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Bill Fossett Claims First Homestead

Submitted by: Walt Fossett

Kingfisher Times April 19, 1889
By Roy C. Boecher
Kingfisher County became a part of the Unassigned Lands opened for settlement on April 22, 1889. At that time, a townsite had been laid out by the Army surveyors a few years before.
On the morning of the 22nd of April at exactly 12 o'clock, two men were standing outside the federal land office (the site of the old post office, on the corner of Main Street and Robberts Avenue) when the guns sounded approximately one mile west of Kingfisher, announcing the start, from the west boundary, of the land to be aken.
One of the men was Deputy U.S, Marshal Bill Fossett and the other man was a man named Ward who had a contract to supply the Army scouts garding the boundary to keep people out until the appointed time for the run.
Bill Fossett, at the sound of the guns, stepped to the corner of NW, 1/4 section l5-l7-7, and staked his claim. His was the first stake to be driven for a homestead in the new lands.
History has it that Mr. Ward walked across the line to the east and staked his claim in the N.E. 1/4 section 15-17-7, for his claim for a homestead, thus making Mr. Ward's the second claim to be taken.
Mr. Ward and Mr. Fossett were amoung the first to file at the land office when it opened for business the next day. Both men's claims were contested by people who complained that neither man was legally in the territory before the allotted time for the run to start.
Both cases were filed in territory court. The court ruled that Mr Ward was truly inside the boundary of the land to be staked and had to forfeit his right to the claim.
But the controversy did not stop there. Mr. Ward appealed to the court of last resort, which was the Secretary of Interior in Washington, D.C The case was reviewed and the secretary upheld the lower court's decision. The people who had taken town sites in the quarter were allowed to file their claims.
After this decision by the Secretary of the Interior was handed down, the second trial was held on the quarter Mr. Bill Fossett had claimed.
The town used the same argument that was used in the Ward case. The decision of the lower courts was also that Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Fossett was within the territory and his right to stake a claim was denied.
This case also went to the Secretary of the Interior for review. When this decision was handed down, the lower court's ruling was reversed and Mr. Fossett was allowed to retain his right to file on his quarter-section.
Furthermore, this gave Mr. Fossett the right to build and prove up on the land later known as the Bill Fossett addition.
When I bought the property in l950, the land north of Kingfisher Creek was still platted and called the Bill Fossett addition.
(Author's Note: Roy C Boecher is the owner of a part of the old-quarter section filed on by Bill Fossett in 1889.)

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