The Oklahoma Land Run
A gunshot fired. A cannon roared. Horses startled and wagons sprang to life. On April 22, 1889, settlers flooded into the region of central Oklahoma known as the Unassigned Lands. President Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation on March 23, 1889, opening the land, and people came from across the country to claim it. According to the Homestead Act of 1862, if a settler could stay on the land they claimed for five years and improved it, the land would be theirs free and clear. Some people were very excited about the 1889 Land Run and were ready to try to make a new life in Oklahoma Territory. There were also people, however, who did not want new settlers to come into the territory.
This exhibit will show the 1889 Land Run from the perspectives of five different players: David Payne, leader of the Boomer movement; Lew Carroll, a settler who came to stake a claim but was unsuccessful until a later land run; American Indians, who were placed on reservations and whose land was allotted and taken from traditional communal control to create the Unassigned Lands; Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee man who welcomed white settlers for his own economic gain; and the women who had to set up households on the prairies using what little they had in their wagons or strapped to their horses.
Photo of the Land Run of 1889 in progress. The 1889 Land Run began at noon on April 22, 1889. (21412.M652.15, Barney Hillerman Collection, OHS) (1)
Land office in Kingfisher. (272, John W. Nyce Collection, OHS) (2)
Map of Indian and Oklahoma Territories. (ITMAP.0023, OHS) (3)
Map of Oklahoma land openings. (OHS) (3)