Newspaper Page Text
THE PERRYSBURG JOURNAL, FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 1906.
A ' (
COAL OIL JOHNNY;"
KING OF SPENDTHRIFTS
'CAREER OF YOUNG MAN WHO
SQUANDERED MILLIONS WITH
IN SEVEN MONTHS.
.A RECORD THAT HAS-
John W. Steele, Who Acquired a World-Wide Reputa-
Hon by Throwing Money to the Winds, Dies in
Poverty in Pennsylvania Near Scene of
the Source of His Wealth.
Philadelphia. In nn unpretentious
ihouso on a llttlo farm near Franklin;
Hn tho northwestorn part of Pennsyl
vania, there died tho other day a man
who somo 40 years ago acquired a
most unique and romarkablo distinc
tion. This person was John W.
Steele, better known as "Coal Oil
Johnny," king of all tho spendthrifts
' tho world has ever known.
It Is several years now slnco this
onco famous character had passed out
of sight of tho general public, but the
record ho established in the few short
'months that ho was rolling In wealth
will long be remembered.
Has "Wealth "Untold.
Insldo of 12 months, beginning at
tho close of 1S63, John Steelo did per
Tiap3 moro to advertise tho wealth of
tiro Pennsylvania oil region than any
other ten men. Ho advertised its
wealth by spending It. A beardless
"boy, ho woke ono morning to find hlm
iself possessed of untold wealth in bulk
mnd an income from oil royalties of
31,750 per day, Sundays included. He
dld not know tho value of money, has
not to this day any idea of how much
money he had and spent, but it has
"teen estimated at from $1,500,000 to
Be tho amount tho first or last
named, tho fact remains that in seven
-months' time from his coming into
-possession of this immense wealth he
-went through it and wa3 broken. In
aldo of a year from tho timo ho became
a Croesus, ho was back at tho llttlo
railroad station at Rouscville, Venan
,go county, hustling trunks at $40 a
month. Ho has been hustling ever
mince to keep up with the grocer's bill.
Never was there a man who mado it
rain money in such showers as did
"Coal Oil Johnny" during his brief
transit across tho horizon. It is claim
ed that tho newly-rich Pittsburg mil
lionaire would look liko a piker In his
ependlngs when lined up alongside the
3tousevillo, Pa., wagon driver who was
:ln a night elevated to tho millionaire
-class. Tho entire cost of tho widely
heralded "Scotty" special last sum
mer would not have furnished "Coal
Oil Johnny's" cigar lighters in those
days of C4. Steele simply couldn't
tspend his money fast enough until he
-evolved tho idea of hiring peoplo to
lielp him, and then well, tho rest was
Adopted by a Farmer.
John Steele was born near Waterloo,
"Venango county, Pa., in tho fall of
1841. Ho was left an orphan when but
a few years of ago and when between
eoven and eight years of ago was
-adopted by Culbertson McClintock, a
well-to-do farmer living on tho out
skirts of what is now Oil City. McClin
tock owned his own farm, since famed
1n oil history as "Tho McClintock
"Farm." From it millions of dollars'
worth of oil was taken years later.
It was not for Culbertson McClin
tock, however, to reap tho benefits of
the oil. He died some threo years
before oil was dlscovored on his placo,
.and when his will was read it was
found that ho had left tho farm to his
wifo during her life, and it was then
to go to John Steolo, his adopted son.
Thoro was also an adopted daughtor,
named Emily Scott, but sho doos not
Appear to have been loft anything by
JMcbiintock. Years lator, when Steele
was rolling In wealth, ho gave to tha
joVpW. S t 'elcl'T'c!! , s- $r& jfy ffi
oz ' . -, I
NEVER BEEN BEATEN
young woman enough to mako her In
dependent for life.
Mrs. McClintock was a shrewd bus!
nes woman and when oil was discov
ered on her furra she drove tho closest
bargains possible with tho producers.
Tho pool under tho McClintock farm
bado fair to bo lnexhausttblo and alio
'had little troubel In getting an almost
fabulous sum In cash, reserving a big
royalty on all oil brought from her
farm. This was about three years
after tho death of McClintock.
