The “expertise” of a psychic is to thank
for the discovery of the Albion-Scipio Field in Michigan.
AAPG Editor Neil Hurley recounted the story of the
find in the AAPG Treatise Atlas, Stratigraphic Traps 1 volume.
Ferne Bradford, whose maiden name was Houseknecht,
lived on a dairy farm in 1955 in southern Michigan when a family
friend and practicing psychic, “Ma” Zulah Larkin, told her about
a dream she had. Ma Larkin told Bradford she had seen Ferne in a
dream, walking on a farm with “stucky stuff” on her hands. She was
sure it was oil.
However, the closest thing to an oil find near the
Bradford farm was over 50 miles away. In 1943, Continental Oil drilled
253 feet into the Trenton, recovered a five-foot section of porous
rock with bleeding oil and drillstem tested 22 feet of oil-cut mud.
For whatever reason, Conoco decided to plug back
the well to produce gas from the Devonian Traverse Formation.
On the professional advice of the psychic, Bradford
arranged for the the No. 1 Houseknecht to be spudded in May1955.
The target Devonian gas was dry - as was the Bradford family bank
But Ferne was persistent. After all, she had the
advice of a professional psychic going for her.
Drilling was a stop-and-go operation, depending on
how much cash Ferne Bradford could muster at the time.
Eventually, the well penetrated the Trenton - in
September 1956, 16 months after it was spudded. However, Hurley
wrote, it was not until January 1957 that the well encountered oil
production at 3,900 feet. The discovery was for 140 barrels a day
with considerable quantities of gas.
The well had discovered what was to be the 14,500-acre
Albion-Scipio Field, which is 30 miles long and a maximum of one
mile wide, with an original oil-in-place of 290 million barrels.
It is classified as a giant field by American standards.
Both Ferne and Ma reportedly thanked their lucky