niels & mellie esperson
continued page 2 of 5

By: Thomas M. Ciesla


The Espersons retreated to Chanute, Kansas where Mellie still had family. While he rested there, Niels began reading everything he could find on the new subject of petroleum exploration.

A devout Christian Scientist, Niels used rest and relaxation to overcome his illness in two short years. His remarkable recovery made a believer out of Mellie, who also embraced the religion. With his recovery complete, the Espersons were off to Texas, where Niels believed he would make his fortunes in oil.

Though he hadnít enough money to even pay for rigging timbers, Niels had a great vision, delivered with frankness and personal magnetism. He never had trouble getting money, even after several dry holes in the Humble Oil field.

When his fifth well hit oil, the tides turned and Niels was never in need of money again. He formed the Invincible Oil Company, and drilled over 200 successful wells. The hectic activity forced the Espersons to take up residence near the Humble Oil Field for a time, staying in the Lone Star Hotel to avoid the long train rides from Houston. He later sold the company for five million dollars.

With his oil profits, Niels began investing in Houston real estate, particularly in the downtown area. He had a vision that Houston would become a city of over a million people one day, and he wanted to play a part in its development. He was also one of the original developers and financers of the Houston Ship Channel, but his favorite parcel was along Travis Street. He dreamed of building a film theatre there and a skyscraper on the opposite corner.

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Curiosly, where many of the oil-wealthy families built mansions, the Esperson's never owned a home in Houston


The Niels Esperson building


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