The Consensus Survey: Wedge Lots and Jogs

When the Citizens’ Committee went to work on Tuesday evening, April 23, to untangle the snarl of town lot claims, Oklahoma City encompassed a grand total of 320 acres. The committee employed a surveyor and instructed him and his crew to begin surveying streets and measuring off lots first thing Wednesday morning.

The Citizens’ Survey worked north from Reno Avenue, the section line, under the direction of the Committee of 14 selected at the mass meeting the day before. An Awarding Committee of five trailed them, hearing every claimant of each lot and recording the name of the claimant receiving their award in a journal.

In some cases, as many as half a dozen claimants were attempting to settle on the same lot. As the surveyors and sub-committee members wound their way through the streets, a crowd began to gather, and voices were raised in frustration. To enable officials to do their work, someone nailed three long boards together to form a triangle. The peripatetic tribunal, perhaps resembling a giant wedge of cheese, thus had a barrier and proceeded, more or less unimpeded, through the milling throng.

The work went smoothly until Friday evening when it became apparent that Broadway would intersect Main Street fifty feet west of the Broadway on the north side of Main. Furthermore, settlers on the south side of Main Street would be displaced by the surveyor’s relocation of Main. A crisis was at hand. Would the citizens’ surveyors undo the work of their Seminole townsite rivals? One eyewitness recalled, “The surveyors would run their lines and set their stakes, only to have them immediately removed by the people…The excitement was at fever heat, and many a hand was seen to grasp the ever-ready weapon. Bloodshed seemed imminent.”

“There were two surveys, one from the north and the other from the south,” said Oklahoma City banker James Geary. “They didn’t join, and the citizens’ committee undertook as I understood it to stop there and settle it as it stood.”

A mass meeting was called for 2:00 Saturday afternoon, with Angelo Scott again presiding. Desperate to find a way out of the impasse, the citizens selected a new committee of ten, five from north of Main Street and five from south of Main. The committee quickly found a compromise by carving out lots in the irregular shaped blocks between Main Street and Grand Avenue. The compromise, or consensus, survey included so-called “wedge lots.” According to Angelo C. Scott, wedge lots were established “much as a mason throws fillers into a stone wall.”

The consensus survey also left Oklahoma City with visible scars in the form of irregular street junctions or “jogs.” “Their surveys did not fit,” recalled Charles F. Colcord, “and the discrepancy created the jog at Grand Avenue in Broadway, Robinson, Harvey, and Hudson Streets. This same difficulty produced the double alley in the block between Grand and Main and the insertion of a line of lots between these alleys running east and west, while the other lots in that part of the city ran north and south.”

The mass meeting reconvened at dusk on Saturday, April 27, and the committee of ten delivered its report. Wedge lots and jogs allowed the two surveys to be reconciled. As the sun set on the fifth day after the opening, the consensus survey was adopted by acclamation and the citizens joined in singing “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”.


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