THE ORGANIC ACT
The bill known as The Organic Act had passed both houses of congress and was signed by President Harrison on May 2, 1890, just one year and ten days after the country had been opened to settlement. This bill was, in itself, a sort of a constitution; republican in form. It granted to the territory a government under the Constitution of the United States and named its powers and set forth its limitations and restrictions. This act of Congress also gave the new territory a code of ready made laws for the people, until laws could be enacted by the representatives chosen by the people themselves. The Organic Act, like the Constitution of the United States, was not a spontaneous thing conceived and brought into being by any one man or any one congress. It was not an experiment but it was a growth and a development in territorial government. Other territories had been organized and much of the act of May 2d was copied from the laws that had previously been put on the statute books. However, different conditions required some new provisions in the Oklahoma organic law.
The first section of the organic act described the boundary lines of the territory, including all land west of the Five Civilized Tribes, clear to Texas and New Mexico, also including "No-Man’s Land" now Texas, Beaver and Cimarron counties. The Indian Reservations and the land not opened to settlement were not to be included until the Indian titles were extinguished. The land actually included in the organized territory was only about two million acres, not including Beaver County.
The second and third sections provided for a Governor and Secretary, to hold their respective offices for four years. Both of these officials were to be appointed by the President. Section Four provided that "The legislative power and authority in said Territory shall be vested in the Governor and legislative assembly. The legislative assembly shall consist of a Council and a House of Representatives. The Council shall consist of thirteen members, having the quali-
fications of voters as hereinafter prescribed, whose term of office shall be two years. The House of Representatives shall consist of twenty-six members, possessing the same qualifications as prescribed for members of the Council and whose term of service shall be for two years, and the sessions of the legislative assembly shall be biennial and shall be limited to sixty days, provided, however, the first session of the legislative assembly may continue one hundred and twenty days."
This section also provides for seven counties to be known as First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh. It also named the county seats and provided that the Governor should fix the boundary line of the countries until otherwise provided by the legislative assembly. Guthrie was named the county seat of the first county, Oklahoma City seat of the second county, Norman of the third county, El Reno of the fourth county, Kingfisher of the fifth county, Stillwater of the sixth county and "No-Man’s Land" was made the seventh county with Beaver City as county seat. This section further provides that the people of each and every county (the boundary lines having been made by the Governor) shall vote on the name of their county. Section Four provides that it shall be the duty of the Governor to make an apportionment among counties giving each section representation in the Council and the House of Representatives according to the population. (The census was taken in 1890.)
Section Five prescribes the qualifications for electors, and Section Six confers upon the assembly legislative powers and also names the limitations of these powers.
Section Seven provides that the Governor shall appoint all county, township and district officers to hold their office until the adjournment of the first legislative assembly.
Section Nine and Ten had to do with the judicial branch of the government and provided for the appointment by the President of three judges who should hold court in their respective districts and these judges should also sit as the Supreme Court. The court was given both federal and territorial jurisdiction.
Section Eleven extends and puts in force in the territory of Oklahoma many chapters of the laws of Nebraska
and, in fact, adopts almost the entire code of laws of that state as far as those laws were applicable and were not in conflict with the laws of the United States. These Nebraska laws were to be in full force and effect until after the adjournment of the first legislative assembly.
Section Twelve has to do with the jurisdiction of district courts in Indian matters while section thirteen provides for the appointment of a United States Attorney and a United States Marshal for the territory, provides salaries and makes appropriations.
It is safe to say that there was more interest centered upon section fifteen than any other section of the bill.
This section reads:
"That the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oklahoma shall hold its first session at Guthrie in said territory at such time as the Governor shall appoint and direct; and at said first session, or as soon thereafter as they shall deem expedient, the Governor and the legislative assembly shall proceed to locate and establish a seat of government for said territory, at such place as they may deem eligible, which place, however, shall thereafter be subject to be changed by the said Governor and Legislative Assembly."
Section sixteen, provides for the election of a delegate to Congress, who shall have all the rights and privileges of delegates to Congress from the other territories and also provides and directs that the first election shall be held after at least sixty days notice to be given by proclamation of the Governor. There are several sections in this Act of May 2, 1890, relating to the jurisdiction of the United States Court and to the public lands and provides for public highways and also making provision for townsites on lands yet to be opened to homestead settlement.
Section Twenty-one gives the homesteaders privilege of making final proof and securing patent at the expiration of twelve months upon the payment of $1.25 per acre. This provision was inserted in the bill as a result of a petition from all over the territory. Many people wanted to "prove up" and borrow money on their claims without having to wait the full five years.
Section Twenty-five afterward proved to be one of the most important and far-reaching sections in the entire
bill. This section authorizes and directs the Attorney General of the United States to commence suit against the state of Texas in the Supreme Court of the United States to determine title to that tract of land lying between the north and south fork of Red River, east of the one hundredth degree of longitude, claimed by Texas and designated on the map as Greer County. This is another story, but the prosecution and the determination of this suit in favor of the United States added to the territory of Oklahoma three of its richest and prosperous counties, and about one half of one other county. The territory that was annexed was, by the constitutional convention, divided into Greer, Harmon and Jackson counties and also the south half of Beckham.
The Organic Act was indeed a Magna Charta for the territory; it gave the people legal rights as American citizens and the infant child, Oklahoma, a legal name. There were celebrations and great rejoicing; we began to feel we were really a part of the United States.
Not only did the Act of May 2, 1890, provide a government for Oklahoma but there were added fifteen or twenty sections reorganizing the United States Court in the Indian Territory that was not a part of Oklahoma. These sections established three districts with a court in each district. The court towns were Muskogee, South McAlester and Ardmore. The court at Ardmore was to have jurisdiction over the entire Chickasaw Nation and the Seminole country. There were also provisions made for the appointment of United States Commissioners in each district.
Immediately after the passage of the Organic Act, rumors were circulated that President Harrison was contemplating the appointment of several parties from outside the territory to fill the principal offices, including the Governor. These rumors were very disquieting to our republican friends, in fact, a great protest went up from all over the six counties, all of which had candidates to fill these offices.
The Guthrie "State Capital," edited by Frank Greer,
no doubt voiced the sentiment of the people, and more especially of the republicans, in several editorials protesting against the sending into the territory of a lot of "Carpet Bag" Officials. However, the word "Carpet Bagger" a democratic slogan was seldom used by republicans. In an editorial written only a day or two after the passage of the act of Congress, said: "Now comes the report from Washington that the President has a tendency to appoint outsiders to rule Oklahoma. We do not believe he will do it." . . . . "He knows this territory has produced the greatest example of self-government known in the world." "He knows that here in Oklahoma are men as fully capable of filling the offices as any he might select from the United States at large. Mr. Harrison certainly knows the grit, hardships and energy necessary to the building up of Oklahoma to its present high plane. He knows the offices should go to the men who have earned them." . . . . "President Harrison and the republican party cannot afford to insult this proud, marvelous young territory by sending in Carpet Baggers to fill the high offices." And this was only a part of the protest.
No consideration was given to the protest of the Oklahoma republicans. In a few days the appointments of the President were announced and of the eight or nine names selected to fill the executive and judicial offices only about two could make any claim of being residents of Oklahoma, but in fact, they were Carpet Baggers—but what is written is written—there was nothing whatever to be gained by kicking now. The appointments were made and the republican politicians of Oklahoma just had to make the best of the situation. The republican newspapers had not another word to say about Carpet Baggers. Even some editors wanted to be appointed to county offices. They would not have had a copy of their papers in which they had protested against the outsiders being appointed to have reached the eye of the new Governor for any consideration. It was the province of the Governor to divide the territories into counties and to appoint all of the county officers that were provided for under the laws of Nebraska, which was the law of Oklahoma.
