GREAT CITIZENS - NIELS PETER ESPERSON
Like Hughes, was another immigrant to Texas shortly after the birth of the oil industry. An oil man and financier, Esperson was born in Ronne, Denmark, on June 3, 1857, to Julia Anne Marie (Funk) and Herman Esperson. Educated in public schools, Esperson graduated from high school at an early age. He arrived in New York City, in 1872, at the age of fifteen and journeyed to San Francisco, reaching that city with only five dollars in his pocket. Esperson worked on a ranch while studying English and geology. In 1889, he moved to El Reno, Oklahoma and opened a real estate office. There he met Mellie Keenan and married her four years later.
On hearing news of a gold strike near Cripple Creak, Colorado, in 1895, Esperson joined the scramble for mining rights in the area. Not only did he fail to find gold but he contracted tuberculosis and nearly died. Later the Espersons moved to East Texas.
In 1904, Esperson began drilling in the Humble oil field in northern Harris County. After many dry wells, he finally struck oil and found some 200 producing wells in the course of two years. Subsequently he developed other Gulf Coast oil fields and formed a company, which he named " The Invincible Oil Company," a name symbolizing his enduring spirit.
Along with his numerous oil-related endeavors, Esperson was instrumental in planning and financing the construction of the Houston Ship Channel. He headquartered several of his various commercial enterprises in Houston. Among these were the Reed Roller Bit Company, Blue Ridge Development Company, Guardian Trust Company, Mid-Continent Clay Company, Houston Mill and Elevator Company, Rio Grande Gulf Corporation, Gulf Coast Rice Mills and the Great Locomotive Company. Esperson remained a resident of Houston until his death from a heart attack at the age of 65 on October 21, 1922.