From Peck to Tomball to "Oil Town U.S.A."
On this day in 1907, citizens of Peck, located about thirty miles north of Houston, renamed their community Tomball in honor of Thomas Henry Ball, a well-known politician and prohibition advocate. Ball had been a United States congressman and strong supporter of the development of the Houston Ship Channel. The town of Tomball later rose to prominence in 1933 when drillers struck oil. The population of the new boomtown, nicknamed “Oil Town U.S.A.,” tripled as twenty-five to thirty oil and gas companies rushed in to set up camps, housing developments, and recreation facilities. In 1935 Humble Oil and Refining Company (which later became Exxon Company, U.S.A.) granted free water and natural gas to Tomball residents in exchange for drilling rights within the city limits. This arrangement gained the attention of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which heralded Tomball as the only city with free gas and water and no cemetery.