GEORGE STEELE, GOVERNOR
It was announced that Maj. George Steele, of Marion, Indiana, had been appointed by President Harrison as Governor of Oklahoma. Hon. Robert Martin, of Harrison, Oklahoma, was named as Secretary. (Perhaps there are some people who do not know where Harrison, Oklahoma is, or rather was.) Harrison is only a short distance east of Frisco. Had you have been in Oklahoma City in 1889 you would have heard in the early morn the clarion voice of "Cannon Ball Green," or some other stage driver: "All aboard for Harrison, Frisco, Reno City, Fort Reno and Kingfisher." Harrison was a settlement of ex-union soldiers and the town was named for the President. Some claim that Martin registered from El Reno, but it is certain that he was not much identified with that new town. Martin was originally from Ohio, an old soldier and an upright, honest man.
Horace Speed, of Guthrie, was appointed United States District Attorney. There was no one in Oklahoma who had the ear of President Harrison closer than Horace Speed. He was reading law in the office of Harrison and Miller in Indianapolis, Indiana, when Harrison was elected president. Speed left for Oklahoma when the proclamation was issued and entered the country legally on April 22, 1889. His appointment was no surprise to those who knew how close to the President he stood. Warren G. Lurty, of Virginia, was named United States Marshal by the President. Lurty was an old Virginia gentleman, and a very convivial man. He attended the reception given to the Governor and other officials in three or four towns and socially he was quite a favorite. He had his weakness and it soon developed that he was not the man for United States Marshal. Lurty resigned in 1890 and was succeeded by William Grimes of Kingfisher, one of the most popular men in the territory.
The three men appointed for judges in the territory were F. B. Green, of Illinois; A. J. Seay, of Missouri and John G. Clark, of Wisconsin. Green established headquarters at Guthrie and had Payne and Logan counties in his district; Clark, at Oklahoma City, with Oklahoma and
Cleveland counties; A. J. Seay, at Kingfisher, with Kingfisher and Canadian counties as his district.
GOVERNOR STEELE’S RECEPTION
Governor George W. Steele arrived at Guthrie May 23, 1890. On the following day a great reception was given him and his party, which included the three judges and the other territorial officials. The newspapers of that city gave glowing accounts of this reception. They estimated there were fully ten thousand people in the long procession, headed by the "Guthrie Silver Cornet Band." They gave the address of welcome and the address of Governor Steele on this occasion. These papers tell of the reception in the "Spacious Hall," in the Herriott block, under the glow of electric lights and of the thousands of "Fair women and brave men," who were formally presented to the Governor, the United States Judges and other officials, by Hon. C. M. Barnes. Not a word was said about carpet baggers.
The Governor and other state officers visited Oklahoma City and all the other county seat towns and were given great receptions everywhere they went. At Oklahoma City the guests were shown every courtesy and the reception rivaled that given by Guthrie, the temporary capital. Governor Steele was looking the territory over and getting acquainted with its citizens. County officers were to be appointed and many applications were being made for the different offices to be appointed as provided in the Nebraska laws. The Governor did not wait long to appoint county officials and to organize county governments. And it can be said to his credit, he was fortunate in selecting the right men. In Oklahoma County, (or county number two) he appointed the following county officials: Capt. A. B. Hammer, County Judge; Henry Howard, County Attorney; John M. Martin, Clerk; Capt. C. H. DeFord, Sheriff; L. Bixler, Treasurer; W. F. Higgie, John A. Hartzell and Franklin Springer, Commissioners and W. M. Rust, Surveyor.
In all the years since that time it is doubtful whether Oklahoma County ever had better county officers than the first named by Governor Steele. There was not a man in
the list that had been identified with the old Seminole Town Company, while Capt. A. B. Hammer had been one of the active Kickapoos. Steele appointed men of high character and standing in all the counties.
There was one thing that is well to note: the ex-union soldiers were in political ascendancy all over the country for the first thirty years after the war. No man could be elected to office anywhere in the northern states who was not a soldier and did not have the support of the G. A. R. Every president from Grant to McKinley had been soldiers with the single exception of Grover Cleveland, and he had hired a substitute. Benjamin Harrison had been a Brigadier General in the Union Army. He appointed Geo. W. Steele, Governor of Oklahoma, and Steele had also been an officer in the Army and did not quit the military service until ten years after the war. Robert A. Martin, Secretary of State, and the three members of the Supreme Court had all seen service in the Union Army. It is no surprise that Governor Steele made most of his political appointments from the list of ex-soldiers. All the Oklahoma County officers were soldiers with the exception of Henry Howard and perhaps one of the county commissioners. The recommendation of the G. A. R. went further with Steele than that of the Republican Committee. It is not improbable that within a few years the soldiers of the World War may become a great factor, if not the controlling power, in American politics. These young men who so honorably served their country have not found themselves, in a political way; they have no outstanding leaders and their opinions are not crystalized on any issue. Yet, it is probable that the American Legion in the future may dominate public affairs as completely as did the Grand Army of the Republic for the first thirty or forty years after the war.
SUPREME COURT MEETS
The Supreme Court held the first session in Guthrie, meeting the 10th day of June, 1890. Nearly all the regular attorneys in the territory were present when court opened.
There was but little business before the court and after a formal session the attorneys present made application and were admitted to practice law in the Territory of Oklahoma. The record shows that Postmaster Dennis T. Flynn was the first of Guthrie attorneys to register and to be admitted to practice before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
As soon as the short session of the court adjourned each of the three judges returned to their districts and organized district courts by appointing their clerks and bailiffs. Thus the territorial government was organized and running under the laws of Nebraska. Suits were filed and the courts commenced grinding at once. In Oklahoma County there were so much litigation that the docket was crowded and in a few weeks the court found itself completely swamped; in fact, hundreds of cases behind. Judge Clark, at Oklahoma City, was a conscientious man, but a great believer in precedent, and no matter what question was raised he had to consult all the authorities before he would render an opinion. He would have court reports piled so high around him that the judge, who was a small man, was often hidden behind the books, while the business of the court was getting further behind every day.
Judge A. J. Seay, of the western district, afterward governor, was a different type of man. He cared little for precedent and did not spend much of the time of the court in reading court reports, but decided every question as it was presented to him "Right off the bat." He was a man of good judgment and sound mind and could discern the difference between right and wrong and made but few mistakes. His court docket never got behind. He once said to the writer, in that falsetto voice for which he was noted "I believe it would be a good thing if all these court reports were burned and let the judges decide these cases as they think right." Seay was a righteous judge and also a good governor.
LEGISLATURE TO BE ELECTED
Everything was running smoothly under the Nebraska laws in the early summer of 1890 but the politicians in both parties were looking forward to the election of a legislative assembly. There had been no test of the probable
strength of the two old parties. Local questions bid fair to enter into the election. In several towns the old Sooner and Anti-Sooner issue was yet a live one, and especially in Oklahoma City where the fires of the Kickapoo-Seminole fight the year before were not extinguished. The homesteaders in some sections were about evenly divided between Kansas and Texas people, with a few from other states. The Kansas fellows told the Texas men to fence their pastures, and the Texas men told the Kansas men to fence their crops. Thus the herd law question became an issue
It was understood that as soon as Governor Steele could obtain a certified copy of the population of the territory, as shown by the census taken in June, 1890, he would apportion the territory representation in the two branches of the legislative assembly and issue a proclamation fixing the date for the election. Many candidates and prospective candidates were being considered for the honor of serving the first territorial legislature.
The various political clubs of both of the old parties were holding meetings, not only in the towns but at many places in the country. They were lining up for the first test of political strength. There was also another element, if not a real political party, to be reckoned with; this was the Farmers Alliance, sometimes called the "Peoples Party." Its immediate progenitor was the Greenback Party, and its offspring was first, the Populist Party, then the Socialist Party. This organization was making lots of noise but it was hard to estimate what strength it could develop at the polls. It was strong in Kansas and within a short time it captured the state politically and as the drouth of 1890 became more severe this party grew stronger as the summer advanced.
