The Land Run of 1889

On April 22, 1889 a shot was fired and horses, wagons and trains roared into the region of central Oklahoma known as the Unassigned Lands. President Benjamin Harrison’s March 23, 1889 proclamation, opened the land, and people came from across the country to claim it. According to the Homestead Act of 1862, if a settler could stay on the land they claimed for five years and improved it, the land would be theirs free and clear. My upcoming books Letters from Oklahoma 1880-1888 and Letters from the Oklahoma Land Run: 1889 provide first person accounts of those wild and wooley days of early Oklahoma.

Oklahoma_Land_Rush.1893

The cover of the Land Rush Book shows settlers rushing to stake out town lots in Guthrie. Why didn’t I use the typical picture of the horses and wagons taking off as shown above? Because that is NOT the 1889 rush. That is actually the 1893 land rush and is often used to inaccurately depict the 1889 run. Below is the cover and a few of my favorite quotes from the book. We are probably only a couple weeks away from publication. Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the tidbits below.

Book Cover of Kent Brooks' upcoming  publication Letters from the Oklahoma Land Rush 1889

The first sale was made by a man named R. C. Runnels, of Malvane Kan., who sold a fine 25-foot front lot near the land . office for $3 to an old doctor, a resident of one of the Indian reservations adjoining Oklahoma.  The purchaser refused $50 for the lot five minutes later.  

-Letter from Oklahoma, April 1889.

We overheard one exhorting the boys to trust in the Lord last night: one of remarked that “he did not think Lord had anything to do with opening of Oklahoma, or he would have opened it long ago. 

-Letter from Oklahoma, April 1889.

The crowds were composed of speculators, adventurers, sight-seers, thieves, gamblers and a sprinkling of the demi-monde.  The farming element was not largely represented, as all of the homesteaders have gone on before.  There were men in the cars from every great city and important point in the country and there was not a State or Territory in the country which did not have its representative.

-Letter from Oklahoma to Kansas, 1889

We are trying to do Kingfisher. There is a good opening for all kinds of business. No banks, no saloons, people all armed but generally peaceable.  I want a rustler.

-Letter from Oklahoma to Kansas, 1889.

There are thousands of dogs in camp, principally of the worthless yellow sort; about five hundred of them chased a jack-rabbit a half mile this morning when the rabbit turned on them driving them back to camp.

-Letter from Oklahoma, 1889