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Samuel P. Ellison, Jr.
Photograph, Portrait of Morgan Davis. Courtesy of the University of Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

DAVIS, MORGAN J. (1898–1979). Morgan J. Davis, petroleum geologist, son of John Wesley and Gabriella (Jones) Davis, was born at Anson, Texas, on November 18, 1898. He graduated from high school in Fort Worth in 1915 and enrolled in Texas Christian University in 1916. World War I interrupted his college studies, and he served briefly in the armed services. In 1918 he took a job as assistant engineer for Holway and Associates on the Spavinaw, Oklahoma, water supply project. He met Reta Clare Moore at Claremore, Oklahoma, and they were married in 1926.

Photograph, Picture of Morgan J. Davis with his wife, Reta, in front of the Humble building in Houston, 1962. Courtesy of the Briscoe Digital Collections. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1924–1925 he attended the University of Texas, where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology. At UT he came under the influence of Leonidas T. Barrow, who at that time was on the faculty. Barrow joined the Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Exxon Company, U.S.A.), and in 1925 Davis joined the company as a field geologist. In 1929 he took a position with the Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Mattschappij as supervisor of geological exploration in Java and Sumatra. In 1934 he returned to the United States and rejoined Humble as geologist at Roswell, New Mexico. Later he rose successively to the posts of chief geologist, president, and chairman of the board. He retired from Humble in 1963 but continued his petroleum geology work in Houston as a consultant until his death.

He was president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1952–53 and president of the Geological Society of America in 1969–70. He received many honors, among them an honorary doctorate of engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and the Sidney Powers Memorial Medal (1979) from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He was a Mason. He died of cancer in Houston on December 31, 1979, and was buried from an Episcopalian church in Houston. Upon his death, the Houston Post eulogized him for "a life distinguished by vision and action for the common good."


Wallace E. Pratt and Dean A. McGee, "Memorial to Morgan J. Davis," American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 65 (1981).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Samuel P. Ellison, Jr., "DAVIS, MORGAN J.," accessed November 13, 2018,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on December 15, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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