Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, Jr., popularly known as H. L. Hunt, was born in Carson Township, Fayette County, Illinois. He was an extremely talented person which explains as to why he was later called American oil tycoon. He began creating his huge financial empire from a very small initial investment in oil in Arkansas and later on founded Hunt Oil Company. Hunt also became of the largest independent oil producer and gas supplier of the country. Apart from the oil business, he expanded his wings and invested in producing canned goods, health products, and cosmetics. Following his innovative and creative business tactics, he became one of the world’s richest men. All throughout his life, Hunt was circled around controversies. He was a robust opponent of John F. Kennedy.
H. L. Hunt Childhood, Early Life and Career
Hunt was born on February 17, 1889, close to Ramsey, in Carson Township, Fayette County, Illinoisto Haroldson Lafayette Hunt and Ella Rose (Myers) Hunt. He was the youngest child of his parents and had seven siblings. Hunt was named after his father who was a flourishing farmer-entrepreneur. Hunt initially received education in public schools and then at home. During his teenage, he visited several places before finally settling down in Arkansas. When he was 16 years old, he traveled greatly across the U.S, taking up random jobs like farmhand, cowboy, lumberjack, and mule skinner. In 1911, his father passed away and left an inheritance of $6,000 for him. By 1912, utilizing his father’s inheritance, Hunt got indulged in bringing up and operating a cotton plantation near Lake Valley in Arkansas, in the Mississippi Delta. He was not at all happy with just farming and thus, started speculating in cotton and timber land close to Lake Providence, Louisiana. By the year 1920, he became the owner of around 15, 000 acres of land in Arkansas and Louisiana. On this land, he planted cotton in order to gain profit of the rising costs during the World War I. But as the war ended, the price and market of cotton got crashed, and thus the value of the cotton land collapsed too. Hunt then started looking for a productive source of income. At the same time, he came to know of an oil strike in El Dorado, Arkansas and planned to strike out there. Hunt commenced dealing in oil leases. The method of Hunt was to ask the farmer how much land he required, then move back to his town and propose to sell the land to an oil digger at a much higher cost, and afterwards buy and sell the land practically at the same time, building a profit without spending any money from his own pocket. After six months continuing this type of trading, Hunt acquired enough money to rent a half-acre of land. Paying contents and demurrage, he was brought in an old rotary rig, drilled, and struck oil. Shortly afterwards, he owned around 44 producing wells in the El Dorado.
In 1924, Hunt sold out a half interest in 40 wells for a huge $600,000. In 1957, the magazine “Fortune” estimated his fortune to be between US $400 million and US $700 million. Thus, he grabbed the place among the eight richest people in the United States. Later in 1920’s, he continued drilling wells in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Hunt, by the end of the decade, had 100 producing wells all around the South and Southwest. Hunt’s greatest achievement struck in September 1930 after he enrolled in forces with a wildcatter named C. M. "Tex" Joiner. Joiner had found a vein of oil on his 4000 acre land in Rusk County, Texas. But because he did not have had enough money to drill it or to buy one, he chose to sell the land. Hunt offered a deal to Joiner. According to the deal, in return for the payment of $30,000 and an agreement to give him $1.2 million in oil, Hunt grabbed the rights of the site of the world’s greatest oil discovery till that time. Hunt became able to create pipeline of his own and to provide Sinclair Oil Company tank cars with his own oil. In 1936, Hunt Oil Company was established. Initially its headquarters was in Tyler, Texas but later shifted to Dallas. The company acquired the position of the largest independent oil producer in the U.S. Amazingly, while the World War II was going on; the amount of oil Hunt sold to the allies was more than the total output of Germany. In 1946, Hunt also provided 85% of natural gas piped into the eastern U.S. Also during this time, Hunt started to create big holdings in real estate too. Afterwards, he also tried his hand in the production of canned goods, health products, and cosmetics. All these products were kept under the umbrellas of HLH Products of Dallas. In the early 1950s, Hunt acquired great interest in politics and was greatly concerned with what he thought was a communist menace to the United States. Hunt established the “Facts Forum” in 1951 which was an educational foundation. This forum was indulged in producing and distributing various radio and television programs and aided mass distribution of anti-communist and patriotic books and pamphlets. In 1964, he started writing a conservative newspaper column and also wrote many books dealing with the aspects of conservative ideology.
According to some theorists, Hunt was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was greatly said that the day before the assassination, Jim Brading came to meet Hunt in his Dallas office. Brading was somewhere connected to Carlos Marcello, who was another suspect in the President’s death. Shortly after the killing, Brading was jailed in the Dal-Tex building in the Dealey Plaza, but he was released after a short period of time only. Before the inauguration of the Kennedy, the “Facts Forum” of the Hunt was placing out religious pleas asking why Kennedy should not be allowed to step inside the White House. The program initially targeted Jews and stood with Joseph McCarthy. On the night of assassination, Hunt’s several outlets were throwing out hatred materials about the president. According to Hunt, Kennedy’s communism was weak. Also, he had knowledge of the fact that Kennedy planned to tax oil wealth. Hunt considered democracy as the devil's work. Few of Hunt’s literature were discovered in the pocket of Ruby after he shot Oswald. Post the assassination, the FBI shortly supplied agents for Hunt’s protection as he and General Edwin Walker, fixed to a Hunt hide-away in Mexico. Hunt was also an admirer of “LBJ” and had quite good relations with the Cuban exile community. Hunt had links with the Chicago mob, and Murchison. They had a joint business tie-up with Louisiana mobster Carlos Marcello.
Hunt firstly marriedLyda Bunker in Arkansas on November 26, 1914. The couple had six children, out of which the most popular are Bunker, Lamar and Herbert. In 1925, Hunt had a love affair with Frania Tye, although it is uncertain that whether the two married or not. Hunt and Tye had four children, including Hugh Hunt. They got separated in 1942. Also, Hunt had another four children with a Hunt Oil Company secretary and his mistress, Ruth Ray. Hunt married Ray in 1957.
Hunt died on November 29, 1974 in Dallas, Texas, aged 85. He was interred in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery.