History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK

Ramona

Population: 535 in 2010; 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 built a 222-tank oil storage farm, billed as the world's largest, near Ramona in 1905. 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.

Ramona Tank Farm

Pump house photo © J.D. Patrick; Link

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 just before World War II. 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.

Ramona Central SchoolIn its heyday, the Ramona school district built what became known as Central school in 1909. It was reportedly struck by lightning and burned in 1958. But a 1916 building survives, which originally had a regulation basketball court on its top floor with opera seating for almost 400, a basement pool, power plant, woodworking and forging rooms, and classrooms. The "Renaissance building" was renovated in the late 1990s and is now the school board and administration building for the Caney Valley School District.

Ramona Board of Ed. Bldg.

Photo © Ian Swart of Fletcher, OK; Link

Ramona's school district combined with Ochelata and Vera in 1970 and Oglesby joined in 1978 to form Caney Valley Schools, not to be confused with the Caney, Kansas district of the same name locaed 35 miles north of Ramona. In 1983 th district re-organized to have its elementary school in Ochelata and its junior high/middle school and high school in Ramona, situated east of the Renaissance building. So the Ochelata Longhorns, Oglesby Colts, Ramona Wolves, and Vera Wranglers all became the Caney Valley Trojans.

For decades Ramona was a notorious speed trap along Highway 75. The town supplies natural gas to a Wal-Mart distribution center built five miles north of town on land owned by Bartlesville. In 2012 a Cherokee Casino opened on Highway 75 three miles north of town.

Caney Valley Schools

Washington County Carrel