Natural gas was first encountered in 1912 by Frank House while drilling for water on the Oscar Rosse farm. Other efforts to obtain fresh water resulted in more gas pockets or water contaminated with salt or oil. An unsuccessful attempt was made in 1915 to develop gas production. In Oct. 1919, the Kleberg County Oil and Gas Company was formed in Kingsville by lumber and hardware merchants Charles H. Flato and his son, Charles, Jr. , oil sales manager H. C. Dennett, grocer J. F. Ivey, postmaster Marcus Phillips, Kingsville mayor J. C. Nolan, and retail merchants Sam Sellers, Ben F. Wilson, and C. M. Allen.
The company leased the Rosse farm on October 30, 1919, and contracted Hammill and Bess Drilling Company of Bay City to drill a well. The Rosse No. 1 was completed on January 16, 1920, at a depth of 3,000 feet. Pipelines were soon laid into Kingsville to supply businesses and residences with gas. Another well, the Rosse No. 2, completed in March 1920, was the first producing oil well in the county. The discovery of gas and oil in the county provided a foundation for economic growth through development of petrochemical and refining industries.