Legend has it that people who worked and traveled on the Underground Railroad used secret codes to learn the routs from one safe place to the next. Many of which were passed using the Underground Railroad Quilt Code to guide fugitives to freedom. Because it was illegal in slave-holding states to teach slaves to read, slaves could not communicate with each other in writing. But, quilts and quilt patterns allowed slaves to communicate through storytelling and textile production. Complex messages were shared in stitches, patterns, designs, colors, and fabrics of the quilts created.

Certain patterns told slaves how to get ready to escape, what to do on the trip, and where to go. Once stitched, the coded quilts were “aired” out the windows of slave cabins, acting as secret maps for slaves ready to make the dangerous trek from South to North, from slavery to freedom.

The Wagon Wheel pattern was one of twelve patterns used in this method of communication. Wagon Wheel quilt pattern was used as a signal to slaves to pack all the things that would go in a wagon or be used during a long journey to escape using the Underground Railroad.


Up to $1,000 payable the first year as 50 percent per semester to the university, college, junior college, trade or vocational school on behalf of the recipient, following proof of acceptance. Students selected for the award may reapply for future funding.

Entries will be judged by a selection and review committee and make an award recommendation to the Bartlesville Community Foundation Scholarship Committee. Recipients will be selected based on adherence to the prescribed criteria, meaningful content and clarity of essay, and strong character determined by evaluation of complete applications.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Applicant must be a Black individual graduating or past graduate of a high school in Nowata, Osage, or Washington Counties in Oklahoma.
  • 3.0 or GPA or higher in high school (and college if applying as a college student)
  • Demonstrated strong moral character and citizenship during high school years or in years between high school and college
  • Attending university, college, junior college, trade or vocational school


  • First Time Applicant:
    • Please answer the two following questions, in your own words. Answers should be uploaded in separate files. Answers should be between 200-500 worlds.
      • How do you hope to use your education and your field of study to strengthen and support the Black community?
      • What steps have you taken to prepare yourself for success as a college student?
  • Past Recipients Re-Applying:
      • Please answer the following question, in your own words, on a separate piece of paper. Your answer should be between 200-500 words.
        • Please write a letter to the scholarship review committee reflecting on your previous year of college


This application is now closed.