Sunoco got its start on March 27, 1886, when Joseph Newton Pew and Edward O. Emerson, partners in The Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., made a bold move to diversify their business. Looking to the promising new oil discoveries in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the partners paid $4,500 for two oil leases near Lima, Ohio.
Within a few years the company had acquired pipelines, leases, storage tanks -- and was emerging as one of Ohio's leading suppliers of crude oil. On March 17, 1890, it became The Sun Oil Company of Ohio and was producing, transporting and storing oil as well as refining, shipping and marketing petroleum products. Through the purchase of the Diamond Oil Company in 1894, Sun acquired a refinery in Toledo, Ohio, and began operations there in 1895. The partnership ended in 1899, when Pew bought out Emerson's interest.
In May 1901, the company headed by Pew was incorporated in New Jersey as Sun Company and began securing leases and crude oil in the new Spindletop field in Texas. With business growing, Pew purchased 82 acres in Marcus Hook, Pa., as the site for a second refinery to process crude oil shipped by tanker from Spindletop.
In 1912, the year after Sun Company celebrated its 25th anniversary, Joseph Newton Pew died and was succeeded as President by his son, J. Howard Pew. Another son, Joseph N. Pew, Jr., took over as Vice President.
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