Celia Yeary ~ ROUGHNECKS, ROUSTABOUTS, AND RAGTOWNS – The Early Texas Oilfields



I’ve always been interested in the oil industry, since my daddy worked for an oil company, and our family of five roamed all over Texas, following the oil fields. At an early age, I learned the terms “roughnecks, roustabouts, wildcatters, pumpers, and oil camps. We lived in weird places, moving twice a year until I was ten and got a permanent home.

For almost a hundred years, the discovery of oil led millions of American families just like mine to work in the oilfields. It was a way of passage from rural farm life to urban industrial society. The main lure was economic opportunity. Texans, as well as citizens from other states, faced the hazards and challenges of a new life because they saw the promise of a better one for themselves and for their children.

When I began writing The Cameron Sisters series, my hero Dalton King became a wildcatter, a man with a dream and vision of striking oil (Book I-Texas Promise). He’d heard of Spindletop at Beaumont, Texas in 1901,and that ushered in the modern era of drilling. On ranch land he owned southeast of Austin, he took a chance and drilled. Dalton was married to Jo Cameron, and together they founded an empire.

Dalton’s foreman was savvy Sam Deleon, a loner wandering the West, looking for work. I was so intrigued with his character I wrote Book II-Texas True, about Jo’s younger sister True Cameron. She fell in love with Sam, and wow, they have quite a story! Sam proved to be less than honest with his new bride, but through many trials and tribulations, they do find their HEA.

In the early chapters of the book, True packs up and moves from her upscale home in Austin to live in the oilfield ragtown that provided homes for the families of the roughnecks. Sam, as foreman, becomes furious with his new bride and orders her to return home, but she is determined to live there during the summer as the other women do.

I created the tent city by researching early oil camps, specifically to learn how the tents were constructed. “They built a wooden platform and a four foot high wall all around. Then they added the canvas tent and fastened it just below the top of the wall. Then they’d screen it in to keep out flies and mosquitoes. At night, they’d roll the canvas up so the breeze would blow through.”

No doubt, many of you, the readers, have similar stories about growing up around oil wells. I’d love to give eBook/pdf copies of these books to two visitors—winner’s choice. Thank you for stopping by to visit today! 


Blurb for Texas Promise:

After two years, Jo Cameron King’s life as a widow abruptly ends when her husband returns home to Austin. Unable to understand her angry and bitter husband, she accepts a call to travel to the New Mexico Territory to meet her dying birth father whom she knows nothing about. Her plan to escape her husband goes awry when he demands to travel with her.

Dalton King, believing lies his Texas Ranger partner tells him about Jo, seethes with hatred toward his wife. Now he must protect Jo from his partner’s twisted mind, while sorting out the truth. Jo’s bravery and loyalty convince him she’s innocent. But can they regain the love and respect they once shared?


Blurb for Texas True:

At a Governor’s Ball in Austin, Texas, True Lee Cameron meets suave Sam Deleon. Before the night is out, she transforms from the coddled and protected younger sister to a woman in love. Reality crashes down when she accidentally learns he has deceived her. Daring to disobey him, she follows Sam to the oilfields and determines to live wherever he does. Has she made a mistake? Will she give up and return home where she can make her own rules?

When Sam Deleon meets the gorgeous young woman his mother has chosen for him, he fears falling in love, because he knows nothing about love. In order to carry out his mother’s plan, he marries True and moves her to his mother’s home, intending to visit enough to set the plan in motion. When True fails to obey him, he faces the possibility of losing her, thereby losing his inheritance and the family property.

Sam and True attempt a reconciliation and compromise. Together, they now face a nemesis, someone who determines to thwart every action they take, endangering not only their lives, but also those whom they love.



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50 thoughts on “Celia Yeary ~ ROUGHNECKS, ROUSTABOUTS, AND RAGTOWNS – The Early Texas Oilfields”

  1. Hi Celia, California had a bit of an oil industry, too. I used to live about an hour away from the the Taft / Maricopa area. It’s southwest of Bakersfield and boomed for a while. Interesting little town. It went from feast to famine, but it’s still there, kind of frozen in time. The oil museum (small) was interesting.

    Your Texas oil books sound great! Thanks for visiting Wildflower Junction!

  2. Victoria–yes, California experienced an oil for a while, and I love it’s history of the Gold Rush. Sam principle. Oklahoma also was filled with oilfields, and Louisiana. I’m glad you visited–Celia

  3. Hi Celia, told you I’d stop by! The early oil industry sounds fascinating and a great setting for your books. I love the descriptions and can’t wait to read them!

