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Walter Benona Sharp

Walter Benona Sharp (12 December 1870 - 28 November 1912) was an American oilman and innovator in drilling techniques.

Early life

Sharp was born in Tipton County, Tennessee to James R. and Amanda Forrest Sharp. His mother died when he was eight and his father moved the family to Texas.[1][2]


By the age of twenty, Sharp was operating a water well drilling company with his brother. He began drilling oil wells in 1893, although his first attempt was unsuccessful due to quicksand. Later innovations by Sharp would allow drilling through these surfaces in 1901. Sharp also developed the Sharp-Hughes Rock Bit to drill through hard rock.

Sharp made his fortune from the trading of leases and contracting for oil wells. He was a founder of the Moonshine Oil Company and president of Producers Oil Company, and also held an interest in the Texas Company (later Texaco). He was also co-founder of the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company, which was renamed the Hughes Tool Company on Sharp's death in 1912 after Sharp's widow Estelle sold her shares to Hughes.

Sharp had three children, Walter Bedford, Kathleen (who died in early childhood), and Dudley Crawford, who was later Secretary of the Air Force under President Eisenhower.

Personal life

Sharp married Estelle Houghton on 28 January 1897. The couple had three children.[2]


Sharp died on 28 November 1912, at the age of 42, possibly due to being overworked as a result of sustained and strenuous work while fighting an oil fire.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b "Guide to the Walter Benona Sharp and Estelle Boughton Sharp Collection, 1868-1978 MS 271". Texas Archival Resources Online. Rice University. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Gano, R. C. (15 June 2010). "SHARP, WALTER BENONA". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 19 August 2018.

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