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Oklahoma Memories

Angelo Scott Remembers First Election in Oklahoma City

2010-04-26

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"This Monday, April 22, was a perfect day in the Oklahoma country, cloudless, cool and still."

That is Dr. Angelo Scott describing what he saw the morning of Monday April 22, 1889, the day of the land run into what would become Oklahoma City.

From the Oklahoma History Center, this is Oklahoma Memories. I'm Michael Dean.

Dr. Angelo Scott was an '89er. He arrived in what would become Oklahoma City as a part of the land run in ‘89. Scott was born in 1857 in Indiana but moved to Kansas where he completed his bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Kansas. He was a school teacher there for three years before going to George Washington University to earn a law degree then returned to Kansas. The, on the morning of April 22, 1889, he was a part of the land run arriving in Oklahoma City that afternoon. Dr. Scott described the people who made that run this way

"Fact is, these people were decent American people who came here to establish homes, churches, education, and of course, to better their own economic status."

At noon that day, representatives of the Seminole Land and Improvement Company got off the Santa Fe train and began staking off blocks and lots. Scott wrote in his autobiography that at the same time men from the Oklahoma Town Company arrived from the south and also began laying out street and staking out lots. The problem was the two companies were not working together, and many who people who were trying to claim lots in the new town were going to wind up with lots that were actually in the middle of streets or in the middle of intersections.

On the day after the run, an election was held to place 14 men in the new town with the responsibility to work out where those streets would be located and where lots would be available. Scott described that election as one of the most bizarre events he had ever witnessed.

"You see, these thousands of persons assembled there, all men, were absolutely unacquainted with another, and so when a man was nominated for membership on this committee, he was schlepped through the dense throng to the front, was boosted from below and pulled up from above until he stood between the chairman and secretary on those boxes. And then, this and impertinent questions were asked then, such as this "What was your name where you came from?" and so on, and this was done in the case of every single nominee. Some of them were ejected on their looks. It was tough, but that thing happened."

Scott was an early pioneer whose name is largely forgotten now. He opened a law office and operated a hotel; he and his brother started the first newspaper in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Times; he served in a variety of elected and appointed positions in government, include territorial senate and president pro tem of the territorial senate; he then taught English at Oklahoma A&M College and in 1899 was named the president of the A&M College. Later was an English professor at the Epworth University (now Oklahoma City University) finally retiring in 1931.

This interview with Dr. Angelo Scott was recorded in 1939, the 50th anniversary of the Land Run of 1889, and is a part of the archives of the Oklahoma History Center, NE 23rd Street, just east of the state capitol in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Memories is a production of the Oklahoma History Center, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing our state's past. I'm Michael Dean.