It will stand forever to the credit of Isaac Canfield, of the Plateau valley, Mesa county, that he opened the first oil well in the state and brought to the knowledge of mankind that there were stores of the unctuous fluid that had already made thousands wealthy and millions comfortable in the older sections of our country, beneath the soil of Colorado, to whose people he thereby gave a new industry of incalculable value ready for their enterprise in development. Mr. Canfield was born in Livingston county, New York, on October 11, 1839, and is the son of Ira and Elizabeth (Consolus) Canfield, natives of Saratoga county, that state, who moved to Livingston county early in their married life and there passed a portion of their days as prosperous farmers. The father was prominent and influential in the public affairs of the county, and at one time served as its sheriff. In 1852 they moved to Potter county, Pennsylvania, where the father engaged in lumbering until 1860, when the oil excitement took him to Titusville and for eleven years thereafter the son was in the oil business with him there, the enterprise proving very successful. In 1871 the family came to Colorado as members of the colony organized under the advice and auspices of Horace Greeley and located at the town named in honor of that distinguished man. There father and son engaged in ranching and raising cattle. In 1875 they opened the Rob Roy coal mine at what is now Canfield, which was named in their honor, and this they operated for a number of years until the strike caused them to suspend. Their operations were extensive and profitable, the output of the mine being sufficient to require the employment of over one hundred men. The coal was shipped to Denver, and from there to other places as required. The father died in Florence, this state. Having been in the business of producing oil in the East, guided by his experience and knowledge on the subject, the son located at Canon City. While operating a coal mine at Coal Creek he there struck the first oil well in the state, and in 1902 he also drilled the first oil well in the Boulder oil field. After opening this field his efforts were directed to the oil fields of Canada and during the year 1903 he drilled over forty wells in undeveloped Canadian territory and was successful in every well. At the present he is engaged in opening up a new oil field at Debeque, this state. In the fall of 1903 he, with his son and daughters, bought the Buckhorn ranch, about four miles from Collbran, south, which comprises four hundred and eighty acres, all under irrigation, with two hundred acres in alfalfa and one hundred and sixty acres in grain and other suitable products for that region. On this ranch they have extensive stock interests, principally cattle, and by their energy, business capacity and breadth of view are making every element of success in their undertaking pay tribute to their prosperity. On the 30th of March, 1862, Mr. Canfield was married to Miss Imogene Butterworth, a native of Potter county, Pennsylvania. They have had four children, three of whom are living, Maud, wife of C.A. Morrison, May, wife of W.M. Porter, and Carl B. The first born of the family, Ione, died in infancy. All of the living children are at home and they have practical charge of the ranch and its interests. Politically Mr. Canfield is a Republican, and while living in Boulder county he was elected to the lower house of the first state legislature in 1876. He has always been a native party worker, and has frequently served as chairman of his party’s central committee in the county of his home at the time. At one time he was also mayor of Florence.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.