Tuesday, April 26, 2011

James Smither Abercrombie of Suite 8-F Crowd

The Abercrombies' Scottish Heritage
Robert the Bruce Mouse Pad
Robert the Bruce
James Abercrombie’s biography, Mr. Jim, written in 1983 by Patrick J. Nicholson, begins with the life of Humphrey de Abercromby of Pettmathen in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who “was given the charter (deed) of Harthill by Robert the Bruce in 1315.”[1]  Nicholson relates that Sir Ian George, tenth baronet, concluded in a letter to him that “Josephine Abercrombie (and thereby her father Mr. Jim, and her own sons Jamie and George) are of the main branch of the family, descended from my great-great-great-great grandfather Sir James Abercromby, second baronet.”  Sir James’ father was Sir Alexander, First Baronet of Birkenbog and a Member of Parliament for Banffshire—a member of the main covenanters.  Sir James’ grandfather, Alexander, is referred to as the Grand Falconer, a name given him by Charles, the son of James I of England (James VI in Scotland), who was cared for as a lad by Alexander’s family in the Highlands.  Charles’ brother Henry died in 1612, and his sister Elizabeth went to Germany to marry Frederick V.  Charles became king in 1625.  This was the “Bonnie Prince Charlie” to whom so many Highland Scots remained loyal.  The Hanovers were descended from this Stuart king, to whom allegiance had been sworn.  George III, British king during the American Revolution, ws the great-great grandson of James I.

James Edward OglethorpeThe land from Virginia southward to the Spanish colony of Florida was claimed by King Charles II in partnership with proprietor Lord Granville.  Seven earlier proprietors had given up after trying to settle the area for several decades.  Speculators bought the land cheap after George II became king.  James Abercrombie’s ancestor Robert Abercromby settled in Orange County, North Carolina in the 1740s and began to buy land.  By the time he died in 1779, he left a large estate of land and slaves to his two sons.  Although biographer Nicholson states numerous times that the Abercrombys were patriots and served in their local regiment, he says Charles Abercrombie with his wife and seven children gave up their family and “substantial and valuable holdings of land” in North Carolina at some time in 1788 to move to Georgia where land grants were available for veterans.  Other books indicate that Scottish landowners were run out of North Carolina after the revolution unless they could prove loyalty to America, and that the land grants in Georgia were granted by James Oglethorpe on behalf of the King of England.
Nicholson indicates rather that the problem in Orange County arose because of the Whisky Rebellion—War of Regulation—in 1771 when the Abercrombies sided with the Governors against the regulators.  “Almost fifteen years had passed, but few people had forgotten the nine Regulators killed in action, the six later hanged as traitors or the fact that more than 6,000 in the county were required to sign a hateful oath of abjuration (similar to that required in Scotland after the rebellion of 1745) in order to receive pardons and restoration of citizenship.”  Robert Abercrombie, Jr. was married to the daughter of the sheriff, appointed by the Governor to “tone down” the controversy.  So the family gave up everything to start over in Georgia, although they continued trying to sell their land in North Carolina during the next five years.
In 1788 Robert Jr. bought 202 acres near Warrenton in Warren County about 10 miles from his brother, Charles.  In 1807 he bought another 540 acres in Warren County and 202 in Baldwin County.  Their sister remained in North Carolina where she was married to William Mebane, whose father Alexander succeeded the hated Sheriff Tyree Harris of Orange County. 

Sweet Home Alabama
Major Charles Abercrombie, who fought as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War, had one son named Leonard Abercrombie (James Smither Abercrombie’s great-grandfather).  Leonard's granddaughter, Ann Barnes, married Green Wood, and their son, William B. Wood, moved to Huntsville, Texas in 1850 where he married Josephine Mitchell; their daughter, Evelina Wood, later married James Buford Abercrombie, Mr. Jim’s father.

By 1812 Maj. Charles Abercrombie, back in Georgia, had become quite wealthy, owning over 2,000 acres in Hancock County, 13,000 acres in Glynn County, plus other tracts in at least five other counties in Georgia.  His father, Robert, the Scottish emigrant, died in 1812, leaving almost 1,000 acres in Warren County. Charles’ youngest son, James, moved to Alabama in 1812 to an area just north of Mobile and in 1832 was joined there by brothers Anderson and Charles. Two years later Leonard bought land at Cross Keys, Alabama in Macon County but died in 1837, leaving his plantation to his son Milo Bolling Abercrombie. Milo's wife died after giving birth to fifteen children. During one of his frequent travels after her death, the southerner Milo in 1853 married a Boston widow named Sarah Greenleaf and had four more children with her.   
James B. II was the 15th child born to Milo's first wife
From Huntsville to Houston

