The Citizens' Committee

Stop 5: SW Corner of W Main St and N Broadway Ave, Downtown

Overnight, a city of tents arose next to the railroad station. But where were the streets and lot lines? Amid the confusion, a mass meeting was called which elected a committee to bring order with a new survey.

Confusion reigned on Tuesday, April 23, the day after the Land Run, as settlers realized that nobody was in charge. Surveyors representing competing townsite companies tried to mark the streets on land that a day earlier had been open prairie. As conflicts escalated, a small group of men called a mass meeting, enlisting boys on ponies to spread the word.

Settlers flocked to the southwest corner of Main and Broadway. Angelo C. Scott, a young Kansan with a booming voice was elected chairman. Amidst heated discussions, the assembly resolved to conduct a new townsite survey and entrusted its oversight to a citizens' committee to be elected on the spot, each member to come from a different state.

Citizens shouted the names of their nominees, who were hustled onto boxes next to the chairman and secretary. "If the crowd liked his looks they voted him up; if not, they voted him down," recalled Scott.

Fourteen citizens were elected, and they proceeded to sort out conflicting claims and provide a semblance of leadership as settlers went back to work setting up camp on the open prairie.

 


 
  • 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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