The Election of May 1, 1889

Stop 7: SE Corner of W Main St and N Broadway Ave at Continental Resources, Downtown

A slate of candidates supported by the Seminole Town and Improvement Company, including the temporary mayor William Couch, was elected at the polls on Wednesday, May 1.

At the mass meeting on April 27, after the compromise survey was adopted, a group of residents backing the Seminole Town and Improvement Company proposed the election of a temporary mayor. William L. Couch, the prominent Boomer and trustee of the Seminole Company was elected. Two days later he published a proclamation calling a general election for May 1 with two wards and polling places, one north and one south of Main Street.

When election day arrived, citizens confirmed Couch as mayor and chose a city council and other officials of a provisional government. With the advantage of an organization that nominated candidates, the Seminole Company and its backers were the overwhelming victors.

Many settlers didn't realize at the time that they were setting in motion policies that favored lot claims by illegal sooners, and the sale of lot certificates for the profit of a private business. A rival faction quickly emerged - known as Kickapoos - that challenged the Seminoles at every turn.

  • 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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