There were no moving picture shows in those days and nothing much to entertain the people except political meetings and these were often well attended. Sometimes people would come for miles on horseback, in wagons or else two-wheeled carts, that were much used in the early days of Oklahoma. Nothing could call together a bigger crowd than to advertise a political debate, unless it was a debate between a Methodist and a "Campbellite" upon the question of how much water it should take to baptize a person.
The prospective candidates for the Legislature never failed to attend these meetings and in fact most of them were called by candidates who wanted the opportunity to air their views upon public questions and to make friends with the people. The Fourth of July, 1890, was celebrated with picnics, dinners and public speakings in almost every neighborhood. The writer attended a neighborhood picnic in a beautiful grove on Crutch-O Creek. This creek was named for the brand of the cattle on the ranch that had its headquarters here before the opening. This brand was a crutch and the letter O. I note that it is now spelled "Crutcho."
It was generally understood that our friend, Col. M. R. Glascow, would be a candidate for the Legislature. That Glascow was an orator no one could doubt, and everyone knew that he was against the Seminole and all other sooners. He was a Jacksonian democrat of the old school and could give a reason for his political faith. Then there was another reason why Glascow had many ardent supporters among the boys in town; it was reported that he had just recently sold a farm in Henry County, Missouri, and Glascow was no miser. Political honor was dearer to him than the possession of a few paltry dollars.
A number of saloons had been opened in the city under the Nebraska laws. Just think of it, my prohibition friends, you who now pay two and three dollars for a pint of new corn whisky delivered to you by a negro servant, you could buy a big schooner of old beer for five cents, one nickel, and a gallon for twenty or twenty-five cents.
After our meeting on Crutcho, several of us homesteaders came into town that evening with the view of continuing the celebration. We met many patriotic friends and it was the general feeling that Oklahoma City had not given our country’s natal day a proper celebration. The "committee" held a meeting at "Uncle" Jim Miller’s place on Main Street, about where the Criterion now stands, and it was decided to have public speaking at the band stand on the corner of Main and Boardway. The impromptu celebration was announced up and down the streets and soon a crowd of several hundred people gathered to hear the speaking. The Chairman called the meeting to order
and before he could make any extended remarks the people began to cry, Glascow, Glascow.
In introducing the speaker, the Chairman stated that Colonel Glascow had delivered a splendid Fourth of July oration at the picnic to-day and that he was sure the people present would be delighted if he would deliver a patriotic address here tonight. The Colonel did not disappoint them. For full thirty minutes he talked with a patriotic fever that aroused the greatest enthusiasm in the audience. When he had finished, the applause was deafening. The Chairman then announced there would be a few minutes recess, after which the celebration would be continued. A large part of the audience, including the speaker, repaired to "Uncle" Jim Miller’s place for refreshments. On every hand was heard talk of Glascow for the Legislature. It was said by many that the territory would be the loser if Glascow was not nominated and elected. These remarks were not displeasing to the Colonel and he asked everybody in the house to step up to the bar and have something on him, and the invitation was accepted.
When the meeting re-convened, some of us thought that we would perhaps have an address from some other prominent citizen but the crowd was demanding that Glascow should speak. He at once launched into what was known as his old Hickory Jackson speech, which met the approval of the audience, without regard to politics. His speech was greeted with loud and continued applause and before he had taken his seat, he announced he would be a candidate for the Legislature. Another recess was declared by the Chairman and the Committee and many of their friends again went for refreshments. As Glascow was now an open and avowed candidate everything was on him and everybody seemed to be for him. The Colonel, somewhat elated over his political prospects, took a few extra drinks.
Many people gathered at the band stand to continue the celebration, the Chairman called the meeting to order and remarked: "Colonel Glascow has to-day delivered a two hour speech on Cow Skin Creek, tonight he has made two of the most eloquent speeches I have ever heard, no doubt the Colonel could deliver several more but I do not believe in imposing on good nature; who shall we hear
now?" But the crowd was still wanting to hear Glascow and would not listen to any other speaker. For his third speech of the evening the Colonel delivered his address against the Seminoles and all other sooners. It was the real old Kickapoo speech upon which his reputation as an orator had been established and it was well known to most of the crowd. It was late when the address was finished and the meeting adjourned. Several of the crowd went back to Uncle Jim Miller’s place where Glascow’s credit was still good. It was thus Oklahoma City celebrated its second Fourth of July. Of course, this was an impromptu celebration and many of the good citizens did not attend.
In keeping with the provisions of the Organic Act, the Governor issued his proclamation on the 8th day of July, calling for the election of a territorial legislature; twenty-six members in the House and thirteen in the Council. On the basis of the census he apportioned the territory for representation and gave to county No. 2 (Oklahoma County) a representation of five in the House and three in the Council.
The census of 1890 gave Oklahoma County 18,794 while Logan County had 14,254 population. The population of Oklahoma City, census of 1890, 4,151 and of Guthrie 5,333.
The date fixed for the election of the members of the territorial legislature by the Governor’s proclamation was August 5, 1890, and the date set for the Legislature to convene was August 12th. This gave less than a month for the nomination and election of the members of the Legislature. The writer had contemplated for some time being a candidate, in fact, I had in mind the thought of serving in Oklahoma’s first legislature before the country opened. The Crutcho Democratic Club was for me and I talked the subject over with several of my friends in town and I soon found that the Kickapoo element of the party had me slated for one of the representatives and I had but little trouble getting the nomination. As strange as it may seem our old friend Colonel Glascow failed to get the nomina-
tion but he never wavered one iota in his loyalty to the Democratic Party and afterward took an active part in the campaign.
There was but little time for a canvass of the county but we held meetings almost every night and discussed the issues and gave the people our views upon the legislation needed in this new territory. I remember talking to a crowd of settlers over at Choctaw City, when some fellow spoke up and said: "How do you stand on the herd law question?" Now I knew that the audience was about half and half upon the herd law and free range question and if I should declare myself upon either side it would cost me votes. I answered him: "On this question I believe in the democratic doctrine of local government. There are some places where the people want herd laws and others where they want free range. If I am elected I will favor a law that will permit districts being organized and upon a petition to the County Commissioners, an election can be called in the district and let the people decide for themselves whether they have herd law or free range." A law incorporating this idea was enacted by the first legislature.
I had not gotten far in the campaign until I discovered that the old Seminole-Kickapoo fight was an issue. There was a Seminole or two on both the republican and democratic ticket and it was hard for a Kickapoo to vote for a Sooner or a Seminole. Mr. R. W. McAdams, who was the editor and publisher of the Oklahoma Chief, a weekly publication, showed me a ticket he had printed containing the names of three democrats and two republicans and my name was on the ticket. It was a Kickapoo ticket. This was before the adoption of the present system of voting. I told McAdams that I was a nominee of the democratic party and had not authorized my name on any mixed ticket. These mixed tickets were in the hands of Kickapoo workers in all the precincts in the city and the result was that none of the Seminoles were elected.
The election was held on August 5, 1890, and the three gentlemen who were elected to the Council from Oklahoma County were L. G. Pitman and J. L. Brown from Oklahoma City and Dr. J. W. Howard from Edmond. Pitman
and Dr. Howard were democrats while J. L. Brown was a republican. The members elected to serve in the House of Representatives from Oklahoma County, were: C. G. Jones, H. G. Trosper, C. M. Burke, Sam D. Pack and Dan W. Peery. Jones and Trosper were republicans and Burke, Pack and Peery were democrats.
One of the nominees on the democratic ticket who was defeated, for the reason that he had been identified with the Seminole administration, was J. Ed Jones, late of Clinton County, Missouri. I think that J. Ed Jones’ defeat was a mistake for he was an educated, cultured gentleman who served several terms in the legislature of Missouri and was considered one of the leading young democrats of that state before coming to Oklahoma. His knowledge and experience of public affairs would have been valuable in a legislature largely composed of inexperienced men.
