ORGANIZATION OF OKLAHOMA TERRITORY
The Organic Act which provided for the organization and government of Oklahoma divided the old Indian Territory in two parts. All that part which was situated west of the reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes, with the smaill reservations of the tribes located on the Missouri border, in the northeast, were thenceforth known as the Indian Territory. In addition to the Unassigned Lands, which had been thrown open to settlement the year before, Oklahoma Territory included the Osage, Pawnee, Kaw, Otoe-Missouri, Sac and Fox, Iowa, Kickapoo, Pottawatomie-Shawnee, Wichita-Caddo, Comanche-Kiowa, Cheyenne-Arapaho and Tonkawa Indian reservations, the Cherokee Outlet and the No-Man's Land tract. The lands of the last mentioned tract were thrown open to settlement by homestead by the Organic Act. There were to be six counties formed from the Unassigned Lands and the No-Man's Land tract was to be a county. The governor was authorized to apportion the members of the Legislature among the several counties and was also empowered to appoint such county officers as were necessary. Sections sixteen and thirty-six of each township were reserved for the benefit of the public schools. Provision was made for the reservation of public roads on all section lines. Guthrie was designated as the temporary capital.
George W. Steele (see Biographies of Prominent Men in Oklahoma History), of Indiana, was appointed by President Harrison as the first governor of Oklahoma. He arrived at Guthrie, May 23, 1890. On July 8, he issued a call for a election of members of the Territorial Legislative Assembly to be held August 5. The members of the Assembly convened and organized at Guthrie, August 27. Although there was much for the Assembly to do, the greater part of its five months' session was wasted in wrangling over the location of the capital. A bill was passed by both houses of the Assembly for the location; of the capital at Oklahoma City but it was vetoed by Governor Steele. Later, another bill was passed, locating the capital at Kingfisher but it, too, was vetoed. Thus far, Oklahoma City interests controlled the situation. Finally, the partisans of Guthrie secured control by entering into an agreement for the location of the University (at Norman), the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University, at Stillwater) and the Normal School (now Central State College, at Edmond).
Shortly after the settlement of the Oklahoma country three Government commissioners began to negotiate the various tribes for the allotment of lands in severalty and for the opening of the surplus lands of each reservation to settlement under the homestead laws. The first of the reservations to be thus thrown open to settlement were those of the Iowa, Pottawatomie, Shawnee and Sac and Fox tribes, in the eastern part of the new territory. From the lands thus opened to settlement, September 22, 1891, two new counties were formed and respectively designated as "A" and "B" and afterward named Lincoln and Pottawatomie. The Rock Island Railway Company constructed its line southward from Caldwell, on the Kansas border, toward the Red River at this time.
David A. Harvey (see Biographies of Prominent Men in Oklahoma Territory), of Oklahoma City, was elected as the first delegate to Congress from Oklahoma, in November, 1890. Governor Steel resigned his office in October, 1891, and the vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Chief Justice Abraham J. Seay (see Biographies of Prominent Men in Oklahoma), of the Territorial Supreme Court.
Ann Maloney, Bartlesville, OK..
Copyright © 1998 Ann Maloney all rights reserved.