A rural community in Washington County, Ochelata is situated ten miles south of Bartlesville at the intersection of County Roads N3950 and E0290. Originally called Otis, the town was renamed Ochelata in November 1899. The new designation honored Charles Thompson, a former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation (1875-79), whose Cherokee name was Oochalata.
Ochelata was founded circa 1898 by Thomas Ellis, a Kentuckian, on forty acres he had purchased from a Cherokee named Jacob Dick. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached the settlement in October 1899. The Ochelata post office was established on March 23, 1900, and the community was incorporated in 1902. Nick Taylor was the town's first mayor.
Cattle destined for Osage County, Oklahoma, were shipped to Ochelata's stockyards, where they were quarantined and treated for Texas fever. The Ochelata Oil Field boomed in 1910 with an initial daily yield of about sixty barrels of petroleum and some three million cubic feet of natural gas. The Diamond Refinery was established northeast of town.
A subscription school served the Ochelata area beginning in 1898. There were three public schools in the vicinity after 1907, and a new high school was completed in 1929. The community's first church, the Ochelata Methodist Episcopal Church, opened in 1902. The Ochelatan, the town's earliest newspaper, premiered in 1905. It was followed by the Ochelata Weekly Progress and the Ochelata Outlook.
Ochelata survived large fires in 1910, 1911, and 1943. The railroad depot closed in December 1941. The town had 359 citizens in 1907, and its peak population was 550 in 1910. There were 494 inhabitants in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century children attended the Caney Valley public schools in Ramona. Many Ochelata residents farmed or ranched. Others worked locally or in Bartlesville. A Wal-Mart Distribution Center, scheduled to open southeast of Ochelata in 2004, will bring an estimated seven hundred jobs to the area.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ruby Cranor, Caney Valley Ghost Towns and Settlements (Bartlesville, Okla.: Blackman Printing, 1985). Paul F. Lambert, Margaret Withers Teague, and Kenny A. Franks, Washington County: A Centennial History (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1999). "Ochelata," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Margaret Withers Teague, History of Washington County and Surrounding Area, Vol. 1 (Bartlesville, Okla.: Bartlesville Historical Commission, 1967).
Jon D. May
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