The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City.


When it was declared that W. L. Couch had been duly elected mayor, matters gravitated to their natural centers and men pursued their various avocations with a decorum worthy of the highest commendation. The work of building was carried on day and night and in two weeks more than one thousand buildings were enclosed.

There would have been double this number had it not been from the fact that it was impossible to obtain lumber. It was for the first two or three weeks a city of tents.  On Saturday, May 4th, a wind storm commenced and raged for fully a week. It came from the north-west and is one of the disagreeable remembrances of the city’s early days. But few people were living in houses and 

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their goods and persons were at the mercy of the wind and weather.  Tents were blown down and the air was clouded with dust and dirt almost to the point of suffocation.   The  second  Sunday  was a stormy one  and upon the  night of that day  the hardest  rain storm prevailed ever known in the south-west.  It was the end of the dirt and dust reign however, the precession of progress was again formed, and the onward march resumed. 

Thousands of strangers from all parts of the world visited the new city in its earliest days and real estate men who were as numerous as lemonade stands, did a thriving business.  Within one week after the opening lots on Main street were in feverish demand at from $100 to $1,000, ac-cording to location.  This, as a matter of course, will be understood to refer only to the sale of the settler’s relinquish or possessory rights.

Real estate men complained that everybody wanted to buy property and that but few could be found wanting to sell.



The act of congress limiting a town site to three hundred and twenty acres caused SOUTH OKLAHOMA to be surveyed on the 23d of April. An election was held on the 27th at which over five hundred votes were cast and the  following  city  officers elected:  G.  W.  Patrick, mayor; W. T. Bodine, city recorder; Col. L. P. Ross, city attorney; N. C. Helburn, city marshal; John Cochran, city treasurer; councilmen, J. P. McKinnis, S. E.  Steele, E. W. Sweeney, E. S. Hughes and W. L. Kille brew.

South Oklahoma is in realty a continuous part of Oklahoma City, being laid off in conformity with it.  The line dividing the two cities is an imaginary one running along the center of Reno avenue.  The town site segregates three hundred and twenty acres and the two town sites six hundred and forty acres, lying wholly west of the Santa Fe railroad.

The drainage for both cities is excellent and never failing water is found at from twenty to thirty-five feet, the shallowest depth being on the highest ground.

After the surveys of the town sites were established the following streets were found laid off in regular order and named, East to West: Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, Fourth, Third, Second, First, Main, Grand avenue, California avenue, Reno avenue, Washington avenue, Noble street,

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Chickasaw, Pottawottamie, Frisco and Choctaw.  North to South: Santa Fe, Broadway, Robinson, Harvey, Hudson and Division, twenty-three in all.  On Saturday, May 18, just twenty-five days after the opening, seventy-five buildings were counted on First street, one hundred and forty-two on Main, one hundred and two on Clarke street  now Grand avenue, ninety-two on California avenue, eighty seven on Reno and one hundred and ten on Broadway.  No buildings were counted unless fronting the street.

The above makes a total of six hundred and six buildings on the six principle streets at that time.  On the other streets and in the business part of the town were one hundred and sixty-three buildings, and in the resident part of the city there were four hundred houses, making a grand total of one thousand one hundred and sixty-nine buildings erected in twenty-five days.

What a record!  How active and industrious those people  must  have  been!   They  were  unknown to  the  world  and  to  fame  before  they  came to Oklahoma!  In their founding of a city  individual great men were dwarfed by the rising up of the multitude, even as mountain peaks lose their prominence by the surrounding heights only a little lower; and it can be truly said that the founders and builders of Oklahoma City will be put down in the records of the future as a people, who In their wish and craze for gold, did not forget their duty to home, to country and to God.

It has been repeatedly stated in the public press that the people were lawless, avaricious, and that in their eagerness to acquire riches, forgot sacred things and lost that respect for law and order which their fathers had.  Such reports were false and a great injustice to the first settlers of Oklahoma.  In the future their names will be linked with the glorified names of men who made up other generations.  They will leave their impression.

