INDIAN TERRITORY and LAND RUSHES: Oklahoma’s Origins (1834-1907)

My mother (Ellen Clock) often spoke of the Indian Territory era that preceded the creation of the state of Oklahoma. Remember, she (and my dad, Charles) were born there only 6 years after Oklahoma was created out of the Indian Territory, in 1907. So it wasn’t exactly ancient history to them! If I’m not mistaken, she had relatives that lived there during that time period.

Mother always claimed to be part Indian, Cherokee. And she was darn proud of it, always taking the side of the Indian when I was growing up, during our frequent “discussions”. Dad (Charles Clock) blew the whole thing off, in spite of Mother continually insisting that he too was part Indian ….Creek Indian she insisted with a laugh …which would usually just irritate him all the more. Both Mom and Dad recounted stories of growing up in early Oklahoma, of Indians that wound up having oil beneath their property, lots of oil, and became very wealthy. They often built huge mansions, but kept a teepee in the backyard and often lived in it rather than the fancy building.

Mother had lots of old letters she kept in her cedar chest in the bedroom. She went through some of them, rarely. One time when I was quite young she called me in there and showed me several that had stamps with “I.T.” stamped in black on them, for Indian Territory. That’s how post office sold the stamps there she told me. “Pretty cool”, I thought. Later on I began collecting stamps as a hobby and asked her for one. She said someday she would give me one …but not yet. Unfortunately it never happened …and those letters and envelopes are all gone now.  But I did receive an Indian Territory (I.T) coin as a present from my daughter, Kristy, in 2016.  So, all is good.

Indian Territory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians. The general borders were set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834.

The Indian Territory had its roots in the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, which limited white settlement to Crown lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Indian Reserve was reduced underBritish administration and again after the American Revolution, until it included only lands west of theMississippi River.

At the time of the American Revolution, many Indian tribes had long-standing relationships with the British, but a less developed relationship with the American rebels. After the defeat of the British, the Americans twice invaded the Ohio Country and were twice defeated. They finally defeated an Indianconfederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, imposing the Treaty of Greenville, which ceded most of what is now Ohio, part of what is now Indiana, and the present day sites of Chicago and Detroitto the United States.

1885 government map of Indian Territory

1891 government map of Indian Territory
Indian Territory in 1885 (top) and 1891 (bottom)

The Indian Territory served as the destination for the policy ofIndian Removal, a policy pursued intermittently by American presidents early in the nineteenth century, but aggressively pursued by President Andrew Jackson after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Five Civilized Tribes in the South were the most prominent tribes displaced by the policy, a relocation that came to be known as the Trail of Tears during the Choctawremovals starting in 1831. The trail ended in what is now Arkansasand Oklahoma, where there were already many Indians living in the territory, as well as whites and escaped slaves. Other tribes, such as the Delaware, Cheyenne, and Apache were also forced to relocate to the Indian territory.

The Five Civilized Tribes set up towns such as Tulsa, Ardmore,Tahlequah, Tishomingo, Muskogee, and others, which became some of the larger towns in the state. They also brought their African slaves to Oklahoma, which added to the black Americanpopulation in the state. Members of these tribes fought primarily on the side of the Confederacy during the American Civil War in Indian territory. Following the Battle of Doaksville, Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Confederate commander of the Cherokee Nation, became the last Confederate general to surrender in the American Civil War, on 23 June 1865.

In time, the Indian Territory was reduced to what is now Oklahoma; and then, with the organization ofOklahoma Territory in 1890, to just the eastern half of the area. The citizens of Indian Territory tried, in 1905, to gain admission to the union as the State of Sequoyah, but were rebuffed by Congress and an Administration which did not want two new Western states, Sequoyah and Oklahoma. Citizens then joined to seek admission of a single state to the Union. With Oklahoma statehood in November 1907, Indian Territory was extinguished.

