Scope and Contents
These photographs span most of Barentine's career in oil exploration and depict crews in Louisiana swamps, West Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and other locations, giving evidence of conditions such as approaching dust storms and showing examples of dwellings such as a jacal in the Rio Grande Valley. Exploration equipment is featured in the images, as well as the crew members' families, including a 1977 image of Mr. and Mrs. Barrentine in front of their home, "Dunrovin". The collection also includes some news clippings and fragments of Shell Oil company employee newsletters from the 1960s.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish from the Barentine photographs, MS 77, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Biographical / Historical
Andy Augusta Barentine, Sr., was born in Gainesville, Texas, August 27, 1905, to Thomas E. Barentine and Linnie Lynch Truitt Barentine. He married Jessie Belle Cherry, of Sanger, Texas, on August 30, 1936.
Barentine worked for the Shell Oil Co. for approximately 35 years, retiring as a permit agent in Austin, TX, in 1969. During the 33 years between marriage and retirement, he and his family moved approximately seventy times for his work, living in ten states. Their son, Andy Jr., attended twenty-three schools before graduating high school in Lockhart, TX. The family sometimes moved back to a location they had previously lived in, staying in a few places for as little as a month, averaging six months per move. They moved using one company car, one personal car, and one hand-built two-wheel trailer, seeking out furnished lodgings for the family. Competition for such lodging was strong, as often at least a dozen men and their families moved at once to small town with few vacant dwellings. Living conditions were often difficult; as a young couple the Barentines made do with only a hot plate and an icebox, and used wet towels to block windows and doors during West Texas dust storms.
During his career with Shell, Barentine held several positions. He was fortunate to find work with Roxana Oil, the predecessor of Shell Oil, after having spent time with family members in the Texas Panhandle, trying to farm in the early days of the Dust Bowl. He started out doing the most difficult types of field work during the early days of oil exploration. Crews performed hard, dirty, manual labor in very difficult environments such as Gulf Coast swamps and marshes, West Texas desert, East Coast forests and others. Barentine worked on torsion-balance equipment, gravity meters, surveying, and as a permit agent on seismograph crews. He lived on houseboats in the Louisiana marshes, rode on early marsh buggies, and was transported to remote by helicopter as early as 1948. The crews worked without interruption during WWII, being exempted from military service because of the importance of their work for the defense effort. They were among the few people who were able to have tires and gasoline for their vehicles. Crew members were allowed to buy used tires from company vehicles, which allowed the Barentines to visit the family back home in Sanger, Texas.
Barentine’s experience in farming and ranching facilitated his work as a permit agent with seismographic crews. Landowners were often skeptical of allowing such crews on their land to drill and explode dynamite, fearing harm to their stock tanks and their cattle. Barentine’s experience and small town roots enabled him to relate to the landowners’ concerns; he was almost never refused access.
Upon his retirement, Barentine and his wife moved to Sanger, and fulfilled their lifelong dream of building a permanent home, which they named "Dunrovin". They were at last able to enjoy the chest full of wedding gifts which had been stored with Mrs. Barentine's family since their wedding. Barentine was active with the First Presbyterian Church of Sanger and was instrumental in the construction of a new church building.
Andy Barentine died in Denton, Texas, on October 1, 1979 and is buried in Sanger, in the Sanger Cemetery.