Halliburton was born on September 22, 1892, near Henning, Tennessee, the son of Lou Emma (Cothran) and Edwin Graves Halliburton. When Halliburton was 12 years old, his father died. At 14, Halliburton left home to support the family. As a youth, he learned how to operate heavy machinery such as a locomotive, a steam crane, and a steam shovel.
Before the United States entered into World War I, Halliburton gained exposure to shipboard engineering as a member of the United States Navy. After his honorable discharge in 1915, he headed for the oilfields of California, where he was able to apply techniques analogous to the technology with which he had worked in the Navy. His drive and his sense of innovation soon brought him into conflict with his boss, Almond Perkins. Halliburton later quipped that getting hired and getting fired by the Perkins Oil Well Cementing Company were the two best opportunities he had ever received.
Shortly thereafter, Halliburton and his wife, Vida Tabor Halliburton, moved to Burkburnett, Texas, in the Mid-Continent Region. In 1919 he began cementing wells in theĀ Burkburnett oilfield. There he introduced oil-well cementing to the drillers in that oil district, hoping to make a name for himself in the industry. While he tried to convince drillers that his oil-well cementing process was a valuable service, Halliburton and Vida worked tirelessly with borrowed equipment and little or no operating cash, at one point having to pawn Vida’s wedding rings to pay the hired help. To sustain the business Vida hand washed the cement sacks used in the cementing process so they could be resold to the cement companies. Soon the “new and improved method” of oil-well cementing was becoming a household name throughout Oklahoma and Texas.
In 1924, when the company was incorporated, seven major oil companies made significant investments in it. In 1926 Halliburton established a Canadian operation, and in 1940 it expanded operations into South America. In 1948 the stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange; in 1960 the firm shortened its name to Halliburton Company; and in 1961 it moved its headquarters from Duncan, Oklahoma, to Dallas. With success and prosperity came expansion, most of it directly related to the oil and gas industry, but the basis of the company remained its cementing operations. In 1957 the company acquired Welex Jet Services, Incorporated, of Fort Worth. Two years later it bought Otis Engineering Corporation of Dallas.
Erle Halliburton was granted thirty-eight patents for oil-field services and tools and several miscellaneous inventions, making Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company’s Duncan operations centers a mainstay in the Oklahoma economy for more than half a century. He died on October 13, 1957, in Los Angeles, California. His legacy included his five children: Erle P., Jr., David, Zola Catherine, Vida Jessie, and Ruth Lou. Posthumously he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1957) and the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame (1983). He was also named to the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame (1993) for innovations in the aviation industry.
In 2019 Halliburton celebrated 100 years of service. The company is one of the world’s largest providers of products, services, and integrated solutions for oil and gas exploration, development, and production.
(Source: Halliburton/Wikipedia/Oklahoma Historical Society/Texas State Historical Association – Image: Erle P. Halliburton/KWSO)