Many Indians continue to live in Oklahoma, especially in the eastern part. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I’ve read that Oklahoma has the greatest number, as well as the highest percentage, of Native American Indians of all the states. Followed by Arizona.


Probably my Mom’s (Ellen Clock) favorite story from US history was the tale of the great Oklahoma land rushes. She told it to us boys many times throughout the years. How the Indians had walked the deadly Trail of Tears from the Deep South all the way to Indian Territory …and had been promised the land…all of it, forever. But that wasn’t to be. Then about the line up in the morning, the starting gun fired, the headlong rush for land on horseback, foot and in buggies, and all about the Boomers and Sooners. Especially about the Sooners, the ones that sneaked across the line too soon, hours or days ahead of time to grab a chunk of land. I always expected she would turn it into a story with a moral ….with the Sooners being the cheaters and therefore the bad guys in the event. But it never came across that way. There was always a twinkle in her eye while telling that story.

Dad (Charles Clock) was a big fan of football …going all the way back to when he played football during his youth and later on when he attended Kansas University (KU) …a Jayhawk! But when it came to a favorite team, at least later on in life, it was undoubtably the Oklahoma (OU) Sooners. I’m sure their tremendous success as THE dominate college team of the 1950’s, under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson, helped my dad’s allegiance. So growing up, it was Sooners this and Sooners that every fall. I would usually pull for the other team, any other team, just to bug him …but generally I wound up stuck with the losing team, when the game ended.

So, I guess you can take the boy or girl out of Oklahoma …but you can’t take Oklahoma out of the man or woman. One more thing, even now I’ll occasionally hear someone in Oregon, during football season say, “What kinda team nickname is THAT? What the heck is a Sooner, anyway?” And I’ll tell em, but I’m thinking, “How is it even possible that someone doesn’t know what a Sooner is?” ha



Land Run of 1889

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands and included all or part of the 2005 modern day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Paynecounties of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.[1] The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km²).[2]

The Unassigned Lands were considered some of the best unoccupied public land in the United States. The Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 was passed and signed into law with an amendment by Illinois Representative William McKendree Springer, that authorized President Benjamin Harrison to open the two million acres (8,000 km²) for settlement. Due to the Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres (0.65 km2) in size. Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land.[2]

Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889
A black-and-white photograph of cowboys on their horses
A land rush in progress.

Boomers and sooners

A number of the individuals who participated in the run entered early and hid out until the legal time of entry to lay quick claim to some of the most choice homesteads. These people came to be identified as “sooners“. This led to hundreds of legal contests that arose and were decided first at local land offices and eventually by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Arguments included what constituted the “legal time of entry.”[3] While some people think that the settlers who entered the territory at the legally appointed time were known as “boomers”, the term actually refers to those who campaigned for the opening of the lands, led by David L. Payne.

The University of Oklahoma’s fight song, “Boomer Sooner“, derives from these two names.[4]

Rapid growth

By the end of the day (April 22, 1889), both Oklahoma City and Guthrie had established cities of around 10,000 people in literally half a day. AsHarper’s Weekly put it:

At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government.”[5]

Many settlers immediately started improving their new land or stood in line waiting to file their claim. Many children sold creek water to homesteaderswaiting in line for five cents a cup, while other children gathered buffalo chips to provide fuel for cooking. By the second week, schools had opened and were being taught by volunteers paid by pupils’ parents until regular school districts could be established. Within one month, Oklahoma City had five banks and six newspapers.[6]

On May 2, 1890, the Organic Act was passed creating the Oklahoma Territory. This act included the Panhandle of Oklahoma within the territory. It also allowed for central governments and designated Guthrie as the territory’s capital.[6]


INDIAN TERRITORY -Trading Post Coin I was given for Christmas 2016, by my daughter, Kristy.





About clockbear13

Enough about me. More importantly, this blog is intended to be a gathering spot for all available materials relating to the Clock family, past, present & future interest of mine for many years.
This entry was posted in CHARLES LEWIS CLOCK, U.S. HISTORY. Bookmark the permalink.

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