Coal Oil Johnny by Bob Cannon; A living history presentation of the Parable of a Profligate, Prodigal.

Bob Cannon is more than a “Coal Oil Johnny impersonator”, or a “Coal Oil Johnny impressionist” or “Coal Oil Johnny speaker”. Bob is a first cousin, four generations removed from John Washington Steele (Coal Oil Johnny). His unique connection and perspective works to bring to life Coal Oil Johnny, whose name for more than half a century became synonymous with those who acquire great fortunes and lose them in short order.

The first oil boom is over, but the story of Coal Oil Johnny is universal and applies to a variety of situations including the new boom in shale oil and gas. From Johnny’s story, you will learn about:

  • Redemption
  • Change
  • Balance

It is time to learn, be inspired and entertained by the lesson of Coal Oil Johnny. It is even more important not to make the same mistakes all over again.

“Coal Oil Johnny personifies what the whole country learned from the Pennsylvania oil boom,” said Brian Black, a historian at Pennsylvania State, who wrote the book Petrolia.

A fundamental part of the appeal of the Coal Oil Johnny story is that he inherited and lost a huge fortune — and yet he didn’t go crazy or do anything terrible. Instead, he reconnected with his family and ended up living a regular, content life in Nebraska.

Presentations Topics include:                                                                                                                                                 

  1. The Parable of the Profligate Prodigal (Historical)

  2. Coal Oil Johnny Today (Customized to today)

Bob Cannon is more than a Coal Oil Johnny Impersonator.

Call Today to bring Johnny to life for your group!


Visit Coal Oil Johnny’s house at

Meadville, Titusville, Oil City and Franklin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia