Thomas P. McCullough

Tom McCullough, 1989
Tom McCullough, 1989

Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project

(January 20, 1901 - July 19, 1997)


The Lusk Herald
July 30, 1997


Thomas P. McCullough

Funeral services for long-time Lusk resident, Tom McCullough, 96, were July 26, 1997, at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Lusk with the Rev. Vince Ritchi officiating. Burial followed in the Lusk Cemetery. Memorials are to the donor's choice.

Mr. McCullough died July 19, 1997, at the Niobrara County Nursing Home in Lusk.

He was born Jan. 20, 1901, at St. Joseph, Mo., to Joseph Frances and Margaret Ellen (Coughlin) McCullough. The family moved to Okaton, S.D. to homestead.

He worked at various jobs upon leaving school, and later became involved in the oil fields.

He moved to Niobrara County to work in the oil fields and met Hazel A. Sides.

They married Nov. 23, 1926. His wife for 63 years preceded him in death on Jan. 22, 1990. Besides Wyoming, Tom also worked in the oil fields in Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

Active pallbearers were grandsons Charlie A. Whitmire, Jr. and Thomas P. Ogle and great-grandsons Christian Lerback, Andrew Lerback, Travis St. John and Eric St. John. Adrienne and Chandra Walsh provided vocal music and Ross Diercks furnished Irish background music. Granddaughter Jani Lerback delivered the eulogy.

Besides his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his three brothers and three sisters.

Survivors include son Joe McCullough and wife Fran of Lusk; daughters Ruby Christian and husband Charles of Lusk, Mabel Engen and husband Bob of Laramie, Naomi Ogle and husband Morris of Rancho Mirage, Calif.; grandchildren Jani Lerback of Rapid City, S.D., Thana Christian of Oakland, Calif., Cindy St. John of Lusk, Charles Whitmire of Pocatello, Idaho, Mark Whitmire of Buna, Texas, Susan Schaber of Alder Flats, Alberta, Canada, Thomas Ogle and Maureen Ogle of Calif.; and grandchildren Christian, Jennifer and Andrew Lerback of South Dakota, Patricia Christian of Calif., Travis, Amy and Eric St. John of Lusk, Jason Whitmire of Texas and Keisha Robinson, Jalisa, Kendra and Brandon Schaber of Canada; and great-great-granddaughter Kylee Lerback of South Dakota.



The Lusk Herald
May 17, 1989
Former oil man recalls the boom days of yesteryear


Tom McCullough came to the Wyoming oil fields in 1922 and finally retired from the oil business in 1973, at the age of 72.

McCullough was born Jan. 20, 1901, in Kansas City, Mo. He went to work in South Dakota in about 1906 and stayed there until 1922, when he came to the oil fields in Wyoming, he said.

He worked in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

He married Hazel Sides in 1926. Hazel was born at Kirtley and he met her at a dance at Lance Creek. He said he got acquainted with her at the dances while he was working in the area. They have four children: Ruby Ellen Christian of Lusk, Mabel Marion Engen, Joseph Francis McCullough and Naomi Marie Ogle. He says his youngest daughter was named after a Swedish school teacher he knew and a nurse named Marie.

While McCullough worked in the oil fields, he dressed tools, did roust-about work, rough-necked, worked on cable tools and drilled.

He said his work in the production area was changing tanks and, while rough-necking, he worked on the floor of a rig. When a person works on cable tools, the metal is put into a fire until it is very hot and then it is pounded with a sledge hammer until it fits the hole it is designed for, he said.

McCullough went to Texas for a brief time in 1926. He said he only stayed about four months in Borger, Tex., because there was poison gas there. He said he had about nine jobs in those four months and finally decided to leave.

"There was poison gas down there. It was so bad that the silver in your pocket turned black, the white paint on houses turned brown and I had some gold fillings in my mouth that I could taste," he said. He said the gas was in the air.

He began working on rotary tools at Lance Creek in 1935. He had been working with cable tools up until that time.

McCullough said that was a a time of real boom in the area.

"There were more than 20 rigs running near Lusk," he said. "that made this town."

In 1936, he bought a home, "bummed around a little," ran a bar in North Dakota for a while and then came to Lusk.

"I never really had a home in Lusk. We lived with my mother-in-law, Ruby Ellen Sides, for a long time," he said. The couple was living at the home, when they both moved to the Niobrara County Nursing Home a little more than a year ago.




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