Friday, March 30, 2012

About Opening the Indian Territory


                                                               The Choctaw Court House, Clear Creek.
                                                             Both buildings ceased to be used about 1899.
On April 22, 1889, 2,000,000 acres of the Creek and Seminole lands were opened to white settlers, and there occurred an ever memorable rush for lands and a race for homes. An area as large as the state of Maryland was settled in a day. On that first day the city of Guthrie was founded with a population of 8,000, a newspaper was issued and in a tent a bank was organized with a capital of $50,000. Oklahoma and other cities sprang up as if in a night.
On June 6, 1890, the west half of Indian Territory was created a new territory, called Oklahoma, with its capital at Guthrie, and with later additions it soon included 24,000,000 acres.
On June 16, 1906, President Roosevelt signed the enabling act, that admitted Oklahoma, including Oklahoma and Indian Territories, as a state, one year from that date. On November 6, 1906, occurred the election of members to the constitutional convention, that met at Guthrie January 1, 1907. The first legislature met there January 1, 1908. Two years later the capital was moved to Oklahoma City.

The growth, progress and advancement of the territory of Oklahoma during the sixteen years preceding statehood in 1907 has never been equaled in the history of the world, and in all probability will never be eclipsed. This was due to the mild and healthful climate of this region, and a previous knowledge of its great, but undeveloped agricultural and mineral resources. So great has been the flow of oil near Tulsa, in the north central part of the state, it has been necessary to store it there in an artificial lake or reservoir.
The surface of Oklahoma consists of a gently undulating plain, that gradually ascends from an altitude of 511 feet at Valliant in the southeast to 1197 feet at Oklahoma City, and 1893 at Woodward, the county seat of Woodward county, in the northwest. The principal mountains are the Kiamichi in the southern part of Laflore county, and the Wichita, a forest reserve in Comanche and Swanson counties.
Previous to statehood Indian Territory was divided into 31 recording districts for court purposes. In 1902 when Garvin was founded it became the residence of the judge of the southeastern judicial or recording district, and a small court house was built there for the transaction of the public business. In 1907, when McCurtain county was established, Idabel was chosen as the county seat. The location of Oak Hill Academy proved to be one and a half miles east of the west line of McCurtain county. In 1910 the population of McCurtain county was 20,681, of Oklahoma City 64,205; and of the state of Oklahoma, 1,657,155.
During the period immediately preceding the incoming of the Hope and Ardmore Railroad in 1902, the most im
portant news and trading center, between Fort Towson and Wheelock, was called "Clear Creek." Clear Creek is a rustling, sparkling little stream of clear water that flows southward in a section of the country where most of the streams are sluggish and of a reddish hue. The Clear Creek post office was located in a little store building a short distance east of this stream and about three miles north of Red river.
A little log court house, for the administration of tribal justice among the Choctaws of that vicinity, a blacksmith shop and a Choctaw church were also located at this place. These varied interests gave to Clear Creek the importance of a miniature county seat until Valliant and Swink were founded.
During this early period the oak covered ridge, extending several miles east of Clear Creek, was known as Oak Hill and the settlement in its vicinity was called by the same name.
When the first church (1869) and school (1876) were established among the Freedmen in this settlement, the same name was naturally given to both of them. It has adhered to them, amid all the changes that have occurred, since the first meetings were held at the home of Henry Crittenden in 1868.
Valliant was founded in 1902, and was so named in honor of one of the surveyors of the Hope and Ardmore, a branch of the Frisco railway. It is located in the west end of McCurtain county eight miles north of Red river. It has now a population of 1,000 and a branch railroad running northward.
The country adjacent to the town consists of beautiful valleys and forests heavily set with timber, principally oak, walnut, ash and hickory, and with pine and cedar along the streams. The soil is a rich sandy loam, that is easily cultivated and gives promise of great agricultural and horticultural possibilities. It is in the center of the cotton belt and this staple is proving a very profitable one. The climate is healthful and the locality is unusually free from the prevalence of high winds.