In 1890 there were only seven men and two women settlers at this site. However, the population increased so substantially that by 1896 there was a demand for a post office. It was established on November 17, 1896. This country known as the Chilliwhist is a high basin like area surrounded by timbered mountains. It lies above and beyond the hills along the river where the creek of the same name empties into the Okanogan River. The name is of Indian origin, descriptive of the area and is said to mean "big hole above a creek" and also "an opening above a waterfall or creek."
In Olema came the time when kerosene lights in the windows of cabins in the Chilliwhist began to go out one by one. Dry years followed dry years, bringing discouragement and tax bills which could not be paid. Many 160 acre tracts went over to the county for unpaid taxes. The few remaining settlers were those who were able to extend their acreage, and still try to rough out a livening.