By Joe B. Milam
By the sixteenth article of the treaty of July 19, 1866,1 it was agreed that the United States might settle friendly Indians in any part of the Cherokee country west of 96°, which must have included some 2,000,000 acres of the Cherokee "home," said land to be paid for to the Cherokee Nation at such price as might be agreed upon between the Cherokees and the newcomers, subject to approval of the President.
Under provision of this treaty, a group of Delaware Indians were moved to Indian Territory in 1867, and were incorporated as citizens of the Cherokee Nation. They were followed in 1870 by another group, made up of the Shawano, chiefly from Kansas. The Osage, Kaw, Pawnee, Ponca, Oto and Missouri, and Tonkawa were afterward settled on the western extension known as the Cherokee Outlet. The captive Nez Perces were also temporarily located there, but have since been moved to Washington and Idaho.2
Appraisment was made of these lands as a whole at 47.49 cents per acre, which Congress approved, and at the same time, appropriated $300,000.00 of this amount to be expended as the law of the Cherokees should direct.3
Exact boundaries and location of each tribe were stated. The number of acres granted are as follows:4
The Cherokee Nation was eager to execute deeds of relinquishment to these lands, as there had been an almost
total failure of the corn crop during the past season, which made this relief essential to them.5
Nevertheless, such grants to other tribes of Indians completely cut off the unoccupied lands of the Outlet from its owners living in the Cherokee Nation, and made it of no value to them for grazing or hunting. On the other hand, they had seldom used it in more recent years; the buffalo were almost all killed off; and Colorado and New Mexico were being rapidly settled by white people, so that its original porpose as an outlet, no longer existed.
Lying as it did between Texas and the nearest markets in Kansas, the Outlet, with its fertile soil, its fine grass and good water, was most desirable. It was first used by the cattlemen on their northern drive to railroads. The herds would be started north as early as razing would permit, and then held over on the Outlet for weeks, while they fattened on its luxuriant grass.
Six hundred thousand head were driven across the Outlet in 1866; in that same year, the Kansas ranchers began to drive their herds across the line to graze, so that it was not long until several hundred thousand cattle were grazed upon the Outlet annually, some on the way to market, but most of them regularly. Without any right whatever, they constituted it their range and established boundaries among themselves, under common law known as the "Cow custom."6
In 1879, as the number of herds on the Outlet increased, the Cherokee Council met and decided to collect revenue from their owners. Their attempt the first year resulted in a very small amount; the following year, Major D. W. Lipe, Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, succeeded in collecting about $8,000; in 1881; $21,500; in 1882, $41,250.7
Because there had come to be so many cattle that their owners could not keep them apart, a meeting of cowmen was called at Caldwell, Kansas, in the spring of 1880, where a permanent, although very loose organization was formed for the purpose of settling disputes and to take
5Letter of June 20, 1882, to Wm. B. Allison, Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, from Danl. H. Ross and R. M. Wolfe, Cherokee Delegates, Phillips Collection.
measures for protection against fire, thieves, wolves and other destructive agencies.8 As the number of cattlemen and herds increased, the organization grew in strength, each member looking to it as the only means of arbitration.
