Wedge Lots, Street Jogs, and the McMasters Story

Pioneer journalist and attorney Frank McMaster, who earned his spurs as a reporter for the Chicago Times, first visited the Indian Territory in 1882. After several years of pondering the potential of the new country, he was more prepared than most to participate in the opening of the Unassigned Lands on April 22, 1889. No sooner did he arrive at Oklahoma Station than he established the Oklahoma City Evening Gazette, one of the fledgling town’s first newspapers to be published on site rather than in some town on the Kansas border.

From his wedge lot at 19 Grand Avenue, McMaster established a reputation for “personal journalism”—that is, reporting that went beyond information gathering and probed into the messy swirl of everyday life. Personal journalism was characteristic of the American West in its fierce independence and animosity toward anyone who dared to stymie the hopes and dreams of pioneers who abandoned the settled east for new lives on the frontier.

McMaster became famous for the florid language in his front-page editorials and no-holds-barred criticism of his Seminole rivals. The Evening Gazette’s competition came from G. W. “Ham” Sawyer’s Oklahoma City Times whose editorials seethed with anger toward allegedly corrupt city officials and their reliance on the military to enforce its edicts. In case readers were slow to get the editor’s message, the masthead carried the slogan, “Oklahoma is Good Enough without a Lying Room. Tell the Truth.”

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