Bissell, George Henry

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b. 8 November 1821 Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
d. 19 November 1884 New York, USA
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American promoter of the petroleum industry.
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Bissell first pursued a career in education, as Professor of Languages at the University of Norwich, Vermont, and then as Superintendent of Schools in New Orleans. After dabbling in journalism, he turned to law and was admitted to the Bar in New York City in 1853. The following year he was deeply impressed by the picture of a derrick on the label on a bottle of brine from Samuel M.Kier's brine well. Bissell saw in it a new possibility of producing petroleum and, with Jonathan G.Elveleth, formed the world's first oil company, the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, on 30 December 1854. The Company obtained a sample of oil at Hibbard Farm, Titusville, Pennsylvania, and sent it for examination to Benjamin Silliman Jr, Professor of Chemistry at Yale University. He reported on 16 April 1855 that by simple means nearly all the oil could be converted into useful substances. Bissell acted on this and began drilling near Oil Creek, Pennsylvania. On 27 August 1859 his contractor struck oil at 60 ft (18 m). This date is usually taken as the starting point of the modern oil industry, even though oil had been obtained two years earlier in Europe by drilling near Hannover and at Ploesti in Romania. Bissell returned to New York in 1863 and spent the rest of his life promoting enterprises connected with the oil industry.
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Further Reading
Obituary, 1884, New York Herald, 20 November.
W.B.Kaempffert, 1924, A Popular History of American Inventions, New York. I.M.Tarbell, 1904, History of the Standard Oil Company, New York.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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