Next they conceived the idea of enclosing their land permits from the Cherokees within fences, in order to keep their cattle from mingling with those of their neighbors and with the "drift cattle" from Kansas and the "pilgrim cattle" from Texas. Of this the Cherokees heartily approved, believing that they could collect with less difficulty. These fences were constructed under the names of individual Cherokees, who, it is said, received large sums of money for the use of their names.9
The cattlemen realized the importance of retaining these fences and especially, these grazing lands, and therefore began to send lobbyists to Washington, D. C., in order to influence senators toward that end. According to Major Lillie, no small sum of money was spent thus in an effort to maintain their rights in the Outlet.10
Early in 1883, the ranchmen opened negotiations with Dennis W. Bushyhead, principal chief of the Cherokees, a man of education and real ability, who was favorable to them and their interests. He promised to call a special meeting of the council and to see what agreement could be reached between his people and the stockmen.11
On March 6, 7, and 8 of that year, a meeting was held in Caldwell, Kansas, which was attended by practically all the cattlemen on the Outlet. It was at this time that they organized and incorporated under the laws of Kansas, "The Cherokee Live Stock Association."12
In many respects it was a most unusual corporation. It had no capital, and therefore, no stockholders. It was composed of individuals, partnerships, and corporations, many of them with a heavy capitalization. Practically every cattleman in the Outlet, whether an independent or the representative of some group, joined the new association by paying his dues of ten dollars. They elected a sec-
retary, with whom every member recorded the brand on his cattle, so as to protect himself at the time of the big roundups, when such a brand was his only claim to his cattle.13
On May 19, 1883, the Cherokee Live Stock Association was granted, by the Cherokee Council in session, a lease14 of the entire Outlet for a period of five years, for the sum of $100,000 per year, payable semi-annually in advance, Members of the association agreed that they would erect no permanent buildings on the Outlet and that all temporary improvements should go to the Cherokees upon the expiration of the lease. They would cut no timber except for fencing and temporary structures. No person not a member should be permitted to graze stock upon the Outlet. Failure to make payment promptly to the Cherokee Nation constituted a forfeiture of the lease. According to Major Gordon W. Lillie, large sums of money were used to bribe members of the Cherokee Council into the passing of this act,15 although a Senate investigating committee failed to produce sufficient evidence that money had been used, except in legitimate expenses.16
The Indians wanted their first payment in silver, and Mr. Bennett, the treasurer of the association, took $50,000 in silver from Caldwell to Tahlequah, a long and dangerous journey to make at that time with so great a treasure.17
The association next surveyed the Outlet; boundaries of each range were defined; wide strips were left for trails across the Outlet; and lands were set aside for quarantine rounds, the total amount used for grazing being a little over 5,000,000 acres,18 This was divided among a few more than one hundred individuals, corporations, and firms, but some four or five hundred men were included in the organization, while, including stockholders in various companies, perhaps two thousand people were interested in the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.19
13S. Rept., op. cit., Charter of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association, 684-685; also Dale, op. cit., 10-11.
The grazing land proved itself worth its lease money, and more. As the time for expiration of that lease began to draw near, members of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association began to bargain for a renewal. In a letter written to "The Honorable National Council" and signed by three members of the association, Charles H. Eldred, T. S. Hutton, and E. M. Howins, the president, they said that they had heard rumors to the effect that the National Council was to be called in June for the purpose of making some disposition of the grazing privileges on the lands of the Cherokee Nation, lying west of the Arkansas River. As their present lease, granted by the act approved May 19, 1883, expired on October 1, 1888, they desired the opportunity of renewing, and promised "to be as faithful to the trust as we believe we have been in our obligations to you in the past."20
But competition prevented the new lease from being secured just that simply. There were other offers and some of a very different nature. For instance, Major Gordon W. Lillie and P. B. Scott were sent by a syndicate from Wichita and Arkansas City, with an offer of a million and a half dollars for the title to the Outlet. This was the first time that anyone had tried to buy the land outright from the Cherokees. They did not expect to get the land, but hoped to prove whether or not the Cherokee Nation were the rightful owner, and if it really could sell the Outlet.21 Another syndicate later offered them $3.00 an acre or a total of $18,000,000, but Congress refused its approval and the Cherokees could not sell without the consent of the Federal Government.
Since they were permitted to lease, the Cherokees decided to get as much as possible. In a letter from Tahlequah in January, 1888, J. B. Mayes, Cherokee Chief, suggested to his council that the grazing privilege be advertised through the press of the adjoining states—Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, for a period of ninety days, and then let to the highest responsible bidder for five years. At the same time, he added
that acknowledgement should be made to present occupants for their punctual payments, and preference given them, should no higher bids be offered.22 Bids ran high, but finally, late in the autumn, the lease was renewed to the Cherokee Live Stock Association for a period of five years, in consideration of the sum of $200,000 annually.23
In April, 1889, settlers came pouring across the Outlet to join in the race for homes in Oklahoma. Pioneers, encouraged by this opening, wanted an opportunity to settle on other lands including the Outlet. Railroads, border towns, wholesaling centers and the press were all "talking it up" and urging an immediate opening.
