David L. Payne

 David L. Payne helped launch a campaign to open the Unassigned Lands in Indian Territory to homesteaders. Moving to Kansas in 1858, Payne was elected to the Kansas legislature and eventually held minor political posts in Washington where he learned about the possibility of obtaining land if the "Oklahoma" country was opened to settlement. In August 1879 he began organizing settlers to move into the Unassigned Lands. Between 1879 and 1884 Payne led a number of expeditions into the Unassigned Lands. Each time, Payne was arrested and returned to Kansas by the U.S. Army because it was illegal to settle on American Indian lands.

During an early expedition Payne and his column erected a stockade, platted their town, and began opening the fields for planting before soldiers from Fort Reno arrested the group and escorted them to Kansas. The government maintained treaty stipulations with the Indian nations denying the Boomers access to the Unassigned Lands and eventually tried Payne before Judge Isaac C. Parker in Fort Smith. Payne continued to push for the settlement of the area. In 1884 he went on a speaking tour to raise money for the Boomer movement. Payne died mysteriously in a Wellington, Kansas, hotel on November 27, 1884. Despite his death, the campaign for opening the Unassigned Lands continued until the opening of the territory in 1889.

David L. Payne's last Boomer camp, March 1883. Thomas N. Athey Collection (4985, OHS Research Division).
 Payne's business card listing him as president of the Payne Oklahoma Colony Company.
A survey crew marking the land for the Cherokee Outlet Land Run of 1893, continuing David Payne’s desire to open Oklahoma to white settlement. (719, OHS Research Division).

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