But John Steele was not allowed to
loaf becauso his foster mother then
had money. lie was sent out to work
at driving wagons for tho oil men. Ho
did not even have a team of his own,
but hired out as a driver, and each
Saturday night his earnings wero
f brought homo and given to Mrs. Mc
Clintock, who dumped them Into tho
common hoard at the old farmhouse.
Sho rapidly accumulated bank stocks
and valuable properties in surrounding
towns and cities u wall as In Now
York and Philadelphia. But sho never
hanged tho closo, penurious stylo of
living to which she and her husband
had been forced when they wero trying
to pay for tho rocky farm on tho llttlo
run which afterwards becamo world
famed as Oil creek.
Explosion Brings Millions.
She never hired a servant and novcr
moved from the little farmhouse, which
soon became hemmed in by oil wells.
Always insisting on doing her own
housework, she came to her death In a
most tragic way, whilo performing
house duties. Early in 18C3 Mrs. Mc
Gllntock rose ono morning beforo day
break, as usual, to prepare breakfast
for John Steelo beforo ho went out
with his wagon. Sho mado tho last sad
mistake of trying to light the fire with
a can of coal oil with tho oft-ropeated
result. There was an explosion and
she, was burned to death.
In an old and crude safe In tho cor
ner of ono room In the little house there
was found $05,000 in gold. Subsequent
discovery proved this was tho savings
of Mrs. McClintock for only a week or
so. Tho exact amount of cash on hand
at the death of Mrs. McClintock was
never definitely known, but Is sup
posed to have been far moro than
$1,000,000. There wore, in addition, ex
tremely valuables oil properties besides
the McClintock farm which was at this
tlmo belching forth royalties at the
rato of $1,760 a day for tho McClintock
heir, John Steelo.
John quit working at once. Ho never
went back to work aftor tho tragic
death of his foster parent.
Yot ho couldn't onter into tho full
enjoyment of this money, for ho was
not of ago, and tho proper authorities
simply took the Immense estate in hand
for tho fow short months which di
vided tho young wagon driver from his
millions. During this short tlmo Steolo
showed somo good business Jurt"-nont.
There wero hundreds who would have
loaned him anything on his prospects,
but to his credit bo it said ho did not
go heavily into debt. Ho was pontont
to wait until tho money came to him,
and in the meantime, through tho prop
er authorities, ho sold an atom of his
big interests Just at tho time the oil
boom reached tho crest. He disposed
of tho two Lone Star wells to John
Mawhlnnoy for $05,000 cash. This went
Into tho common pool, which was
Bwolling at an enormous rato, against
tho day when Johnny Steolo should bo
como of ago and como into his own.
Squanders $100,000 in a Say.
At last tho tlmo came, and an ava
lancho of monoy rollod down on tho
former poor driver, who, in his child
hood days, had never had so much ss
a quarter-to spond. Tho way In which
no mado tho money fly caused evon
tho oil region, then engaged In its mad
chase for wealth, to sit up and tako
notice. Thoro nover was a spender
Ilka him beforo and fow have Imitated
and nono equaled him slnco. His first
draw on what was considered an lnex
haustiblo supply of wealth was ?100,
000. "Gimme it In hundred dollar bills,"
ho said to tho cashier of tho Oil City
bank, to which ho had walkod from
hla homo up Oil creok, at Itousovllle.
"I want to show somo of tho boys a
And "tho boys" wero shown. Johnny
Steele started down tho street with his
thousand ?500 bills, nnd to ovory ono
ho met hu presentod ono of tho bills.
Thoso who hesitated and wanted to
know why got two of tho bills. Ho
had not gono far until somo of those
who had for months been waiting for
this windfall got Steelo In tow and
stopped his Indiscriminate giving
they wanted It themselves.
The history of that day will long be
remembered In Oil Cuy. It was not
yet dark when young Steele borrowed
a fow thousands to continue tho day's
spending. To Steele, with his now mil
lions, borrowing was the easiest of
things. In his later years ho would
havo had iroublo In borrowing any
thing, for his nnanclal star had long,
Downfall Laid to Gamblers.