Oklahoma City held its first municipal election and was duly organized under the laws of Nebraska as extended to the territory of Oklahoma under the provisions of Section Eleven of its Organic Act. This election was held on August 8, 1890, just four days after the territorial election. W. J. Gault was elected Mayor of the city; W. W. Witten, Police Judge; H. B. Mitchell, City Attorney; M. S. Miller, Treasurer and T. M. Upshaw, City Clerk. Charley Colcord was continued in the office of city marshal.
The following named gentlemen composed the first legal city council of Oklahoma City: Dr. C. A. Peyton, J. A. Borrows, J. W. Boles, J. A. Regan, John C. Romick and M. N. Miller.
The date fixed for the convening of the Legislature by the Governor was August 19th, but in three days after the election representative elect, C. M. Burke, died at his home west of Edmond, and on the following day, August 9th, just four days after the election, Milton W. Reynolds, "Kicking Bird" died suddenly at his home in Edmond. Reynolds had been elected representative at large defeating E. E. Mitchell of El Reno. Governor Steele changed the date of the meeting of the first legislature to August 27th and called a special election to fill the places made vacant by the death of Burke and Reynolds. The special
election was held August 25th. Maj. Moss Neal of Oklahoma City was elected in Oklahoma County and A. M. Colson of Kingfisher, Oklahoma and Caldwell, Kansas, the republican nominee, was elected representative at large, defeating Hon. Pat S. Nagle, also of Kingfisher, who was the nominee of the democratic party. The final returns from the election in the territory showed that of the thirteen members of the Council, the republicans had elected seven and the democrats five and the alliance party one, Geo. W. Gardenhire, of Stillwater. In the House the republicans had elected fourteen and the democrats eight while the so called Alliance had elected four. This gave the republican party a clear majority of two in the House and one in the Council over the combined vote of the democrats and alliance.
While it was not publicly discussed in the campaign, everyone believed that it would be one of the first duties of the Legislature to "locate and establish" the capital of the territory and such other public institutions as were needed. It was fully understood that the Organic Act did not locate the capital but only fixed a place for the meeting of the first legislature when the Governor and the legislators should locate the permanent seat of government. There were only two towns that were considered in the race for capital honors, Guthrie and Oklahoma City. Guthrie knew that the Organic Act had not located the capital at all and that town was figuring for the votes necessary to make it the permanent capital. While these two towns were working to secure the capital prize, other sections were planning to get some of the other public territorial institutions out of the deal. As soon as the people of Guthrie learned that both branches of the Legislature would be republican they were sure that the republicans could organize and control the Legislature, locate the capital at Guthrie and then divide out the public institutions among their friends. I remember that the Organic Act had not located the capital at all and Frank Greer, wanted the first bill introduced to be a bill locating the capital at Guthrie, but,
Gang aft a-gley,
And leave us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy."
The people of Oklahoma City had not abandoned the idea of making their town the capital of the territory but we all conceded that the result of the election was not favorable to our plans. Had we have elected a solid democratic delegation in both branches we might have been in a position to have negotiated some with the democrats in Canadian and Cleveland counties as well as the alliance members from Payne County in the organization, for votes for Oklahoma City. However, we had two republicans in the House, C. G. Jones and H. G. Trosper and one in the Council, J. L. Brown and the democratic members had nothing to trade, in fact, the result of the election in Oklahoma County gave a republican majority in both branches of the assembly and this was not favorable to Oklahoma City capital prospects.
In order that we may have a more comprehensive understanding of all the facts and circumstances connected with the organization of the first territorial legislature, and of the difficulties encountered in drafting a code of laws, as well as locating the capital, it will be necessary to know something of the personnel of the law makers.
THE FIRST LEGISLATURE
Of the twenty-six members who served in the House of the first legislature, there are only one or two men, besides the writer, now living. I must be charitable and truthful in writing of the dead. I knew every member, not only of the House but of the Council also. An old plainsman once told me that if you really want to know a man, just make a trip across the country with him and camp out for a few months. It has been my experience that if you will serve one hundred twenty days with a body of only twenty-six men who have the responsibility of locating a state capital, and other institutions, including a university, an agricultural college and a normal school, as well as the enacting of a complete code of laws for the government of the people, that you will know every one of them. You will not only know every member of the Legislature, but if you are a discerning man, you will have an estimate made of every man’s intelligence, his sagacity, his honesty and his integrity. Not only this, but you will study his personality
and will know his weakness as well as his strength and his peculiarities and the whimsicalities as well as the realities of his life.
It was an inexperienced body of men. Only two or three of the members had ever served in a Legislature before, and, strange as it may seem, there was not a practicing attorney in the House of Representatives. There were, however, some members who had studied law, and several who were practical business men. In the Council there were five or six lawyers, one newspaper man and one physician and the other members were politicians, farmers and business men. There were some well educated men in both houses and a number of men who had experience in dealing with public affairs. They had ideas and opinions of their own upon every subject that came up for consideration and they knew how to express themselves. Most of them were honest but there were some weaklings and two or three as disreputable scoundrels as ever went unhung.
It is well to have a legislative body made up of men from the various interests of the country. No one profession, nor no one interest should frame the laws that affect the rights and the welfare of all the people. I have known but few men who were so just and fair that they could tale a real broadminded statesmanlike view of questions in which they had a personal interest. I would not want to see the membership of the Legislature made up from any one class; business men, lawyers, farmers or the representatives of labor. Only by having all interests represented can equitable and impartial consideration be given to measures affecting the rights of all the people. It would also be much better if members of the Legislature and also members of Congress were properly grounded in the fundamental principles of political economics. If legislators were learned in political science and were not blatant demagogues, many of the impractical schemes for promoting morality as well as making the people prosperous by legislative enactment would never be given serious consideration. It is true that some people have grown rich and prosperous as the result of special legislation, but it is also true
that it has been at the expense of the rest of their fellow citizens.
OKLAHOMA COUNTY LEGISLATORS
Speaking of the members of the Legislature; of Judge J. L. Brown, the republican member of the Council from Oklahoma County, the man who held the balance of power in organizing the Council, I have spoken of before in connection with the Seminole-Kickapoo fight. That he was a good lawyer and an honest man, no one who knew him will question. He it was who introduced Council Bill No. 7—the famous bill locating the capital at Oklahoma City.
The two democratic members of the Council were L. G. Pitman, of Oklahoma City, and Dr. J. W. Howard, of Edmond. Judge Pitman was a lawyer by profession. He came to Oklahoma in 1889 and established a home north of the city. He had served for some time as clerk of the court in his native state, Illinois. In all my acquaintance I have never met a more pleasant or a more congenial gentleman. He has been in public life in Oklahoma for 40 years holding positions of honor, trust and responsibility and there is no one who would dare cast an aspersion upon his reputation for honesty and integrity. He was a good organizer and a good legislator. He had no personal enemies even among those he was opposing in a parliamentary struggle. He had won his victories, both parliamentary and political, not by fighting and incurring ill will, but rather by strategy and diplomacy. Judge Pitman is at this time Judge of the Superior Court at Shawnee, Oklahoma, a position that he has held for several years. The writer has always been glad to call Judge Pitman his friend.
Dr. J. W. Howard had come from Kentucky at the opening and established his home in Edmond, where he was engaged in the practice of medicine and selling drugs. He was educated in his profession but a man of a modest tendency and did not take an active part in the work of the Council. He was a believer in higher education and he had but one object in serving in the Legislature and that was to locate a state school at his town. That he succeeded in his ambition we have only to point to the Central State Normal at Edmond. That school will always stand as a
monument to his work. Dr. Howard is an uncle of Hon. E. B. Howard, of Tulsa, late member of Congress. He is now in honorable retirement in Oklahoma City.
"GRIST MILL" JONES
The two republican members of the House of Representatives from Oklahoma County were C. G. Jones, sometimes known as "Grist Mill" Jones and H. G. Trosper. These two men held the balance of power and were in a position to say whether the republicans should organize the House and make Guthrie the permanent capital or whether a combination of eight democrats, four members of the alliance and two republicans should perfect the organization and with this combination of fourteen votes locate the capital at Oklahoma City.
