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Settlement began in the Tomball area in the early 19th century, where immigrants found an open, fertile land that received adequate rainfallâ€”perfect conditions for farming and raising cattle. It was on a land granted in 1838 to William Hurd’s heirs. In 1906 the area began to boom.
While the boom of the railroad lasted less than a decade, the oil and gas industry began to leave its mark on the area. Oil probe instruments often indicated that oil was just underneath Tomball, especially after the Spindletop gusher in Beaumont. Although early exploration came up dry, the town remained a frenzy of activity for those who dreamed of oil. Undaunted by the challenges, the persevering spirit of Tomball’s citizens proved rewarding when a drill hit a 100-foot (30 m) gusher of oil on May 27, 1933. Tomball, which people began to call “a floating island of oil”, was immediately flooded with over two dozen oil companies, which drew thousands of workers and boosted the economy like never before. One major player, the Humble Oil Company, struck a deal with the town through which they would provide gas free of charge to the residents in exchange for rights to drill on the land. This agreement lasted until 1988, when the reservoirs began to be depleted.
Tomball incorporated in 1933. Because of the 1933 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate Tomball’s territory into its city limits.