We now come to what seems the beginning of the end of Indian autonomy. Congress, in the act of March 2, 1889,24 authorized the appointment of a commission to negotiate with the Cherokees and other Indians owning or claiming land west of the 96 parallel in Indian Territory, "for their cession to the United States of all their title, claim, or interest of every kind or character in and to said lands."25
This body, known as the Cherokee Commission, made a proposition, in August of that year, to buy the lands at $1.25 per acre. The proposition was declined on the ground that the constitution of the Cherokees forbade its consideration.26 In reality, they had no urge to sell at this price when they had already been offered $3.00 per acre. It is possible that the syndicate of cattlemen who made that offer had no intention of buying, but merely hoped it would prevent the Cherokees from selling to the Government at a smaller price. A second proposition for cession was accepted on December 19, 1891 and confirmed by Congress March 17, 1893.27
In this contract between the Department of the Interior and the Cherokee Nation, the latter ceded all land in the
23Senate Bill, No. 37, Passed by Senate and House on December 1, 1888, Phillips Collection, University of Oklahoma.
given area of the Outlet to the United States, who, in turn agreed to pay the Cherokee Nation:
at such time and in such manner as the Cherokee national council shall determine, the sum of $8,595,736.12, over and above all other sums that have been received by the Cherokees on account of lands of the Outlet that have been heretofore sold for use of friendly tribes of Indians.
The United States agreed further, to render to the Cherokee Nation, without delay, a complete account of money due that nation under any of the treaties ratified in the years 1817, 1819, 1825, 1828, 1833, 1835, 1836, 1846, 1866 and 1868, and if it were found that any sum of money had been withheld that amount should be duly appropriated.
One of the most interesting articles in the treaty had to do with those Cherokees who had improved land in the Outlet, and desired to remain upon it. It provided that any citizen of the Cherokee Nation, who had lived on a piece of land prior to 1891, and had improved it, might homestead that land to the extent of one eighth section; that his wife and children could likewise homestead an eighth each to the amount which the head of the family had improved; but that such land should be paid for at the regular price, the money to be deducted from the amount due the Cherokees.
Such allotments were limited, in that they could not exceed seventy in number, nor 5,600 acres in amount. Amendments were added, providing sufficient funds to pay the Delaware and Shawnee Indians what was owed them, as well as to care for the Cherokee freedmen who had been living in the Cherokee Nation.
D. W. Bushyhead, former chief of the tribe, having made valuable improvements on his land, was allowed 160 acres, payment to be made by him upon the same terms as were allowed his fellow tribesmen.28
Much hard feeling developed among the white settlers toward the Indians, due to the fact that almost every
one of the allotments was chosen near a county seat or other townsite, in order to compete with that town, and thus bring the original Cherokee owner, much profit. This matter will be taken up in more detail after the opening.
The Cherokee Commission had succeeded more quickly in drawing up contracts with the Tonkawa and Pawnee tribes of Indians than with the Cherokees. By an agreement concluded October 21, 1891,29 the Tonkawas ceded their reservation of 90,710.89 acres to the United States. Allotments in severalty were granted to the members of the tribe, and a cash payment of $30,600 was added as further compensation for the relinquishment of their rights. Altogether, there were only seventy members of the Tonkawa tribe, but it was provided that any child born to them between the date of agreement and the date of ratification by Conress should receive a similar allotment, as should adopted members of the tribe.
