DALTON — Antique pumps, parts and pictures are on display in the Cresswell Drilling showroom, revealing a 140-year-old family legacy.
Scott Cresswell, president and co-owner with his son, Brian, represent the fourth and fifth generations of the Cresswell family to work in the business.
In 1879, Isaac Cresswell began digging wells in Luzerne County.
“My great-grandfather started digging wells by hand and laying up field stone,” Scott Cresswell shared. “Later, he used a steam powered drill machine. Back then it took a long time to drill a well. It could take a week or more. They needed room and board if it was far from home. Sometimes that meant sleeping in a tent on site.”
In 1922, Isaac Cresswell was killed from a fall on the job at age 52. His sons, Grant and William, showing the determination and drive that would carry through to generations after them, stepped up and took the reins.
The work was laborious in early well drilling. The Ford Model A offered another option in the early 20th century.
“A pulley was placed around the axel and they would jack the rear of the Model A up off the ground and run it so that it would power their drill machine, which was mounted on top of the truck,” Scott Cresswell said.
In the 1920s, Isaac’s son, Grant, moved to Dalton. He met Francis Radle, the postmistress at the Dalton Post office and the two were married in 1927.
“The Cresswells were working, wild men,” said Tommy Miles of Miles Auto Parts in Clarks Summit. “I knew Grant. He was a friend of my father’s. He was a great man – hard worker.”
Cresswell Drilling was run out of the family garage and home, which was located near the Dalton Do it Center on Brookside Road. Grant’s son, William “Bill” Cresswell, was born there.
Bill Cresswell began working for the company in 1946, and in 1950, the operation moved to its current location at 211 N. Lackawanna Trail. He married Marilyn and the family bought land and built a home nearby.
Grant Cresswell was able to see his son take over the family business before his death in 1979.
In 1982, Bill’s son Scott returned from Shippensburg University and went right to work with his dad. In 1990, Bill Creswell retired and Scott bought the business. Bill passed away in 2016. His son and grandson are proud of the legacy he left them.
Brian Cresswell said he got his start pushing a broom around and tagging along.
“I would go with my grandpa on small jobs and listen to him talk about the work,” he said. “He was proud of the business and he and dad taught me what they knew.”
“Since I took over, we have refocused on our roots, doing what we do best – wells and water systems,” Scott said. “We have grown our business and do a lot of domestic and commercial work. It can be bittersweet when I pull a pump out of the ground that was put in by my father or grandfather.”
On Christmas day, they repaired a 53-year-old submersible pump. Scott said he’s seen old pumps that are still in good working order. The Cresswells are proud to know generations before them were using good parts that had integrity and held up.
“It’s the commitment to making the job right,” Scott said. “We do the job right, treat the customer well and charge a fair price. It’s the way my father taught me and what his father taught him.”
Today, a drill rig is used with an air rotary drill. What used to take weeks, now takes four to eight hours on average.
“There isn’t a school you can go to teach you this stuff,” Scott said. “You won’t see a lot of startup drilling companies, due to the long learning curve. It takes years to learn this and how to do it right.”
In 2013 Brian, Scott’s son, started full-time.
“I have always really loved the work and the mechanics of things,” Brian said. “I enjoy working with my hands. There are a lot of really great people out here. This job offers an intimate look into the area. Although people usually call us when they are in trouble, it’s satisfying to know that we can help.”
The Cresswells speak highly of their team.
“We have really good employees. Our foreman Tom and I went to school together,” Scott shared. “Most of our employees have been with us a long time. For any business to be successful you need good people working for you.”
It might be the hard work and tenacity of the Cresswell family, their dependable pumps and parts, their good employees and customer service, or their commitment to get the job right every time. But whatever it is, it has carried this family and Cresswell Drilling Company for 140 years.
A legacy that is even deeper than the wells they dig.