  4. Celia, I really enjoyed reading this blog. I love the time period you have chosen, 1901, and the place, close to Austin, Texas for Texas Promise. Both books sound fantastic. I haven’t had a chance to read either of them but I sure want to. Will there be a third? I loved the bit of personal history you divulged, too–so interesting.

  5. What an interesting subject and what a great background you have for writing the book. I couldn’t help but think of “Giant” with James Dean as I read about it. Guess that gives away my age. LOL

  6. Celia,

    Very interesting topic. There were some oil fields, much smaller than you have in Texas, in Wyoming but I remember being intrigued by them as a child and rolling up the car windows as we drove through. :o)

    Your books sound fascinating and have been put on my TBR pile.

  7. What great stories Celia, I love the theme and cannot wait to read these books. I can’t imagine the hardships of living in one of these oilfield camps…

  8. Celia – what a great post! Your comments about building the tent show that we really do need to research our time periods and use those little tidbits. They make our stories more lifelike.

  9. Celia,
    Thanks for the history lesson. I don’t know much about the oil industry, but it sounds like a fascinating–and probably fun time for the young and adventurous.

  10. Hi Celia, what a fascinating post. Your Texas books sound intriguing, full of history. I’m reminded of my fav ol’ time night soap ‘DALLAS’ when those Ewing wildcats would be in the oil fields. Looking forward to your guest appearance on my blog.

  11. Hi Celia,

    I enjoyed your take on oil riggers and roustabouts. The oil frontier made men out of boys, that’s for sure. Hard work and ambition will do that every time.

    Your Cameron series sounds like just the thing – enough determination and integrity in those women to keep their menfolks on their toes.

    Nice post.

    Maggie Toussaint

  12. CELIA!
    So good to have you here at P&P today! And what an interesting subject–near and dear to my heart as well, since my dad worked in the oil fields for Baroid, a division of National Lead Company. He was a chemical engineer, and many times took me with him to the wells he went to check. It was his job to determine what needed to be added to the pit to bring the oil up–“mud” they called it, and all that could be determined by litmus paper and his handy dandy testing kit (looked like a portable laboratory) in the trunk of his car. He was on call 24/7, many times would be called out in the middle of the night and we wouldn’t see him for days. And of course, there were no cell phones then. I grew up for the most part in an oil boom town, Seminole, OK. Loved the pictures you posted and of course, your blurbs and covers are just wonderful. When I am able to have some reading time again, I am going to order up your Cameron sisters trilogy — I love the way Sam sounds, especially. YUMMY. Thanks for a very informative and interesting post, Celia. So good to have you here with us today!
    Cheryl P.

  13. Celia, welcome back to our little corner of the world. Always glad to have you visit. You always have something interesting to bring us. It’s hard to imagine that work in the oilfields began in horse and buggy days. Doesn’t seem that the discovery and drilling for oil is that old of a profession. But it’s something you know lots about, having lived in oil camps.

    You have some of the prettiest book covers! Love the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. I wish you well with them.

  14. Celia, Texas, cowboys and oil are all fascinating to me since I grew up in Michigan and have never been to Texas. We do have lumberjacks and copper mining which has a long history, but it’s much, much different. Some day I hope to visit Texas–everything seems like it would bigger than life there:)

  15. Hi, Mona–Wow, thank you so much! What a lovely review, and believe me, I’ll take as many as I can get. I do appreciate your reading both of these. Celia

  16. Thanks, Jennifer. I appreciate your making time to stop over here. P&P is a wonderful site, one of my favorites. Talk to you later about your blog tomorrow. Celia

  17. SARAH–I’m glad you enjoyed it. A third? There’s alread a third, the first one titled TEXAS BLUE–published by another epub. Due to circumstances beyound my control, I went to Desert Breeze for these two. It’s about the couple who began the Texas series. Celia

  18. GAIL–Oh, we don’t care about giving away your age. Believe me, I remember Giant very well, especially James Dean. But yes, even I thought of that movie when I wrote this. However, Texas is filled with such stories. Thanks for visiting today–Celia

  19. Kirsten–oh, I remember the smell you refer to! It’s a sulphuric water that often comes up with the oil, or sometimes a gas that smells horrible. That’s what those flares around oil rigs are for–to burn off that gas so it won’t explode. We rolled our windows, up too!
    Sometimes we’d drive at night out on the South Plains from Lubbock to Levelland, and off in the distance I’d see a lit-up lone oil rig.I asked Daddy what that was–his answer: a Wildcat. I always loved for him to tell me that.

