Originally printed in the "Oklahoma Land Run of '91 - A Lincoln County Centennial Salute" souvenir booklet by the Lincoln County Historical Society, used with permission from the Society. Contributed by Carline Harp Doyle.


Lincoln County dates its "beginning" from the Land Run of September 22, 1891, which opened to public settlement three Indian reservations adjoining the former Unassigned Lands on the east.

Since the Unassigned Lands had been settled 29 months earlier, in the first Land Run April 22, 1889, there had been a steady push for surrounding Indian reservations to also be opened in similar fashion.

The president had been authorized by Congressional Acts in 1887 and 1889 to allot lands in several Indian tribes and also to appoint a three-member commission to negotiate with the tribes for purchase of surplus lands west of the 96th Meridan. This area virtually encompassed the western four-fifths of the area that later became the state of Oklahoma, and the commission eventually negotiated agreements with most of the Indians having reservations west of the Five Civilized Tribes.

President Benjamin Harrison appointed a commission to begin negotiating with the five tribes that were under the jurisdiction of the Sac and Fox Indian Agency. These five tribes owned roughly 1,503,360 acres, and the three-member Cherokee Commission (sometimes later called the Jerome Commission) met with the tribal leaders in May and June, 1890. Agreements were struck with four of the five, but negotiations with the Kickapoo reached an empasse that was not resolved until 1895.

Under the newly-approved agreements, the 109 members of the Iowa tribe each selected an 80-acre allotment and the surplus of 221,040 acres was purchased by the federal government. The 549 members of the Sac and Fox tribe each were entitled to 160-acre allotments, with a surplus of 393,120 acres being sold to the government. The Citizen Potawatomi and Absentee Shawnee tribes shared a common reservation south of the Sac and Fox and Kickapoo, and were the larger of the five tribes. About 361,490 surplus acres were purchased by the government from them after 1,469 Pottawatomie and 563 Shawnee Indians selected their allotments.

The allotment selection process took more than 10 weeks to complete, but finally, President Harrison issued a proclamation September 18, 1891 declaring the surplus Indian lands which had recently been purchased to be open for settlement four days later, Tuesday, September 22, 1891, at 12 o'clock noon.

A conservative estimate places the number of settlers at about 20,000 surrounding the three reservations awaiting the starting signal for the rush to claim one of the 6,097 160-acre homesteads that were available.

Two new counties were carved from the area and were designated "A" and "B" with county seat townsites selected by government officials in the exact geographical center of each. In addition, a considerable amount of land from the reservations was also added to the already existing counties of Payne, Logan, Oklahoma and Cleveland.

As soon as the presidential proclamation was issued September 18, Judge W. M. Allison was dispatched that day to the Chandler townsite, seat of County A, to supervise a crew of surveyors platting the half-section into lots, blocks and streets. A similar crew was sent to Tecumseh, designated the seat of County B.

When the time of the main opening arrived the following Tuesday, the survey crews were not finished with their assigned task, and so the Tecumseh townsite was opened by a separate run the next day, September 23, at noon. The Chandler townsite survey continued a few more days, and it was formally opened by a run at noon the next Monday, September 28. Gov. George Steele of Guthrie was on hand at the Chandler townsite the day that town was settled by its own run. He addressed the crowd of about 5,000 people on the south edge of the townsite at 7 o'clock that morning.

A square block of land in the center of the Chandler townsite was set aside by Judge Allison for a courthouse square, and four square blocks in the northeast corner of the town were set aside for public park purposes.

Gov. Steele appointed the first officers of County A, all of them Republicans. The first officers were: H. F. Ardery, county treasurer; Claud F. Parker, sheriff; P. P. Hillerman, county attorney; G. A. Colton, county clerk; Marquis D. Losey, county superintendent; Charles Cunningham, surveyor; Thomas J. Taylor, register of deeds; county commissioners, C. H. DeFord, Wylie H. Blakemore and W. N. Warren; and W. M. Allison, probate judge.

More than a year later, November 8, 1892, at the first general election held in the two new counties, the electors selected the names of "Lincoln" and "Pottawatomie" for A and B, respectively, and also selected the first slate of elected county officers. In County A, the vote for the county names was Lincoln (proposed by the Republicans in honor of Abraham Lincoln), 765 votes; Sac and Fox (proposed by the Populists in honor of the tribe), 521; and Springer (proposed by the Democrats in honor of Congressman William Springer of Illinois who had worked for the opening of surplus Indian lands), 494.

The first elected county officials were D. W. Ulam, county treasurer; Claud F. Parkerm, sheriff; W. H. Mason, probate judge; Thomas J. Taylor, register of deeds; J. B. Underwood, county clerk, J. W. Crawford, county attorney; M. D. Losey, superintendent; N. McKimmey, surveyor; Smith Rhea, coroner; and commissioners, C. A. Kelso, first district; Benoni Rea, second district; and Jacob Amberg, third district.

The original County A (Lincoln) included all of the county as it exists today, except for roughly the southwest fourth. The Sac and Fox reservation included all of the eastern half of the present county and the Iowa reservation covered all the northwest fourth, that part stretching north from the Deep Fork River.

The southwest fourth of the county, that of the Kickapoo reservation which was south of Deep Fork River and west of the Sac and Fox, was not opened for public settlement until May 23, 1895, some three years and eight months after the 1891 Run. The Kickapoo reservation, also opened by a run, added territory to not only Lincoln County, but also to Oklahoma and Pottawatomie Counties.

The 283 members of the Kickapoo tribe each took allotments of 80 acres, leaving a balance of 185,040 surplus acres purchased by the federal government that could be opened for settlement. In Lincoln County, more than 115 square sections of land were "set aside" as school land to be leased to the public by the Commissioners of the Land Office for the benefit of public schools. This left only about 270 quarter sections of land to actually be homesteaded in Lincoln County's portion of the Kickapoo opening.

It was not until December, 1910 that the state School Land Commission sold at auction most of the 115 sections of land it had been leasing to farmers since 1895 in southwest Lincoln County.

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This page was last updated Friday, 09-Jun-2023 17:20:42 EDT.