It may be considered presumptious on my part to undertake to depict any of the characteristics of C. G. Jones to an Oklahoma audience. No man, living or dead, was better known to Oklahoma City people, and if a vote were taken to-day to decide what man had contributed most to make Oklahoma City the metropolis of the state, the name of C. G. Jones would be near the lead. In the common acceptance of the term, Jones was not an educated man. I doubt if he ever entered the class room of a college or had ever in his life read a technical book upon any subject. Jones was a man who thought in big terms. He had big ideas and they were practical for he was a man whose brain could comprehend big things. He knew he could hire college men, technically educated, to carry out his plans. He had unlimited confidence in himself and this inspired confidence in others. He cared little for precedent and less for conventionality. He accomplished his purpose by the more direct route and never saw the lion in the path. He spoke as he thought without any of the embellishment of the orator and with little regard for the rules of rhetoric or grammatical construction. In politics C. G. Jones was a republican but the shackles of party politics hung lightly on his shoulders. He would not hesitate a moment to throw in with the democrats if he thought that by so doing he would help to promote the welfare of Oklahoma City, for his highest loyalty was to his home town. His object was
to put his plans across and he was not so scrupulous as to methods employed.
The friends of Jones often told stories, sometimes much exaggerated, of his grammatical mistakes. I remember one time while he was the presiding officer of the Legislature. speaker pro tem, that J. Ed Jones said to me: "I wish you would tell Charley Jones to quit saying ’The cheer thinks the ayes has it.’ " I told C. G. Jones what J. Ed Jones had said. C. G. Jones answered me: "Well, what does he want me to say?" I answered: "He probably wants you to say: ’The chair thinks the ayes have it."’ "Well, by gravy," Jones answered, "Didn’t I beat Ed Jones for the Legislature? What has he got to say about my language?" However, he did change his parliamentary formula of announcing the vote.
H. G. Trosper was an ex-soldier of the Union Army. He came into Oklahoma at the opening and took his homestead southeast of the city on Crooked Oak Creek in the heart of the new oil field. Mr. Trosper was a good farmer and a shrewd business man. He made valuable improvements on his homestead and had money to loan while other farmers were complaining of hard times. In the organization he secured a position for his son-in-law, George W. Carrico, as Enrolling Clerk.
The three democratic members of the House from Oklahoma County who assisted in the organization of the first legislature and made up a part of the political coterie that voted the capital to Oklahoma City were Moses Neal, Samuel D. Pack and Daniel W. Peery.
Major Moses Neal was a man of mature years and had had experience in public affairs. He was the Indian Agent at the Sac and Fox agency under the first Cleveland administration. He had been a merchant and business man all his life and was well informed concerning the affairs of the territory. He was not a public speaker and seldom made a talk on the floor of the house, but when he had anything to say he talked to the point and his ideas were given consideration. When Major Moses Neal took a position on any question it was safe to say he was right. He had the confidence of everyone and made a useful member.
HON. SAMUEL D. PACK
I could perhaps describe Hon. Sam Pack in a few words by saying that he was a "has been," but that would hardly be fair. Mr. Pack was an old man with gray whiskers when he came to the Legislature. He had allowed the excesses and the dissipations of his youth to dominate his life. He was a Virginian by birth and it is fair to presume that he was a scion of the F. F. V. His language and his bearing indicated that he was a man who had had the advantage of an education. His impromptu speeches showed that he had some knowledge of the classics. Even the story ran that he was a graduate of the University of Virginia. His honesty and integrity could never be questioned. He was too proud of his Virginia lineage to do a dishonest thing.
The trouble with Sam was that he was often absent when it came to an important roll call. Some old "Virginia Gentleman" would be entertaining him and he would forget to attend the sessions. Sometimes the Oklahoma country delegates had to filibuster and prevent roll call for two or three hours in order to find Pack, as we never had any votes to spare. He was no dumb-bell. He had a sense of wit and humor that often added variety to the monotonous session of the Legislature. I remember on one occasion he came into the session of the House while a very animated discussion was going on among the members upon a motion or an amendment to a bill. Peck listened intently to the discussion for an hour or two, turning from one speaker to another with his hand up to his ear so as not to miss anything that was said. He finally arose in his place and got the ear of the speaker and said: "Mr. Speaker, this house has its clerks, its typewriters, its sergeant-at-arms and its door keepers, but what it now more particularly needs is a condenser of ideas. I have listened here all morning and have not heard a point made." He resumed his seat and had nothing more to say on the subject.
I have now come to speak of the last member of the Oklahoma County delegation and owing to an innate modesty I should have preferred someone else to write the brief sketch, but there is no one else present. Daniel William Peery was a green, awkward inexperienced young
man. He had never seen a Legislature in session and his only knowledge of parliamentary procedure was what he had learned in debating societies and in conventions he had attended. He had taken a great interest in politics from his earliest youth and never from the time he was ten years old did he miss an opportunity to attend a political meeting. His favorite study in the public schools was civil government and history. When he entered the higher schools he took up the subject of political economy. He studied the text book "Wayland’s Political Science," and in connection the works of John Stuart Mill. He had spent some time reading and studying the works of Adam Smith and could recite from memory the substance of every chapter of the "Wealth of Nations." He had read some of the writings of Thomas Jefferson and of the great Missouri senator, Thomas H. Benton. He thought he was well grounded in the principles of democracy. He believed in the freedom of trade between nations and had taken part in tariff debates in several places in north Missouri in the campaign of 1888. He was an individualist who believed in the maxim: "That country is best governed that is least governed." He also believed that in the development of true manhood every individual should be given the largest possible liberty consistent with public safety. With all these theories he had no knowledge of business nor of practical politics. He could not have conducted any business and made a success of it. He hardly knew the duties or the functions of the county officers. It was all theory with him and it was often hard to make practical application of these theories in framing the laws, yet he always voted against the passage of any law that had for its object the control or the regulation of the private affairs of the people.
CLEVELAND COUNTY MEMBERS
The two members of the Council and the member of the House from Cleveland county were all democrats and were all included in the combination to locate the capital at Oklahoma City. The two members of the Council were: R. J. Nesbit, of Lexington, Oklahoma, and Mort L. Bixler, of Norman. Nesbit was a farmer who lived on his home-
stead near the South Canadian. He was in the prime of life and a man of good judgment and common sense. He had had some clerical training and made a useful member on the committee on Enrolled Bills. Physically he was a strong, sturdy man. He was no weakling nor was he a coward. He was a man of his word and true as steel.
Mort L. Bixler was a newspaper man. He was, at the time of his election, editor of the Norman Advocate. The year before, 1889, Bixler lived in Oklahoma City and was assistant editor of the Oklahoma City Daily Times. At one time he was identified with the Kickapoo organization and had been one of the victims of justice as dealt out by Judge Violet. He was bright, educated and versatile and was a useful member. He was a democrat, but his father who had been appointed County Treasurer of Oklahoma County by Governor Steele, was a republican. Bixler was a friend of Oklahoma City but he also wanted the University located in his home town of Norman. It was largely through his skill and sagacity that the Council was organized and lined up to locate the capital at Oklahoma City and the University at Norman. Norman owes Mort L. Bixler a debt of gratitude for the work he did in locating the University. He introduced the University bill.
The three members of the House in Cleveland County were W. C. Adair, James M. Stovall and Thomas R. Wagoner.
W. C. Adair was a poor, weak, vacillating sort of man and of the "Smart Alec" type. He had not stability of character enough to play honest with his associates. He was living on a homestead when he was elected but had been a school teacher. He disappeared from Oklahoma shortly after the close of the session and it is understood that he died in Arkansas, his native state. I remember on one occasion the Hon. Sam Pack, of Oklahoma County, was discussing some question before the House when Adair kept trying to interfere by making impertinent remarks. Pack turned around and said: "Adair, you haven’t brains enough to make a humming bird a breakfast; if your brains were all powder and you touched them off, it wouldn’t make your head ache." Adair was one of the first men to betray his associates in the Oklahoma City combination.
