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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Oklahoma's second land run, the Sac and Fox opening, occurred on September 22, 1891, after Pres. Benjamin Harrison on September 18 signed a proclamation authorizing it. This was the first run to open land previously occupied by American Indians. More than nine hundred thousand acres became available for non-Indian settlement, because several tribes had accepted allotments and sold their surplus land to the federal government. The surplus area was bounded by Payne County on the north, Logan, Oklahoma, and Cleveland counties on the west, and the Indian Territory (I.T.) on the east and south. Approximately twenty thousand hopeful settlers lined up along the boundaries to claim one of 6,097 homesteads of 160 acres.

More than a year before the opening, the Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, headed by David H. Jerome, had met with the Iowa, Sac and Fox, Kickapoo, Absentee Shawnee, and Citizen Band Potawatomi on their reservations in Indian Territory. On May 25, 1890, the Iowa were the first to accept allotment of eighty acres for each of their eighty-six members. They sold the rest, an estimated 221,528 acres, for less than twenty-eight cents per acre. On June 12, 1890, the Sac and Fox agreed to 160-acre allotments for each tribal member and received $1.23 per acre for the remaining 391,189 acres. On June 25–26, 1890, the Citizen Band Potawatomi, accepting 1,498 allotments, and the Absentee Shawnee 563 allotments, sold their remaining 325,000 acres at sixty-nine cents per acre. The Kickapoo refused to take allotment at this time, and their surplus lands were not opened to settlement until May 23, 1895.

Before noon on September 22, 1891, thousands of individuals had gathered at various starting points such as east of Norman, Oklahoma City, and Guthrie and along the western boundary of the Creek Nation, I.T. Two companies of U.S. Army troops under Capts. Hayes and Stiles, as well as U.S. marshals, restrained the settlers from entering the land before noon. As part of a colonization effort by Edward P. McCabe, approximately fifteen hundred African Americans made the run from the All-Black town of Langston, and an estimated one thousand secured land. Women's participation was no longer a novelty, as many had competed in the Land Run of 1889. Representative of the women in the 1891 run were Maggie Smith of Logan County, who secured 160 acres in Lincoln County, and Doskey Simmons of Oklahoma County, who gained a claim on the Deep Fork River. For many, both men and women, this was their first experience in a land rush. Others like Angelo C. Scott of Oklahoma City had participated in the Land Run of 1889. Unlike the 1889 run, in 1891 no land offices had been established in the region that was being opened. Consequently, settlers had to travel long distances to Guthrie or Oklahoma City in order to file their claims. Unsuccessful competitors looked forward to the next opening, which would occur in April 1892.

From the newly opened area were formed two counties, designated as County A (later Lincoln County) and County B (later Pottawatomie County). In addition, the land area of Payne, Cleveland, Logan, and Oklahoma counties was increased. The predetermined county seats of Tecumseh for County B and Chandler for County A did not open until September 23 and September 28, 1891, respectively, because the townsites had not been platted. Secretary of the Interior John W. Noble directed that no townsite companies would be permitted and that Tecumseh and Chandler would be opened only to single-entry claimants. Thousands of hopeful settlers competed for lots in Tecumseh, which remained the county seat of Pottawatomie County until a 1930 election favored Shawnee. About five thousand individuals, including Nanitta R. Daisey, who had participated in the Land Run of 1889, vied for 2,208 town lots in Chandler.

Other towns gradually developed. Soon after the run, the present ghost towns of Corner, Keokuk Falls, and Violet Springs emerged. These were three among many notorious "whiskey towns" established in Oklahoma Territory immediately west of its boundary with Indian Territory, in which liquor was prohibited. These towns thrived until 1907 statehood when Oklahoma entered the union as a "dry" state. Towns such as Macomb sprang up as shipping points along the railroad lines built through the area in the early 1900s. African Americans also settled in the Lincoln County communities known as Sweet Home, Black Alley, Dudley, and Keywest. A contingent of African Americans living in Fallis and the surrounding area supported the Fallis Blade, an African American newspaper first published in 1904. In Pottawatomie County, the towns of Maud, Stroud, and Earlsboro witnessed the oil boom and bust of the 1920s and continued as incorporated cities into the twenty-first century.

Linda D. Wilson


Berlin B. Chapman, "Dissolution of the Iowa Reservation," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 14 (December 1936).

Berlin B. Chapman, "The Pottawatomie and Absentee Shawnee Reservation," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 24 (Autumn 1946).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 17 September 1961.

Blake Gumprecht, "A Saloon on Every Corner: Whiskey Towns of Oklahoma Territory, 1889–1907," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 74 (Summer 1996).

William Thomas Hagan, Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889–1893 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003).

Oklahoma Land Run of '91: A Lincoln County Centennial Salute (N.p.: Lincoln County Historical Society and Museum, 1991).

Oklahoma State Capital (Guthrie), 26 September 1891.

"Public Lands–Oklahoma–1891," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Sac and Fox Opening,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SA002.

Published January 15, 2010

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