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Oil is, and has always been, a major export of the city, and a major contributor to the national GDP. C.", was a leading businessman and oil tycoon in the city in the early 20th century, developing businesses during the Texas Oil Boom.
An entrepreneur from Pennsylvania and Iowa, he arrived after the gusher at Spindletop, and invested in development of a commercial port in the city, and an irrigation system to support the local rice industry, as well as residential and retail development of suburban property. He purchased and donated First Baptist Church, whose congregation had moved to a new facility, to use as the city's first public library, now known as the Tyrrell Historical Library.
Beaumont was a small center for cattle raisers and farmers in its early years.
With an active riverport by the 1880s, it became an important lumber and rice-milling town. The Beaumont Rice Mill, founded in 1892 by Joseph Eloi Broussard, was the first commercially successful rice mill in Texas.
The area rapidly developed as one of the major petro-chemical refining areas in the country.
Along with Port Arthur and Orange, Beaumont forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the Texas Gulf Coast.
With Spindletop, several energy companies developed in Beaumont, and some continue.Ultimately the white mob rioted for three days, destroying major black neighborhoods and killing five persons. The riot in Beaumont was one of several in 1943 which centered in the defense industry, including Los Angeles, as well as other cities across the country.