Biography of Colonel Jacob H. Bartles

Time is the perspective which places the individual in his true position in relation to the history of the community with which he has been identified and time serves but to heighten the fame and brighten the good name of Colonel Jacob H. Bartles, in whose honor the town of Bartlesville was named and who was also the founder of Dewey. He was ever a man of most progressive spirit, of which many tangible evidences may be cited, including the fact that he was the first man to establish electric light and waterworks plants in the state. He was also in the vanguard of those who have promoted the educational and moral progress of the community, as well as its public utility. At the same time he wisely and carefully managed his business interests, so that success in substantial measure came to him, enabling him to provide a good living for those dependent upon him. His life record covered a period of sixty-eight years and won him the honor and respect of all those who appreciate fair-mindedness, loyalty, progressiveness and high standards of living.

Mr. Bartles came to the southwest from the far-off state of New Jersey, his birth having occurred in Chester, Morris County, June 11, 1842, his parents being Joseph A. and Phoebe Helene Bartles. His father, a native of New York, put up the first telegraph wire in New York City and later he established his home on a farm in Morris County, New Jersey, which is now the property of the famous New York restaurateur, Childs. In 1857 Joseph A. Bartles sought the opportunities of the west and engaged in farming and stock raising in Wyandotte County, Kansas, and also conducted a butchering business at Quindaro. There he and his wife spent their remaining days, substantial and highly respected citizens of the community in which they lived. They had a family of three children: Louise, who is the widow of Alfred Brown of Chester, New Jersey, now residing with her daughter, Mrs. Sadie Reynolds, in New York City; Theodore and Jacob H., both of whom have passed away.

At the usual age Jacob H. Bartles became a pupil in the public schools of Chester, New Jersey, there continuing his studies to the age of fifteen years, when he accompanied his parents on their journey westward. They took their passage on a steamer at Pittsburgh, proceeding down the Ohio and up the Mississippi River as far as St. Louis, Missouri, where they disembarked and then took another boat for Quindaro, Kansas, situated about seven miles west of Kansas City. They arrived at their destination on the 2d of May, 1857, and during the succeeding three years Jacob H. Bartles there resided, devoting his time to steam-boating on the Missouri River, between Omaha and St. Louis. He then took up his abode on a farm near Quindaro, which he cleared of the heavy timber and converted into a productive tract of land. He was thus engaged when the country became involved in Civil war. His patriotic spirit being aroused, he joined the Union forces and marched to the front under the nation’s starry banner. In 1896 he wrote a most interesting account of his experiences in the Civil war, which we here insert in full: “In company with seventeen Wyandotte boys and Captain Veale, I went to Fort Leavenworth in the early part of June, 1861. We organized a company, with Veale as Captain, and remained there about two weeks before they could arm us. Then we were ordered to Kansas City and south to Little Santa Fe, where we were compelled to put half the company on guard at a time. The second morning the old guard were ordered to discharge their arms, which were old Belgian muskets with the barrels cut off to make cavalry guns. When the guns were discharged all the men fell backwards as if shot by the enemy, and when they had fairly recovered and found out the cause of the disaster they gathered up their Belgian muskets, as also did the boys in camp, piled them off on a fire and burned them up.

“There we were, left without any arms whatever except a few sabres and Colt’s revolvers. Captain Veale sent a message to the commanding officer at Fort Leavenworth that if he wanted us to go further to send arms. In two weeks they sent us some Sharp’s carbines and we carried them through the war. We went south next and were at the battles of Big Blue, Lone Jack, Dry Wood, Lincoln, West Point, Morristown, Osceola, two engagements at Eutonia, the Jim Lane expedition to Springfield, leaving Kansas City October 1st and returning December 8th