One of thoso who early attached
himself to young Steelo In the hour of
his wealth was Seth Slo'cum, a gam
bler, and to the work of Slocum frle.nds
of Steele attribute his downfall. It wa3
not long until "Coal Oil Johnny," as
j ho was now Known, was the biggest
plunger of thorn all at the gaming ta
ble. He seldom won and when he did
ho would almost Invariably tos3 his
winnings to the dealer or somo by
"Buy yourself a new hat and havo
a drink on Johnny Steele."
But tho ox-dlnary roulette wheel or
the faro deal was too slow for "Coal
Oil Johnny." Ho wanted action, and
wanted it in bunches. Ho seldom If
ever played poker. "There's too much
tlmo lost dealing and drawing cards,"
he used to say, when pressed to sit In
a game. "It's too slow; it's an old
Ono of tho favorlto stunts of "Coal
Oil Johnny" was to walk Into a gam
bling room with a few of his choice
trlends and ask the proprietor to sell
nim the place. Ho usually bought at
a fearful figure, and then would take
his place at tho dealer's chair and loan
his friends money to play against him
self. He didn't know much about deal
ing faro, could scarcely tell whether
a card won or lost for tho house, and
so this was tho easiest of picking for
tho sharks who had associated them
selves with tho little king of spend
thrifts. Tho news soon spread throughout
tho world of thl3 modern lad of monoy
and that he was easy. From tho north,
south and east and from tho gold
camps of California came gamblers
with the old brace games for fleecing
Johnny Steele. For him, 'tis now said,
specially crooked faro boxes and rou
lette wheels wero mado, for ho did not
long remain In Ignorance of t.ho games
and the tlmo camo when ho had to be
shown that ho losi. on a turn of the
card. Ho was always shown. Ills
loslng3 at tho gaming table in tho first
half of his moneyed career wore somo
thing fabulous, Then ho Bcemcd to
tire all at once of tho game and sought
now Holds for enjoyment.
Hone That Drank Champagne.
Ono night at Bradford, Steele rodo
down tho main street at full speed on
a beautiful maro, for which he had
paid $3,000, and through tho swinging
doors of a saloon where 100 oil mon
wero doing tholr best to emulate him
in gottlng rid of their money, He did
not know a soul, but that didn't mat
tor, "I'm Johnny Steelo. Close tho doors
and ovory one make a niBht of ft vltn
mo. Glvo Boss a bottlo of champagne
to start with."
Boss was tho boautiful llttlo mare
ho rodo, and immediately lntorcst was
ccntored on tho horso whom her ownor
said drank champagne. Boss, more
over, was tho only sobor ono of tho
outfit somo hours later, for Johnny
Steelo surely mado good when ho start
ed out to "make a night of it," and this
was ono of them.
"Nobody who hears my voice can
spend a cont. I'm Johnny Steele,"
was tho favorlto cry of tho llttlo follow
ns ho entered a resort, and there were
always thoso within sound who at onco
began to flguro Just how expenslvo they
could mako tho hour with Steelo. Thoro
Is yet to bo found the man who will
say he over saw "Coal Oil Johnny"
tako a cent oi chango from tho bar or
anywhere else, for thnt mottor. Fo.
such as tho young follow was no such
things as dollars or small bills.
Lights Cigars with $100 Bills.
"What was considered tho height of
his extravagance camo ono day when
ho entered tho Oil Exchange at Brad
ford to look around. Ho never dabbled
in oil himself. "I want to sco my
monoy go," he nlwava said when asked
to invest in somo seemingly luscious
bit of a flyer in oil. Bat on this occa
sion he came In from the street and
stood unnoticed by many of tho oil
king3 who were scrambling for a shade
on tho market. One mlnuto in obscuri
ty for "Coal Oil Johnny' was enough.
The next moment he had clogged tho
wheels of tho oil exchange. Ho stepped
out where ho could be seen, selected a
cigar from his vest pocket, pulled a
roll of bills from another pocket,
skinned off a $100 note, and folding it
as a lighter struck a match and lit
the $100 bill, then touched it to his
cigar. After getting a good light from
the century note, he watched it burn
up, and threw away tho icgar.
"Faugh! That's a bad one," ho said,
aa he tried another cigar, and also lit
it with a now $100 bill.
