Uncle Sam's Scheme is Witnessed by Twenty-Five Thousand Persons of the Great Southwest

Carried on without a Hitch

Majority of the Fortunate Ones are From Oklahoma and Indian Territory - Many Kansans are in the Front Ranks with Missourians, Texans and Nebraskans.

Wichita Telephone Girl is Number two

Miss Beals has Second Choice in Lawton District - Is Preceded by James R. Woods of Weatherford, Oklahoma - In El Reno District Number One and Two, Respectively are Stephen C. Holcomb of Pauls Valley, I.T. and Leonard Lamb of Augusta, O. T. These two may select the choicest claims in the district. The capital prize winners, however, proved to be James R. Wood of Weatherford, O.T., whose name was the first to come out of the Lawton district wheel and Miss Mattie H. Beals of Wichita, Kansas, who drew the second number in that district. They will have the privilege of making the first filings in the Lawton district and will undoubtedly choose the two quarter sections adjoining that town. These are considered the most valuable in the territory and are, it is estimated worth from $20,000 to $40,000 each.

The day has been one of keen excitement, replete with interesting scenes. It is estimated that fully 25,000 witnessed the drawing. The immense throng was wrought up to the highest pitch. The drawing of the first few names were followed by a mighty shout that reverberated between the hills and must have been heard for miles over the prairies.

Each succeeding winning for a time was met with shouts of applause and merriment. All was pleasantry. Everyman though he did not draw a prize from the wheels today, had steadfast faith that tomorrow or the next day would surely see him the possessor of a slip reading him a title clear to 160 acres of Oklahoma's land. So in the success of friends or relatives, unfortunate ones today instead of bewailing their fate, cheered lustily as familiar names were called out from the commissioner's platform. The crowds fairly exhausted themselves and when the close of the drawing for the day was announced at 5 o'clock hundreds who neither eat nor drank during the day, sank to the ground where they stood from their fatigue or dragged themselves to better place of rest or refreshments booths up town. The day was remarkably free from quarrels and general satisfaction with the government's method of disposing of the land was felt. It has been found that many hundred applicants have "repeated" and that others have applications which are so illegible that they will be thrown out. Over this much discord has resulted and the outcome may be an appeal to the courts. The drawing has been set for 9 o'clock but the transferring of the bundles of envelopes holding the applications from the general receptacle to the wheels which was by lot, was so slow, that it was 10:50 o'clock before the first name was drawn.

Twenty-five names were drawn from the El Reno district and then an equal number from the Lawton district. When all was ready, Ben Heyler placed his hand in an aperature in the El Reno wheel and withdrawing an envelope, handed it to Colonel Dyer. It was passed to Chief Clerk Macey, stamped and handed back to Colonel Dyer. The commissioner walked to the front of the platform, raised his hand for order and in a loud tone, exclaimed: "Stephen A. Holcomb" of Pauls Valley, I. T., draws the first number." The crowd yelled for three minutes, apparently as much delighted as if every man had drawn a prize.

Envelope number two was quickly drawn and as each of the names were announced each one was greeted with a volley of cheers. The first ten winners in the El Reno district were:

3 - Frank Brown, Ponca City, Oklahoma, born in Kansas
4 - Calvin Churchill, Chickaha, I. T.
5 - Charles D. Williams, Norman, Oklahoma
6 - Ollie M. Rogers, Cordell, Oklahoma
7 - Edward C. Prince, Watonga, O. T.
8 - Andrew J. Phillsower, Sheldon, Mo.
9 - John L. Brown, Caldwell, Kansas
10 - John S. Helder, Weatherford, O. T.

When twenty-five names had been taken from the El Reno district wheel attention was turned to that representing the Lawton district. The first name brought out for this district was that of James R. Woods of Weatherford, O. T., and the crowd again went wild. This meant that woods would be able to claim the quarter section adjoining Lawton town, one of the choicest in the entire country.

The second ticket was drawn and Colonel Dyer cried out: "I have the pleasure to announce the name of the first woman to draw a prize. Mattie H. Beals of Wichita, Kansas.

Then Colonel Dyer gave her description as 23 years old and 5 feet 3 inches in height: just the height of Woods.
Instantly the crowd caught the humor of the situation and thousands of throats sent up the shout: "They must get married."