COL. JIM STOVALL
Col. James M. Stovall was one of a type of men who are fast disappearing. He was born in Carroll County, Missouri, of southern ancestry and was with the South in the Civil War. He moved to the old Indian Territory several years before the opening of Oklahoma and had engaged in farming and stock raising. On the day of the opening he came across the South Canadian and almost opposite his ranch located one of the very best valley quarter sections in the whole Oklahoma County.
He was a big hearted, generous man, "given to hospitality." He was a natural born colonel and looked the part. He was a real western man who had all the virtues and perhaps some of the vices of western men. He had no patience with hypocrites, demagogues, weaklings, or cowards. There was none of the "Holy Willie" about him; he might "drink and swear and play at cards" but no one would do more or go further to help those in need or in distress. His honesty was proverbial and his word was as good as his bond. He had many friends and but few enemies among honest people. He served three or four terms in the Legislature and died a few years ago at the ripe old age of ninety years.
Thomas R. Wagoner was the first provisional mayor of Norman and one of the most active business men and promoters of the town. He was a shrewd scheming business man, and politics was also business with him. He had no altruistic thoughts in his mind and when he was planning to locate the University at Norman, he was figuring how much it would be worth to Tom Wagoner. He was a man about whom there was some mystery. He never tried to accomplish anything by direct means that he could secure by indirect means. He was a subtle organizer and I think he did more to fuse and bring together the many discordant elements of the House that made up the organization that located the University at his town and voted the capital to Oklahoma City than any other man, and he did it all for Tom Wagoner.
Wagoner and the writer were both members of the second territorial legislature and Wagoner was elected Speaker of the House after a tie vote that lasted several days. He untied this deadlock by procuring the vote of
a republican member for himself, although he had not before been a candidate, the democrats then all voted for him. T. R. Wagoner died in California more than twenty-five years ago.
Canadian County only had one member to the Council and two in the House. Joseph Smelser was the councilman and D. W. Talbot and A. N. Daniels were the House members. These gentlemen were all in the combination to make Oklahoma City the seat of government for the Territory of Oklahoma. Mr. Smelser was a homesteader in the northeast part of Canadian County in what is now Mathewson Township. He was a man who had been well reared and had had the advantage of an education. He was the real "County Gentleman" and a moral, upright, honorable man.
D. W. Talbot was a young man, honest and upright but not aggressive. His inexperience and natural modesty had made him timid but he was honest and true. He was a student and a plodder. He afterward studied law and was admitted to practice. He moved to northeast Oklahoma and was county judge at Miami where he died several years ago.
Of the other member of the House from Canadian County, the Hon. Arthur N. Daniels, sometimes known as "Deafy Daniels," the speaker of the House of Representatives of the first territorial legislature, I feel that I have not the gift of language to attempt to delineate his character in a brief sketch. I wish I could have delegated this job to Hon. John Golobie, now deceased, as I believe he was the only man in the state that could have done the subject full justice, as he knew Daniels better than anyone now living. Daniels was not much identified with Canadian county as he spent most of his time at Guthrie although he had a homestead in Canadian County near Downs. (This town is now in Kingfisher County.) Daniels was elected on the Peoples Party, or the Alliance ticket in a democratic county. He got many votes by promising to make Frisco the county seat of Canadian County.
He was born and reared in Illinois and was a graduate from Knox College in 1880. He read law and was admit-
ted to the bar. He was a fluent talker and had good use of language. His speeches were plausible and his illustrations and comparisons were apt. He was neither very consistent nor sincere and many people did not take him seriously. He had no time to apply himself to any line of business or profession. The ruling passion of his life was politics. The only other subjects he took interest in were race horses and draw poker. He was inclined to dissipation and was also almost a physical wreck. He loved excitement of political conventions and "drank the ’coffee’ which makes a politician wise." In the twelve or fourteen years he lived in Oklahoma before his death I doubt if he ever missed a political convention of any party. He often came to conventions without a cent in his pocket but depended upon the generosity of his friends for his meat and drink, more especially his drink, and most of the old time politicians have contributed to the cause.
No man in the territory knew more of the public men of all parties than did Daniels. When he came to a political convention he would ally himself with one faction or the other and he soon had all the "dope" and helped to line up the delegates for his friends. He was something of an expert in a convention and his "Fine Italian Hand" often turned the tide in a chase political fight. When he arrived at Guthrie, having in his organization the balance of power, Daniels was in a position to get results—and he did.
NO MAN’S LAND
Way off to the Northwest, there was a strip of land about thirty-seven miles wide and nearly one hundred seventy miles long, extending west from the Cherokee Strip out to the Territory of New Mexico. It was the border land of Kansas on the south and of Texas on the north; a sort of a "Buffer State" between Texas and Kansas. There had been some settlement of cowmen and ranchers for several years but no state or territory could claim jurisdiction, and it had been long known as "No-Man’s Land." As before stated, the Organic Act made it a part of the territory of Oklahoma, although it did not border on Oklahoma. At the first election the name "Beaver" was selected as the name of the county. This name was chosen because Beaver
Creek meanders its way for nearly two hundred miles through the heart of the county as it came down from the mountains.
In apportioning the territory for representation, Governor Steele gave Beaver County one member of the Council and one member of the House. C. F. Crimmer, a republican, who had run as an independent, was elected Councilman. Crimmer was a German who owned a ranch out there and did not care two cents where the capital was located nor did the people he represented. He lined up as a republican and that meant he was counted as a Guthrie man.
Dr. E. H. Long was elected on the democratic ticket. Long was not only a physician but he was in the stock business at the time he was elected. When he came down to the Oklahoma country to attend the session of the Legislature, he was accompanied by a young man named E. L. Gay, who had been publishing a paper up at that little isolated frontier town of Beaver City. Gay was the friend and advisor of Dr. Long and they soon identified themselves with our fusion organization which meant Oklahoma City for capital. E. L. Gay died at his home in Pawhuska in 1928. He had long been the editor of the Pawhuska Capital-Journal, one of the most influential newspapers of the state. Dr. Long is said to be living on one of his farms in the northeast part of Canadian County and although past ninety, he yet rides horseback looking after his farming interests.
I have now come to Payne County whose one Councilman and three Representatives were a part of the original combination to locate the capital and other institutions.
George W. Gardenhire, of Stillwater, was a member of the Council. He was elected on the Peoples Party Alliance ticket. He was also President of the Council, having been elected by reason of the fact his one vote could decide the election and he voted for himself. I do not propose to comment upon the character of the Councilman from Payne County but will let the records tell the story. There may be some in Payne County who still think that they owe Gardenhire the honor of locating the A. & M. College at Stillwater.
The three men elected to the House from Payne County were: I. N. Terrill, Samuel W. Clark and James L. Mathews.
It is hard to understand the reason why seemingly intelligent people would elect such a wild-eyed, vicious, beastly anarchist as Ira N. Terrill to the Legislature. It is true he was rather a cunning talker who always posed as a friend of the people, but a man so crude in his methods that he could never deceive the people the second time. He would have been in his element in one of those anarchist meetings at the notorious "Hay Market" in Chicago. The writer remembers distinctly that on one occasion the Hon. W. P. McCartney was occupying a seat on the floor of the House at the desk of one of the members. Senator McCartney was a member of the Council from Kingfisher County, and under the rules had a perfect right on the floor of the House. Now Terrill was bitter against M’cCartney and he arose in his seat and in an angry voice demanded that the speaker should have McCartney expelled from the floor of the House. The speaker refused to do so saying that McCartney had the right to a seat on the floor of the House. Terrill became more abusive and finally said that as the speaker would not put McCartney out he would, and raising the top of his desk grabbed a big forty-five revolver and said he would give McCartney just one minute to get out of the House. Just as he placed his gun on the desk, the sergeant-at-arms, J. N. Jerome, stepped up behind him and grabbed the gun from him. If McCartney was frightened in the least, no one knew it but the writer will concede that he was scared as he was right between Terrill and McCartney.
