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District Beginnings


Proclamation
Bartlesville Public Schools Start in 1899

On May 29, 1899 the Bartlesville City Council passed Ordinance 36, levying taxes for public schools. On July 31, 1899 a city election creating the district was held, with 38 yes votes and none opposed (see photo of the board minutes). 

On August 3, 1899 the school board organized and met for the first time, with the U.S. Court for the Northern District of the Indian Territory certifying the annexation on August 8, 1899. 

On October 2, 1899 the school board recommended a 15 mill (1.5%) ad valorem tax, which was levied by the city council's Ordinance 39. Thus the first free school sessions began in October 1899.

Classes were held at these locations:

  • The old Armstrong Subscription School or Band Hall building at Second and Osage.
  • The old Methodist Church South near Fourth and Delaware, a building which was later remodeled and moved to 708 S. Johnstone Avenue.
  • The one-room Smelter Town school at the west end of Third Street (now Frank Phillips Boulevard). This school served the children of the many immigrants employed at the city's smelters. Miss Ila Berry taught at that school from 1907-1912, lured by the extra $10 per month that position paid over the other facilities in town.
  • A two-room frame building built at Sixth and Cherokee from the donations of city fathers Johnstone, Keeler, Bartles, and Armstrong. Three more frame buildings would be added at that site before the Garfield School was built there in 1904.
From 1899 until 1905, the public school system had a succession of six different principals. In 1900, the school had 138 pupils from 6 to 17 years of age. There were eight teachers in 1903 and twelve by 1904.

Details and photos of many early schools are in the 2010 publication Over a Century of Schools in Washington County: Gone But Not Forgotten by the staff of the Bartlesville Area History Museum.
In 1902, the Bartlesville Magnet newspaper printed a 3"x6" 6-page booklet of the Rules and Regulations adopted by the Board of Education of Bartlesville School District in 1900. Click the photo for an Adobe PDF file.

1900 Rules and Regulations