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Desdemona Texas Vintage Photos
Desdemona, Texas

Photos courtesy John Keith
Desdemona Texas oil well
"I think this is one of the first, if not the discovery well on my grandfather's farm." - John Keith

Subject: Desdemona, Texas

  • Dear Texas Escapes, I don't know if this is true or not, but have heard my aunts and my grandmother talking on many occasions. One of the stories was that when the first oil well was being drilled out in front of the family farmhouse they suddenly stopped drilling. The man in charge went to town to inform the company that it was a dry well. Supposedly, my grandfather [Joe Duke] told the crew remaining that if they would keep on drilling and hit 'pay dirt' he would buy each of them a new pair of cowboy boots. They started back to drilling and a few minutes later oil started shooting up over the top of the derrick. A gusher!

    That may be true, but it may also be another Texas tall tale.

    What I do know for sure is that my grandfather Duke was at one time known as Texas' youngest millionaire. A few years later he had no money left and was a pauper at the time of his death.
    - John Keith, April 24, 2007

    Hello, My name is Jordan Keith. I came across your page about Desdimonia Texas and read the story written by John Keith about his great grandfather Joe Duke (Texas first millionaire) and when I saw his picture of Joe Duke I almost passes out because it looked exactly like my grandfather Melvin Keith. I was just wondering if there was any way I could contact John Keith to find out if we are related. Any help is greatly appreciated.

  • My name is Jordan Keith. I came across your page about Desdemona Texas and read the story written by John Keith about his great grandfather Joe Duke (Texas first millionaire) and when I saw his picture of Joe Duke I almost passes out because it looked exactly like my grandfather Melvin Keith. I was just wondering if there was any way I could contact John Keith to find out if we are related. Any help is greatly appreciated. - Jordan Keith, jordy2003pwc@yahoo.com , September 11, 2013
  • Joe Duke on Desdemona farm, Texas
    This picture was taken where Joe Duke was living (on the same farm that oil was discovered in 1918) in the late 1950s.
    Joe Duke in Desdemona Texas
    Joe N. Duke, circa 1920
    Joe Duke and Almeda of Desdemona Texas
    "[My grandparents] Joe Duke and Almeda... taken when they were married or shortly after." - John Keith
    Desdemona TX - Gas Wells

    Desdemona Gas Wells near Gorman
    Photo courtesy City of Gorman

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    Eastland
    Stephenville
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