Henry Overholser

Stop 26: At Myriad Gardens along W Sheridan across from the Devon Tower, Downtown

An ardent promoter and businessman: perhaps the greatest of the founding fathers

Prior to the Run of 1889, Ohio native Henry Overholser arranged for 10 railroad cars of prefabricated wood-frame buildings and lumber to be waiting for him at Oklahoma Station. Within days after his arrival on April 24, he erected six two-story buildings on lots he had purchased on Grand (later, Sheridan) Avenue, and they remained there until Charles F. Colcord bought them to build the Colcord Building in 1910. Within a month of his arrival, Overholser was elected president of the Board of Trade, predecessor of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Until his death in 1915 he was one of the city's most ardent and effective boosters, investing in a streetcar company, railroads, banks, and the State Fair.

Couch's resignation as mayor in November 1889 led to Overholser's first run for political office, a race he lost by a scant 14 votes. In 1894 he was elected County Commissioner, a position he held for six years. His son Ed served as mayor from 1915-1918, and later as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce from 1922-1930. Lake Overholser is named for his son, Ed. Overholser built and operated the Grand Avenue Hotel, the magnificent Overholser Opera House, the Overholser Block, and the Overholser Theater, all near Grand and Robinson. His unwavering promotion of business, banking, and an unfettered frontier economy earned him the respect of his fellow city-builders and a reputation as arguably the greatest of Oklahoma City's founding fathers.

  • 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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