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The History of Gore Oil

The history of the Gore Oil Company begins over a century ago with Harry Gore, who was a pioneer in the development of the oil and gas industry in Kansas. He rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most prominent oil men in Kansas during the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s. He was born in Russia, in what is now Lithuania, in 1879 and came to this country with his wife Anna at the age of 25 in 1904. After a short time in New York City, they moved west to the mountains of West Virginia.

West Virginia was at that time the center of oil production in this country, with oil having been discovered there fifty years previously. There Harry saw the need for drilling supplies in the oil patch and began an oil field supply business. At that time, oil wells were drilled using cable tools, which basically consisted of raising a large iron drill bit with a cable, and dropping it to “make hole” and drill the well. He would travel from one drilling rig to another by horse and wagon selling the drill bits, cable, tools, and various supplies that were needed for the wells. The supply company that he helped found, Mountain Iron and Supply Company, also known as MISCO, eventually became one of the largest oil field supply companies in the country.

Harry Gore had two sons, Theodore “Ted” Gore, born in Marietta, Ohio on May 5, 1905, and Ralph Gore, born in Parkersburg, West Virginia January 12, 1908. The discovery of the El Dorado oil field in 1916 created an enormous oil boom in Central Kansas. It was the largest oil field discovery in the country at the time, and its development and production helped the Allies to achieve victory in WWI. Oil men from all across the country flocked to the boomtown of El Dorado, and among them was Harry Gore and his family.

Harry began drilling oil wells and buying interests in oil leases and also acquired leases and drilling rigs in lieu of payment from the drillers or as payment for his drilling fee. By 1920 the Gore family was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in 1930 they were residing in Wichita. During the 1930’s Harry Gore entered into a partnership with his two sons, Ted and Ralph, operating as Harry Gore, Oil Producer. The partnership continued to drill wells and operate oil leases until the late 1940’s, when the cable tool rigs were sold. Rotary drilling had by this time replaced the cable tool method of drilling, and the decision was made to not acquire the expensive new rotary drilling rigs.

Subsequent to that sale the partnership continued to explore for oil, utilizing contract drillers, and to operate properties on their behalf as well as other joint interest owners. These activities continued until Harry Gore’s death in 1951.

Harry Gore, while having very little formal education himself, was very much aware of the importance of getting a higher education. He worked hard to ensure that his sons were able to get the best education possible, and both Ted and Ralph attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn Ted graduated from the Wharton School of Business and Ralph earned his law degree.  In 1952 the two brothers established the prestigious Harry Gore Scholarship at Wichita University (now WSU) in his memory.

Through Harry Gore’s will, Ted and Ralph acquired 100% of the Harry Gore partnership and continued operations as Theodore Gore and Ralph Gore. In July, 1951 Theodore Gore, Ralph Gore and Dan Kornfeld formed Empire Drilling Company, and they began drilling wells for others on a contract basis, acquiring interest in oil properties and operating properties for themselves and other joint interest owners.

In 1956, Ralph Gore moved away from Wichita, and withdrew from Empire Drilling and from the partnership with Theodore Gore. Theodore Gore and Dan Kornfeld acquired his interests in Empire, and Empire continued as operator of those properties in which it owned a working interest. Theodore continued as operator for those properties previously operated by Theodore and Ralph.

Theodore Gore’s son Andrew was born in 1950. He was admitted into the Empire Drilling Company partnership in 1956 and gradually acquired greater ownership in the company. Andrew moved back to Wichita with his wife Leah in 1974 and began working with his father. They have three children, Michael, born in 1975, Jessica, born in 1977, and Deanna, born in 1989.

Theodore “Ted” Gore was instrumental in discovering and developing oil and gas fields in Northwestern Kansas. Operating as Theodore Gore, Oil Producer, he expanded into the Russell, Kansas area and opened a field office there. He also prospected in the Southwest Nebraska area and successfully developed many producing wells there. Another field office was opened in McCook, Nebraska shortly before his death in 1982.

After the death of Theodore Gore, Gore Oil Company was created with his widow Rosalyn W. Gore and his son Andrew on the Board of Directors. At the death of Rosalyn W. Gore in 1994, Andrew and Leah assumed leadership roles in the company. In the years since, Michael and Jessica have become more actively involved in the running of the company.

Gore Oil Company continues to evolve and grow, building on the legacy of the past and ever mindful of the family name on the door and what it stands for. We are very proud to have played a pivotal role in the development of the Oil and Gas Industry in Kansas and Nebraska, and remain committed to ensuring the continued exploration, development and conservation of our nation’s vital energy reserves.

Contact Us

202 South Saint Francis Street
Wichita, KS 67202
United States

Phone: 316-263-3535
Fax: 316-263-6253