The town of Beaumont, Texas, would have had an entirely different role in the history of Texas, and America as a whole, were it not for one Croatian who found the first large oil well in the city’s immediate vicinity, which is also one of the largest oil finds in American history. It was on January 10th, 1901, at 10:30AM. Just how important this discovery was is only further emphasized by the fact that Beaumont saw its population grow from 9,000 to 30,000 over the course of the following month. Despite the skepticism surrounding it, the find was made by Ante Lucić, or Anthony Lucas, born in Split, in 1855.

Lucić was the son of shipbuilder and owner Frane Lucić from Hvar, who first left his island home for Split, where he had his son, Ante, and then went to Trieste. After finishing high school, Ante studied in Graz at Polytechnic, where Nikola Tesla was one of his colleagues. After finishing his studies, he joined the Austro-Hungarian navy, where he reached the rank of lieutenant. Due to an incident regarding his nationality, he decided to take a six month leave of absence, and go see his uncle in America. In the meantime, his uncle had, in order to make things easier for himself, changed his last name to Lucas, and Ante decided to follow suit. Not long after, he married Caroline Fitzgerald, and settled down in Washington, where he began his career as an engineer. His work led him to Texas, where he found irrefutable evidence of the presence of oil in the area, which he confirmed at the Spindletop well, which was known as the Lucas Gusher, i.e. Lucas’ find. It was a long way from his hometown of Split to the oilfields of Texas, and Lucas’ life ended in Washington, where he was buried in 1921.[1]


lucas1                Lucas u društvu

Ante Lucić – Anthony Lucas (1855 – 1921)

An oil convention was held in Beaumont, in 1941, and a granite monument was erected in honor of Lucas, named the Lucas Gusher Monument, modeled after an oil pump. The monument states that Lucas’ contribution in finding the oil forever changed the flow of history and brought Texas into the industrial and oil eras, and thus turned the entire USA in a world power. Time would show that such a tall monument wasn’t stable, so in 1976, it was moved to the Lamar University, where a museum was constructed and the find reconstructed.


Lucas Gusher

Lucas Gusher – pump and monument

The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgy published a medal called the Anthony F. Lucas Medal, for achievements in finding, exploiting, and processing oil.




The CBS TV studio recorded a historical-educational show in the fifties of the 20th century, titled You Are There. The show covered great events from the past, and one of its episodes was dedicated to Lucas’ find, which was responsible for having him included in list of the 200 most influential individuals of USA history. A street and a school in Beaumont are named after him, as is a charity foundation founded by his son in 1943.

[1] Eterovich, AdamLucich Discovery of Oil at Sprindletop Texas. Ragusan Press. San Carlos, California.