Independent...Adventurous...Enterprising... Bold, these are the words that have been used to describe those who were here first.————— 1880-1899 —————
This mural, entitled "Building the City of Legends," represents several firsts - including many of the key people and their endeavors that built Bartlesville.
1. Carr Mill — In 1867, Nelson Carr brought the first industry to Indian Territory by building his water-powered corn gristmill in the horseshoe bend of the Caney River, just across from present day Johnstone Park. Carr sold the mill to Jacob Bartles in 1875. After buying the mill, Bartles enlarged and converted it to flour production.
2. Bartles Store — In 1878, Jacob Bartles built a combination store and home at the site of his grist mill. The store was stocked with all the necessities for life on the frontier. Bartles later added a saw mill, furniture shop, hotel, and two large farms to his holdings. All north of the Caney River, Bartles' fledging operations were commonly called Bartles Town or Northside.
3. William and Lillie Johnstone — In 1885, William Johnstone and George Keeler started the first store on the south side of the Caney — in direct competition with their former employer, Jacob Bartles. Due mainly to Johnstone and Keeler's efforts, the "Southside" developed rapidly and reached a population of 200 in 1896. In 1897, it incorporated as Bartlesville. Lillie (Armstrong) Johnstone, William's wife, was the granddaughter of Charles Journeycake, Delaware Chief and Baptist Minister.
4. Nelson F. Carr — In 1866, Carr established a trading post in Kansas. In 1867, he married Sarah Ann Rogers, a quarter-blood Cherokee, which enabled him to move into Indian Territory. Beyond his grist mill, Carr also developed large farming and cattle operations. When the oil boom struck, he worked on developing over 100 wells on his properties.
5. Jacob Bartles — A progressive man, Bartles was the first in Indian Territory to commercially grow wheat and develop a flour mill, as well as the first to establish electric lights, waterworks and a telephone line. In 1899, Bartles moved his two story building that housed his store and home three miles north where he founded the town of Dewey. Bartles married Nannie Journeycake Pratt, the widowed daughter of Chief Charles Journeycake.
6. The Nellie Johnstone — In 1897, William Johnstone, George Keeler and Michael Cudahy brought in the first commercial oil well in Indian Territory, just across the river from Bartles' mill. It marked the beginning of the oil industry for Oklahoma. Bartlesville quickly became a forest of derricks. By 1904, there were over 100 oil wells in the Bartlesville area. It was in Bartlesville that many prominent oil men, including H.V. Foster, J. Paul Getty, and the Phillips brothers, first got involved in the oil business.
————— 1900-1919 —————
7. H.V. Foster, circa 1917 — With his wife, Marie, in the driver's seat, H.V. Foster stands by his new automobile. Through his company, Indian Territory Illuminating Oil (I.T.I.O.), Foster became the intermediary between the Osage Nation's immense oil resources and those seeking to drill on Osage land. His control of the oil leases made him the richest man west of the Mississippi.
8. Interurban Railway — Service began in 1908. Among its key organizers were George Keeler, Frank Overlees, Frank Phillips and Joe Bartles. The electric rail cars connected Bartlesville and Dewey with three large zinc smelters on the southwest side of Bartlesville. The smelters arose because of the large zinc mines near Miami, Oklahoma and the abundance of natural gas in the Bartlesville area. The railway, like so many others, was wiped out by auto transportation and was closed in 1920.
9. Washington County Courthouse — Located at the corner of Frank Phillips Blvd. and Delaware Avenue. The Courthouse was erected in 1913 at a cost of $125,000. It quickly became a hub for many community activities and events. The building has been redeveloped into a professional office building.
10. Phillips Brothers — Fred, Waite, Ed, L.E. and Frank. Frank arrived in Bartlesville in 1903. He and his brother, L.E., ran a variety of banks and oil companies, and drilled their first successful well in 1905. In 1917, the brothers founded the Phillips Petroleum Company which eventually dominated the town. Frank and Jane (Gibson) Phillips were married February 18, 1897 in Iowa.