There is no use of discussing his character further, the record of the criminal courts is his record. He was convicted of the murder of a man in Guthrie and served a part of his time at Lansing, Kansas. While in the penitentiary, he kept up a constant agitation and he was the theme of many newspaper stories, most of them inspired by Terrill himself. He caused so much disturbance and insubordination that Kansas was glad to get rid of him. He had secured a number of pictures taken at the Kansas penitentiary where Oklahoma was confining its convicts
and from them he had slides made and gave "lectures" illustrated by magic lantern pictures telling of the horrors of that Kansas institution. He afterwards developed into a great "Geologist" and regular "Rock Hound" and was selling leases in Texas. He has been dead for several years. Samuel W. Clark was Terrill’s "Man Friday" and did his bidding in everything. When Terrill betrayed his associates Clark was right with him. Clark really thought Terrill was a great man.
AN HONEST MAN
I have not spoken complimentarily of three of the four men who represented Payne county in the first legislative assembly, but there was one just, upright and honorable man from Payne County and that was Hon. James L. Mathews and to this one righteous man Payne County is indebted for that great school at Stillwater, the A. & M. College. James L. Mathews was born in Indiana and was a near relative of Governor Mathews of that state. He was a man of few words but always deeply in earnest. His demeanor was always serious, even solemn. Representative Wimberly once said to the writer "Isn’t Uncle Jim Mathews the most even tempered man you ever saw?" I suggested that it had never occurred to me. "Well," said Wimberly, "Isn’t he always mad?" Mr. Mathews was not always mad, he was always true, honest and loyal. Ire was a man of mature years and a reader and student of public questions and was much better informed on political issues than the average citizen. He was the nominee of the democratic party for delegate to Congress to fill the unexpired term of the Fifty-first Congress but was defeated by David A. Harvey. Mr. Mathews was re-elected to the second legislature.
If additional evidence is needed to prove that Payne County is indebted to Mathews for the A. & M. College, I will refer to a letter given to James L. Mathews and signed by a majority of those who voted to locate the school at Stillwater. This letter was written by E. L. Gay, chief clerk of the First Territorial Legislature. The story follows
Stillwater, Okla. October 5, 1926. In entering Okla-
homa Agricultural and Mechanical College as a freshman this year, James Mathews Hesser fulfilled the dying wish of his grandfather, J. L. Mathews, one of the founders of the institution.
Mathews, for whom his grandson was named, died many years ago.
When Hessler came to Stillwater from his farm home near here, he brought with him one of the earliest documents concerning the founding of the college. He has loaned it to President Bradford Knapp and it now hangs, framed, in the executive office.
In a letter addressed "To the People of Payne County," bearing the signatures of sixteen members of the first legislature of Oklahoma Territory. It is written on ruled paper in long hand and signed in ink which is fast fading. Its worn folds indicate much usage. The letter follows
"We, the undersigned members of the Legislature, take this method of saying that to the Hon. J. L. Mathews you are indebted for the location of the agricultural college in your community. The honesty and integrity of Mr. Mathews in his efforts to secure this and other needed legislation for his constituents is worthy the admiration of his people and we cheerfully sign this testimonial in his behalf."
It is dated Oct. 11, 1890. Attestation of the document at its end is: "These are all honorable members of the House. (Signed,) A. N. Daniels, Speaker of the House."
Members who signed the testimonial were: E. L. Gay, chief clerk; R. J. Nesbitt, H. G. Trosper, Moses Neal, Samuel D. Peck, D. W. Peery, L. G. Pitman, Mort L. Bixler, J. W. Howard, Joseph Smelser, J. L. Brown, C. G. Jones, T. R. Wagoner, of Cleveland County; J. At. Stovall, of Cleveland County; D. W. Talbott, of Canadian County; and W. C. Adair.
The writer is the only living member of the House that signed this letter but there are two of the signers who were members of the Council living. The reason this letter was written was to give credit where credit was due and prevent the three members from Payne County,
who had sold us out and betrayed the organization, from claiming the credit for that school.
I have now written of the fourteen members of the House and of the seven members of the Council who constituted the original organization that had for its object the locating of public institutions, including the capital of the terrtory. When you consider the character of some of these men, is it any wonder they did not hold together?
MEETING OF THE LEGISLATURE
In a few days after the election, the writer went to Guthrie to pay his respects to the Governor and talk over with him some of the subjects that would come before the Legislature. I found him to be a very pleasant gentleman and we had a very satisfactory conference. He insisted that the subject of the location of the Capital should not be considered until pressing necessary legislation could be passed. Even then the Guthrie papers were insisting that the first business of the Legislature should be to locate the capital at Guthrie and settle the question so it would be out of the way. My visit with the Governor was the beginning of a personal friendship between us that lasted as long as Governor Steele was a resident of the territory.
According to the proclamation of the Governor, the day set for the convening of the Legislature was August 27, 1890. The representatives from Oklahoma County, including the writer, went to Guthrie a day or two in advance of time, so that they might take a hand in the preliminary work of perfecting the organization. We were also accompanied to the temporary capital by several of the leading citizens who no doubt thought that they might do some lobbying in the interest of Oklahoma City. When we arrived at Guthrie, we found most all the members present and caucuses and conferences were being held by members and lobbyists. Guthrie was figuring on the votes from Payne county to locate the capital but they were not willing to give the Alliance party any part in the organization and the members from there were all alliance men. Guthrie thought that owing to the location Payne members would have to vote for their city. They did not realize how much the alliance members valued the honor of
organizing the two houses and dividing out the clerical positions among their friends.
The democratic representatives and the two democratic members of the Council, from Oklahoma County, held a conference with the alliance members including the entire Payne County delegation, also A. N. Daniels, from Canadian County. We made the statement to this alliance outfit that we had only one big object in view and that wars to locate the capital at Oklahoma City. They told us that they were not tied to Guthrie but would vote as a unit for Oklahoma City if we would make the concessions they asked. In the first place, they wanted to name the president of the Council and the speaker of the House. They also must have some of the clerical jobs and at least half of the officers of both houses. Not only this, but the Payne County representatives stated that they must have one of the best institutions in the state located in their county. A. N. Daniels included another provision; we must stand together and vote for Frisco as county seat of Canadian County.
As a result of this conference, we called a caucus of the democratic members of both houses to lay before them the proposition of the alliance. Some of them did not much like the proposition of letting the four alliance men in the House and one in the Council control the Legislature but this was the faint hope of getting anything for the democratic counties or of locating the capital at Oklahoma City. Dr. Howard, the councilman from Edmond, stated he lived just as close to Guthrie as to Oklahoma City and it made but little difference to the people of his town where the capital was located. He wanted to go with the democrats but he said he and his people wanted the territorial normal at Edmond.
The members from Cleveland County were for Oklahoma City for the capital but they too wanted a school and the university of the territory would just about suit them. Councilman Bixler and Representative Wagoner were spokesmen for the county.
Dr. Long, from Beaver County, said he did not care where the capital was located, but he would favor the town that would build a railroad from Oklahoma to Beaver
County. Of course, Oklahoma County promised to do this but up to this time they have not built the road. The doctor also stated he had brought a young man with him that be wanted to have elected chief clerk; his man was E. L. Gay. We had no objecton to this if the alliance members would concede that place to the democrats.
The democrat members of the House called into caucus the four alliance men and apprised them of the results of our conference and what position some of the democratic members would want for their friends. They then told us in detail just what their demands were. The three democratic members from Oklahoma County, Pack, Peery and Neal, stated then and there to that caucus that they would not ask for a single clerkship or any position for their friends but what they wanted was the vote of the organization for the location of the capital at Oklahoma City.
