Virgil Elisha Cottingham, San Angelo, TX
Born in Alabama, Virgil “Cottie” Cottingham moved to Oklahoma with his family when he was very young. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s school of petroleum geology, then worked in the Oklahoma oil fields until 1922, when he joined Empire Gas & Fuel. Two years later, he moved to San Angelo, Texas and opened a district office for Empire. He left Empire to work for the San Angelo branch of Roxana Oil as their district geologist, then joined the Exploration Company of Texas in 1926. He also formed and managed his own engineering consulting firm, Cottingham & Briscoe. In the 1930s, Cottingham served the Texas Railroad Commission as chief petroleum engineer of the oil and gas division, which was active in the study of reservoir control. There, he compiled a production history for every major oil pool in the state, along with other important engineering data. He later left the Railroad Commission to serve as chairman of the North Basin Pools Engineering Committee, which published reports covering West Texas and southeast New Mexico.