Hawkeye Oil Company
Intro by Wayne Henderson
The 2012 edition of Gas Pump Globes includes a compilation of company histories, serving as a convenient place to summarize everything we knew up to this point about a particular company. However, I have long sensed that we knew only small pieces of the stories behind certain gasoline marketing companies. For inclusion in future editions of Gas Pump Globes, as well as forming the backdrop for an electronic re-creation of the old logo book that may actually turn out to be more an encyclopedia of gasoline marketing history, my son, Jason Henderson, has been doing research into companies where I felt we had only part of the picture. In this issue of PCM we are going to showcase what we hope will be the first of numerous articles created from original period source documents that are now available online, in an effort to clarify some murky histories.
What started out as the question, “What can you find out about the Go Gas stations that seem to be found in both Iowa and New England in the early 1920s?” has led to the following history that includes Hawkeye Oil Company, Black Hawk Oil Company, Producers and Refiners Oil Company, Consumers Service Station Company, Rock Island, IL, Consumers Service Stations Consolidated, Rochester, NY, the Go Gas Company, and more. While reading through this history, try and follow the people to better understand the relationships between the companies.
Hawkeye Oil Company History
Albert Henry (A.H.) Caward was born on July 9, 1854 in Canandaigua, New York. At an early age, he moved to Whitewater, Wisconsin, where he finished high school and married Carrie A. Polhemus in 1883. She was also born in New York in September 1854 and relocated to Whitewater in 1858. Their children included Walter B. and Harry S. Caward. Shortly after getting married they moved to South Dakota for a short time and then to Cresco, Iowa where A.H. Caward ran a mercantile store for 25 years before relocating to Waterloo, Iowa, in 1908.
In March of 1908, A.H. Caward founded the Black Hawk Oil Company which quickly changed to Hawkeye Oil Company. The company was organized under the laws of South Dakota, in Waterloo Iowa. In 1912, Hawkeye introduced the Faultless Motor Oil brand.
In 1917, another Black Hawk Oil Company, which had been founded in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1912, sold out their operation to A.H. Caward, and continued to operate out of Cedar Falls, managed by J. H. Dettner. Black Hawk’s original board of directors included President C.A. Hollis, Vice President S.E. Schmitt, Secretary B.H. Stiles and Treasurer C. W. Knickerbocker along with W.H. Merner.
Two other companies which played a part in this story were also founded in 1917. Producers and Refiners Corporation was organized under the laws of Wyoming and Josh Cosden’s Midcontinent Petroleum Corporation was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, organized under the laws of Delaware.
In 1918, Consumers Service Station Company was founded in Rock Island, Illinois, along with a sister company, Iowa Consumers Company. Within 18 months there were 175 stations. Both operations used the Go Gas brand and an eye catching checkerboard motif design for stations and signage. This company was a pioneer in standardized station design and sales of auto accessories. In order to expand so fast into otherwise uncharted territory for service stations, these two companies offered certificates to local people in various towns, essentially franchise opportunities, and built stations where and when they found investors.
By 1920, Consumers Stations were listed as distributors of Hawkeye products including Red Ball Gasoline and Faultless Auto Oils. In May 1921, Consumers Service Station Company along with Iowa Consumers Company sold out completely to Hawkeye Oil Company leaving A.H. Caward with debt to pay back to investors. The founders of the two Consumers/Go Gas operations moved to Rochester, New York and started over but used the same marketing scheme. With the acquisition of these new assets, Hawkeye claimed a six million dollar oil marketing corporation with 219 retail stations located throughout Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky. This marketing division was organized under the laws of Delaware as the Hawkeye Oil Company of Delaware, which was separate from the parent company, Hawkeye Oil Company of South Dakota.
H.C. Wurster, formerly of Collins Oil Company, Knoxville, and secretary of Hawkeye Oil Company was placed as director of the newly organized marketing company. A.H. Caward was listed as President and W.B. Caward listed as Vice President. The board of directors, in addition to both Caward men, included E.M. Wharff, another Vice President and General Manager of the new company (former Vice President of Consumers), D.R. Thomas, another Vice President and Controller, F.C. Michael and C.S. Goodwin, Treasurer and Secretary (both whom carried over from Consumers), Ralph Wharff of Rock Island, G.C. Lott of Denver (formerly of Texas Company and President of Crystal Oil Company of Denver), W.C. Spurgin of Chicago, and M.J. Gabriel of Clinton, Iowa. Sometime during 1920 or 1921 Hawkeye became a marketing outlet for Parco Products.
In June of 1923, Hawkeye Oil Company of Delaware consolidated with Producers and Refiners Corporation of Chicago. Denver organized in Wyoming in 1917 with F. E. Kistler as president and general manager. The only change in management was that Walter B. Caward moved to Chicago as assistant general sales manager of Producers and Refiners Corporation in charge of all shipments of products to Hawkeye stations. Harry S. Caward was treasurer of Hawkeye by this time. The consolidation increased the Hawkeye station count to 350 with warehouses in Des Moines, Waterloo, Mason City and Ottumwa and operations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. In November of that same year, Producers and Refiners Corporation (along with Hawkeye Delaware) were acquired by Prairie Oil and Gas Company, one of the former Standard Oil Divisions. Producers and Refiners Corporation would continue to operate as a subsidiary, Prairie Oil and Gas Company. In December, Crescent High Test Gasoline was introduced at Hawkeye branded stations.
Oddly enough, by 1924, the Hawkeye Oil Company of South Dakota was operating as an IOMA member, although Hawkeye was technically affiliated with Prairie, one of the Standard descendents. In the listing from the Petroleum Register from 1925, A.H. Caward was listed as president for Hawkeye Oil Company of South Dakota, W.B. Caward as vice president, H.C. Wurster as secretary, and H.S. Caward as treasurer. They were listed under Compounders and Jobbers, and their brands included “Faultless, Red Ball, and All Year.” They were operating 350 tank trucks. Hawkeye also had an interest in oil burners and tank truck manufacturing and at about this time the Caward family bought out Dart Truck and Tractor Corporation, renaming the company The Caward-Dart Company. Unfortunately, rescue of the Dart operation came too late, and the operation went into receivership in March 1927.
In March 1925, Mr. A.H. Caward and Hawkeye Oil Company of South Dakota sold out their interest in Hawkeye of Delaware/Parco operations and announced that they were devoting their time to developing Black Hawk Oil Company, which they acquired in 1917. This brought about the merging of the two operations, Black Hawk and Hawkeye of South Dakota under the Black Hawk Oil Company, based in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. New brands included Power Motor Oils (a PGCOA listed product), Black Hawk Gasoline, Dart High Test Gasoline and Black Hawk Kerosene. The Dart brand, inspired by the tank truck company, was dropped by July of that year in favor of Red Hat Gasoline, marketed by IOMA members, and another new brand Crystal “High Hat”, also attributed to IOMA. Also sold were Black Hawk Gasoline (probably motor grade) which later changed to Black Hawk Special Gasoline.
Meanwhile, in January 1926, Petroleum and Refiners Corporation introduced their new Bearcat Gasoline, advertised with “25% more power and pep than Parco Gasoline…used purely as it is or as a 50-50 mixture with regular Parco Gasoline…sold ONLY at independent gas and oil company service stations” which were, according to the ad, was based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.
On February 23, 1926, A.H. Caward died suddenly in Excelsior Spring, Missouri on a return trip from California. At the time of his death he was president of five separate companies as well as the director for several other smaller interests in the Waterloo area. He was remembered as a pioneer independent oil man by those involved in the oil business.
In June 1926, Walter and Harry Caward sold their interests in Black Hawk Oil Company to Frank E. Kistler, President of Producers and Refiners Corporation and of Hawkeye Oil of Delaware, once again uniting all of the Caward oil companies together as one company which operated under the Black Hawk Oil Company name. Products included Faultless Motor Oil with the Black Hawk circle replacing the Hawkeye circle in the logo, Power Motor Oil (Pennsylvania Grade), Red Ball Gasoline and a reintroduced Crescent Gasoline with ”Kno-Nok” slogan. Also offered were Black Hawk Furnace Oil, and Veedol oils and greases. These companies combined claimed to be the largest strictly independent oil marketing organization in the country. On September 20, 1927, it was announced that Midcontinent Petroleum Corporation which began retail marketing in 1926, had purchased Black Hawk Oil Company, with the transfer to take place on October 1, 1927. Transferred Black Hawk assets included 135 tank stations and 225 service stations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota. This included former assets of Black Hawk Oil Company, Rex Oil Company and Hawkeye Oil Company. All stations were rebranded to Mid-Continent’s Diamond Brand, with Faultless Motor Oil reimaged over the red diamond logo. H.C. Wurster, former Secretary (1923-1927) of Hawkeye and Black Hawk was the Northern Assistant Division Manager (1927-1931), Division Manager (1931-May 1944) and finally General Manager of a newly created farm specialty products department (May 1944-at least July 1946) for Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation headquartered in the former Hawkeye and Black Hawk buildings. This division was in charge of all marketing in Iowa, northern Illinois, southern Minnesota, eastern Nebraska and northern Missouri.
In October 1927, Producers and Refiners (Parco) introduced their new Parco High Compression Anti-Knock Gasoline. In 1928, Producers and Refiners Corporation got into tank car marketing their branded Parco Ethyl Gasoline, which they wholesaled out of their Wyoming refinery to various companies to be used as the Ethyl brand with a local jobber’s own gasoline brands. Barkhousen Oil (Green Bay), Spur Distributing (Nashville), and Powerine (Denver) were marketing companies that sold Parco Ethyl.
