The Run

On March 2, 1889, Congress passed an Indian appropriation bill with a rider declaring that approximately two million acres in the middle of the Indian Territory, known officially as the Unassigned Lands, would be opened to settlement pursuant to the Homestead Law of 1862. The next day, outgoing President Grover Cleveland signed the bill. Less than three weeks into his administration, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation announcing April 22 as the opening day. High noon was the earliest hour that settlers would be allowed to enter what was known in common vernacular as the Oklahoma country.

According to federal law, areas intended for towns would be limited to 320 acres and would be exempt from homestead law. But how they would be claimed and divided into lots was not specified. The absence of federal guidance was to provide enormous advantage to enterprising settlers, including many who were inclined to stretch the rules.

Eligible settlers were men above the age of 21, whether or not American citizens, women either married or over age 21, and children accompanying eligible adults. Those who were legally within the boundaries before April 22 were required to retreat to the boundaries three days before the run. [Confirm. Stewart p8]
Settlers who chose to ignore the starting lines often secured the choicest land but came to be hated as Sooners and were largely stripped of their claims when later tested in court.

In the words of pioneer journalist Angelo C. Scott, farms and town lots “were to be had for the taking; and since there was a very general impression that Oklahoma City was to be the chief city of the coming state, getting in on the ground floor seemed to offer a rare opportunity to obtain something for nothing.”

“Monday, April 22nd, 1889! A never to be forgotten day!” exclaimed a soldier who witnessed the scene. “More than forty thousand human beings waited in feverish anxiety on the borders of the promised land for the watchman’s cry of ‘Noon! Twelve O’clock!’ From far and near they had traveled on foot, in wagons, on horseback, and by railways. Their wanderings in the wilderness were over. Canaan lay before them resplendent and enticing.” [Who is quoted here?]

By the time the land rush was over, nearly every townsite lot and homestead claim was occupied. “It was just a land,” wrote Angelo C. Scott. “It was not a formal territory. It had no organization, no government and no laws except those applicable to the opening.” For one year and eleven days, laws and ordinances were established by consensus at mass meetings. Enforcement depended on the will of the majority. Whenever consensus proved impossible, federal troops were on hand to keep the peace.

The Run

On March 2, 1889, Congress passed an Indian appropriation bill with a rider declaring that approximately two million acres in the middle of the Indian Territory, known officially as the Unassigned Lands, would be opened to settlement pursuant to the Homestead Law of 1862. The next day, outgoing President Grover Cleveland signed the bill. Less than three weeks into his administration, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation announcing April 22 as the opening day. High noon was the earliest hour that settlers would be allowed to enter what was known in common vernacular as the Oklahoma country.

According to federal law, areas intended for towns would be limited to 320 acres and would be exempt from homestead law. But how they would be claimed and divided into lots was not specified. The absence of federal guidance was to provide enormous advantage to enterprising settlers, including many who were inclined to stretch the rules.

Eligible settlers were men above the age of 21, whether or not American citizens, women either married or over age 21, and children accompanying eligible adults. Those who were legally within the boundaries before April 22 were required to retreat to the boundaries three days before the run. [Confirm. Stewart p8]
Settlers who chose to ignore the starting lines often secured the choicest land but came to be hated as Sooners and were largely stripped of their claims when later tested in court.

In the words of pioneer journalist Angelo C. Scott, farms and town lots “were to be had for the taking; and since there was a very general impression that Oklahoma City was to be the chief city of the coming state, getting in on the ground floor seemed to offer a rare opportunity to obtain something for nothing.”

“Monday, April 22nd, 1889! A never to be forgotten day!” exclaimed a soldier who witnessed the scene. “More than forty thousand human beings waited in feverish anxiety on the borders of the promised land for the watchman’s cry of ‘Noon! Twelve O’clock!’ From far and near they had traveled on foot, in wagons, on horseback, and by railways. Their wanderings in the wilderness were over. Canaan lay before them resplendent and enticing.” [Who is quoted here?]

By the time the land rush was over, nearly every townsite lot and homestead claim was occupied. “It was just a land,” wrote Angelo C. Scott. “It was not a formal territory. It had no organization, no government and no laws except those applicable to the opening.” For one year and eleven days, laws and ordinances were established by consensus at mass meetings. Enforcement depended on the will of the majority. Whenever consensus proved impossible, federal troops were on hand to keep the peace.


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