Oil and Ranching in Barltesville, Oklahoma

Some early history of Bartlesville, OK and the Cross Bell Ranch……

                     Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  Founded in 1917 by Frank and L.E. Phillips, Phillips Petroleum Company wasn’t the only great partnership formed in what was called the “mid-continental oil region.”  Over 8,804,000 barrels of oil would eventually be pumped from its pools and Bartlesville, Oklahoma was smack dab in the middle of the region. By 1920 oil was being pumped everywhere around the city and the Santa Fe depot was shipping trainloads of crude to refineries. Newly discovered fields in Copan, Wann and Hogshooter would soon return huge profits to their lease holders. In Osage County, Henry Foster had signed a lease agreement with the Osage tribe in 1886 and now he was subleasing the mineral rights in this huge county to many new partnerships. In 1922 it wasn’t uncommon for a lease to sell for a million dollars (over 68,000,000 in today’s dollars!). Frank Phillips paid $1,990,000 for a lease in 1924 which at the time was highest amount ever paid. It was also during this period that J. Paul Getty, in partnership with his dad George, formed the Getty Oil Company.

Harry Sinclair also got his start with leases in Osage, Washington and Tulsa counties and became a millionaire in the 1920s. He invested in the historic Glen Pool field, turning Sinclair oil company into a 50 million dollar enterprise which was big, big stuff at the time.

Another great partnership that was established in this era was between H.C. Price and J.F. Lincoln. Price’s pipeline construction company would go on to work on many great projects including the 1,700 mile Continental Divide pipeline in Canada and the construction of a Liberty ship called “The Bartlesville”.  Of course the Frank Lloyd Wright Tower at 6th and Dewey was built by Price for his offices.

Oil wasn’t the only thing that drew people to Washington county. The ranching business was also booming in the area. The grasses here were, and still are, famous for their nutrients and cattlemen brought their stock from other parts of the country to “finish” them here before shipping them to stockyards. Many great ranches in Washington and Osage country were founded during this time and some of them are still going strong today.

One ranch in particular would eventually grow to three hundred and seventy-five thousand acres under one brand, which included property land not only in Washington and Osage counties but also in Wyoming, Montana, Texas and Kansas. The partners only ran Hereford cattle and foundation bred quarter horses, using original stallions descended from their own famous “Little King.”  The partners were Gene and Kathleen Mullendore who had created their life long partnership when they married on December 21, 1926. Kathleen was the grand daughter of Osage Indian Chief Charlie Brown. Her father Buck Boren and Brown had formed their own partnership which was responsible for shipping so many cattle out of Washington County that the Santa Fe railroad named a shipping pen after Brown. This history and much more about the accomplishments of the Mullendore family can be found in Family Histories of Washington County Area, Oklahoma which is available at the Bartlesville Public Library.

And don’t forget Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque fund raiser which will held out at Gene and Kathleen’s famous Cross Bell ranch on Saturday May 11th. With the Oklahoma Balladeer Les Gilliam and his Silver Lake Band playing into the night it’s no wonder over 900 people attended last year.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………………..





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