This tlmply paralyzed tho members
of the big oil exchange. They had been
uSed to making and losing fortunes In
a day, but such wanton waste of money
had never beforo como under their no
tice. There was a lull in tho proceed
ings and tho gang gathered round "Coal
Oil Johnny." Then he was happy. Ho
had attracted attention.
"Got to do it, gontlemen. Got to do
it. Can't spend my money fast enough,
so I have to burn it up," ho said, as he
strutted up to the main desk in tho big
Tries to Buy Oil Exchange.
"Say, how much will you tako for
tho whole place. I'll buy. I want to
own tho Oil Exchango for ono after
noon," said "Coal Oil Johnny," really
in earnest, and seomingly thinking ho
could buy the place. "Whero's tho
proprietor? Tell him Johnny Steolo is
hero and wants to buy the place. I'll
glvo it back to him to-morrow; make
him a present of It."
Such a proposition as buying tho
Bradford Oil Exchango was impossible,
but it was about tho only thing that
John Steele over liked in thoso day3
that he couldn't buy. Veteran oil mon
In western Pennsylvania yet ohlver
when they think what might havo hap
pened had such a thing as that pro
posed by Steelo that day been possible.
Had Steelo In his mad career of spend
ing got control of the oil market ior
oven ono day ho would have mado
widespread trouble. His mania for
spenulng at that tlmo had reached such
proportions thnt ho would havo stop
pod at nothing to gain additional no
tlco, and with tho millions he thon had
ho might havo cornered tho market.
This offer to buy out the Bradford Oil
Exchange was as near a3 "Coal Oil
Johnny" evor camo to dabbling in tho
fluid which had mado his fortune.
Buys Hotel; Gives It Back.
It was a fow days after this that
Steolo again electrified tho upper oil
country by ono of his purchases. Ho
walked -into ono of tho leading hotols
of the region, and seeking tho proprie
"I like tho looks of this placo and I
want to buy it. How much Is It, spot
cash. I'm Johnny Steele and I have
Tho propriotor of tho hotftl looked
at tho beardless boy. It was his first
meeting with him. It nail been used
to tho bluffs of tho nowly rich in thoso
days of mushroom fortunes, and ho
named a sum that would havo mado
a man of many times Stcolo's millions
wlnco, but Steolo quickly said:
'Dono. I'll wrlto you a chock and
you go down and got it cashod and
drink yourself to death."
Ho wroto tho check, declined a re
ceipt for tho placo, nnd, handing tho
proprietor his hat and coat, told h.m
not to como back, and wont behind tho
desk himself, acting a3 clerk. Ho en-
Joyed this about an hour, thon left tho
desk without anyono in charge, and
wont to tho barroom, whero ho gavo
tho barkeepers each two months' wages
and told thorn to got out. Ho owned
tho place and would run It himself.
It took but a fow hours for tho lad
of monoy to tiro of his costly toy, and,
going out on tho strcot, he met an Im
"Billy," ho said, "tako this old ho
tel. I bought it, but I'm tired of It.
About this tlmo "Coal OH Johnny"
tired of the oil region and paid a flying
visit to Philadelphia and Now York.
Ho remained only a short time, but
stories of his fearful and wonderful
feats of spending money there camo
back to Venango county. Ono of his
Jokes was to hire as many cabs as
would accommodate his friends, ono in
a cab, and lead tho procession himself,
sitting on the driver's seat with $100
bills In his hat, drive round the stroets
of tho town until all wero tired, then
"Coal Oil Johnny" would go along tho
lino buying tho horso and cab from
each astonished driver, then return and
present each driver with his own rig
End of His Career.
But It was not long until tho monoy
of "Coal Oil Johnny," liko all good
things, camo to an ond. Liko a flash
It had como to him and almost liko a
flash the end came. In a llttlo over
soven months from tho time ho camo
into his vast fortuno he returned to
Ilousevllle, a fow miles up Oil creek
above Oil City, and asked for a job of
any Bort. Ho was given the position
of roustabout at tho llttlo railroad sta
tion there, but he soon fled west to
escape sightseers and newspaper men
who camo from far and near to sro
and talk with tho man who had spent
millions in such a short tlmo. Ho lived
for a long timo on a farm in Iowa,
then moved to Kansas, whero ho re
mained until a short tlmo ago. While
spending the holidays with a friend in
sight of the old McClintock farm ho
was stricken with pneumonia, from
which he died.