  20. Kathleen–the camps were always harder on the women, of course. We followed oil patches, but that was in the 40s. We only had a 1940 Ford and everything we owned was in the trunk–which Daddy called a “turtle.” We didn’t live in tents, but we lived in many odd, uncomfortable places. Ahhh, the memories. Celia

  21. ANN–you’re right. I love to do research on historical US, especially Texas. Sometimes I go to find one thing, and end up reading for an entire hour about one thin or another. I bet you like research, too. Thanks for visiting…Celia

  22. KEENA–I have a feeling it was fun only for the men, and just the men at the top. But yes, there are always those roustabouts roaming around during all time periods, looking for a quick way to get rich. Ha! Few did. And did they ever.

  23. SHARON–YES! “Dallas” was set later, really about the times the oil boom “went bust.” Even so, families like the fictional Ewings retained their wealth and made ever more.
    Oh,thank you for inviting me to be on your blog. Talk to you later–Celia

  24. Thanks, Maggie. The oil boom was just like the gold rush, and the silver mines, and anything else. There were always men who went after such things. Celia

  25. Stephy–yes, the oil camps were all over the state. The ragtowns remained up through the 20s when oil companies began to build “company houses.” Those were interesting, too! Thanks for visiting….Celia

  26. CHERYL–I couldn’t wait to read your comment, since you always so much more to add to my post! Seminole, OK. Oh, yes, big time oil town. In my mind, when I think of Texas Oil, it’s combined with Oklahoma Oil–the two being so much alike in many ways.
    I’m glad you liked the photos–I knew you would, since you love them as much as I.
    I found this yummy photo of a modern roustabout–I thought about adding it to my post, but were afraid you all would think he was one of the Village People! Thanks so much for your support–we all need it, don’t we? Celia

  27. Hi, Linda–the oil drilling actually began around 1880–much further back than we think. But the first “gusher” was Spindletop in Beaumont. I think much of the early oil seeped out of the ground.
    I love my book covers, too. Jennifer Raneri with Desert Breeze did those–I specifically asked for, first Bluebonnets, then Indian Paint brush. Even she was excited about them. Gorgeous.
    Thank all of you for inviting me–it’s an “event” for me. Celia

  28. Hi, Brenda from Michigan! Everything sometimes seems bigger because there’s so much space. You wouldn’t believe how much of the state is just empty. Everyone crowds into a few areas.
    My only grandchildren live in Michigan–we love to drive up there in the fall. In Texas, we go from summer straight to winter. Plus, so many of our trees are live oak–they stay green year round, and replace their leaves in the spring.
    Thanks for visiting—Celia

  29. Celia,

    I found this post most interesting. I love the covers of your book. This made me think of the show, “Dallas” I loved that show. I hope to see reruns of it.

    Thanks for sharing
    Walk in harmony,

  30. MELINDA–it sort of does remind one of “Dallas,” but that was decades later from my books. Still–it was all about Texas Oil!And I love my covers, too. Thanks–Celia

  31. Don’t know much about the oil business even if I am from Texas but your description of the tents brought back memories of Girl Scout camp. Our tents were constructed exactly the same, wooden platform and all.

  32. Celia, my earliest memories are of my dad building and selling homes in California. Then, just before I was eight, we moved back to Texas and he managed cotton gins. When I was eleven, we moved to Lubbock and he bought cotton until he went blind when I was in high school. So, I know more about cotton than oil–even cotton seed oil. 🙂

  33. I enjoyed this blog, Celia. And I also enjoyed both these books about the oilfields and the men who worked there and the women who loved them. I wish you continued success with these stories.

  34. Caroline–My daddy loved to drive around a look at the South Plains green cotton fields. But he never had a thing to do with cotton. Remember that smell when they burned cotton hulls? Ugh. Horrible. Thank you! Celia

  35. Thank you for sharing your books with us. The only stuff I know about the oil business is from books and TV.

  36. Celia, I downloaded Texas Promise–looks like a great read! My cousin was a wildcatter based out of Wyoming, although he drilled all over the western US, and I was always fascinated by his stories. He makes jewelry now that he’s retired. I don’t know why, but that always makes me chuckle.

  37. JACQUIE–THAT IS FUNNNY–going from being a wildcatter to making jewelry! That’s a big stretch. Oh, and thank you for downloading Texas Promise! If your name is drawn–someone else does that–then you can have the other one! Thanks for coming by–Celia

  38. These sound like two good stories. No oil where I grew up. In our travels we have passed many wells, some in unusual places. The history of the oil boom is interesting. The stories of the people whose lives it changed are even more so.

    Best of luck with your books.

  39. Your books sound really good! I have never been around any oil industry. There is no oil where I am from. My father work for a coal power plant that made electricity, which is still running today.

  40. Quilt Lady–Oil and coal run the world! And will continue to do so. Amazingly, we have coal mines here in Texas–or did. They were once big, too.–but nothing like oil. Thank you for stopping by! Celia

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