Oklahoma History Background
Statehood, Indian Removal, Land Run, Oil Boom
 

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    History

    Oklahoma became a state in 1907. The state was formed from Indian Territory, Oklahoma Territory and No-Mans Land. What is now the eastern part of Oklahoma was Indian Territory. The western part was Oklahoma Territory. The Panhandle was No-Mans Land. Oklahoma is known as "Native America" and the "Sooner State".

    All but No-Mans Land, now the Panhandle of Oklahoma, was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. No-Mans Land was acquired via U.S. land acquisitions following the Mexican-American War, and was originally part of Texas. In 1850 Texas relinquished claim to that territory in compromising over the slavery question. At that point this strip of land was merely public land. People tried to settle, there was no way for the settlers to claim the land upon which they lived, no way to make marriages legal in the territory, no laws to govern tax foreclosures, the organization of corporations, etc.

    The lawlessness of pre-statehood. No local or state law existed in Oklahoma and Indian Territories, and No-Mans Land, and it became hang outs for the lawless. Cattle and horse thieves, whiskey peddlers, and bandits who sought refuge in the untamed territory that was free of a "White Man's Court." There were a handful of federal marshals working for Judge Isaac Parker, the "Hanging Judge", out of Ft Smith, Arkansas. This small group of marshals were limited to attempting to capture the most notorious outlaws.

    Oklahoma has a unique history in how its population ebb and flowed. There were four major events with major population changes occuring over short periods.

    1. The Indian relocation era, the 1830's.
    2. The Land Run era, 1889-1895.
    3. Third the oil rush era, started in 1897 and peaked in the 1920's, and continues to this day.
    4. Fourth was the outward migration precipitated by the Dust Bowl. 1930's.

    Indian Removal 1830's

    The Indian Removal Act was legislated by the United States Congress, in 1830. The Removal Act did not actually order the removal of any Native Americans. Rather, it authorized the President to negotiate land-exchange treaties with tribes living within the boundaries of existing states.

    Essentially this meant encouraging the Indians from east of the Mississippi river to relocate west of the Mississippi on land that was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The land chosen for the Indians, Indian Territory, was at that time remote and unsettled by white Americans. What would become Indian Territory was already known to many of the eastern tribes, as a lucrative hunting area. Tribe hunting parties often made seasonal hunting treks to this area for meat.

    The loss and suffering resulting from the physical relocation was one of Americas most shameful acts. The Trail of Tears was one of many episodes of total disregard for human rights and suffering occurring during the relocation.

    Land Runs, Lotteries and Auction 1889 -1906

    What is popularly known as the "Land Run", was five land runs, a land lottery and finally a land auction. Prior to each Land Run the US government surveyed and platted 160 acres tracts for the first settler to reach to stake claim.

    Below are the seven events

    APR 22 1889   Oklahoma Territory's First Land Run.
    SEP 22 1891 Iowa, Sac, Fox, Pottawatomie, and Shawnee Lands, opened by land run.
    APR 19 1892 Cheyenne and Arapaho land opened by land run.
    SEP 16 1893 Cherokee Outlet opened by land run.
    MAY   3 1895 Kickapoo lands opened by land run.
    AUG   1 1901 Wichita-Caddo and Comanche, Kiowa and Apache lands, opened by a "land lottery"
    DEC   1906 Big Pasture lands opened by bids.

    Oil boom

    The first recorded oil well in what is now Oklahoma was completed in 1859, by a man seeking, not oil, but saltwater.

    The birth of the oil boom in Oklahoma was April 15, 1897, with the discovery of the first commercial oil well the Nellie Johnstone No. 1, along the Caney river, near what is now Bartlesville.

    Oklahoma had oil booms in several fields scattered mostly in the eastern part of the state. The oil industry reached its peak in the 1920s. Below are the largest fields and dates of their discovery.

    Bartlesville 1897             Healdton 1913
    Burbank (Osage) 1987 Greater Seminole 1926
    Glenn Pool 1905        Oklahoma City 1930
    Cushing 1912           

    The Greater Seminole was the largest field discovered in the world to that point. Within a few years the added supply of the Greater Seminole glutted the world market. This coupled with the depression resulted in the price of oil dropping to ten cents per barrel. The oil companies agreed on a voluntary reductions in oil production. This in turn eliminate development and drilling, where most of the jobs were. The boom turned to bust.

    The Dust Bowl

    The Dust Bowl covered the central areas of the US and Canada, and was caused by a combination of man's misuse of the land and the wrath of nature.

    The seeds of economic problems that caused the depression and the beginnings of the drought that created the Dust Bowl were coming into being at approximately the same time. Around 1930. And, both continued to the end of the 1930's.

    By the end the 1930s, many children born in that decade would have no understanding of normalcy, only knowing poverty, hunger and a world of dust. That generation never experienced comfort and security. Never experienced fulfilled hopes and dreams. They only knew a life of gloom, sadness and unanswered prayers.

    The Dust Bowl along with the emergence of mechanized farming would facilitate the rapid demise of an agricultural based economy and rural living. As the Depression and Dust Bowl were coming to an end, WW II would transition the country to a new economy. The labor of small family farmers' would move to the cities to build the agriculture machines that would replace them.




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