The Washington County community of Ramona lies seventeen miles southeast of Bartlesville and just east of U.S. Highway 75. In 1899 Sam Kimbro resided along a tributary of Double Creek in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. That same year the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway purchased an outbuilding that belonged to Kimbro and constructed a depot nearby. The station was named Hobson in honor of Richmond Pearson Hobson, a hero of the recent Spanish-American War. A townsite developed as businesses relocated from neighboring settlements to be near the railroad.
The Hobson post office was established in September 1899 with William DeMoss as postmaster. He was replaced by Ira Hollingsworth, who renamed the mail office Bonton, a French word meaning "good style." The depot was still called Hobson, yet most residents preferred neither designation. Therefore, Ramona, the title of a popular Helen Hunt Jackson novel, was suggested and accepted as the town's official name in November 1899. Ramona was incorporated in 1901, and in 1902 Lee Roy Gideon became its first mayor.
The town's initial newspaper, the Ramona Record, premiered in 1902 and was followed by the Ramona Herald in 1903. The Ramona Star was first published in 1905. A Ramona-area subscription school was replaced by a public facility in 1900, and a brick school building was constructed in 1909. Local petroleum and natural gas revenue benefitted the Ramona school system, making it one of Oklahoma's best. In 1922 the town's undefeated high school football team was among the nation's elite.
The Prairie Oil and Gas Company, a Standard Oil subsidiary, constructed a tank farm north of Ramona in 1904 and built the Cherokee Pumping Station west of town in 1906. Prairie opened a division office at Ramona in 1914, three years after the discovery of the Ramona Oil Field. The town prospered as boarding houses, cafes, supply stores, and other businesses serving oil-field workers were established. The Ramona Brick Plant began operations in September 1905.
At 1907 statehood Ramona had 873 inhabitants. During the oil boom approximately five thousand people occupied the town. The boom was short lived, however. The Prairie Oil tank farm was disassembled prior to World War II, and the Cherokee Pumping Station was closed in 1949. Ramona's population fell from 793 in 1920 to 617 in 1930. Numbers stabilized in the 500 range with 574 and 546 reported in 1940 and 1960, respectively. The 1970 census counted 600 residents and the 1990 census, 508. In 2000 Ramona had 564 citizens. At the turn of the twenty-first century the town remained a farming and ranching community. Area students, as well as those from Ochelata, Vera, and Oglesby, attended the Caney Valley public schools in Ramona. The local economy should benefit from a Wal-Mart Distribution Center that is scheduled to open near Ochelata in 2004.
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). Ramona (Indian Territory) Herald, 16 September 1904. "Ramona," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. N. F. Randolph, "Ramona," Sturm's Oklahoma Magazine (April 1909). 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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