History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK

Owen Siding

This railroad junction and switching point was named for Robert L. Owen, who was one of the first two United States Senators from Oklahoma, holding office from 1907 until 1925. His extensive ranch adjoined the site, but Owen did not actually spend much time there. Being part-Cherokee, he legally handled cattle in Indian Territory for Texas ranchers until about 1895.

Robert L. OwenRobert Latham Owen was born in 1856 at Lynchburg, Virginia, of Scotch-Irish and Indian ancestry. Educated in the private schools of Lynchburg, he attended Washington and Lee University where he received a Master of Arts degree in 1877. Soon afterwards, he moved to the Cherokee Nation where he practiced law, taught school, and served as secretary of the Board of Education of the Cherokee Nation. In 1885, Owen was appointed agent for the Five Civilized Tribes and functioned in that position until 1887. Owen served as the attorney for the Choctaws beginning in 1890 and later in the same capacity for the Western and Eastern Cherokees. He organized the First National Bank of Indian Territory at Muskogee in 1890 and acted as its president until 1900.

Owen was elected to the United States Senate from the state of Oklahoma in December 1907 and was reelected in 1912 and in 1918. In 1920, Owen's name was submitted as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. In the end, he ranked fourth among the candidates but declined the nomination for vice president. As a senator, Owen was the drafter of the Federal Reserve Act and the Farm Loan Act. Child labor laws were another of his interests. A recording of a progressive campaign speech is available. Owen retired from the U.S. Senate in 1925.

After his retirement, Owen engaged in activities which promoted the interests of Indians, both in the field of legislation and in the courts. He maintained his interest in world affairs and international law and became involved in a goal to enable people all over the world to speak together in a phonetic global alphabet. His later years were spent pursuing this project. Senator Owen died in Washington, D.C., on July 19, 1947.

The Owen Siding area has either been inundated by Lake Copan or subsumed within the Lake Copan Wildlife Refuge; roads leading into the area have been blocked and abandoned. The picture below is from the Owen School in October 1917 with teachers Annabell Roberts and Helen Moran. They were celebrating the Model School award. The school was established in December 1907.

Owen School, 1917

Washington County Carrel