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Joseph A. Bartles, prominently identified with the development of the oil and gas industry in northern Oklahoma, makes his home in Dewey and has spent almost his entire life in Washington County. Actuated by a spirit of progress and enterprise at all times he has become a dynamic force in connection with the development of this section of the state. His judgment is sound, his enterprise unfaltering and the essential features of success he readily recognizes and utilizes.
Joseph A. Bartles was born December 15, 1874, on Turkey creek, in the Cherokee Nation, his parents being Colonel J. H. and Nannie M. Bartles. His mother was a daughter of distinguished figures in connection with Oklahoma history, Rev. Charles and Jane (Sancia) Journeycake, who in 1873 removed to the Cherokee Nation, where they were remarried according to the laws and customs of the tribe. The Rev. Charles Journeycake was the chief of the Delawares and an ordained minister of the Baptist Church, who did missionary work throughout the territory, earning his living through his farming operations and never accepting a cent for his work for the Church. He organized the Baptist Church at Alluwe. He passed away in 1894, having for about a year survived his wife. Their daughter, Nannie M., was born August 28, 1843, and was accorded excellent educational advantages, attending the Delaware Baptist mission at Denison, Kansas, while for a year she was a student in the Baptist College at Granville, Ohio. She was the first Christian woman living along the Caney River and on one occasion, in the absence of a regular minister, was called upon to conduct the funeral services over an infant. She was always a most active Christian worker and organized the Baptist Church at Dewey, holding all of the offices in the Church and Sunday school. In 1904 she formulated the plan of building a monument to the memory of her father and also of aiding the Baptist Church in the town. As a result of her labors the beautiful Church edifice, known as the Journeycake Memorial Baptist Church of Dewey, was erected at a cost of $5,000. The dedicatory services were held Sunday, November 25, 1906, when Rev. J. S. Murrow, a venerable Indian missionary of Atoka, conducted the services. Nannie M. Journeycake in early womanhood became the wife of L. B. Pratt, at one time a lumber merchant of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and afterward a farmer. He passed away in 1865, leaving three children: Nonie, who was born March 2, 1861, and became the wife of J. J. Barndollar of Coffeyville, Kansas ; Ella May, who was born May 14, 1863, and who married Frank Neilson of Coffeyville; and Ida F., who was born November 7, 1865, and is the wife of A. H. Gibson of Coffeyville. Following the death of her first husband, Mrs. Pratt became the wife of Col. Jacob H. Bartles, on the 1st of October, 1868, at Leavenworth, Kansas. Colonel Bartles was born at Chester, Morris County, New Jersey, June 11, 1842, a son of Joseph A. and Phoebe Helene Bartles. His father, a native of New York, put up the first telegraph wires in New York City and afterward removed to Chester County, New Jersey, where he owned a farm that is now the property of Childs, the famous New York restaurateur. In 1857 Mr. Bartles became a resident of Wyandotte County, Kansas, where he followed farming and stock raising and also conducted a meat market at Quindaro, he and his wife there spending their remaining days.
Jacob H. Bartles, one of their three children, was educated in the public schools of New Jersey and when fifteen years of age accompanied his parents to the. West. During the next three years he resided at Quindaro and engaged in steamboating on the Missouri River between Omaha and St. Louis. He afterward removed to a farm near Quindaro, clearing the land of heavy timber. His patriotic loyalty to his country was manifest when in June, 1861, he went with seventeen companions to Fort Leavenworth, where they organized a company. Two weeks later they were armed and were ordered to St. Louis. From that point they proceeded to the Southwest, where they were on active duty. They participated in many skirmishes and various hotly contested engagements in the Southwest and although Mr. Barnes remained at the front until discharged in January, 1865, he never was off duty for a single day, nor was he ever wounded. His company was made a part of the Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and the history of the regiment is one of unfaltering bravery and continuous activity.