Milo died at the beginning of the Civil War, and his widow packed up her children (James' half siblings) and returned to Massachusetts. Another branch of the Abercrombies, however, headed by James Abercrombie (Milo's uncle), had been involved in running the state of Alabama since 1820. James, who had been a member of the state legislature from in Cross Keys, Alabama, since 1820, headed to the north part of the state of Alabama, to Huntsville, which was then being settled by wealthy Virginia and Tennessee planters. By the time he retired in 1859, he had also been elected to the U.S. Congress. Many of the children of wealthy planters from both Cross Keys and Huntsville, Alabama, became founders of Huntsville, Texas, where James (“Jamie”) Smith Abercrombie was born in 1891 to James B. Abercrombie II--Milo's youngest son by his first wife.

Leonard Anderson Abercrombie (Milo's eldest son) studied law under Alabama Supreme Court Justice William Parish Chilton, and  married his daughter, Lavinia Chilton, and moved with her to Walker County, Texas, where he practiced law in Huntsville with Judge James A. Baker. He was elected in 1879 to the state senate from Huntsville, the same year Walker County's Sheriff Elkins had a son born into his family--James A. Elkins--who would become an important member of society in Houston. 

After the hurricane of 1900 almost destroyed Galveston, the inland city of Houston advanced toward becoming the major financial center of the area, and Leonard relocated there where he and his partner, Judge Baker, moved their law practice. His brother J.B., 18 years younger than Leonard, had moved from Alabama with his brother, rather than locate in Yankee territory with his stepmother; she returned to Massachusetts after Milo died in 1860. J.B., a prison worker, moved to Richmond, Texas, in Fort Bend County--southwest of Houston--in 1903 to work in the prison there.

Prominent citizens of Houston in that first decade of the 20th Century included railroad attorney Robert Scott Lovett, whose maternal grandfather was Chief Justice W.P. Chilton of the Alabama Supreme Court, Leonard Abercrombie's father-in-law.[2]  R.S. Lovett’s wife was the sister of Leonard A. Abercrombie, Jr., who was married to Justice Chilton’s daughter, Lavinia.  Their son, Lovett Abercrombie, became a stockbroker and investment counselor in Houston.

Living in Southwest Houston
In 1906 J.B. leased some land on Old Almeda Road from George Hermann for a dairy, located next to what in 1914 became Hermann Park, built by George Hermann's Estate.  They lived on Chocolate Road and became friends with neighbor Vernon Frank Neuhaus, whom they called Doc, who went to school with the younger Abercrombies.  Doc Neuhaus and Jim Abercrombie won a lot of money betting on horse races at the Herman Park futurity, racing their own dairy horse—the start of a life-long interest in horseracing.

Jim later became a roughneck for Crown Petroleum at Goose Creek, where he met Harry S. Cameron who became his partner in Cameron Iron Works in 1920 at 711 Milby, almost next door to the tool shop run by Howard Hughes--father of Howard Hughes, Jr.  Together Cameron and Abercrombie patented a device called a blowout preventer for use in oil drilling and began to manufacture it while they continued to drill for oil.

In 1924 Abercrombie went to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he drilled a series of wells for Socony Vacuum (later Mobil).  While there, he renewed his friendship with Naurice Cummings whom he had met at Crown Petroleum, who was working as the company’s area representative, and he also met his future wife.  In the fall of that year he made another interesting contact:
A syndicate of English businessmen and investors with heavy political impact in the capital city of Bogota had obtained a very large concession in the northern plateau of Colombia, primarily in Cordova, Bolivar and Antioquia provinces.  This was due south of Cartagena, and less than 150 miles from Lake Maracaibo, the Venezuelan bonanza-to-be.  There were indications of sizable deposits of oil and gas, but the syndicate had a severe problem:  they knew almost nothing about the petroleum industry, and even less about where to locate a world-class driller to put down test wells.
J.C. Walker, a managing partner of the English group, was acquainted with several of the J.P. Morgan executives in New York and sought the advice of this pre-eminent firm.  One of the House of Morgan’s principal clients was United States Steel, which in turn owned the Oil Well Supply Company, a leading “supply house” for the expanding petroleum industry.  Oil Well Supply was well entrenched in Texas and Louisiana, and Mr. Jim had bought many a ton of pipe from them; their top men knew him well and recommended Jim Abercrombie above anyone in the entire Oil Patch....The project in Colombia lasted until 1927.  The English syndicate retained control, and although both oil and gas were found, they were only in marginal quantities.
Connections to Power

