While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


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).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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 May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fda57.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on December 15, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...