Oil magnate Joseph Stephen Cullinan was born on December 31, 1860 in western Pennsylvania, the second eldest among eight siblings. In 1891, Cullinan married Lucy Halm, with whom he had five children.
Cullinan began working in the Pennsylvania oilfields at age 14 and joined Standard Oil in 1882. After rising to management positions at Standard Oil, Cullinan left to establish his own company, Petroleum Iron Works, in 1895. With the discovery of oil in Corsicana, Texas, Cullinan moved his operations there and founded the J.S. Cullinan Company (later renamed the Magnolia Petroleum Company) in 1898 –- the first pipeline and refining company in the state. He further contributed to the Corsicana oil industry by introducing ways to increase oil consumption in the days before widespread use of the automobile: oil as fuel for locomotives and as an agent to tamp down the dust on city streets.
Soon after the Spindletop oil discovery in 1901, Cullinan moved to nearby Beaumont, Texas and founded the Texas Company (later named Texaco) for storing and transporting oil. He helped establish Houston as the epicenter of the oil industry in the southwestern United States by moving his Texaco headquarters to the city in 1905. In the ensuing years, he acquired new oil field leases in the area, built refineries at Port Neches and Port Arthur, and founded ten more companies that focused on exploring, producing, refining, and marketing Texas oil.
As president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce from 1913-1919, Cullinan threw his support behind the continued development of the Houston Ship Channel, and later built the city's North Side Belt Railway in 1922. He donated $25,000 towards the construction of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1926, as well as $80,000 to help the Houston Negro Hospital build its new facility, which opened to the public in 1927. Cullinan died on March 11, 1937.
Cullinan, Joseph Stephen, Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcu07
Chronology, Museum of Fine Arts Houston http://prv.mfah.org/archives/pdf/mfah_chronology.pdf