On the twenty third day of November, 1892, the Pawnee tribe of Indians ceded to the United States all its title, claim, and interest of every kind to the United States, for the sum of $80,000, to be immediately available to them. This tract of land included seventeen townships between the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers.30
With the ratification of these agreements, the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association saw its last hope vanish. Would-be settlers were pouring into their range until there was no satisfaction in trying to feed there. As early as the fall of 1889, there had been a complaint from the Cherokee treasurer, Robert B. Ross, to the association for failing to pay its lease money of $24,750 for the months of October, November, and December, to which its president, E. M. Hewins, replied that the country was overrun with boomers and outlaws; that they were having no protection whatever, either from the Cherokee Nation or from the Federal Government; that a large part of the country had been burned off so that they had been forced to remove many of their herds and ship them to market. Under such circumstances, he concluded, it was difficult to collect rev-
30G. W. Lillie and J. B. Tucker, Condensed Topographical Hand Book of the Cherokee Strip, August, 1893, 79.
enue from members of the association.31 This state of affairs continued to grow worse, until stockmen in the Outlet sold their property and incumberances due them, shipped what remaining herds they had, and left the country, after which the association ceased to exist.
The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association was the greatest organization ever in existence, engaged in the live stock industry, and its influence upon history of Oklahoma was very great. It showed the ability of the American pioneer to organize a huge concern in a region without courts, to function well, and to afford adequate protection to extensive economic interests.
It also showed how little the federal officials in Washington knew about the ranching industry. But the very presence of the association on the Outlet did much to bring about that opening which it was trying so hard to prevent. Accusations made against the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association by the people, the Government, and the press, developed much enmity, that even today, it has not entirely disappeared.
In the treaty of March 3, 1893, the Cherokees had ceded all rights in that portion of land knowns as the Cherokee Outlet, to the United States. Agitation of the public mind had forced the matter this far, and now it grew intense. The new domain must be opened at once. There was constant clamor from border towns such as Arkansas City and Wellington, Kansas. News stories sent east were filled with highly colored and exaggerated accounts of the number of boomers who were daily pouring into that section, demanding an immediate opening.
According to Major Gordon W. Lillie,32 (Pawnee Bill) who wrote more stories and sent more publicity east than any other man, all this ultra zeal was necessary in order to convince Congressmen that the Outlet was worth the expense of opening, or that anybody wanted it opened. With the few exceptions of those from the neighboring states of Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas, the Congressmen had the idea that this territory was wild and arid waste,
where it practically never rained, and nothing could be raised. In their opinion, it would be cruel to advertise this barren land to homesteaders, who would be led in there under false conceptions, only to suffer and starve. The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association had for years kept highly paid and expert lobbyists in Washington, D. C., to tell just such stories, and in the face of the new opposition, they had redoubled their efforts, fighting to the last.
The "boomers" consisted largely of poor farmers who were unorganized and who had no capital with which to fight or even to advertise. When they came, with their families in covered wagons, they usually brought all their earthly possession with them, and did well to subsist. Therefore, news stories played a big part and had, of a necessity, to "make mountains out of mole hills," as Pawnee Bill so often expressed it.
"If three wagons came into Arkansas City, we wrote a story with big head lines, saying, 'Another hundred wagons arrived today.' If a colony of several families came together, the story read, 'A colony of several thousand arrived today and is now camped on the border awaiting the opening."33
The little town of Arkansas City fought harder for the opening than did any other, for it meant her very existence. With unoccupied country almost surrounding her, she had no trade territory and it was for this reason that her board of trade, which would today be known as a Chamber of Commerce, used every dollar and every influence it could muster, to further the cause.
As early as the first of May, boomers began to arrive along the northern border of the proposed land, where they made camp and prepared to stay until they should be allowed to enter the new country.
A story in an Arkansas City newspaper34 tells of a mass meeting held by a group on May 25, 1893, at Cain, on the line near the Chilocco School, to petition the President and Secretary of the Interior that they make efforts to open the land by July 1, or July 15 at least in order that the farmers who would settle there might have an oppor-
tunity to plant wheat before cold weather, and to gather some hay for winter supply. Many families, they reported, were camped along the line, and were in need, having no means of livelihood until they could get onto a claim. They knew that the fifty fourth Congress had treated with the Cherokees for the purchase of the Outlet, and they felt certain that the opening would be before many months. It seemed wise, therefore, that it be immediately, or at least before fall, for the reasons above listed.
A committee on resolutions was appointed from among the group and a series of resolutions set forth, which they requested should be printed in the "Cherokee Strip Guide" and also sent to President Cleveland and to Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior, summarizing their reasons for desiring an early opening, and further requesting that all cattle, especially Texas cattle, be removed immediately in order that the Texas fever not be passed on to the stock of the settlers who should come in.
