The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City


When the signal was given at the depot that it was twelve o'clock the country-for there was no Oklahoma City then-seemed to be alive with people. They could be seen riding and running in all directions. Where they came from the good Lord only knows. White tents dotted the country as far as the eye could see at twenty minutes past twelve. About 12:15 representatives of the SEMINOLE LAND AND TOWN COMPANY stepped off the Santa Fe's right of way and began to run a preliminary survey and to locate lots in accordance with their plat prepared before hand. Main street was the base of oper-

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ations and in a very short time the best lots on the street were taken. Before any definite work could be done on other streets people began to arrive by the hundreds from the borders of the Territory by overland conveyances. Among the very first of these were J. H. McCartney, John Holzapfe, and C. P. Walker, of Colony, Kansas; M. A. Woods, of Garnett, Kansas; John W. Beard, of Le Roy, Kansas; Mr. Carter, of Burlington, Kansas; and Col. Harrison of the same state. They had driven from the Canadian river-that point of it nearest to Oklahoma City-a distance of fifteen miles, in one hour and nineteen minutes. At 2:05 p. m. the train from the south arrived and unloaded at least twenty-five hundred people-who scattered in wild confusion all over the town site and adjacent country. Everybody appeared to have stakes with them upon which was written their names, and it was amusing as well as exciting to see the foot races that day. Staid, sober men skipped around like escaped lunatics and one old lady was noticed driving her stake down in the center of the railroad track. After she had completed the task she sat down on the ground by her little monument and the soldiers had hard work to persuade her that she was camping on land dangerous and not subject to settlement. By 3 o'clock the train from the north arrived with hundreds of passengers and the whole country where the city now stands was black with a surging, crowding, running, yelling mass of humanity.

THE OKLAHOMA COLONY - a company of men from Burlington, Paola, Garnett, Baldwin, Greeley and Colony, all towns of Kansas-organized long before Oklahoma was opened for settlement, had representatives in the city by 1:15 on the afternoon of the 22d. Rev. James Murray was president of this company and C. P. Walker, secretary. It was their plan to unite with the people on the town site and in order that the action might be in harmony with the law, they employed Mr. Mathews, a former employee of the land office at Washington, as their attorney, and Col. Harrison, of La Cygne, to act as their surveyor. The instructions of their attorney was to get on the land as soon after 12 o'clock as possible and immediately call an election for mayor and other city officers. The company chartered three cars and put the livery rigs of Mr. Phillips, of Colony, in two of them, and on Friday, April 19th all went to Purcell, in the Chickasaw Nation, from which point Mr. Phillips was to furnish conveyances with which the company were to make the overland trip to Oklahoma City.

They left Purcell at noon, Saturday, April 20th and

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drove up the Canadian to the southwest corner of town-ship 10, north range 3 west, where they went into camp. By Monday noon, the 22d, the crowd was increased by other arrivals till it numbered over three hundred. By a vote of the people, Walker, of Greeley, Kansas, was elected captain. Upon comparison it was found the watches in the crowd differed fully one half hour. Mr. Kincaid, of Cherryvale, Kansas, and Rev. James Murray rode in a one horse top buggy and reached the town site of Oklahoma City in one hour and fifteen minutes, a distance of fifteen miles. Mr. Harrison and C. P. Walker - the company's surveyor and secretary - had been on the scene but a few minutes before the arrival of Mr. Kincaid and Rev. James Murray, and were at work on the government reservation not knowing that it had been withdrawn for military purposes. When this fact was made known, they commenced operations west of the railroad and erected a big tent near where the Gazette office now stands. This tent was made the headquarters of the Oklahoma Colony and about three o'clock the polls were declared open and voting commenced for mayor and city clerk. When the votes were counted - over four hundred having been cast - it was found that James Murray was elected mayor and C. P. Walker, city clerk. While this election was going on, Hon. Sidney Clarke, of Lawrence, Kansas, and General G. B. Weaver of Iowa- as representatives of the Seminole Town and Land Company addressed the people from a wagon, protesting against the election, and called for a public meeting at the intersection of Main and Broadway the following evening. Nor were these the only town companies at work: The GAINESVILLE TOWN COMPANY, of Texas, were platting and surveying the town site, while hundreds of people, each man a town company unto himself, settled where ever they could find a vacant place without regard to lines, streets, lots or anything else. Matters were decidedly mixed, yet comparative quiet reigned and there were no brawls or bloodshed. Attorney R. R. Connella, of Texas, from the north side of California avenue near Broadway, addressed a large crowd of people upon the subject of the conflicting surveys and upon motion of Judge O. H. Violet, of California, a committee of six was appointed by Mr. Connella to wait upon the presidents and surveyors of the various town companies with a view of holding a conference and adjusting the differences by harmonizing the various proposed plats.

When night came no settlement had been effected. The night was cold and clear and six thousand people

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were without shelter. New York and Georgia were bed mates, that night. Ohio and California rested upon each others bosom. Michigan and Arkansas walked arm in arm the livelong night to keep their blood in circulation. Texas and Missouri were as loving sisters. The Sucker, the Michigander, the Hoosier, the Key Stone, the Buckeye, the Beef Head, the Creole, the Clam Catcher, the Tar Heel, the Tooth Pick and the Whelp were brothers that night. Truly, the lamb and lion laid down together.