Unlike millionaires of tho present
day, Johnny Steele did not turn from
his' wife In the days of his affluence.
Nor did she, In the ensuing years of
poverty, waver In her affection. When
quite young he married Eleanor J.
Moflltt, his childhood chum. Tho knot
was tied just beforo tho immense for
tuno was Inflicted on hlra, and In his
wild days of money spending his love
for her remained constant. There wero
no unsavory scandals with women con
nected with tho wild spending of John
ny Steele, and all his wild pranks were
played when away from Mrs. Steele.
Sho alone couU rule him, and she ruled
him with love. In vain sho tried to
check his mad career of money show
ering, condoled with him when It was
all gone, but remained steadfast In her
lovo for him through nil tho dreary,
poverty-ridden years that followed.
faithful, loving, tender to the ond.
LOUIS PHILIPPE'S FALL.
Excitement in tho French Canltal
"When tho laonarch Was
Ono morning toward the end of
February, 1848, I sat quietly in my
attic chamber working hard at my
tragedy of Ulrlch von Hutten, rolates
a writer In McClura's, when suddenly
a- frlond rushed breathlessly into tho
room, exclaiming: "What, you sit
ting hero! Do you not know what
has happened?" "No, what?" "Tho
French havo driven away Louis Phil
ippe and proclaimed a republic."
I throw down my pen and that
was tho end of my IHrioli von Hutten.
I nover touched tho manuscript again.
Wo tore down tho stairs into the
street to tho market sipisro, tho ac
customed meeting placo for all tho
student societies after their midday
dinner. Although it was still fore
noon, tho market was already crowd
ed with young men, talking excitedly.
There was no shouting, no noiso, only
agitated conversation. What did wo
want there? This probably no ono
knew. But slnco tho French had
driven away Louis Philippe and pro
claimed tho republic;, something, of
course, nvist happen hero, too. Somo
of tho students had brought tholr
raplors along, as if it wero necessary
at onco to mako an attack or to de
fend oursolvos. Wo woro dominated
by a vaguo feeling that a great out
break of elemental forces had begun,
as it an earthquake was impending of
which we had folt tho first shock, and
wo instinctively crowded together.
Thus wo wandered about in numerous
bands to tho "Knnlpo," whero our
restlossncss, however, would not suf
for us long to stay; then to other
pleasure resorts, where wo fell into
conversation with all mannor of
strangors, to find In them tho samo
confusod, astonishod and expectant
state of mind; then back to tho mar
ket square, to boo what might bo going
on there; then again somewhere olso,
and so on, without aim and end, until
finally lato in tho night fatlguo com
pelled us to find tho way homo.
Linen suits and collars and belts that
aro laid in tho sun to dry aftor ironing
will be much stiffor than If drlod on
PAIN IN THE JOINTS ;
RhoumotloTorturos Conso Whon Or.
Williams' Pink Pills Mako
Tho first sign of rhonmatism is fre
quently a pain nnd swolling in ono of
tho joints. If not combated in tho1
blood, which is tho seat of tho disease,
tho poison spreads, affcctlngothor joinUi
and tissuos. Sometimes rheumatism at
tacks tho heart and Is quickly fatal.
Tho ono romedy thnt has, cured
rheumatism so thnt it stays cured is Dr.
Williams' Pink Pills. Thoso pills oxpol
tho poison from tho blood nnd' restore
tho system, bo thnt tho poisonous matter
Is passed off ns naturo Intended.
Mrs. I. T. Pitcher, of No. 180 Mon
mouth strcot, Newark, N. .T., suiTored
for abent threo years from rheumatism
boforo sho found this euro. Sho says:
"It began with a quocr feeling in my
fingers. In n little timo it scorned ns
though tho finger joints hnd lumps out
them and I could not get my gloves on.