They resolved to patronize the "Cherokee Strip Guide" and to throw as much of their trade as possible to those merchants, bankers and tradesmen in different towns along the border who espoused their cause and endeavored to aid in the opening.
It was their plan to have other meetings at various times, for the purpose of effecting a permanent organization of all the homeseekers along the Kansas border for protection, social advancement, and other such advantages as would naturally accrue.
Said the "Cherokee Strip Guide" reporter:35
Cherokee Strip to blossom like the rose, and make the land that is now the abode of the Texas steer, produce bountifully of all kinds of crops and cereals. These men are from almost every state in the Union and a great many of them are soldiers of the late war. Most of them have their families with them and are patiently awaiting the opening, that they may secure a home in which they may reside in peace and quietude the remainder of the coming years.
Nevertheless, it was from this group of fine folk that fraudulent advertisers made small fortunes.
The Cherokee Strip Homesteaders Proctection Association is the best organization in the West to insure the getting and holding a good claim in the Cherokee Strip or in the other new Indian lands. Write to them for information at rooms 515-516, Nelson Building, Kansas City, Mo.36
Many such companies advertised daily that they could not only get, but hold land for settlers, and some people were ignorant enough of the real situation to "bite."
The following synopsis of a letter written to Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior, by a Mr. J. N. Bunce,37 is representative of the sentiment all along the border; he recalled that at all openings which had taken place in the past, merchants obtained permission from army officers to go into the country a day before with their stock of goods so as to be ready to do business as soon as the people reached the townsites. Those merchants were numerous, and they had with them scores of clerks, teamsters and a few friends, all of whom took advantage of being on the ground. If the openings were to be a race, men who had ridden twenty or twenty-five miles would not be able to compete with those who had been there from twelve to eighteen hours resting and getting pointers from the soldiers.
Watonga, he remembered, opened at 4:00 p. m. on an April day in 1892, and at 6:00 o'clock it was a city of
tents, doing all kinds of business, many of the clerks and merchants having secured the best lots.
Next, he mentioned the border question, and suggested that if claims could not be taken by filing only, they should be opened two hours later by retraction, which would give old men, women and cripples and those not owning the best mounts, a show of getting something. Too, if the border quarters were not reserved for a camping ground, thus providing a place from which to start, what could the people do? The Kansas border, he pointed out, was all fenced with strong four and eight wire fence, which the farmers would not suffer to be torn down. In a final warning, he concluded, "Narrow lanes will be packed full for a mile back, and during the twenty days notice, there will be a water famine. By all means reserve the border quarters."
Some poor farmers, after leaving their homes at the urge of the boomer press, and rushing to the border of the Cherokee Outlet, realized too late that the land would not be opened immediately and had to turn back, wiser but poorer. About July first, the Interior Department seemed suddenly to realize that if the country were to be opened to settlement within the six months proposed, that is, since the treaty of March, some rapid work would have to be done. From that time on, work on "strip" matters was pressed with considerable vigor, despite the hot weather and dust, and it was believed that the Outlet would be opened by September first.38
Word from the commissioner of the general land office, Interior Department, that all persons who had been on the Cherokee Outlet since the opening of Oklahoma in March, 1889, had forfeited their right to homestead, caused absolute consternation among intending settlers along the border, for most of them had been upon the land and had their claims picked out. Everywhere there were rumors of trouble, for the average boomer would fight rather than be dislodged from the claim he had waited for so long.
