Nearly 90 years ago in the dry, hardscrabble land of West Texas was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Ira Yates. He couldn’t make enough money from his ranching operation to pay the mortgage or the taxes and was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others, lived on government subsidy.

One day Ira Yates heard about an oil company exploring the area, and he invited them to see what his land might have. At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day (around $5.3 million per day in today’s prices). Within three years multiple wells on his land produced 41 million barrels per year. Still today there are over 360 productive oil wells on his property.

The day Ira Yates purchased the land he received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he was living in poverty, barely subsisting on welfare. A multi-millionaire living in poverty! The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there. He owned it, but he did not possess it. [Source unknown]

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