Washington County, Oklahoma History and Genealogy

Its soil is principally of the sandy loam character and produces excellent crops of corn, wheat, oats, fruits and vegetables. The rougher portions of land produce good grass and are well adapted to raising peaches, grapes and berries. This county is just a little too far north to be included in the cotton belt of the state, yet small fields of cotton are occasionally found in the valleys of Caney Creek and its tributaries. For several years past some of the most progressive farmers have become interested in raising thoroughbred horses, cattle and hogs, and herds of Shorthorn and Holstein cattle, Chester White, Duroc Jersey and Poland China hogs are becoming quite numerous. The bankers and business men of the county are aiding very materially in the matter of raising fine stock by furnishing to the farmer boys pure-bred pigs and calves to raise.

During the past year about five hundred cars of cattle, eighteen cars of horses and thirty cars of hogs were shipped from the farms of this county to the northern markets. The fine pastures of this section of the state afford splendid opportunities for the dairyman and wool grower, but these branches of industry have not yet been developed to any great extent. As the importance and value of the dairy business becomes better understood, it will doubtless receive more attention. It is a deplorable fact that on many Oklahoma farms where cattle are raised in vast numbers, and where good pastures can be had for ten months of the year, scarcely enough milk and butter are produced for family consumption.

Washington maintains a County Fair Association which is increasing in interest and importance as the years roll by. The Farmer Boys’ clubs as well as the farmers vie with one another in their efforts to make fine exhibits of their products.

Although the general health conditions of Washington County are good, the citizens have planned to fight every appearance of disease by establishing a County Tuberculosis Association and maintaining a county dispensary at the county courthouse, in charge of a trained nurse who furnishes free advice or treatment to those in need of it. The homes of the poorer classes are visited, the schools are inspected and advice is given in the matter of the preservation of the health of the babies of the county.

Washington County is located in the extreme northwestern corner of the old Cherokee Nation and the old-time Cherokees can tell many thrilling stories of their squabbles with the half civilized Osage adjoining them on the west. The Osage were of a roving disposition and in various ways they were inclined to annoy the Cherokee farmers. Several battles and skirmishes were fought between them but finally they agreed upon a treaty of peace which was observed by both tribes, barring a few raids of cattle-stealing charged against the roving Osage. Several years ago the county employed an active agricultural agent, a graduate of an agricultural college, who has been devoting his entire time to working with and for the farmers and as a result of his work, improved methods of agriculture are already, noticeable.

Washington County is well supplied with railroad facilities, the two great systems, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe lines crossing the county and intersecting at Bartlesville, the county seat. The. Santa Fe road traverses the entire length of the county from north to south, passing through the towns of Owen, Copan, Dewey, Bartlesville, Mataoka, Ochelata, Ramona and Vera, while the M. K. & T. road crosses the county in a northeasterly direction, passing through Bartlesville and Dewey.

During all the years when cattle were roaming the prairies by the thousands and later when the prairies were being cut up into farms no one, apparently dreamed that vast fortunes lay hidden underneath the surface in the form of oil and natural gas. The first oil well in this county, being one of the first to be drilled in the state of Oklahoma, was brought in during the year 1896 within the limits of the present city of Bartlesville. This well, now twenty-six years old still produces oil and its steady flow from the beginning was sufficient proof of the existence of a real oil field to presage a wonderful development of the oil industry in that section of the state. The lands at that time, however, were not allotted, but owned by the Indians in common, and on account of the numerous difficulties and doubts about securing valid leases, the real development of the oil industry was delayed; but when the time arrived that the promoters felt safe in investing their money in leases and in drilling wells, oil derricks arose as if by magic throughout this section of the state. In the meantime, natural gas was discovered in abundance, and Washington County soon found itself in possession of one of the most important oil and gas fields of the United States.

It would scarcely be possible to find another county of its size anywhere in the southwest country that is so well supplied with banking facilities. Within an area of less than five hundred square miles of land the following banks are maintained, with approximate deposits as follows

  • First National Bank of Bartlesville $ 5,200,000
  • Union National Bank of Bartlesville …. 3,000,000
  • Exchange National Bank of Bartlesville. 320,000
  • Central National Bank of Bartlesville … 225,000
  • Bartlesville State Bank 1,500,000
  • First National Bank of Dewey 500,000
  • Security National Bank of Dewey 300,000
  • State Bank of Vera 100,000
  • Citizens’ State Bank of Ramona 300.000
  • Oklahoma State Bank of Ochelata 140,000
  • Bank of Copan _ 160,000
  • Total bank deposits of the county …. $11,745,000

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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