“On July 3, 1862, under the command of Colonel Bill Wier, we captured a part of Stand Watie’s regiment, including Colonel Adair in command. Camped at Wolf Creek, on the Military road, July 4th, and on the 6th Colonel Ross came in and surrendered with six hundred men. Returned to Fort Scott about August 13th and took a trip up through Missouri, through Spring River and Sarcoxie, which latter place we left October 3d and traveled all night, routing the enemy on the 6th. We went to Bentonville on the 21st, and had a fight with Cooper’s command at Maysville or Fort Wayne on the 22d, taking four pieces of artillery; went on a scout to Cincinnati and Cane Hill, had a fight November 28th at the latter place, and camped at Rae’s Mills on the 29th; moved the train and had a fight at Prairie Grove, December 6th ; moved the train from Fayetteville back to Rae’s Mills on the 9th, and started on the Van Buren expedition on the 27th. We next had a fight and routed the First Texas Regiment at Dripping Springs, on the 28th, running them to and through Van Buren. At Van Buren I climbed the flagstaff, hauled down the Confederate flag and hoisted our company’s `Old Glory.’

“We next went on a scout down the Arkansas River on the 29th, but returned to Rae’s Mills on the 31st; camped at Cross Hollow, January 12, 1863, camped on White River on the 20th, and swam the White River on the 24th with sabre, pistols and overcoat on. Returning to Fort Scott March 10, we camped at Rolla June 7, and July 1, 1863, came back to Fort Scott. On August 6th we camped at Fort Gibson, and on the 26th had a fight with Cooper’s command at Perryville, then returning to the Arkansas River and camping at Fort Davis on the 21st. We next moved to Camp Smith and camped on the north bank of the Arkansas River, March 26, 1864, starting on the Camden expedition from that place. We formed a junction with Steele’s command on the Little Missouri River, April 9, and this command formed a line of battle and skirmished with the Confederates on the following day. Our division and Steele’s formed a line and laid on our arms during the day and night of the-11th and on. the morning of the 12th the army was ordered forward in solid column, the Confederates retreating and our army moving to the left. General Thayer’s division had a fight in the rear with Price’s division, driving the latter two miles. We marched all night on the 13th, camped at Camden on the 16th, sent out and forty on a foraging trip on the 17th the confederates attacking and capturing the same and taking also our two twelve-pound Howitzers, which were the pets of the regiment. On the 19th Steele sent out a train to Pine Bluff, of about-five hundred six-mule teams which were also captured by the southerners. We then moved one mile north-east of Camden, where the enemy fired on our pickets on the 16th of April, and we then moved across Washita River, cut up eighty-three wagons, burned most of our camp equipment, and marched five miles on the 26th. On the 27th we marched thirteen miles and camped at Princeton, and on the 28th marched seventeen miles. The Confederates had fought with the rear guard on the 26th, and we then moved the train, artillery and cavalry across the Saline River on a rubber pontoon bridge, the infantry remaining on the west side. We had a hard fight with Kirby Smith and Price and drove them back with heavy loss, the Second Colored Infantry capturing two pieces of artillery. We moved five miles and se-cured something to eat, crossed at Jenkins Ferry April 30, 1864, moved thirty miles and burned the balance of our train May 1st, reached Little Rock on the 3d, crossed the Arkansas River at Little Rock on the 8th, and arrived at Fort Smith, May 17th. We then marched six miles south of that place and camped on the south side of Mazard’s Prairie on the 29th, and had a review and went to a dance on the 9th of July. Gano’s Confederates, about nineteen hundred strong, attacked our camp of about two hundred men on July 22d at seven o’clock, A. M., and killed about thirteen of us, wounded twenty and took one hundred and twenty-five prisoners, but my mule `Chaney’ (the best animal on earth) took me out safe. We moved the camp to Fort Smith on the 27th and when the Con-federates drove in our pickets, the Sixth Kansas went out with Colonel Judson in command and scrimmaged a little, the colonel getting hit in the leg with grape shot. We were then re-enforced by two pieces of Smith’s battery and dismounted one of the Confederate guns, driving them out of the woods on the 31st. On October 13th we camped for Fort Gibson and at Baxter Springs on the 21st, and marched up Cow Creek, where the enemy captured and burnt the train, on the 23d. We reached Fort Scott on that same day, and two days later Generals Marmaduke and Cable were taken prisoners with four hundred and forty-eight men from Price’s army, twelve miles northeast of Fort Scott. We reached Kansas City October 13, 1864. I never lost a day’s duty or took a dose of medicine, was never wounded, and was discharged in January, 1865. The above is merely an outline of the many incidents which occurred during the service of myself and comrades in the old Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.”