Beginning in 1939, James Abercrombie realized there was more money to be made for Cameron Iron Works in weapons for the Armed Forces, but after repeated attempts to get government contracts and in spite of the fact that he was related to Robert Abercrombie Lovett, who served as an aide to Secretary of War Stimson, Abercrombie was unsuccessful until 1941, when he received a small contract from Gisholt Machinery Company of Madison, Wisconsin to make turret lathes.[3]

Cameron’s performance on that contract got the attention of the naval ordnance headquarters who quickly placed an order for 1,228 K-guns and 90,000 arbors, and Cameron “finally produced all 14,826 of the K-guns procured by the United States Navy between 1941 and 1945.”[4]
In a second contract, Cameron guaranteed production of 50 3-inch gun barrels for .50-caliber guns per month, and the Navy agreed to take any amount produced above that figure. (Mr. Jim, p. 286)  In order to increase production, Cameron purchased 100 acres of land on the Katy Freeway, just west of today's Loop 610, on which a plant was built under wartime certificates of necessity with accelerated depreciation rates.  Cameron was soon providing 150 gun barrels a month.  In 1942 Bureau of Ordnance officials asked Cameron to manufacture yokes for 4-inch guns for convoy vessels and .20-mm. hydraulic gun mounts.  A system was designed by Herb Allen of Cameron, who had studied at Rice under George Holmes Richter and Frank Hurley.
Supreme Court Justice [Wilmer] St. John Garwood, afterward a high-ranking officer in Naval Intelligence, . . . had predicted four months before Pearl Harbor that the U.S. Navy had found an outstanding partner in the Cameron Iron Works.” (p. 288) 

As a lieutenant commander, Garwood was assigned to Chile for three years before completing his final duty at the Pentagon.[5] In 1942 Abercrombie was invited to the White House to confer with Franklin Roosevelt, James Forrestal (a Dillon Read partner), Harold Ickes and other top officials concerning the Navy’s need for an avgas refinery, which Abercrombie wanted to build on the oil-rich marshland he and Dan Harrison owned near Sweeny, called “Old Ocean.”  The refinery was built as 
a project of Jesse Jones’ Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), although under the jurisdiction of an RFC subsidiary, the Defense Plant Corporation (DPC). To complicate things further, the end product would be sold to another RFC subsidiary, the Defense Supplies Corporation (DSC). DSC was just what the name indicated, a huge government purchasing agency for critical items needed for national defense.”[6]
The refinery was finished and on line by 1943.  As part of the operation, Abercrombie also ordered a scientific study to be done by the H.W. Kellogg company—which was at that time was also working on the top-secret Manhattan Project—to ascertain the relative value between crude oil and natural gas.  In future years, this study helped to make millions for Abercrombie by increasing the price he could get for natural gas.  This was important when it came time for him to consider whether to sell his interest in Old Ocean, as Dan Harrison wanted to do:
A saga of wealth: An anecdotal history of the Texan oilmen Of the other half of the total original ownership of Old Ocean (that belonging to H.W. Hodnett, Everette DeGolyer, their Atlatl Royalty Company and J.C. Karcher), 15/16ths had already been sold for less than $16 million.  Hodnett bought out DeGolyer and their joint holding through Atlatl for $6 million, and then sold ¾ of his entire stake to a syndicate headed by John Hay Whitney for $8.5 million; he kept the remaining 1/16 “for my grandchildren and their grandchildren.” Dr. Karcher’s ¼ went to a group of Chicago investors for $7 million.[7] Jim shook his head, slowly and sadly. “Less than $16 million for almost half of Old Ocean,” he said.  “A few years’ production of gas alone will be worth that one of these days.”[8] Everette De Golyer had begun his career as a geologist employed by Mexican Eagle Oil Co., owned by Sir Weetman Pearson, later first Viscount Cowdray, who called him to London in 1918 to sell Mexican Eagle to Royal Dutch Shell. The proceeds from the sale were invested by Lord Cowdray in the creation of a new oil company founded and operated by De Golyer in 1919 called Amerada.  According to James Presley, in A Saga of Wealth, Everette DeGolyer had discovered the Old Ocean field after he sold his Amerada stock. He leased everything but 1,500 acres, which he then purchased in fee from an estate for $260,000 of the $400,000 he received from his sale of stock. The 1,500 acres turned out to be directly on top of the field.[9]  De Golyer was chairman of Amerada until 1932, but he continued to own stock after that date.
Amerada later merged with Hess Oil, a company controlled by the husband of Leota Meyer Hess, sister of George Meyer of Houston and daughter of banker, Joseph F. Meyer.[10]  According to Ferdinand Lundberg in his The Rich and the Super Rich, 10% of Amerada Hess stock was owned by the British government.

