Home |   For Kids |   E-exhibits |  David L. Payne

The Land Run of 1889

David L. Payne

David L. Payne helped launch the campaign to open the Unassigned Lands in Indian Territory to homesteaders. After 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 of 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 US Army because it was illegal for whites to settle in Indian Territory.

During an early expedition, Payne and his followers 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 in a Wellington, Kansas, hotel on November 28, 1884. Despite his death, the campaign for opening the Unassigned Lands continued until the opening of the territory in 1889.

David L. Payne (15118.1, Muriel Wright Collection, OHS).

David L. Payne's last boomer camp, March 1883 (4985, Thomas N. Athey Collection, OHS).