Many of them can not achieve eternal individual fame, for, with the mass of mankind life is little more, after all, than a struggle for bread, and generations follow each other even as one wave follows another on the breast of the sea and like them disappear in the deep when the puff of air which is called life has blown itself out. Each particular generation leaves its own impression and that impression will be recalled long after, even as savants in working out geological problems, note the shore lines as they were made through the ages by waters that long ago flowed out and were lost in the sea.  The men of 1776 left

their impression so marked that now, as we call over the illustrious names saved  from  that  epoch,  we see in

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thought,  behind them,  a sturdy  race,  calm-fronted and resolute, who were equal to the pain and labor of giving birth to a new nation.   The generation of 1812  is just as fairly  impressed.   Their rambling fights at Lundy’s Lane and New Orleans, on Lake Erie and out upon the ocean revealed all the energy and pluck necessary to begin in earnest the conquest of a continent. In that age, too, the calm which followed the great revolutionary upheaval had its  reward. There  was  a galaxy  of writers, speakers and thinkers produced which were a glory to the earth.  So, too, with the mighty work on hand to do and with so few workers, invention bent itself to create out of wood and iron helps to man, so that with their aid his own labors might  be  infinitely  multiplied.  In that  generation  the steam engine began to sound its notice that an evangel of iron had come to the earth to take from the arms of flesh the heaviest physical burdens upon its arms of iron, and to multiply the speed of labor even as it would its power.  Then the impression which the next generation gave was still more strongly  marked.   It  began with a handful of men, with an audacity never equaled since the son of Phillip started for Persia, invaded  an  enemy’s country, and against an overwhelming foe pressed its way up the rocky fastnesses of the Cordilleras, captured the capital of the country and dictated a peace.

Then followed the exodus of the Argonauts, by sea and across the deserts to the Golden Coast.  These two acts were but preliminary to the mighty one which was to succeed; wherein in the dead-lock of a civil war the valor that drove each side on-ward, as reckoned by the lists of dead and wounded in the wake of the bloody wave, shows a record which is without a parallel in modern wars.  But even that was not such an exhibition of native greatness as what followed when out of chaos order was born, and all the broken threads of industry were picked up, one by one, and woven anew into a perfect garment to wrap the fair land in.  Like the others, this generation will leave its impression.  The names of the men and women who laid the corner stones of civilization in Oklahoma will be revered in the years to come.  They will live on painted canvas and in sculptured marble; nothing can assail or obscure them; and as the revolving world measures off the cycles of time their names “will brighter glow and gleam immortal unconsumed by moth or rust.”

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Grand Avenue in the early days of the city’s history was called Clarke street — in honor, it is presumed, of the Hon. Sidney Clarke.

It was the “bone of contention” for a long time and had half a dozen names. A petition was put in circulation on the 18th of May, 1889 to change its name and the Gazette of May 21st, suggested that as its creation had led to many citizens being deprived and plundered of their lots with-out recompense, that a very appropriate name for it would be Stolen avenue.  In the interest of harmony however, the  same journal  recommended  that  to  perpetuate  the name and services of a man whose best years were spent in striving for Oklahoma, that as a memorial to the honor of David Payne, it should be called Payne avenue.  This recommendation was not acted upon and it is said that W. H. Carter — of the firm of Carter & Rugg — named it Grand avenue and to the present it has retained that name. Carter was one of the “leading citizens” in those days, but since then blundered in business, swindled his partner and went where the woodbine twineth.


The first public move toward organization of the members of the Masonic order in the city, was made Fri-day night, May 10th, 1889.  An informal meeting was held in an unfinished room adjoining the post office on Main street upon that night and forty-one knights of the square and compass were present  S. Linn Biedler, of Illinois, was elected chairman, and A. C. Scott, of Kansas, secretary.  On motion of Dr. A. J. Beale, a committee of five was appointed to confer with the Grand Lodge with the purpose of obtaining a dispensation for a charter.  This committee consisted of S. Linn Biedler, J.M. Steade, J. A. Keys, D. W. Gibbs ; and H. B. Calef. The Oklahoma Journal, of May 17th, 1889  says this of the meeting:

“For those present It was a memorable occasion, certainly they will not forget the interesting and picturesque scene, the unfinished room, the temporary floor, furnishing pit-falls for the unwary, the gusts of wind coming through the open spaces, again and again leaving them in darkness, the earnest and hearty men inspired by the most fraternal spirit.  All this will linger long in the memory of those present.”

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