In creating the stock for the companies he founded, Everett De Golyer used the firm of Dillon, Read—the same company which formed Texas Eastern Transmission for George and Herman Brown in 1947.  Interestingly, since World War I the family of Lord Cowdray had owned Lazard Brothers London, which, according to author Gary Reich, was a “franchise operation” of Lazard Freres New York and Paris run respectively by Andre Meyer and Pierre David-Weill.  The bank had been founded, not in France, but in San Francisco, originally as a dry-goods business by Alexandre, Simon and Lazare Lazard who had emigrated from Lorraine, France to New Orleans in 1848 and then to California when the Gold Rush began.[11]  Their cousin, Alexandre Weill came to the United States to keep their books, but within four years they shifted to foreign gold exchange and opened an office in Paris.  The New York office was opened in 1880 by Alexandre Weill, and a London office began in 1883.  In 1908 the California bank was sold, eventually to become the Crocker National Bank.  During World War I the “Bank of England forced Lazard to sell the London bank to British interests.”[12]

The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.
Nancy: The Life of Lady AstorAccording to Carroll Quigley, the managing director of the London office of Lazard Brothers was Lord Brand, a brother-in-law of Lady Astor, who along with Lords Astor, Milner, Altrincham, and General Smuts made up the “Round Table Group,” later called the “Cliveden Set,” which controlled the Rhodes Trust, the Beit Trust, The Times of London and The Observer.[13]  Quigley states that this group attempted to weaken the League of Nations and strengthen Germany.  They established the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and Chatham House in London.  With the help of Lord Lothian (Philip Kerr) this group convinced Lloyd George and other “appeasers” that the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh and should not be enforced.
Honey Trap (Coronet Books)Interestingly, it was a succeeding Lord Astor (William), presumably the son, who in 1963 allowed his chiropractor, Dr. Stephen Ward, to use a cottage at the Astors’ Cliveden estate. Ward’s friend, Christine Keeler was used by Ward and his associates to cause a scandal that led to the resignation of Secretary of War John Profumo, who had an affair with Keeler at the same time span that she was seeing Soviet Ambassador Ivanov, both of whom were introduced to her by Ward.[14]

Somehow involved in the expose of the affair was British journalist/solicitor Michael Eddowes who has also advanced a theory that John Kennedy was killed by the Russians.  Eddowes was also on the scene at the time George DeMohrenschildt “committed suicide” after being interviewed by Dutch journalist Willem Oltmans.
Lord Strathcona: A Biography of Donald Alexander SmithIn addition to the London office of Lazard Brothers, the Cowdray $200 million empire was said to include ownership of London’s Financial Times and a 50% interest in the Economist, then part of Pearson plc.[15]  The Cowdrays delegated the management of the London office to Robert (eventually Lord) Kindersley, who sat on the board of the Bank of England and acted as governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which originated in Canada to compete with the French in the fur trade in the early nineteenth century and was bought out by the International Finance Company of London in 1863, when Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) was hired to run it with financing from the Bank of Montreal.[16]  The firm at one time had five British peers on its board.[17]  During Kindersley’s tenure as chairman, there was tension between Andre Meyer and the London office, which seemed to ease somewhat in 1965 when Oliver Poole replaced him.  Poole was British, but less orthodox than his predecessor.  He steered the firm into mergers, attempting to advise a takeover of the P&O Shipping Company by Bovis that did not succeed.  After Poole had a stroke in 1973, the firm’s management went back to the Kindersley family.

This connection between Cowdray, Royal Dutch Shell and Dillon, Read is extremely interesting, considering the history of Shell Oil.  Shell Transport & Trading Company, Ltd. of London went into the oil business in 1897, though it had been “an Oriental trading concern” since 1830, with offices in the principal ports of the Far East.  In 1890 the founder, Marcus Samuel (knighted in 1898; baron in 1903, raised to peerage in 1921 with title of Lord Bearsted, and dubbed Viscount Bearsted in 1925)[18], contracted to buy kerosene from the Paris Rothschilds’ oil company (Bnito) refinery in Baku, which he agreed to sell east of Suez.  The Rothschilds had financed the building of the Suez Canal on behalf of the British government.  For the transporting from the refinery to market, Samuel built a tanker with financing from William Gray and Sons and set out to compete with Standard Oil in Russia and the Orient.  At that point, however, the Russian government stopped the transporting of oil through the Black Sea (from Baku) except on Russian vessels.  Samuel started looking for other sources of supply at the same time Spindletop occurred.[19]