In some respects, this ruling did seem unjust, because it had been announced so recently. Questions began to
arise as to where the line was to be drawn. Attorneys held that if one were to be barred out, so were all, and that even those who had crossed the land by rail were in peril. Secretary Hoke Smith and his advisers finally weakened on their ruling and modified it to the extent that those who had been on the Outlet lands since March 3, 1893, should be debarred from homesteading. Good lawyers assured the people, however, that only those who had been upon the strip with the intention of taking advantage of others, such as hunting corner stones, putting private marks on claims, picking the best roads to particular claims, and the like, would be in danger of losing their rights, as doing this would be virtually entering and occupying.39
The Hon. C. W. Renfrow, Governor of Oklahoma Territory, who was a busy a man as could be found that summer, assured the people that every precaution was being taken to prevent illegal settlement in the new lands and that sooners there would certainly have a very rough road to travel. It was concluded by all, he said that any person who had entered the lands since the time of ratification of the Cherokee treaty, would be disqualified from entering.40
Plans and preparations continued daily. The Government had sent Col. Swinford to Oklahoma to oversee the work of surveying and to select townsites, with further instructions to finish by August first, if at all possible.41 Boundaries for the seven counties had been decided upon and approved by the President. Boomers continued to arrive, and on paper, by the light of their camp fires at night, they builded innumerable towns and improved the best farms in the Outlet.
In spite of these very obvious signs that soon their days on the Outlet range would be ended, the cattle barons were loath to take their herds off the tall grass, and stories were current concerning combats between them and United States soldiers, stationed there to clear the strip.
An investigation of one such account disclosed the fact that while a detachment of soldiers were scouring the
country in the vicinity of Salt Fork, they came upon a large herd of cattle in charge of some cowboys and ordered them driven off the Outlet. After getting them fairly started, the cowboys turned them back. In the contention that ensued, a cowboy shot and wounded one of the soldiers, which so enraged his companions that they opened fire, killing one cowboy and forty or fifty cattle.42
Arkansas City had for years been spending its time and energy in corralling boomers and prospective settlers, convincing them that Arkansas City was the only place to camp, the only place from which to run with any advantage, that the best claims could be secured from that vantage point; in fact, Arkansas City had neglected all its other business to interest those intending to make the run, and as a result had garnered huge profits, for thousands gathered in that city and on its outskirts. In a Guthrie paper43 early in August, in almost these words, we see the editor appealing to the business men of that city by asking "Why should not Guthrie have a part of this business? Merely because there is no one there to tell them the truth about Guthrie." Whereupon he proposed that they send some fine appearing fellows up to Arkansas City to mix among the crowds and talk.
In the very next issue, they published a telegram from Washington: "Get your men in line and hold places." This message threw citizens of Guthrie into a fever of excitement and immediately a line formed in front of the land office. Throughout the day this line grew to immense proportions with boomers dashing in from the surrounding country, and a huge number arriving from Arkansas City. Guthrie was well prepared to welcome them with bedding, food and drink. Business had begun! At any rate, this was good propaganda and better advertising.
Stories of this nature continued to appear. At Kingfisher, where was located another old land office, hundreds of men got in line and would not sell their places, although land office officials disclaimed any knowledge whatever of of the reason for all the excitement.44
News reached Hennessey of the large numbers gathered at Kingfisher and Guthrie and the future settlers at once called a mass meeting,45 where resolutions were passed to the effect that many persons had surreptitiously obtained numbers to quarter sections adjacent to townsites, and to other desirable locations, and were forming in line in front of the land offices, there to file their claims simultaneously with the opening of the Outlet for settlement; that they solemnly did protect against such unfair advantages, and earnestly did request the Secretary of the Interior to name a date, not less than five days after the opening on which to begin filing; and finally, they urged that land offices might be established in the Cherokee Strip, in order to save home seekers from the unnecessary expense and hardship of going so far to file.
Fortunately, regulations demanding the registration of every man prior to the run and the presentation of his registration certificate in exchange for the right to file, prevented these lines of wise men from succeeding in their well laid scheme.
Throughout the month of August, dispatches were flying all over the country, all relating to the opening of the Strip, although sometimes they were misleading; still, it was certain that they contained a germ of truth big enough to warrant belief in the fact that the Strip would open about the middle of September.
