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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

William F. Harn
(2012.201.B0249.0792, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Oklahoma City businessman William Fremont Harn was born on June 1, 1859, in Wooster, Ohio. A graduate of the University of Wooster in 1880 with a bachelor of philosophy degree, he at first pursued the practice of law. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1881 after "reading law" in the firm of McClure and Smyser of Wooster. Instead of becoming a lawyer, however, he bought an interest in the Mansfield (Ohio) Daily and Weekly Herald, which he later referred to as "a Republican newspaper of influence." His career took a different turn in January 1891 when Secretary of the Interior John W. Noble appointed him special agent of the General Land Office and sent him to Oklahoma Territory to investigate and prosecute those who had filed land claims by committing perjury after the Land Run of 1889 (sooners). Harn's investigative work sent a number of sooners to prison. In 1893 the new Democratic administration of Pres. Grover Cleveland fired Harn, and he turned to practicing law in Oklahoma City. Harn attempted to enter government service again in 1897 when he applied, without success, for the position of U.S. marshal for Oklahoma Territory.

For the remainder of his life he practiced law and speculated in real estate. In 1897 he bought a 160-acre farm northeast of Oklahoma City for $450. When the state capital was moved to Oklahoma City in 1910, the northern part of the farm was selected as the site for the new capitol building. Harn and real estate partner J. J. Culbertson platted most of the remainder of the homestead into town lots to make way for the homes of many of Oklahoma's rich and politically powerful families. Harn died of heart disease in Oklahoma City on December 15, 1944. The Harn House, at 313 Northeast Sixteenth, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 (NR 73001566).

Don Green


Bob L. Blackburn, Heart of the Promised Land, Oklahoma County: An Illustrated History (Woodland Hills, Calif.: Windsor Publications, 1982).

Don Green, "The Oklahoma Land Run of 1889: A Centennial Re-Interpretation," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 67 (Summer 1989).

William F. Harn Papers, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Stan Hoig, The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1984).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Don Green, “Harn, William Fremont,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=HA027.

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