In the 1929 Petroleum Register, the Producers and Refiners Corporation listed their headquarters as Independence, Kansas (instead of Denver) with branches in Parco, Wyoming, Denver, Chicago, Omaha and Tulsa. They listed subsidiaries including Blackstone, Salt Creek Oil Company, Independent Gas and Oil Company, Mountain States Gas Company, Parco Development Company, Producers and Refiners Corporation of Tennessee (which operated Parco gasoline stations selling Parco Gasoline and Bearcat motor fuel in Kingsport and Bristol), Producers and Refiners Corporation of Texas, Wyoming Wells Corporation, and Wyoming Canadian Oil Corporation, Inc.
On October 5, 1929, Parco introduced a new Ethyl grade gasoline, “Bearcat Motor Fuel with Ethyl.” All Parco subsidiaries along with their exclusive contracted distributor, the Denver Powerine Company, offered the new product.
In 1932, Prairie Gas and Oil Company sold Sinclair Oil Corporation their 65% ownership in Producers and Refiners Corporation. Two years later, Producers again found themselves in financial trouble brought about by the Depression and went into receivership at which time Sinclair bought the remaining interests. From research documents our best guess is that sometime during this process Parco sold the rights to the Bearcat brand to the Denver Powerine Company, which had been their exclusive independent distributor of that product for many years, outside of the Parco subsidiaries.
DID ANYTHING HAPPEN FROM THIS POINT UNTIL THEIR DEATHS:
Walter Caward died in 1941 and Harry Caward died in 1955, both in Los Angeles.
The Go Gas story continued, when in 1921, after selling all former assets to Hawkeye Oil Company, Ralph Wharff and company moved their Consumers operation to Rochester, New York, where they immediately started over in the same “co-operative” franchise arrangement. Their franchise “Participation Operation Certificates” resulted in the rapid fire building of service stations. The new company was called Consumers Service Stations, Consolidated of Rochester, New York and marketed under the Go Gas brand. The company soon took over two distribution companies, Chamberlain Paint and Oil Company of Warsaw, New York to serve as their Western distributor, and J.W. Greenhalgh Company of Boston, Massachusetts to serve as their Eastern distributor.
In 1925, the Petroleum Register listed Go-Gas Company at 90 West Street, New York. The listing noted that Go Gas Company had absorbed Consumers Service Stations Consolidated of Rochester, New York, which had been incorporated in Delaware in 1922, with Ralph Wharff listed as President, E.M. Wharff and W.T. Dobson as Vice Presidents, L.V. Anderson as Treasurer, and C.S. Goodwin as Secretary. They were listed as a marketer and jobber of gasoline and lubricating oils, operating 48 bulk and 94 filling stations with products branded “Go Gas” gasoline and “Realoil” lubricating oil.
In the early years of the twentieth century, the Frankel Brothers acquired control of the Warner-Quinlan Company whose primary business up to that time had been asphalt production. The Frankels expanded Warner-Quinlan into oil production in Texas and Mexico as well as filling stations in New York and New Jersey, and fuel oil distribution. In 1912, the company built a refinery and tank farm on the water front at Warners, New Jersey.
In February 1925, the Consumers Service Station Company, now consolidated under the Go Gas Company, New York became “financially embarrassed” and was put in receivership by the federal courts.
On June 11, 1925 the Class B stockholders of Go Gas Company met to vote on whether to sell assets to New England Oil Refining Company of Boston (subsidiary of New England Oil Corporation, which was bought by Shell Union Oil Corporation shortly afterward) or to Sun Oil Company. No vote was taken, and on October 30, 1925, an offer was made by Warner-Quinlan Oil Company of New York to buy The Go Gas Company. The transfer was made on April 1, 1926 and Go Gas ceased to exist.
During the early 1930s, Warner-Quinlan was a distributor of Cities Service products as well as their own refined products. The 1933 Petroleum Register listed Warner-Quinlan Company with marketing facilities, as owning 200 motor trucks, leasing 225 gasoline filling stations and owning five bulk stations. Brand names included “Montezuma” (asphalt), “Mileage” gasoline, and “Super X” brand for gasoline and motor oil. In 1936, Warner-Quinlan Company subsidiaries included Mileage Gas Corporation, Henry Oil Company of New Jersey, and Municipal Gasoline Stations, Inc. of New York. Warner-Quinlan was listed as a debtor to Cities Service Company (formerly Crew-Levick Co.), which was a major stock holder in the company, due to losses for 1934 and 1935 calendar year.
On October 22, 1936, Gulf Oil made an offer of $4,125,000 in cash for all assets of Warner-Quinlan. This offer expired on December 16, 1936. On the day the Gulf offer expired, Cities Service offered $4,175,000 for Warner-Quinlan, and in August 1937 the courts approved the transfer of the assets of Warner-Quinlan Company and all subsidiaries to Cities Service Company.