In 1901 Samuel negotiated a contract with the J.M. Guffey Petroleum Company in Beaumont for the purchase of 4.5 million barrels of oil over 20 years at 25 cents per barrel.  By August of 1902, however, Guffey’s wells had stopped, and Andrew Mellon had stepped in to salvage his $5 million bond issue.  In 1903 Mellon went to London and was somehow able to convince Samuel to cancel the contract—preventing what became Gulf Oil from certain bankruptcy.[20]  It was at that point in time that Samuel was brought together with the Royal Dutch Company’s Henry Deterding by a London agent for the Paris Rothschilds.  Thus in June 1902 the Royal Dutch/Shell merger occurred by creation of The Asiatic Petroleum Company, Ltd., with the Rothschilds as a third equal partner.  In 1907 each partner’s companies were brought into the holding company and reorganized into separate subsidiaries owned 60% by Royal Dutch, 40% by Shell.  The Rothschilds’ company, Bnito, had been bought out by 1913.[21]

The CHAIRMAN: JOHN J MCCLOY & THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN ESTABLISHMENT In 1913 the Shell Group also tried to enter the United States market by acquiring Gulf Oil from the Mellons by use of a syndicate headed by Kuhn, Loeb and Co., but the Mellons held on to their company.  Shell was able to move in to the United States that year, first by having Roxana Petroleum of Oklahoma (Tulsa and Bartlesvile) created by Cravath, Swaine and Moore (the initial stock of which was owned 51% by the Shell Group, 9.4% by the Paris Rothschilds and the rest by London and Paris banking houses).  By 1917 Shell (through Roxana of Oklahoma) was leasing in Texas and opened an office in Houston under the direction of F.B. Plummer, assisted by a geologist and an engineer named John R. Suman.[22]
Shell’s entrance into California smacks of more intrigue.  The Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) was founded by Lyman Stewart, who in 1909 employed an Englishman named Robert Watchorn as treasurer.  Watchorn obtained an option from Stewart to buy all his holdings at $150 per share.  Eventually, the option came into the hands of the Mercantile Trust Co. of San Francisco, which sold it to a “British group headed by Andrew Weir (later Lord Inverforth) and J. Tilden Smith,” who let the option expire in April 1914.[23]  However, Weir and Smith negotiated a new option from Unocal and by 1915 owned 25,000 shares in the name of British Union Oil Company, Ltd.  This stock was sold in 1919 to a syndicate backed by Percy Rockefeller (of Remington Arms), which also included Hayden, Stone & Company, the Chase National Bank, Baldwin Automotive Works, and other New York and Boston financiers, plus 20% of new stock issued by Lyman Stewart in a new stock issue.  The Rockefeller group’s stock was held by a new corporation—Union Oil of Delaware—which in 1922 merged with Shell to form Shell Union Oil Corporation.  Shell Union had 21 directors--12 elected by Shell and 9 by Union.  Lyman Stewart still retained control, and in December 1922 when an 80% stock dividend was declared, Shell Union sold its 235,500 shares to Dillon, Read for a $10 million profit over the two years.  This sale may have been instigated by publicity then occurring over the ownership of American oil lands by citizens of foreign governments which discriminated against American companies wishing to develop oil lands in those countries; Dillon, Read may have owned the shares only as nominee.
The foremost purveyor of rumors that the British government controlled Royal Dutch Shell was Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall, who refused to allow Shell to lease Indian lands in Oklahoma because of his interpretation of the Federal Land Leasing Act and the role of the Secretary of Interior as guardian for Indian Affairs.  In March 1923 the New York Times contained a number of stories quoting Fall’s allegations (on March 20) to the effect that Royal Dutch Shell was:
"...part of a gigantic movement, international in its nature, and charged by the French writer Delaisi and others to be carried on with the aid and assistance of certain foreign governments, to exhaust the oil supplies of the United States while denying our explorers the right to prospect for oil elsewhere....It is a trust plan modeled on the original plan of Standard Oil but increased to world magnitude.  It is being carried on more ruthlessly than any operation of Standard Oil and is aimed directly at the United States....In accordance with the publicly-made boasts of its promoters, the United States will pay to Great Britain during the next few years many times more than the entire British refunded debt to us.[24]
Shortly thereafter, Fall was forced to resign because of his leases of the Elk Hills Naval Reserve lands to Pan American Oil Company, which became known as the Teapot Dome scandal.  Fall later went to jail, and Pan American filed bankruptcy when the leases were canceled.  And Shell, which continued to deny that the British government had any interest whatsoever in its company, “took the position that ‘you can’t argue with a nut’ and did not dignify this vilification with an answer.”[25]
In 1939 a new corporation was created—Shell Oil Company, Inc. with all stock owned by Shell Union—resulting from a merger of Shell Oil of San Francisco and Shell Petroleum in St. Louis.  A year later the headquarters moved all operations from St. Louis to New York except exploration and production, which relocated to Houston. Until that time, St. Louis had been headquarters for railroad interests and oil interests, both of which sold large amounts of stocks and bonds to foreign investors.  It is also the city where George Bush’s grandfather, George Herbert Walker established his investment banking business until 1919.
In 1916 while World War I was raging, capital for exploration was restricted in Europe, and the Royal Dutch Company arranged to sell stock in America through Kuhn, Loeb.  Additional issues were made in February and October 1920, after moving the headquarters of Roxana of Oklahoma to St. Louis, Mo.  It was during this time period (1918) that Lord Cowdray sent Everett deGolyer to London to sell Mexican Eagle to Royal Dutch Shell, and in 1919 that Amerada was organized by Dillon, Read.  In 1922 F.B. Plummer returned to Houston with F.W.J. Haas, and
...was instructed, largely for reasons of secrecy, to draw money and other assistance from the chairman of the New Orleans Refining Company [Norco].  Plummer opened a small office in Houston, and hired Walle Merritt to handle land-leasing.  L.G. Christie, who was sent from the Shell Company of California to join them in May 1923, recalls that the office at that time consisted only of Plummer, Merritt, Haas, and two stenographers.[26]
The Man Who Knew Too Much: Hired to Kill Oswald and Prevent the Assassination of JFKPlummer came under Roxana’s exploration headquarters office in Dallas, and it is clear he worked closely with deGolyer (who Beaton indicates reviewed the chapter about Shell of the manuscript before publication).  Beaton also states that Amerada and Lord Cowdray were “the Group’s partner in Mexico [and] set up the Geophysical Research Corporation in Tulsa,” under the direction of J.C. Karcher.  Roxana was also closely associated with Conrad and Marcel Schlumberger of Paris.  According to Beaton, the “Schlumbergers later became famous in the American oil business for their electrical well-logging method which, under sponsorship of the Shell companies, was introduced into Venezuela and the United States in 1932.”[27]
Houston's Niels Esperson Building Photograph - Beautiful 16"x20" Photographic Print by Carol M. Highsmith
Esperson Bldg in Houston
In 1932 when DeGolyer left Amerada, although he also maintained an office in the Esperson Building in Houston, he moved from New York to Dallas to open an office with Lewis W. MacNaughton as an appraiser of oil properties.  MacNaughton, who was a director of Empire Trust, had connections to the White Russian community in Dallas.  A vice-president of Empire Trust in Dallas was Jack Crichton (also president of Nafco Oil & Gas, Inc.) who was connected with Army Reserve Intelligence.[28]  MacNaughton’s personal accountant was George Bouhe, who also worked at the Tolstoy Foundation with Paul Raigorodsky, who was also involved with the National Alliance of Solidarists.[29]