General Schofield had sent a telegram from Washington on August 9, commanding General Miles to have in readiness the necessary military force promptly to remove all unauthorized persons from the Outlet, and to keep it clear until its occupation was authorized by the President's proclamation.46 Upon General Miles' suggestion, he was authorized to secure four troops of cavalry from Forts Reno and Supply in Oklahoma, and four more troops from Fort Riley, Kansas, to enforce the expected proclamation.47
Cattlemen and sooners were not the only problems of the soldiers, for haymakers were on the Strip in great numbers; the majority of them, prospective settlers who needed
to secure hay for their horses and milk cows had camped on the border. Others who did not plan to make the run, made large sums of money by harvesting the tall prairie grass and selling it to the boomers. Often conflicts arose between these haymakers and the soldiers, the latter having to threaten to burn their hay and wagons, in some instances, in order to force them off the Outlet. Generally, however, the soldiers tried to be lenient, and allowed them to take the hay when they were near the line.48
Train load after train load of Colorado, Texas and Oregon horses were shipped into Oklahoma, and a ready market was found for them all. They were sold, as a rule, at private sale, but sometimes were put at auction after the best had been selected. These bronchos sold for $20.00 to $50.00 and it was claimed by those acquainted with that specimen of the animal kingdom, that they could run fifteen miles in forty to fifty minutes. People with good native horses began to realize that these could not be depended upon to make a ten or fifteen mile, run, and in many cases, purchased the broncho.
Every time news reporters could get word of anything that was to be included in the President's proclamation, or of any other information pertinent to the opening, it was seized upon and printed. Very often such material proved to be wrong, due to a last minute change, or perhaps to unreliable sources in the first place.
For example, word was issued almost every day that no railroad trains will run through the Outlet. This was believed wise, for the trains could, at full speed, far outrun the horses; and too, there were parties of speculators who planned, if possible to charter private trains and thus secure a big advantage. It was even planned that no trains should run through the Strip for several hours preceeding the run, in order to avoid the possibility of sooners riding in, in that manner.49 It was announced that there would be no United States marshals at the opening, but that General Schofield, with his troops, would be in charge on the big
day. Booths for registration would be erected and opened the day before the run, newspapers stated in August.50
It is interesting to note that none of these rumors were true, for many trains ran, although no private ones; United States marshals were doing a big business on September 16; and the registration booths were opened almost a week before that date, in order to accomodate the crowds.
Some days before the proclamation, even, it was discovered that some enterprising persons had learned the intended location of the county seats and had organized companies to take possession of the sites to re-sell them after the opening. The officials, to thwart the scheme, quietly re-located the county seats by moving the site a certain distance in another direction, their new locations being a secret to all save three men, Secretary Hoke Smith, Chief Land Commissioner Lamoreaux, and the chief platter in the land office in Washington. Even the engineers were kept in ignorance of the location until they arrived on the scene.51
Those in charge of the land office planned to make the seven county seats as attractive as possible by reserving eighty acres in each for a park and for the court house, and by making eight foot sidewalks and eighty foot streets. Of course this reduced still further the chances of securing desirable county seat lots, as there would be fewer to go around.52 One big drawback to the county seat town was the ruling of the interior Department that settlers could take but one twenty five foot lot. It was prophesied, and rightly, that rival towns would spring up in their immediate vicinity, where larger pieces of ground could be secured, and that county seat contests would follow.53
Of the seventy Indian allotments provided for in the treaty of March, 1893, sixty two were finally approved by the Secretary of the Interior. W. D. Bushyhead, it said, had been allotted the southeast quarter of section 14 adjoining the townsite of Kildare on the west. W. W. Ross obtained the west half of the southeast quarter of section
53Cherokee Strip Guide, Arkansas City, May 26, 1893. See also, Oklahoma Times Journal, Sept. 15, 1893, 4.
14, adjoining Bushyhead, Jordan, one adjoining Kildare on the east, and Stephens, the other one in section 14.
Every one knew that the Cherokees had endeavored to select townsite land for purposes of speculation. Secretary Hoke Smith said that they had done their best to dissuade those persons representing the Indians in Washington from this course, but to no avail. Believing that the settlers should have a fair chance to select town lots, and that purchasers of Indian allotments ought not to be permitted to speculate at the expense of the settlers, he refused to approve the allotments at places where townsites were located.