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Drake's train pulled into the flea speck town of Titusville, population 150, in the spring of 1858. Jonathan Titus was a surveyor with Samuel Kerr for the Holland Land Company in 1800 when the men bought up land and platted a townsite.<ref>Weber, David L., ''[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/073853630X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=073853630X&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=ae3417762ba8d2bb4ff173422738542f Images of America: Around Titusville]'', (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 1994).</ref> Lumber was the prime economic engine but the surrounding hillsides were quite nearly stripped bare by mid-century and when the timber was gone it was expected that Titusville would soon be as well.
Bissell had taken to referring to Drake as "Colonel" in correspondence sent to Pennsylvania, although the closest Drake had ever come to the military was punching soldiers’ tickets on the train. In doing so Bissell hoped to provide Drake some agency among the workers in the hardscrabble backwoods and that authority indeed proved useful in recruiting fresh crews as "the Colonel" failed in one drilling attempt after another. The townsfolk took to calling the operation down on Oil Creek "Drake's Folly."