According to a 1970 report called “The Torbitt Document,” a compilation of information gathered by a Texas attorney from “court-approved and documented evidence” from sources in the U.S. Customs Department and the Narcotics Bureau, from the Warren Commission and the Garrison investigations, the Kennedy assassination was planned and carried out by Division Five of the FBI, which acted in conjunction with the Defense Intelligence Agency under the control of the Joint Chiefs.  These divisions had a highly secret police agency called the Defense Industrial Security Command, which also worked with NASA, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), USIA and weapons and ammunition supply corporations (munitions makers) which contract with those agencies.  The police force originated in the 1930’s to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority, then expanded to the AEC, tying it in with army intelligence.  Agents of this force included Clay Shaw, Guy Bannister, David Ferrie, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and others, and was headed up by Louis Mortimer Bloomfield, a Canadian lawyer in Montreal who represented Seagrams and the Bronfman family.

Bloomfield’s Permindex Corp. supervised five subsidiary groups:  (1) “White Russian” organization called the Solidarists—members Ferenc Nagy of Dallas (former Hungarian premier) and Jean De Menil of Houston (head of Schlumberger); (2) American Council of Churches—H.L. Hunt organization; (3) Free Cuba Committee—Carlos Prio Soccaras (Cuban ex-president); (4) “The Syndicate”—Clifford Jones and Bobby Baker working with Joe Bonanno Mafia family; and (5) NASA’s Security Division—Werner Von Braun, headquarters in Redstone Arsenal in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and on East Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio.   
Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald
Dr. Oschner's evil deeds
“The principal financiers of Permindex were a number of U.S. oil companies, H.L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, John De Menil, Solidarist director of Houston, John Connally, as executor of Sid Richardson estate, Haliburton [sic] Oil Co., Sen. Robert Kerr of Okla., Troy Post of Dallas, Lloyd Cobb of New Orleans, Dr. Oschner of New Orleans, George and Herman Brown of Brown and Root, Attorney Roy M. Cohn, Chairman of the Board for Lionel Corp., New York City, Schenley Industries of New York City, Walter Dornberger, ex-Nazi general and his company, Bell Aerospace, Pan American World Airways and its subsidiary, Intercontinental Hotel Corp., Paul Raigorodsky of Claiborne Oil of New Orleans, Credit Suisse of Canada, and Heineken’s Brewery of Canada and a host of other munition makers and NASA contractors directed by the Defense Industrial Security Command.”   
Roy Cohn was a very close friend of Lewis Rosenstiel, who was in turn a friend of Sam Bronfman.  Bloomfield was also president of Heineken of Canada.
As it turned out, Dan Harrison sold his interest in Old Ocean to Magnolia.  Naurice Cummings, Abercrombie’s right-hand man “had known both Alec Little, Magnolia’s president, and Alexander Sinclair, chairman of the board of the Dallas-based company (a subsidiary of Socony-Vacuum, John D. Rockefeller’s old Standard of New York) since his roughnecking days.”  Harrison sold out for $27 million, but Abercrombie retained his ownership, becoming a partner with Magnolia, and thus with the Rockefellers and others, in December 1942.  In 1946 Abercrombie sold his JSA Company stock to Standard Oil of Indiana (Standolind) for $54 million.[30]
Abercrombie had purchased land called the Cinco Ranch in partnership with four others—W.M. Wheless, J.R. Parten, H.G. Nelms (husband of Agnes Carter] and Lenoir Josey.  The Josey family owned a ranch in the northwest part of the county, south of Highway 290, which bordered on a large Cameron Iron Works (Abercrombie’s drilling equipment company) tract near Cypress.  Herbert J. Frensley—for many years president of Brown & Root—owned a large tract south of Josey's land and west of Cameron Iron.  Stretching southwest of these lands all the way to the Cinco Ranch was land owned by Barker-Cypress Properties, Percy Selden, Morris-Glenney Co. and Lomas and Nettleton.  Much of this property has since been developed by General Homes or G.R. Jackson companies.  A great deal of the land was sold to the U.S.A. by Shell Oil and others to create Barker and Addicks Reservoirs, thus increasing the value of the surrounding land, while getting a price for low-lying rice land that could not be used for anything else.  On March 6, 1940 the Rice Institute conveyed 1,476 acres in the Sypert Survey to Cinco Ranch for $39,000 [1161/53 D.R., Harris County, Texas].  Four years later the USA condemned some nearby land for Barker Reservoir, paying $161,500 to W.M. Wheless, Walter B. Pyron and James S. Abercrombie for 4,941 acres.

These partners of Abercrombie’s also had some interesting sidelights.  Lenoir Josey was said to have
Bugsy : The Bloodthirsty, Lusty Life of Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel “...associated frequently with such underworld gambling figures as ‘Dandy Phil’ Kastel of New Orleans; Al Smiley, who was Bugsy Siegel’s running mate on the West Coast; and others from New York, Boston, and Chicago.  Reports had it that Josey was putting underworld money into the oil business, but his friends insisted that Josey simply was fascinated by the hoodlums.”[31]  Major Jubal R. Parten was a close associate of Abercrombie during 1933-34 when the two of them worked as lobbyists with Vice-President John Nance [Black Jack] Garner and Speaker Sam Rayburn to defeat the “Ickes Bill,” which would have established federal control over the amount of oil production and set up Harold Ickes as “oil czar.” (p. 274)  
Paul Raigorodsky had been an aide to Harold Ickes for two years until he resigned in 1943 to return to his ranch at Kerrville, not far from LBJ's own ranch. The Kerrville newspaper frequently reported the comings and goings of his wife, the former Ruth McCaleb, and their two daughters who were away at elite schools back east.
Through their successful efforts with Congress and later hearings before the Texas Railroad Commission, as well as their attempts in the late 1930s to keep the oil depletion allowance, Abercrombie and Parten garnered considerable power. Parten, president of the Woodley Petroleum Co., had been a major in field artillery in World War I, who also went to Washington after Pearl Harbor to join the staff of the Petroleum Administration for War and to be chief of staff of the U.S. Delegation at Potsdam and in Moscow of the German Reparations Commission.[32] 

His role at the Petroleum Administration for War was director of transportation, which charged him with construction of the big and little-in pipelines to transport oil to the Eastern Seaboard.[33]  In 1952 Abercrombie and J.L. Latimer, then president of Magnolia Petroleum and Pipe Line Companies, attacked the controls on petroleum and natural gas established by the Office of Price Stabilization. (Houston Post, October 16, 1952).

