Oklahoma

Oklahoma History

 
     
 
 
 

 

Oklahoma History

 

ABOUT PONCA CITY | CHEROKEE STRIP | PONCA CITY HISTORY | PONCA CITY...WHERE OKLAHOMA BEGAN | PONCA TRIBE | LAND RUSH


Before modern settlers and Indians came to Oklahoma, the land was occupied by hunter-agriculture peoples. Near Anadarko, archeologists discovered the bones of a mammoth and several spear points. They estimate the mammoth was killed more than 11,000 years ago. The spear point was identified as belonging to an ancient group of hunters called the Clovis culture.

 

From 500 to 1300 AD, the Spiro Mound Builders lived in an area just west of the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. Items left in burial mounds show the Mound Builders to be skilled artists.

 

Oklahoma's written history began in 1541 when Spanish explorer Coronado ventured through this area. At that time, it was the home of the Plains Indian tribes, such as the Osage, Kiowa, Apache and Comanche. In 1803, Oklahoma was sold to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

 

In the 1830s, the federal government forced the Five Civilized Tribes to leave their homelands. These tribes were living in the southeastern part of the U.S. They had to walk to Oklahoma over a trail that became known as the "Trail of Tears." Many men, women and children died during this long and treacherous trip. Once these people settled here, Oklahoma became Indian Territory.

 

Many of the Indians sided with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As punishment for this after the war, a series of treaties forced the Indian nations to give up the western half of the Indian Territory to the U.S. This area became home for other Indian tribes.

 

After the Civil War, cowboys began their history on the Texas plains. Texas ranchers found they had large supplies of beef with no place to sell it. The East Coast needed beef. To meet that demand, Texas ranchers had to move their cattle to the closest railroads, which were in Kansas. The Chisholm Trail and other cattle routes were made through Oklahoma between 1866 and 1889. While traveling through Oklahoma, the ranchers realized the territory was not only closer to the railroads, but a good location for raising cattle as well. By the 1870s, white men began to demand a place in Oklahoma for their own settlement.

 

There were still large amounts of free land available, on which white men wanted to settle. In 1879 and 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes forbad white settlement in the territory. Still, people urged the government to open the lands. In 1885, Congress gave the President permission to begin dealing with the Creek and Seminole tribes to open the vacant land to white people.

 

On April 22, 1889, a cannon blast started the first Land Run. Settlers ran, rode on horseback or traveled in wagons to stake their land claims. By the end of the day, nearly 10,000 people had settled in Oklahoma City.

 

The Sac and Fox, Pottowatomie-Shawnee Lands, located just east of the original run site, were opened on September 21, 1891. This event was followed by a run for the Cheyenne and Arapaho lands in western Oklahoma on April 19, 1892. The largest and most dramatic run was the Cherokee Outlet, occurring on September 19, 1893. On May 23, 1895, the Kickapoo Land Run in central Oklahoma took place. This was the last land run to happen in Oklahoma.

 

On March 2, 1890, the federal government created the Territory of Oklahoma. This was the southern part of the region and the western portion of the Indian Territory, plus the Panhandle. More lands were opened for settlement through 1906.

 

In the 1880s, after the region was settled, outlaws were attracted to Oklahoma. Law enforcement was not established and the landscape offered many hideouts. The worst outlaw gang of the 1890s was the Doolin Gang, which was headed by Bill Doolin. Three women outlaws were members of the Doolin Gang; Cattle Annie, Little Britches and Rose E. Dunn, the "Rose of the Cimarron."

 

One of the most famous women outlaws, Belle Starr, made her home in Oklahoma. Some of the crimes she was accused of were arson, robbery, horse theft, and bootlegging. In 1882, the "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker sent her to federal prison for horse theft.

 

In 1900, Wild West shows became popular. Zack Mulhall's Wild West Show toured from 1900 to 1915. His daughter, Lucille, was the first cowgirl and toured with him. Gordon Lillie became famous as "Pawnee Bill." His show toured the world from 1888 to 1913. His wife, May, rode broncs sidesaddle and was an expert markswoman. Later, she and Pawnee Bill joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The most popular of all the shows began on the Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch. Their show toured the world from 1908 until the Great Depression in 1929.

 

Rodeos were born on the range. These were contests where cowboys pitted their herding and riding skills against each other. Rodeo contests were included in the Wild West Shows. Later, when the Wild West Shows became less popular, the rodeo still lived on. Rodeo is the only sport which began entirely in the United States. Bill Pickett, a black cowboy from Oklahoma, was credited with inventing the bulldogging event.

 

On November 16, 1907, the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory joined, and Oklahoma became the 46th state.