When the country no longer needed his military aid Mr. Bartles returned to his father’s home at Quindaro, Kansas, and there remained until his marriage on the 1st of October, 1868, at Leavenworth, Kansas; to Mrs. Nannie M. (Journeycake) Pratt, who was born August 28, 1843, her parents being Rev. Charles and Jane (Sancia) Journeycake, who in 1873 removed to the Cherokee Nation and were there remarried according to the laws and customs of the Cherokee people. Charles Journeycake was the chief of the Delawares and an ordained minister of the Baptist Church. He did missionary work throughout the Indian Territory, always without compensation, depending upon his farming interests for his livelihood. He organized the Baptist Church in Alluwe and his name is one of hallowed memory, by reason of what he did in promoting the moral development of this state. Mrs. Bartles was accorded liberal educational opportunities. She attended the Delaware Baptist Mission in Wyandotte County, Kansas; and for a year was a student in the Baptist College at Granville, Ohio. In young womanhood she became the wife of L. B. Pratt, who engaged in the lumber business at Leavenworth, Kansas, until his health failed, when he sought more congenial work and took up the occupation of farming. He passed away in 1865, leaving three children: Nonie, who was born March 12, 1861, and who became the wife of J. J. Barndollar of Coffeyville, Kansas; Ella May, who was born May 14, 1863, and is the wife of Frank Neilson of Coffeyville, Kansas; and Ida F., who was born November 7, 1865, and who married A. H. Gibson of Coffeyville. Mr. and Mrs. Bartles became the parents of two children: Charles, whose birth occurred August 13, 1869, and who died September 6, 1870; and Joseph A., who was born December 15, 1874, and now makes his home in Dewey.

Following the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bartles he settled upon his wife’s farm in Wyandotte County, Kansas, and turned his attention to general agricultural pursuits until 1873. He then removed to Silver Lake, about six miles southeast of Bartlesville, and there in a log building he opened a store and began merchandising, removing his stock, in 1874, to a better building which he erected. From that time forward he became a prominent factor in the commercial and business development of the state. In 1877 he built the first flour mill in the Indian Territory on Caney River, northeast of the site of Bartlesville, and in 1878 he erected a two-story frame building twenty-five by one hundred feet, near the mill, for a storeroom and residence. The first wheat grown on the Caney River was planted by him in 1878 and the following year he greatly promoted wheat growing in the community by furnishing seed to other farmers. For an extended period he devoted his attention to the cultivation of wheat, raising a banner crop of forty-five thousand bushels in the early ’90s. His activity also extended to the cattle industry and he was likewise engaged in the walnut log and lumber business at various places in the Cherokee Nation. He also broadened the scope of his mercantile activity by establishing stores at Alluwe, Pawhuska, Claremore, Milltown, Nowata and Old Bartlesville. At all times he was actuated by a most progressive spirit that manifested itself in the recognition and utilization of the opportunities that were presented to up build the city and state in which he operated, as well as in the advancement of his own fortunes. He was the builder of the Santa Fe Railroad from Caney, Kansas, to Collinsville, Oklahoma, in 1898-1899, and with many other public utilities he was connected, advancing many important business projects which were of the greatest value to the state. His store and residence on Turkey Creek, in which his son, Joseph A., was born, was removed to the mill at Old Bartlesville and there used as a furniture and cabinet shop, while later it was removed to Dewey and is today occupied as the printing establishment of the Dewey World. The two-story frame store and residence which he erected at the mill was made of black walnut and was the best building in the Cherokee Nation when erected, with the exception of the capitol building at Tahlequah. This structure was also removed to Dewey and now stands opposite the Hotel Dewey, which Mr. Bartles erected in 1898.

It was in 1900 that Mr. Bartles took up his abode at Dewey and from this point managed his constantly increasing business interests. As the years passed he became more and more prominent in connection with mercantile, agricultural and stock raising affairs in the state and there stands as a substantial monument to his enterprise and progressive spirit the thriving and growing city of Dewey. In the early days he encountered all of the hardships and difficulties incident to settlement on the frontier. He met these with a resolute spirit and overcame them by reason of his determined industry and indefatigable diligence. With notable prescience he foresaw something of what the future had in store for this great and growing country and met the demands of an ‘advancing civilization by building a railroad, by establishing telegraph and telephone lines and also in town building, by the establishment of a town which he named in honor of the great naval hero of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American war. Opportunity was ever to him a call to action and one to which he made ready response and in embracing the opportunities which were presented he did much to up build the state and promote its progress by laying the foundation upon which the present prosperity and advancement of Oklahoma rests. He gave generous assistance to the many worthy charitable projects in which his wife engaged. Mrs. Bartles has always been a devoted member of the Baptist Church and took active part in organizing the Church of that denomination at Dewey. She was the first Christian woman along the Caney River and on one occasion, as there was no minister near, conducted the funeral services held at the burial of an infant. She has filled all of the offices in the Church and Sunday school at Dewey, acting as Church clerk until 1913. In 1904 she undertook the task of erecting a monument in memory of her father and combining it with the purpose of aiding the Baptist Church work in the town of Dewey. The present beautiful memorial Baptist Church is the outgrowth of this idea. The Church was completed at a cost of five thousand dollars and is known as the Journeycake Memorial Baptist Church, having been dedicated on Sunday, November 25, 1906, when the Rev. J. S. Murrow, a venerable Indian missionary of Atoka and the Rev. J. B. Rounds of Oklahoma City, conducted the services.

Colonel Bartles was always keenly interested as well in the Grand Army of the Republic and but a brief period before his death entertained the survivors of his regiment, the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, in a three days’ reunion at Dewey in September, 1908. Although he was then in ill health he was able to attend most of the campfires and found the keenest happiness in acting as host to his old army comrades. One of the local newspapers wrote of him as follows at the time: “Dressed in gala attire, with flags, bunting, pennants and streamers flying from every available pole and building around the square, Dewey is this week assisting Uncle `Jake’ Bartles in the entertainment of his guests, the survivors of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry. This is the twenty-fourth annual reunion of the famous old regiment, and all of the survivors who are in attendance are the guests at the Dewey Hotel of J. H. Bartles. The illness of the latter, who is confined to his cot on the veranda of the hotel, serves to mar the pleasure of the occasion. Mr. Bartles is able, however, to sit up and converse with his guests, who are coming to the entertainment on every incoming train. In connection with the entertainment of his old regiment, which will last three days, Mr. Bartles has arranged for a general reunion which will be attended by the old soldiers of all regiments. This is the first day of the entertainment and it is starting with a swing that promises to make it a notable event. The crowds began gathering late yesterday and today the people are coming from all points of the compass. Dewey threatens to be taxed to the extreme in caring for her guests, but the people have determined to render all assistance they can to make the visit of `Uncle Jake’s’ guests as pleasant as possible. The Commercial Club is taking a leading part in the entertainment. The old cannon brought from Washington by Mr. Bartles was brought down from Sedan, a band has been secured for the three days and nights and excursions have been arranged on the Cement company’s road and the interurban to Bartlesville.” Only about a month later Colonel Bartles passed away, on the 18th of October, 1908. For four years he had battled with disease but with the same unflinching courage-which he manifested when he wore the nation’s blue uniform, he met the last enemy, to whom all must succumb. Thus J. H. Bartles passed on, a man who may well be termed one of the builders and founders of the great state of Oklahoma. As he traveled life’s journey he often extended a helping hand where aid was needed and it was always a matter of great gratification to him that many of the young men who were in his employ became prosperous and prominent factors in the business life of the state. He did not fear the criticism of others, nor did he fail to live up to his honest convictions. He was loyal to every cause which he espoused and his entire life was guided by the highest principles of integrity and honor.


Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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