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Oklahoma Boomer Movement leader David L. Payne founded the Oklahoma War Chief newspaper to agitate for the opening of the Unassigned Lands to homesteading. The paper was first published at Wichita, Kansas, in 1883, and after several moves to towns along Kansas's southern border, Payne moved the printing press to Rock Falls in the Cherokee Outlet in 1884. He hoped to establish a colony there.

Despite the secretary of the interior's posted order prohibiting the printing of a newspaper in the Cherokee Outlet, editors William F. Gordon and J. B. Cooper published the paper, now with a circulation of approximately two thousand, at Rock Falls from April to August 1884. On August 7, 1884, the U.S. Army arrested the colonists and confiscated the press. The "boomers" bought a new press and continued publishing the Oklahoma War-Chief (now hyphenated) at South Haven, Kansas, until Payne's death in November 1884. From December 1884 to June 1885, S. J. Zerger edited the paper (renamed the Oklahoma Chief), at Arkansas City, Kansas. In June 1885 another publisher bought the organ, and "boomer" Samuel Crocker edited the again-titled Oklahoma War-Chief at Caldwell, Kansas.

The newspaper suspended publication on August 12, 1886, with an explanation from the editor that it had printed sixty-four issues in fourteen months, which exceeded the original plan to publish for three months. The article further stated that perhaps the fight to open lands for homesteading in Indian Territory would be taken up again by a newspaper in another Kansas border town or "at the capitol of Oklahoma."

Linda D. Wilson


L. Edward Carter, The Story of Oklahoma Newspapers, 1844 to 1984 (Oklahoma City: Western Heritage Books, Inc., 1984).

Carolyn Thomas Foreman, Oklahoma Imprints, 1835–1907: A History of Printing in Oklahoma Before Statehood (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1936).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Oklahoma War Chief,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=OK087.

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