————— 1920-1929 —————
11. Phillips Service Station, circa 1929 — The cottage-style station became a marketing icon of Phillips Petroleum Company in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This station stood at the corner of Frank Phillips Blvd. and Keeler Avenue, directly south of the Santa Fe train depot. This area is now a small downtown park.
12. Masonic Lodge Building — In 1917, Howard Weber (discoverer and developer of the vast Weber Pool - an oil field east and southeast of Dewey) financed and built Bartlesville's first skyscraper, an opulent nine-story building for the Masonic Lodge. The new lodge was on the top floor and the remainder of the building was leased to the Empire Gas and Fuel Company (later the Cities Service Oil Company - "CITGO"). Empire was the successor to H.V. Foster's I.T.I.O. Company. In 1974, Reda Pump Company acquired the building from the Masonic Lodge. In 2005, Rogers State University purchased the building as home for its Bartlesville campus.
13. Frank Phillips Tower — Located at the corner of Keeler and Fourth Street. Construction of the tower was completed in 1929 as an addition to the Phillips Petroleum Company office building built in 1925. The 1925 office building was later razed to make way for Phillips' expanding office complex. The tower building remains as a focal point for the company's presence in downtown Bartlesville.
14. Osage Chief Bacon Rind — Traditional in dress and customs but progressive economically and politically, Bacon Rind was instrumental in the development of the Osage Nation's oil and gas resources. He is said to be the most photographed of all Native American leaders of that time.
15. George B. Keeler — Before his ventures with William Johnstone, Keeler began as a trader with the Osage Indians in 1871 and gained intimate and comprehensive knowledge of the various Indian tribes, their customs and habits. He spoke the Osage language. Keeler married Josie Gilstrap, a member of the Cherokee Nation in 1882. He later became a member of that tribe.
16. The "Woolaroc" Plane — In August 1927, Phillips sponsored Col. Art Goebel to pilot this small, single-motor plane in the Dole race - a 26-hour, non-stop flight from San Francisco-to-Honolulu. Running on Phillips' newly developed aviation fuel, the Woolaroc won the race. The plane was retired in 1929 and is on exhibit at Frank Phillip's Woolaroc Ranch southwest of Bartlesville.
Making of the Mural
The "Building of the City of Legends" mural was born from a Leadership Bartlesville Class XX search for a community service project. This search led to discussions with Downtown Bartlesville, Inc. which helped create the concept of a mural as a downtown beautification project. Over the course of ten months, this concept was brought to reality by three passionate members of the Leadership Bartlesville XX class.
In May 2011, the small project team envisioned creating a large, outdoor mural that would serve as a focal point for the heart of downtown Bartlesville. The mural would transform the deteriorating south wall of the Southern Abstract building into a dramatic piece of art that portrays the rich heritage of Bartlesville and its downtown area.
A state-wide search for a mural artist led to the commissioning of Dr. Bob Palmer of Edmond. Over his career, Palmer has done hundreds of murals across Oklahoma.
Collaborating with the Bartlesville Public Library and Bartlesville Area History Museum, the project team sifted through hundreds of historical pictures to develop a conceptual design. The concept ultimately evolved into a montage of key historical people and places. Illustrated in three, chronological time panels, these people and places represent the early history and growth of Bartlesville - how the City of Legends was built.
Selected photographs were provided to the artist, along with the conceptual design for the mural. To prepare the "canvas", the wall was cleaned, repaired and then coated with a sky blue colored primer.
Palmer and his six-member artist team arrived on March 21, 2012. The goal was to complete the mural in four days. On the first day, the background scenery was painted. Late that night, outlines of the detailed images were projected onto the wall - making the wall look like a huge coloring book. Over the next three days, the artists worked diligently to paint the details. With each brush stroke, history emerged from the wall. The mural was completed on March 25, 2012. The vision of a small group had become a reality for the entire community to enjoy.
This project involved extensive fundraising efforts. The funding was provided entirely through private donations. In keeping with the true community spirit of Bartlesville, many local individuals, non-profit organizations, private foundations and companies contributed to this project.