The Benedum Oil Field and Benedum Townsite. Field named in 1950 by Texas Railroad Commission in honor of Michael Late (Mike) Benedum, 1869-1959, who devoted 69 of his 90 years to the oil business, and won fortune and fame as "the great wildcatter". His work began in 1890. With a partner, Joe C. Trees, he discovered or developed oil fields in Illinois, West Virginia, Louisiana (the great Caddo field); the Tuxpan in Mexico; de Mares in Colombia, South America; and in Texas the Desdemona, Big Lake, Yates, East White Point, Susan Peak and Benavides. Discovery of Big Lake Field ( 1923 ) on University of Texas land tapped the great wealth of the Permian Basin, which opened in 1920 with a small discovery. Alford No. 1, original well in Benedum field (later reclassified as a gas field), was completed Jan. 4, 1948, at depth of 12,011 feet by Slick-Urschel Oil Co., under a partnership agreement. The field later benefited by dedication of Benedum townside. The "great wildcatter" was an oil pioneer whose work enriched one of the world's large constitutional permanent university funds. Revenues from oil and gas operations give Texas the largest permanent public school fund in the world. - Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1965. Located On SH 349 about 7 miles N. of Rankin.