Thomas Reznicek Sr. and his wife Antonia did not realize what they had found in 1924 when they bought a half-section farm one mile west of Lost Springs.
According to family history, Reznicek bought the property from a man who was quitting the farm to get involved in the oil business in Oklahoma. Little did the man know that two years later, oil would be found on the land he sold in Kansas.
Fred Frank and Fred Propp owned the oil lease on the property when oil was discovered.
Thomas Reznicek Jr. later wrote about that time.
“Now as I recall, it was during the last week of August 1926 when my dad, my brothers, Frank, Joe, Tony, and myself were finishing filling a silo there on the farm when on the road were trucks coming, hauling drilling equipment, and other hardware. Also the oil burning steam boiler that was to be the source of power for the drilling. All of this was headed to the location of the test well.”
After a few days, truckloads of lumber were delivered to construct the wooden derrick. The drillers struck oil in late October. It was reported that oil came up in the hole at a depth of 1,800-1,900 feet.
People came from far and near to see the well, which was one- quarter-mile north of the Reznicek farmstead. It produced 75-80 barrels per day.
Wichita drillers Winter and Harwood drilled the first well. It was known as Reznicek No. 1. Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville, Okla., drilled a second well, which was more productive than the first, in early 1927. It was known as Reznicek No. 2.
Two more wells were drilled in the Reznicek pool, one on Mowrer property, the other on Bevans property. All the wells were 600 feet apart and had a capacity of 700-800 barrels per day. Each barrel was worth $1.28.
These discoveries ushered in an oil boom in the Lost Springs area that lasted three years, after which it slowed down due to the onset of a prolonged national economic depression.
By January 1928, there was an oil derrick in almost every block in Lost Springs. The price of a lot jumped from $100 to $1,200 because of oil possibilities under the ground.
The population quickly grew from 250 to more than 1,000, and a shantytown developed as boarding rooms filled and overflowed. Tradesmen opened new businesses to accommodate the influx.
Because so much oil was being produced in various parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, the price began to fall. Producers got together and reached an agreement to limit production to 50 barrels per day.
Bernard Meysing of Ramona and Paul Meysing of Lincolnville, grandsons of the Rezniceks, often visited their grandparents and saw firsthand what was taking place.
“I remember our phone ringing on the party line one evening,” said Bernard. “My mother (Mary “Margie” Reznicek) answered. After she hung up she said, ‘They struck oil on our place.’”
“When I was a kid, I hated those oil pumps,” Paul said. “They were so noisy.”
Bernard witnessed all the commotion associated with developing the oil field. Men and horses were everywhere. Bernard was fascinated by the big trucks that delivered material for building the wooden derricks and pumping equipment.
They saw the many people who flocked to the area to work in the oil field.
“They were a different class of people from us,” Bernard said.
He said sometimes a derrick had one big motor that was attached to four or five other wells by rods. He said a refinery was built in Lost Springs but it was short lived.
Thomas Reznicek migrated to the U.S. with his family from Czechoslovakia at age 12. He married Antonia in 1899.
The Rezniceks were like many early settlers, moving from place to place in an attempt to better themselves.
Their first home was in the sand hills of Nebraska. In 1904, they moved by train with Christina, 5, Mary, 3, and Frank, 1, to an 80-acre farm in Missouri.
At the end of 1909, they sold their farm and, along with three additions, Thomas Jr., Joseph, and Tony, they moved to Irving in north-central Kansas. They lived for 13 years on a 200-acre farm and had six more children: Anne, Cyril, John, Emily, Paul, and Rose.
During that time, they made a trip or two to Pilsen, where daughter Mary met Joseph Meysing. After their marriage, Joseph tried to persuade the Rezniceks to move to the area.
Thomas Sr. was convinced to make the move after his first grandson, Bernard Meysing, was born. The couple bought the 320-acre farm west of Lost Springs to be near their grandson.
Thomas Sr. spent the remainder of his life on that farm. He died in 1945 at the age of 69.
Antonia remained on the farm until the mid-1950s, when she moved to Marion. She died in 1958 at the age of 79.
Antonia’s son, Cyril, took over the farm and operated it until 1959 or 1960, at which time the family moved to Marion. The farm remained in the Reznicek family for some time while other siblings worked the land, and it eventually was sold.
Although the Rezniceks did not profit from the oil boom, they did witness a major event in the history of Lost Springs, an event that began on their farm.