History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK


Population: 494 in 2000; 441 in 1990
(formerly Otis)

Ochelata, pre-1907
Ochelata before statehood (pre-1907)

This Santa Fe railroad stop and cattle shipping point was once called Otis but then renamed for Charles Thompson, Cherokee principal chief from 1875-1879, whose Indian name was Oochalata. The railroad reportedly picked the name because it translated to "foot of the hill" and Ochelata is at the foot of the Osage Hills.

The town was created in 1900 when Thomas Ellis (at far left in photo below) bought land from a Cherokee, Jacob Dick, in accordance with the provisions of the Curtis Act. The post office was established on March 23, 1900 and the town incorporated in 1902 with Nick Taylor as mayor. The photo above is from this era.

Tom Ellis
Tom Ellis, founder of Ochelata, is at the far left
Photo via OKGenWeb by Annette & Danny Foster; Link

Ochelata DepotThe center of an early oil boom shortly after statehood in 1907, Ochelata attracted merchants and businessmen who established Campbell's Meat Market, J. Hammond's blacksmith shop, and Dr. Rowland's Drug Store. The Santa Fe ran six passenger trains a day carrying mainland baggage, and the Ochelata depot (the rightmost building in the photo below) was a popular gathering place on Sunday afternoons when the train came in at 3:15 pm and 4:08 pm. The depot was built in 1899 and retired on December 31, 1941.

1908 SchoolA subscription school opened in Ochelata in 1989, with three public schools in the area after 1907, including the 1908 building shown at right. It was said its bell could be heard two miles away.

In 1939 the Works Progress Administration built a school complex. The district joined with Ramona and Vera to form the Caney Valley district in 1970. In 1983 that district was re-organized, with its elementary school at Ocheleta ever since while Ramona has the junior high/middle school and high school. The three-story school building in Ochelata was re-opened in 2014.

Ochelata School

Washington County Carrel