MURALS DISPLAYED IN THE
LINCOLN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S
MUSEUM OF PIONEER HISTORY
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
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
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
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
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."