Mr. Dale came to Chanute and has maintained his home here ever since, owning a handsome residence at No. 723 Evergreen Street. Although his time is very fully occupied both as contractor and producer, Mr. Dale finds opportunity to look after his farm of forty acres, which is situated nine miles southeast of Chanute. When Mr. Dale came to Chanute the city had voted the sum of $5,000 to pay for expert drilling for gas and he did the work, and of the four wells drilled, three were satisfactory and paying propositions.

Mr. Dale was married April 29, 1891, at Texarcana, Arkansas, to Miss Laura Hellinghausen, who is a daughter of the late William Hellinghansen, a stonemason by trade. Mr. and Mrs. Dale have one son, Edwin, who assists his father.

In politics Mr. Dale is a republican and as an earnest citizen gives attenion to public affairs, particularly when laws are formulated that affect the industries of Kansas. He is a valued member of a number of organizations, including the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Anti-Horse Thief Association, and formerly belonged to the Odd Fellows and at present is identified with Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Chanute. He has traveled all through the western country, visiting California at least five times, and probably no more thoroughly or correctly informed oil or gas operator and producer could be discovered in this great belt. Many have a superficial knowledge of conditions, but it is to men like Mr. Dale that capitalists turn when they desire facts.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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