History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK


Population: 564 in 2000; 508 in 1990
(formerly Bon Ton, Hobson)

Early Ramona

Ramona's townsite was once planted in wheat as part of a farm leased by David Stokes in 1898. The only structure at that time was a cabin of an old buffalo hunter, Sam Kimbro. Stokes' brother James was involved in Jacob Bartles' effort to build a railroad south from Caney, Kansas to the coal mine in Collinsville. James Stokes plotted the townsite by September 8, 1899 and built the first house at the location of the present-day school playground. This home was called the Bon Ton House (French for "good style") and Stokes sold meals to railroad construction workers, and had a store offering staples such as flour, cornmeal, salt, molasses, jerky, sowbelly, beans, and ammunition. HobsonThe Sante Fe railroad bought up the right of way and designated a depot called Hobson, but the townsite was known as Bon Ton until December 9, 1899 when it was changed to Ramona. This name was suggested by Bill Little, a rancher who had taken it from the novel "Ramona" by Helen Hunt Jackson. When the railroad came through Ramona, the nearby towns of Ringo, Austin, and Twin Mounds were abandoned.

Ramona, 1905The original townsite was on the allotment of Jennie Cass Morton, who dropped the "go-devel" that blew in the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 in 1897, and step-daughter of George B. Keeler. The town had grown to 150 inhabitants by 1900, and was incorporated in 1901. The Prairie Oil and Gas Company located a large tank farm billed as the world's largest near Ramona in 1905. It had 222 35,000 barrel tanks, for a remarkable capacity of 7,770,000 barrels, and Ramona benefited from the tax revenues. By 1906 Ramona had two oil well supply stores, a foundry, brick plant, mill, and several minor industries, including the Cherokee Station gasoline refinery, which would operate until 1949. By 1909 there were two banks, three lumber yards, hotels, a theater, millinery shop, lawyers, dentists, doctors, a good gas system, and churches. By 1912, Ramona boasted 75 automobiles.

In the 1940s the tanks in the nearby farm were emptied and stood empty for some time before being dismantled. Much of the material became local building supplies, and the sheet steel sides and bottoms were shipped to Japan, to come back as WWII bullets. The old dikes around the tank farm are still visible from highway 75 north of Ramona. The town reverted to its agricultural base after 1949.

A few years back the Caney Valley School District renovated the old school building shown below for its Board of Education and administrative offices.

Ramona Board of Ed. Bldg.

Photo © Ian Swart of Fletcher, OK; Link

Washington County Carrel