Following his military service Mr. Bartles returned home and continued with his father until his marriage in 1868, at which time he located on his wife’s farm in Wyandotte County, Kansas, there remaining until 1873. In that year he removed to the Indian Territory and began merchandising in a log house at Silver Lake, about six miles southeast of Bartlesville. In 1874 he erected a better building, to which he removed his stock and in 1877 built the first flour mill in the Indian Territory on Caney River, north-east of the present site of Bartlesville. In 1878 he erected a two-story frame building, which served the purpose of store and residence and in the same year he planted the first wheat grown on Caney River, while the following year he furnished seed to other farmers in order to promote wheat growing. He continued to develop his wheat crops for many years, raising his banner crop of 45,000 bushels in the early ’90s. At an early day he also engaged in cattle raising and he likewise devoted a part of his time to the timber and lumber business at various places in the Cherokee Nation. He also extended his merchandising operations, owning and conducting stores at Alluwe, Pawhuska, Claremore, Milltown, Nowata and Old Bartlesville. In 1898 and 1899 he was the builder of the Santa Fe Railroad from Caney, Kansas, to Collinsville, Oklahoma, and in the following year he removed to Dewey. He transferred many of his business interests to this place and in 1889 was the builder of the Dewey Hotel, which continued to be his home until his demise. By reason of his many and varied activities he contributed in notable measure to the development and progress of Oklahoma and with its history his name is inseparably associated.
By his marriage to Mrs. Nannie M. Pratt, Mr. Bartles had two children: Charles, born August 13, 1869, who died September 6, 1870; and Joseph A., whose name introduces this record. It is most interesting to note the keen delight which Colonel Bartles always took in the Grand Army of the Republic. He was the host of his old regiment at its twenty-fourth annual reunion, at which time he made all of its survivors his guests at the Dewey Hotel. Although he was ill at the time, he put forth every effort to make it a most gala and happy occasion, and such it was pronounced to be by all who were in attendance. It was a three days’ reunion held in September, 1908, and on the 18th of October, following, Colonel Bartles passed away. His life had ever been a most valuable, contributing factor to the growth, progress and prosperity of the section in which he lived. In this connection at the time of his death one of the local papers wrote : “He was the pioneer merchant, miller and farmer and was the first man to establish in the state electric light and waterworks plants; was always the first and foremost and the most liberal in promoting education, morals and all public utilities and in all these undertakings was generous to a fault. In founding and building Dewey he was prompted and governed by the same spirit and judgment that had directed his actions throughout the whole of his busy and successful life. In 1908 he died, after laying down his manifold interests and with the happy reflection that Dewey was on the high road to a realization of his ambitions of a splendid city, and time and the future will reveal that there was nothing chimerical in his scheme to meet the demands of a new and magnificent commonwealth, and this city will remain for all time a monument to his genius and magnanimity.”
Joseph A. Bartles received his first lessons from his mother and afterward attended a private school. When twelve years of age he became a pupil in a school at Bacone, near the city of Muskogee, where he remained for three or four years and then matriculated in the Kirkwood Military Academy of Missouri. It was then his desire to become a student in the United States Military Academy at West Point and it was in preparation therefore that he pursued his course in the Kirkwood Military Academy. After three years of study in that institution, however, he decided to return home and soon found that his time was fully occupied with the care of his father’s interests and the business affairs to which he turned his personal attention. He first took charge of a cattle outfit and was thus identified with the cattle industry for many years. He entered the field of merchandising in 1900, conducting a general store at Dewey for eight years and at a more recent period he has been a prominent figure in connection with the development of the oil and gas resources of northern Oklahoma. The extent and importance of his interests and activities in this direction are indicated in the fact that he is President of the Delaware-Cherokee Oil Company, is Treasurer of the Bartles Oil Company and President of the Dewey Gas Company. He yet retains farming and real estate interests, owning much city as well as farm property. He is likewise one of the stockholders in the First National Bank of Dewey and became one of the first stockholders of the Interurban Railroad, extending from Dewey to Bartlesville. He is a man of notably keen insight into business affairs and readily discriminates between the essential and the nonessential in all matters pertaining to his commercial, agricultural and financial interests.
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On the 18th of June, 1913, Mr. Bartles was united in marriage to Miss Edith Ross of Oklahoma City, and they became parents of two daughters: Nancy Jane and Mary Jean, but both have passed away. Politically Mr. Bartles is a Republican and was the candidate of his party for delegate to the state constitutional convention, his opponent winning the election by only seventy-two votes, although the Democratic majority is normally much greater. In Masonry he has attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite and belongs to the Mystic Shrine. He is likewise a member of the Knights of Pythias and of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. His life has been guided by high purposes and lofty ideals and characterized by intense activity for the benefit of any business enterprise or public project with which he has become associated. He is a representative of two of the old and honored pioneer families of the state and the work instituted by his forbears has been carried on by him not only in the up-building of his own fortunes but as a contributing element to the up-building and benefit of the commonwealth.