A brief history of the formation of Oklahoma territory as printed
in The Indian Advocate, volume 14, issue number 1, January 1902.
From the Report of Ex. Gov. Jenkins.
Historically considered, Oklahoma as a territory is of recent origin, but
as a small portion of the great tract of south-western country, known at
various times and under various circumstances as Louisiana, Mandan Territory,
the great American Desert, uninhabitable lands and the Indian Territory,
it has a place in the history of the nation dating back to the days of the
Spanish explorers, who sought in the great Southwest unknown empires and
their reputed fabulous wealth .
Following the course of travel described in many early Spanish manuscripts
and books, one is readily convinced that the original Oklahoma boomers were
the little army of adventurous spirits who traversed the Southwest under
the leadership of De Soto, and that they were followed by Jesuits and others
who sought wealth in the mineral veins of the mountains and hills of the
Territory, there are unmistakable signs in lately discovered ruins of mines
and places of early abode.
Lewis and Clarke visited the Territory in one of their early exploring expeditions,
and the prairies and valleys of the Territory were the hunting grounds of
the early tribes of Indians, from the earliest time of which there is record
of the movements of the aboriginal Americans.
When the Indian Territory was created as a home for all of the Indian tribes,
and with the intention of some day building there a great Indian State,
most of what is now Oklahoma Territory was included within its bounds, and
Washington Irving, who, in 1834, made a hunting trip here, describes most
graphically the beauty and wealth of Oklahoma's natural endowments in his
sketch, "A Tour of the Prairies."
Some time early in the seventies the name of Oklahoma first appears in political
history, the occasion being the introduction in Congress of a bill to create
a territory out of a portion of the Indian Territory to be known as Oklahoma-
The measure failed of passage, and for more than a decade little or nothing
was heard of this country.
Then came the agitation started by Payne and Couch and kept up by their
intrepid little hand of boomers until, in March, 1889, in the dying hours
of Congress, an amendment was tacked on the lndian appropriation bill providing
for the opening to homestead settlement of the little area of land then
known as Oklahoma, embracing less than 3,000,000 acres now lying in the
heart of a great Territory.
This land was opened on April 22, 1889, and then occurred the first great
Oklahoma rush. The brief legislation opening the land provided no form of
government. and for over a year the people of the Territory were a law unto
themselves. The only government during this period was that created and
maintained by common consent, yet there was no lawlessness or outlawry,
and property and life were adequately protected at all times.
In June, 1890, the territorial government came into existence, and by the
same act of Congress the strip of country known as "No Man's Land,"
embracing, 3,681,000 acres, was added as Beaver county. In September of
same year the 1,282,434 acres embraced in the Sauk and Fox, Iowa and Pottawatomie
Reservations, in the eastern part of the Territory, were opened to settlement,
and the following spring came the 4,397,771 acres of Cheyenne and Arapaho
land. September 16, 1893, The Cherokee strip was opened to settlement, and
the counties of Kay, Grant, Woods, Woodward, Garfield, Noble and Pawnee
created from its 6,014,239 acres on fertile land. In 1895 the Kickapoo reservation
of 206,662 acres was settled, and the year following Greer county, which
had been previous to that considered a portion of Texas, was given to the
Territory by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.
All these, with the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache and Wichita Indian reservations
just opened, give the Territory a settled area of 24,000,000 acres, 1,725,646
still being included in Indian reservations.
This, in brief, is the story of the creation of Oklahoma Territory, but
of the long struggles to secure the various enactments of Congress required
to bring it about, of the successive great rushes of settlers to the country,
of the struggles to build up here an ideal American commonwealth, and of
the great measure of success attained, volumes might he written.
In the little more than a decade which has elapsed since the creation of
the Territory, the people have accomplished here more than any other community
has ever accomplished in a quarter of a century. The story of the achievements
of this people, whose progressiveness, energy. industry and American citizenship
has never been equaled, reads almost like a fairy tale, and the great and
lasting results attained can only he realized by him who comes and views