"Thou it grow worso nnd spread to
my kuccs. I could not stand up and I
could not alecp nights. My suffering
was moro than I can describe I took a.
great deal of medicine, but nothing ovon
gavo mo roliof until I tried Dr. Williams'
" I read nn ncconnt of a. euro in a caso
that was exnetly liko niiuo nnd my bus
band got mo somo of tho pills. I took
them for threo wcoks beforo I really felt
bettor but they finnlly cured mo. "
Mr. Pitcher, -who is a veteran nnd a
membor of E. D. Morgan Post, No. 307
of Now York, substantiates his wife's
Btatcmont and says that sho now walks
without difficulty, wherens n year ago
ho was coinpolled to push her nbout in n
wheeled chair. Both Mr. nnd Mrs.
Pitcher aro onthnsiastio in tholr prniso
of Dr. "Willimns' Pink Pills.
For further information, address tho
Dr. Williams Mcdicino Company, Sche
Positively enred by
mesa iiiitio rins.
They also relievo Dis
tress from Dyspepsia, In
digestion and Too Hearty
Eating. A perfect rem
edy for Dizziness, Nausea,
Drowsiness. Bad Tasto
In tho Houth, Coated
Tongue, Pain in tho Bldo.
TORPID IJVElJ. Ihar
regulate tbe Bowels. Purely Vegetable.
SMALL PILL, SMALLDOSE, SMALL PRICE,
Genuino Must Bear
LEABUED OF WRITEBS.
Paul Hoyso Is accredited with belns
one of the most famous living German
novelists, who Is almost as well known
In America as In tho Fatherland.
Mary A. Fisher, of Now York, will
wrlto a novel and dovote tho proceeds
of tho sale to tho support of a home,
nonsectarlan, and to caro for thoso
"who havo labored In literature, art.
education, or any of tho various pro
fessions." Mrs. Schuyler Crownlnshleld, wifo
of the admiral, has written several
stories, and recently has mado her
first effort at a stage production which
deals with tho revolutionary war and
has been recently produced In Now
,Voik and aroused enthusiasm.
Emll Zerkowltz, tho noted Hungarian
author, who has been commissioned as
special envoy by his government with
the purpeso of establishing Important
commercial relations between that coun
try and this, rocently arrived in New
Yoik. Ho has a boy named' Gcorgo
Washington Zerkowltz, who was born
on February 22, 1903.
It is stated that Winston Churchill
Is to receive the sum of ?40,000 down
and royalties for his biography of his
father, tho lato Lord Randolph
Churchill. Peoplo marvel how he has
found tlmo to wrlto It, considering
what a busy man ho is. When John
Morley wroto the ltfo of Gladstone, for
which ho received $50,000, It took him
threo years to complote it, and ho
practically shut himself up for that
period, keeping right away from pub
THE LITTLE WIDOW.
A Mighty Good Sort of Neighbor to
"A llttlo widow, a neighbor of mino,
persuaded mo to try Grape-Nuts when
my stomach was so weak that It would
not retain food of any othor kind,"
writes a grateful woman, from San
Bernardino Co., Cal.
"I hnd been 111 nnd confined to my
bod,wlth fever and nervous prostration
for threo long months after tho birth
of my second boy. We wero In despair
until tho llttlo widow's advico brought
"I liked Grapo-Nuts food from tho be
ginning, nnd In an incredibly short
time it gavo mo such strength that I
was able to leave my bed nnd enjoy
my threo good meals a day. In 2
months my wolght increased from 95
to 113 pounds, my nerves had stoadlod
down, and 1 felt ready for anything.
My neighbors wero amazed to sco mo
gain so rapidly, and still more so
whon thoy heard that Grapo-Nuts alone
had brought tho chango.
"My 4-yoar-old boy had eczema, very
bad last spring, and lost his appetite
entlroly, which mado hlra cross and
peevish. I put hlra on a diot of Grape
Nuts, which ho relished nt once. Ho
improved fiorn the beginning, tho ec
zema disappeared, and now ho Is fat
nnd rosy, with a delightfully soft, dear
skin. Tho Grape -Nuts diet did it. I
will willingly answer all inquiries."
Name given by Postum Co., Battle
There's a reason. Bead tho little
book, "Tho Rad to Wellvllle," inpk