The arrangement seemed to be satisfactory all around, but the trouble was we did not have votes enough to organize either house without the help of the Oklahoma County republican members. We had in that caucus of house members eight democrats and four of the alliance members making twelve, while it reqired fourteen members to constitute a majority. The two republicans from Oklahoma County would give us a majority. The proportion was just the same in the council, there were thirteen members of that body and it required seven votes to be a majority. There were only five democrats in that body and one alliance man, Gardenhire. It would require the vote of one of the republicans from Oklahoma County, J. L. Brown, in the fusion to organize the council.
As for Jones and Trosper, they had not gone into the republican caucus but were keeping in close touch with our plans to organize in the interest of Oklahoma City. They would be ready at any time we got together and would vote with us in the organization, if it meant the capital for Oklahoma City. J. L. Brown, of the council was very reluctant to vote against the regular republican nominee for an alliance man no matter what was promised. The matter of the organization was up in the air, undecided, when the two branches of the Legislature met at
two o’clock, August 27, 1890. The journal of Proceedings records:
"At two o’clock, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 1890, the members elect of the council of the first session of the legislative assembly of Oklahoma Territory, met pursuant to law and the proclamation of the Governor, in the building secured by the Secretary of the Territory for the use of the Legislature and in the room designated as the ’Council Chamber’ and were called to order by Hon. Robert Martin, Secretary of Oklahoma Territory."
Temporary organization was perfected by making Mr. Gardenhire temporary President and E. P. McCabe temporary secretary. A committee on credentials was chosen and the council adjourned until ten o’clock next day.
The first session of the House was even more brief than that of the Council. The oath of office was administered by Secretary Martin. J. C. Post, of Kingfisher, was chosen temporary Chairman and H. G. Beard, Secretary. Henry G. Beard died only a few weeks ago at his home in Sapulpa. He founded the city of Shawnee and also Henryetta. He served as U. S. Marshal for the Eastern District. His original homestead was southeast of Oklahoma City. A committee on credentials was appointed and the House adjourned until nine o’clock, Aug. 28, 1890.
Immediately upon adjournment of the first session, we met in caucus and with us met Jones and Trosper, making fourteen. They stated they would be with our organization if their republican constituents at Oklahoma City would approve of their breaking with the republican organization in the interest of Oklahoma City. These gentlemen wired to the City and asked their republican friends to call a meeting of the republicans and they would come down and asked for instructions. It was decided by our caucus that we would absent ourselves on the second day and thus break the quorum which would give us time to perfect the organization. There were only eight members present on the second day and an adjournment was taken until Friday, Aug. 29.
C. G. Jones asked the writer of these lines to go to
Oklahoma City with them so that I might explain to the republicans in the meeting they had called, the exact situation as I saw it and to show them the necessity for the republican Councilman, J. L. Brown, and the two republican members of the House to vote our fusion combination if they ever hoped to locate the capital at our town. Brown, Jones, Trosper and myself went to the City that night to meet the republicans. This meeting was held at the old Boon and McKennon Building, corner of Broadway and California Avenue. I was not admitted for some time as they were having a real executive session. When I was called, I found the hall crowded and I suppose that I was the only democrat in the house. The Chairman asked me to explain the situation at Guthrie as I saw it. I made a talk to the republicans there assembled, and told them that when I left Guthrie I had just come from a meeting where there were twelve members of the House and everyone pledged to make Oklahoma City capital of the territory, provided the two members from Oklahoma County would vote with them and help organize the House by electing a peoples party man speaker, and making certain other concessions, all of which I explained. I also told them that all that was needed to get the majority vote of the Council for Oklahoma City was the vote of J. L. Brown for George Gardenhire for President of the Council and to pledge himself to the program of the fusion organization as to the location of other institutions. I had many questions asked me, all of which I answered satisfactorily.
When I had finished my explanations, C. G. Jones made a talk in which he said: "I didn’t come down here so much to ask advice but to tell you what I am going to do. I am going to vote for Oklahoma City and if the republicans do not like it, we will organize a new party here and call it the ’Capital Party.’" Jones’ speech met the approval of the crowd and a motion was made to instruct the members from Oklahoma County to vote with the democrats if it was necessary to get the capital. I soon retired from the room. J. L. Brown was not present while I was in the room.
A big meeting was held in the street immediately after this meeting in the hall. J. L. Brown was called for and
made a speech. Some years afterwards, Brown wrote a story about this capital fight and I will now give his version of this meeting. Brown said:
"There were two republicans in the House and one in the Council from Oklahoma County. The minority of the House and Council was composed of democrats and populists."
"The populists and democrats proposed to the two republicans in the House and the one republican in the Council, from Oklahoma County, that if they would unite with the minority party and give them the legislative offices, they, in turn, would unite with these republicans from Oklahoma County, and promptly pass a bill locating the capital at Oklahoma City."
"I was the republican in the Council from Oklahoma County and opposed this deal, because I was satisfied that it never could and never would be carried out."
"This kept the House from organizing for something near a week." (This is a mistake for both houses perfected a permanent organization on the third day.) "During this time a large meeting was called at Oklahoma City and I was sent for to come down and give an account of my willingness to enter the capital deal, for the benefit of my own city, and I came."
"The meeting was a large one, and held in the street. I told the people of the difficulties in the way, that I was sure Governor Steele would veto the bill if passed, and that its took two-thirds to pass the bill over his veto, which we never could hope to get, but that we could get two good institutions and possibly three, to-wit: the state university, the agricultural college and the penitentiary; and that if we would give Guthrie the capital we could united their forces in the Legislature with ours and take anything we wanted except the capital. This proposition was met with derisive yells, and a unanimous resolution was passed with a great whoop, demanding the capital or nothing."
"While talking to the people of that meeting on that occasion, such remarks as ’corner lots in Guthrie, and ’ropes,’ and ’telegraph poles’ were plainly to be heard."
"I told the meeting that their orders would be obeyed
and went back to Guthrie, gave the democrats and populists the legislative offices, and I at once prepared ’Council bill No. 7,’ providing for the removal of the capital to Oklahoma City upon a date named in the bill."
I have quoted Judge Brown at length as I wanted him to give his own version of his stand on the capital question. It is true that Brown did prepare the bill and introduce it in the council. This had been agreed upon for it put him in the lead and more fully identified him with the plans of our organization. He went into our caucus and agreed to stand by the fusion organization and his word was good. We now had a majority pledged in both houses and were ready to organize the Legislature.
On the third day of the session, August 29, both houses met at the hour fixed. The Guthrie representatives soon began to realize that they would be in the minority and they started to filibuster to get a test of strength. In the House the committee on credentials presented the report of Governor Steele as to the elected members and they were all present. Mr. Merten, representative from Guthrie, moved to adjourn. This motion was tabled by a vote of sixteen to ten. Associate Justice A. J. Seay administered the oath of office to the members. A motion to proceed with the permanent organization prevailed. W. H,. Merten, of Logan County, and A. N. Daniels, of Canadian County, were placed in nomination for speaker. The vote resulted fourteen for Daniels and eleven for Merten. Daniels was declared elected. E. L. Gay was elected chief clerk, having received fourteen votes to his opponent’s twelve. So the combination stayed together and the House adjourned until the next day.
The council met at the same time and elected George Gardenhire President of the Council and completed the organization by electing Major E. J. Simpson, of E1 Reno, chief clerk and filling all the offices of the council with the nominees of the fusion Oklahoma City ticket, including H. G. Beard as Enrolling and Engrossing Clerk; T. R. Jackson, doorkeeper; G. L. Dent, messenger and J. G. Grigsby, sergeant-at-arms. The fusion organization was also functioning in the Council.
On the fourth legislative day the House completed its
organization by electing George W. Carrico, the son-in-law of H. G. Trosper, Enrolling and Engrossing Clerk. J. N. Jerome, the alliance man from Payne county, defeated Amos Ewing, of Kingfisher (now State Senator from Guthrie) for sergeant-at-arms. Francis R. McKennon, the owner of the building in which the Legislature met, was elected watchman and Rev. Simon Firestone, Chaplain.