Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


This thesis will demonstrate how the financial wealth that resulted from the discovery of oil in 1928 and the continued oil production until the decline in 1970 became a major contributing factor to the economic prosperity of Ellis County, Kansas for over four decades. The introductory chapter provides a clear picture of the agricultural background of the Ellis County economy. Confronted by economic depression from the 1929 Stock Market Crash, extreme drought, and dust storms across the Kansas prairies, Ellis County farmers and residents faced financial devastation. But when oil production began to provide an influx of financial wealth, the county of Ellis experienced an economic boost when it needed it most. Chapters two and three cover the numerous and productive commercial oil wells that were drilled in Ellis County and the economic prosperity that resulted from them for over forty years. In the face of nationwide economic depression, crippling weather conditions, and financial bankruptcy, the farmers and residents might have all been forced to eventually abandon their homesteads, their farms, and their land. But after the discovery of oil on the William Shutts farm November 15, 1928, the oil production that occurred over the next forty years became the major contributing factor to the economic prosperity of Ellis County, Kansas. Where the agricultural landscape was once dead and nonproductive, golden fields of grain now flourish in the sun while pump jacks rise up in the distance, contributing economic prosperity to the county of Ellis.

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type



© 2012 Katherine Cobo


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