At noon on April 22, 1889 (one hundred twenty-one years ago today) the first of seven land runs began in Oklahoma. Free land! 160 acres free to those who homesteaded it. This certainly has to qualify as the greatest real estate deal in Oklahoma! Those who promoted this deal to the government became known as the ‘Boomers’. Those who snuck in early and hid to steak their claim on the prime homesteads — the ‘Sooners’. Boomer Sooner baby!
Back in the ‘good-ole-days’ when I was in school, we got out every April 22nd to celebrate ‘89er Days’! What happened to that????
There were a total of 7 land runs in Oklahoma, 1889 being the first. This one settled the counties of Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma and Payne. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Guthrie was built in an afternoon! It went from population 0 to over 10,000 by that evening!
My grandfather, George Pope, (third from the left in the top row of the photo) was born January 7, 1873. In 1893 came the opening of the Cherokee Strip. George was 20 at the time, but made the run. From Bluff City Kansas he raced 30 miles behind a team of horses hitched to a 2-wheel cart. He staked a quarter section in Garfield County and it was near this town that he settled and lived until 1902. He entered the run with his father, John Pope, and his two brothers Will and Bob, each staking his own claim. They helped him hold his land until he reached the age of twenty-one the following January.
The following are quotations from the book The Cherokee Strip by Marquis James:
The run was a young man’s undertaking. You could begin your race anywhere you could get to on one of four borders of the strip, which was about a hundred and sixty-five miles east and west by fifty-eight miles north and south.
I have heard men tell of spending three weeks on the line. Probably they were with covered-wagon outfits, unless close to water, they must have got pretty tired of it. The sheets of some of the wagons were scrawled with notices of intention such as “Oklahoma or Bust.” Substituting “Texas” or “Oregon” the phrase had been western usage for a good fifty years.
The line was patrolled by soldiers to prevent anyone from crossing over before the opening gun. The country had been evacuated by the cattle outfits which formerly leased it from the Indians. Excepting land-office and post-office staffs and soldiers on the site of each county seat, the Strip was depopulated. That was the theory, and it came tolerably close to being the fact. Nobody knows how many Sooners did manage to hide out in the promised land before the opening gun was fired, but probably not more than you would find trying to obtain their ends by illegal means in any collection of a hundred thousand persons.
After a man staked his claim he had to file at the nearest land office. In order to file he was required to exhibit an evidence of registration permitting him to make the Run in the first place. Registration slips ere issued from booths along the line. It was in no way difficult to a prospective sooner who knew the country to register a week before the Run and sneak up a draw through the thinly patrolled line. He could camp in the blackjacks west of Enid, for instance, and ride out with the first honest comers. A cavalry troop encamped on the Enid site had reconnoitered the surrounding country for three weeks. Though the lieutenant in command was sure a number of Sooners had eluded him they must have formed a minute proportion of the whole body of settlers.
My grandfather chose two horses and a cart as insurance against the prairie dog holes. A lot of horsebackers lost out when the saddle pony put a foot in a prairie dog hole and fell with a broken leg.
His and his brothers’ first home was a dugout. A dugout is a home dug back into an embankment. They papered the walls with newspapers.
About a year later, George opened a country store around which the present town of Carrier grew up.
I know he was proud to have been a part of the greatest real estate deal in Oklahoma!