Jacob Mac McLemore (1879-1946) made and lost more money than any of the McLemore men. When he was fifteen he heard about the 1894 oil strike in East Texas. He started at the bottom working any job he could get, eventually learning enough to strike out on his own.
Indians found oil seeping from the soils of Texas long before the first Europeans arrived. They told explorers that the fluid had medicinal values. The first record of Europeans using crude oil, however, was for the caulking of boats in 1543 by survivors of the DeSoto expedition near Sabine Pass.
Melrose, in Nacogdoches County, was the site in 1866 of the first drilled well to produce oil in Texas. Other oil was found in crudely dug wells in Bexar County in 1889 and in Hardin County in 1893. But it was not until June 9, 1894, that Texas had a major discovery. This occurred in the drilling of a water well for the city of Corsicana. Oil caused that well to be abandoned, but a company formed in 1895 drilled several producing oil wells.
Jacob Mac McLemore never knew his father, who had been an outlaw-gunslinger who died a few months before he was born. Sam Summers McLemore (1852-1878) never even knew the 16-year old whore, Sally McCune, he was living with was pregnant when he went out in the street to face a younger and what turned out to be faster boy. Jacob was raised by Sally, who eventually was able to quit the life and lived out her days running a boarding house in Fort Worth. There’s some who say it was more than a boarding house, but others deny those rumors.
Jacob Mac was 15 when the Corsicana oil came in, and for the next twenty years he chased the strikes all over Texas. He might make some money here, then invest it somewhere else only to see his investment evaporate in the dusty Texas wind.
The Permian Basin of West Texas has yielded large quantities of oil since the Big Lake discovery in 1923, although there was a smaller discovery in the Westbrook field in Mitchell County three years earlier. It was during this boom in the early ’20s that Jacob McLemore made and lost more than one fortune.
He was married and divorced four times, the last near the end of his life and the one which really broke him. Of the four marriages, only the first produced any children, one boy, Lee Allen (1903-1969), and a girl, Aurelia. Lee Allen was Jake McLemore’s grandfather.
If you were to ask those who knew him, what they would tell you about Jacob Mac McLemore was that, first and foremost, he was a decent man whose word was his bond. No one ever knew him to brag or lie and that he never made a deal that he did not keep, and usually made his partners money.
They would also tell you that he was a “good ol’ boy” who was a fool with women. He died at the age of 67, dying peacefully in his sleep while on a peccary hunt in South Texas not far from San Antonio.
You might say that Jacob Mac lived an interesting life, but despite not enjoying much good luck was always in good humor and good company.