After the war the Big and Little-Inch pipelines would be privatized. Having been built by the government, they would be auctioned off as surplus property and purchased by the Texas Eastern Transmission Company, with financing arranged by...who else? Dillon, Read. It was the favorite investment bank of the Texas oil men who comprised the Suite 8-F group at Jesse Jones' Lamar Hotel.

[1] Patrick J. Nicholson, Mr. Jim:  The Biography of James Smither Abercrombie (Houston, London, Paris, Tokyo:  Gulf Publishing Co., 1991), p. 3.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Patrick J. Nicholson, Mr. Jim:  The Biography of James Smither Abercrombie (Houston, London, Paris, Tokyo:  Gulf Publishing Co., 1991), p. 279.
[4] Nicholson, p. 280.
[5] M. Johnston, p. 343.
[6] Nicholson, p. 292.
[7] De Golyer graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1911, and while a student had worked in 1909 as a field geologist for the Mexican Eagle Oil Company, "then owned by British interests and later sold to Royal Dutch Shell.  [Lundberg, p. 68]  "Called to England in 1918 to participate in the sale of Mexican Eagle to Royal Dutch Shell, he was then backed by Lord Cowdray of Mexican Eagle to form the Amerada Petroleum Corporation, of which he was made vice president and general manager, then president and finally chairman.  He retired from highly successful Amerada in 1932....He also formed Core Laboratories, Inc., and the Atlatl Royalty Corporation to carry on oil discovery and ownership. [pp. 68-69].
[8] Nicholson, pp. 298-99
[9] Presley, p. 273.
[10] In the early days of Houston Joseph Meyer operated a shop at 802 Franklin where he sold horse-drawn wagons.  He also owned the Mutual Building & Loan Co. which financed construction and purchase of homes.  Meyer owned the entire 640-acre J. Owens Survey, bordering a south and east line of the W.M. Rice Ranch, as well as other land around there.  His son, Joseph Jr. was vice-president of a number of land development companies as early as 1923.  He was also vice-president of the Houston National Bank prior to 1931 when Joseph Sr., at the behest of Jesse Jones, purchased the stock of Ross Sterling.
[11] Gary Reich, Financier:  The Biography of Andre Meyer (New York:  William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1983), p. 27.
[12] Reich, pp. 27-28.
[13] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope:  A History of the World in Our Time (New York:  The Macmillan Company, 19  ), p. 581.
[15] Gary Reich, Financier:  The Biography of Andre Meyer (New York:  William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1983), p. 210.
[16] W. G. Hardy, From Sea unto Sea:  Canada--1850 to 1910, The Road to Nationhood (Garden City, New York:  Doubleday & Co. 1960), p. 220.
[17] Reich, p. 211.
[18] Kendall Beaton, Enterprise in Oil (New York:  Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1957), p. 100.
[19] For a more detailed history, see Beaton, chapter 4.
[20] Beaton, p. 48, footnote.
[21] Beaton, p. 55.
[22] Beaton, p. 159.
[23] Beaton, p. 207-08.
[24] Quoted in Beaton, p. 232.
[25] Beaton, p. 233.
[26] Beaton, p. 201.
[27] Beaton, p. 206.
[28] Dick Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much (New York:  Carroll & Graf Publishers/Richard Gallen, 1992), p. 615 and pp. 792-93 fn. 14.
[29] Russell, pp. 257-58.
[30] Nicholson,  p. 309
[31] Jack Donahue, Wildcatter:  The Story of Michel T. Halbouty and the Search for Oil (McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1979), p. 105-6.
[32] M. Johnston, Houston, p. 349.  Parten was chairman of the University of Texas board of regents from 1935 to 1941.  He was a consultant to Stewart Udall in 1961. Id., pp 423-4.
[33] Jack Donahue, The Finest in the Land:  The Story of the Petroleum Club of Houston (Houston:  Gulf Publishing, 1984), p. 24.

1 comment:

Mark Reed said...

Fascinating story about She'll-Union. Thanks for making sense of it all!