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George Henry Bissell was not one of those obsessed with kerosene. Rather, in 1853 he was a 32-year old struggling lawyer when he saw samples of "rock oil" from western Pennsylvania on the campus of Dartmouth College in his hometown of Hanover, New Hampshire. When he saw how readily the inky black liquid burned Bissell immediately saw its potential as an illuminant and not as a medicinal salve. Furthermore, it became Bissell's plan to drill for the oil in a way that salt had been obtained for hundreds of years.
Bissell commissioned a report from one of the leading scientists of the day, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., to verify the energy potential of rock oil and began making the rounds in New York City to convince investors in his scheme. There were not many takers in the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Bissell's partner James Townsend reported after one pitch that the naysayers chided him: "Oh, Townsend, oil coming out of the ground, pumping oil out of the earth as you pump water? Nonsense! You're crazy.”<ref>Giddens, Paul H, ''The Birth of the Oil Industry'', (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1938), p. 48.</ref>
==The Dream Comes Together==