The New Framework of Government

Stop 18: NW of Latting Cir and Park Ave at City Hall, Downtown

Following enactment of the Organic Act in May, 1890, territorial, county, and city governments were quickly established. Federal townsite laws clarified the procedure for confirming and settling land claims, and a land office opened in Oklahoma City.

The newly appointed governor of Oklahoma Territory, George W. Steele arrived in Guthrie on May 23, 1890 and quickly began making appointments and getting to know the new territory.

On May 14, 1890, Congress enacted a law for establishing townsites by trustees appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The new law recognized claims evidenced by lot certificates. The Village of Oklahoma City, consisting of 400 acres - South Oklahoma, Oklahoma City proper, and 80 acres north of 4th Street - was duly incorporated on July 15.

Within days the trustees had divided the city into four wards and called for an election of a new mayor, city council, and other officials. On August 9, 1890 the voters chose W. J. Gault as the first officially-elected mayor of Oklahoma City.

A land office opened in Oklahoma City, and the long process began of confirming ownership of homesteads and townsite lots by the trustees. Decisions made long before by an awarding committee, arbitration board, and city recorder issuing lot certificates were weighed. Some settlers had their claims confirmed and others did not. When evidence showed they had violated the rules of the Run, most sooners lost their claims.

  • 1862
    The Homestead Act opens up settlement in the western U.S. by allowing any adult American to claim up to 160 acres of free federal land. 15,000 claims are made by the end of the Civil War.
  • 1866
    The Civilized Tribes are forced to cede large portions of their land, including the Unassigned Lands, to the U.S. Government for relocation of other Native American nations.
  • 1880
    Boomers begin attempts to settle in the Unassigned Lands. The U.S. military repeatedly forces them out.
  • 1887
    The Santa Fe Railroad from Kansas to Texas is completed. Multiple stops are opened in the Unassigned Lands.
  • January-March 1889
    Creek and Seminole Nations release claims to the Unassigned Lands, and Congress approves opening the land for settlement.
  • March-April 1889
    "Boomer camps" pop up along and inside the borders of the Unassigned Lands.
  • March 23, 1889
    President Harrison's Proclamation sets noon on April 22 as the time and date for the Land Run
  • April 19, 1889
    Prospective settlers are escorted from the Kansas and Texas borders to the perimeter of the Unassigned Lands. Those already inside are required to leave.
  • April 20, 1889
    Land east of the railroad tracks at Oklahoma Station is reserved for military use
  • April 22, 1889 at noon
    Oklahoma Land Run officially begins.


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