Originally printed in the "Brief History of Lincoln County, Oklahoma" booklet by the Lincoln County Historical Society Museum of Pionner History.


BRIEF HISTORY
OF
LINCOLN COUNTY, OKLAHOMA

MURALS DISPLAYED IN THE
LINCOLN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S
MUSEUM OF PIONEER HISTORY
Chandler, Oklahoma

The mural shown on the cover of the "Brief History of Lincoln County, Oklahoma" is one of five murals painted by Western Artist Frederick A. Olds, Guthrie, Oklahoma.

The murals portray the history of Lincoln County, including the removal of the Indian Tribes into the area, the cattle trails and early settlements, the religious influence, the Run of 1891, and Chandler, the County Seat.

The murals are the gift of Col. John Embry, lawyer, soldier, and one of Lincoln County's favorite sons, and his wife Jeannette, a former teacher in Chandler.

LINCOLN COUNTY HISTORY

The acquisition of the great Louisiana Territory by the United States in 1803 was very important to the history of Lincoln County. The purchase of this territory from France, of approximately 846,000 square miles, included land that was to become Lincoln County and, in time, a part of the state of Oklahoma.

The Plains Indians had roamed this area for hundreds of years. Buffalo and other wild game provided food and shelter. Over a period of some twenty-six years renewal treaties were made between the United States government and the Five Civilized Tribes. By a treaty in 1866, the Creeks gave up the western half of their land to the United States for land taken from other Indian tribes. The following year, on February 18, 1867, the eastern part of what is now Lincoln County was assigned to the Sac and Fox Indians for a reservation. The first settlement, established in 1870, was located five miles south of Stroud, Oklahoma. It consisted of the Sac and Fox Agency and a mission school established for the Indians under the supervision of the Quakers.

The Iowa Village, located one mile northwest of Fallis, Oklahoma, and the Indian Village a mile and a half south of Fallis, were among other early Indian settlements.

Historical records state that the oldest white settlement was the Wellston Trading Post, established in 1880.

An executive order of August 15, 1883, divided the north and south western areas of what is now Lincoln County. This land was set aside for reservations for the Iowa Indians to the north and the Kickapoo Indians to the south.

The land, now included in Lincoln County, was surveyed into townships and sections during the years 1870-75. The area comprising the major part of Lincoln County was opened to settlement on September 22, 1891. Settlers lined the borders of County A (Lincoln County), and at a signal given by the military, rushed to stake claims to their homestead. After the opening of the Sac and Fox and Iowa reservations for settlement, the land called County A was named Lincoln County. This was done at the first general election held November 8, 1892.

The first townsite in County A was Chandler, opened to settlers by run on September 28, 1891, six days after the opening of the reservation. It was a government townsite, surveyed and set aside for public use. Chandler was named for George Chandler who served as a member of Congress and was appointed Commissioner of General Land Office in Washington, D.C.

The first county officials of County A were appointed by Governor Steele in October, 1891. At the first general election, in 1892, the citizens elected county officials to serve Lincoln County. Their offices were in a business building. The first courthouse was a two-story frame structure on the present courthouse square. This building was demolished by the tornado of 1897, and another building was constructed in its place. This building was torn down to make way for the stone structure of 1907 with the domed clock tower which most of us remember as the first courthouse. It was destroyed by fire December 23, 1967, and the present courthouse was built.

In June, 1906, Congress passed the Enabling Act, which provided for organization of the State of Oklahoma by the merging of the Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Territory. Members of the Constitutional Convention were elected as provided by the Act, and the constitution was written and adopted. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the forty-sixth state of the United States, and Lincoln County was one of its seventy-seven counties.

Prior to the 1891 opening of these lands, the area had been over-run by cattlemen who often broke their promises to the Indians and took over their lands, grazing their cattle on land occupied by the Indians. This area had no rail link with the outside world. Cattle trails were established for marketing purposes. One such trail, the West Shawnee Cattle Trail, entered Lincoln County between Meeker and Prague and angled northeast to near Stroud, then northwesterly out of Lincoln County near Avery.

With the growth of the cattle industry came the development of railroads. The Oklahoma City - Sapulpa branch of the Frisco was the first railroad constructed across Lincoln County. This one hundred and three miles of railroad was completed in December, 1898. Other railroads built across parts of the county during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904 were the Santa Fe, Rock Island, Missouri-Kansas-Texas and Fort Smith-Western.

A number of roads were cut across Lincoln County prior to statehood. The first road, the "Ozark Trail," crossed the county at approximately the same course as the old "U.S. Highway 66." The location of Lincoln County and its mesh of highways form good transportation routes to the major cities of Oklahoma.

Agriculture has been a major industry in the development of Lincoln County. Cotton was the early money crop for farmers, supplemented by the raising and selling of livestock. Later, corn, wheat, and peanuts have had their role in importance on Lincoln County farms.

The population of Lincoln County grew rapidly in the early part of 1920 with the development of the oil industry. Davenport became a "boom" town - oil derricks and producing wells dotted much of the land between Davenport and Stroud. Oklahoma ranked high in the nation in the production of oil, and Lincoln County contributed to that production.

The earliest formal education available in Lincoln County was provided by the Indian schools. Churches established some of these schools and missionary societies supplemented the meager funds provided by Congress for tribal education. One of the first Mission Schools was established in 1872 by the Quakers, and was located in the unfinished dwelling of the physician at the Sac and Fox Agency. In the mission schools, religious training was combined with instruction in reading, writing and numbers. During the early development of the county, one hundred forty-one schools were in operation across Lincoln County - one every three miles. Many of the first buildings were log cabins and clapboard. Later these buildings were replaced with frame and rock or brick structures. Proof of the genuine interest in education of the settlers in Lincoln County was shown when Chandler Junior College was established in 1934. However financial hazards caused many small junior colleges to close and thus was the fate of this college.

Religion played an important role in the development of Lincoln County. On the first Sunday after the opening of County A, the first sermon was preached in Chandler on the present courthouse square. Between the years 1891 and 1894 numerous religious groups were formed and church buildings were constructed.

Lincoln County has contributed much to the development of the history of Oklahoma. The fourth governor of the state was from Lincoln County. James B. A. Robertson served as governor from 1919 to 1923. Also, a native of Kendrick, Roy J. Turner, was elected governor and served his state from 1949 to 1951.

Athletes Jim Thorpe, Carl Hubbell, Paul and Lloyd Waner all honored Lincoln County history.

John Embry, who homesteaded northeast of Chandler, served as United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma from 1907-1912. During that time he was instrumental in restoring the right to vote to the Negroes who had been stripped of that privilege by the so-called "Grandfather Law."

Bill Tilghman, a pioneer making the run in 1891, was elected sheriff of Lincoln County in 1900. He served as United States Marshal and became known as "Two-Gun Bill." Tilghman and J. Benny Kent, a cameraman who lived in rural Lincoln County, produced a single movie entitled "The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw." Tilghman was the director as well as star of the movie.

Lincoln County has been noted for its military history. Volunteers were called for the Spanish- American War. In 1916 and 1917 Company "B", First Oklahoma Infantry, was called for federal service on the Mexican border. Next was the call-up for Company B, later to become a part of the 36th Infantry Division, to serve in World War I. On September 16, 1940, Battery "F", 160th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division, was again called and became the 171St Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Division in World War II. Later, in 1950, during the Korean conflict, Battery A, 160th Field Artillery Battalion and other units of the 45th were called for service.

The fertile bottom lands along the many streams and rivers flowing through Lincoln County became sites for towns. Warwick, Sparks, Arlington, Kendrick, Midlothian and Wilzetta were prospering agriculture towns until the Great Depression. Avery, Parkland, Fallis and Rossville provided postal service and supplies needed by the settlers for many years. Many Czechoslovakian settlers came to the Prague area and contributed their skills in the development of that farming and business community. Several towns, including Wellston, Meeker, Tryon, Carney and Agra, have continued to grow and prosper in Lincoln County. They have good schools and interested patrons.

The history of Lincoln County would not be complete without a brief description of the devastation of Chandler when the killer tornado swept across on March 30, 1897. Within a few minutes every building that lay in a four-block-wide area from southwest to northeast was leveled. Fourteen people were dead and scores were injured. It was at times like these that the true pioneer spirit was evident. Contributions in the form of material, money, labor and Concern for their fellow man came from all over the county. "Pioneer people truly cared for their own."

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This page was last updated Tuesday, 16-Apr-2002 20:35:34 MDT.