The home and landing strip of Texas oilman Sid Richardson on San Jose Island. Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News.

Peppard Project Tells How North Texas Oilmen Became Political Kingmakers

Multi-part DMN series focuses on islands owned by Sid Richardson, Clint Murchison Sr.

If you’re into history, and Texas history in particular, you’re apt to enjoy a new three-part, multi-media project by Alan Peppard of the Dallas Morning News. In the stories, titled “Islands of the Oil Kings,” Peppard tells how two remote islands off the coast of South Texas became “unlikely centers of power and influence” nearly eight decades ago, thanks to a couple of multimillionaire oilmen from Dallas-Fort Worth. In 1937, Peppard recalls, President Franklin Roosevelt and his 165-foot yacht, the USS Potomac, visited the San Jose and Matagorda islands, which were owned by Sid Richardson of Fort Worth and Dallas’ Clint Murchison Sr., respectively.

That first presidential visit represented nothing less than a “cosmic shuffle,” effectively putting Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower en route to the White House, and fashioning Richardson and Murchison as “the first oilmen kingmakers,” Peppard writes. The DMN scribe also dug up some old, black-and-white home movies of FDR fishing and palling around with the Texans, then put together an online mini-documentary in three parts. Peppard says he spent a year working on the “Kings” project, traveling to the islands and dodging a “scary number of rattlesnakes, alligators, mosquitoes, and killer bees.” The first installment runs this Sunday, but it’s available online now. Part two will run Sunday Dec. 14, and part three the Sunday after that.

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