The other first names drawn in the Lawton district follows:

3 - Winfield S. Laws, Langton, Oklahoma
4 - Falcon Woodhouse, Eldon, Iowa
5 - Marvin Hawkins, Wayland, Texas
6 - William C. Laid, Fort Worth, Texas
7 - Harry T. Foster, agent for Harry E. Harrison, El Reno, O. T.
8 - Lee A. Stubblefield, Dunbar, O. T.
9 - Richard H. Wyatt, Henrietta, Texas
10 - Charles C. Doss, Shawnee, O. T.

The eighteenth winner in the Lawton district was Minerva McClintock aged 25 years of Oklahoma City. She was married yesterday and by this act forfeits her right to file for a claim. She might have chosen a claim near a county seat town worth several thousand dollars. The drawing will be resumed tomorrow morning and continued until all of the 13,000 claims have been awarded. It is believed that this will have been accomplished by Thursday evening.
El Reno, O. T., July 29, Long before the time announced for the drawing, hundreds of people surrounded the stand erected for the important event. By 8:20 o'clock 50,000 people had congregated on the ground. All preparations for the drawing had not been completed and carpenters and clerks were at work up to the time announced for operations to begin.

The stand prepared for the event was a large covered platform, covered with canvas substantially made. At the north of the stand proper was the booth for the clerks making the official records on typewriters. The apparatus for the drawing is at the south part of the stand. The apparatus for each district has three openings and arranged so the envelopes could be well shaken up.

People surrounded the place on every side. The man with the highest point of view was the favorite and made announcements to the people on the ground beside him. Cheer after cheer went up as the preparations progressed and at times it was impossible to hear the conversation of the clerks and officials on the platform. The wind was from the south. It was a strong gale and dust blew in every direction. After an hour in the dust and wind it was hard to distinguish a white man from a colored.

At 9 o'clock a wagon in charge of government clerks, loaded with the registration papers and envelopes arrived, and were carried to the stand. A few minutes later, the three canvassers, Richards, Dyer and Dale arrived. These men began to arrange things on the platform for the drawing. As soon as the crowd caught sight of the commissioners, a mighty shout went up from the multitude around the platform.

There never will be another such a gathering as congregated this morning to witness the drawing in connection with the opening of public lands. People were packed like sardines around the stand. The man with an umbrella was called down for people wanted to see the proceedings.

United States Marshal C. H. Thompson and his deputies, Ned Sission and a large force of men were on the platform and surrounded it to keep order. The crowd was good natured, but the man who made a false move was promptly taken care of. The clerks appointed to do the drawing were from El Reno and Guthrie. Their names are Carl Humphrey, Myron Humphrey, Roy Winton, Ben Hegler, Bruno Hegler, Arthur Patterson, Ment Setzer, Rudolph Forrest, Alex Jones and Burt Newell.

The men to turn the boxes which held the envelopes were: Fred A. Gillette, El Reno; Howard K. Bane, Washington, D. C.; Frank Cummings, Guthrie; Hall A. Mason, Blackwell.

The envelopes were taken into the stand in boxes containing 400 each marked on the outside El Reno and Lawton, respectively.

At 9:40 o'clock, Governor Richards announced to the crowd that col. D. P. Dyer of St. Louis, one of the commissioners would read the part of the proclamation appertaining to the drawing. The crowd was very quiet during the reading, evidently wishing to give the officials every possible opportunity to proceed with the drawing. It took several minutes to read the proclamation and at its conclusion the cheer of the crowd was deafening in its intensity.

During this time the clerks were arranging for the drawing. Everything was hurried along under the direction of the commissioners. At the close of the reading of the proclamation, Governor Richards announced that the envelope bearing the identification slips would be placed in the boxes. There were 218 boxes of envelopes for the Lawton district and 191 boxes for the El Reno district. This gives the largest number of applicants to the Lawton district. Slips were drawn from boxes with numbers on them and the boxes were taken with a number corresponding with that on the slip. They were emptied into the boxes by the clerks as fast as the numbers were called. The first number was called at 9:55 o'clock, the first boxes of envelopes were emptied into the El Reno box on the east side of the platform. The first number was 46 and that box corresponding to that number was placed in it. Governor Richards had charge of the placing of the envelopes in the El Reno box and Judge Dale took charge of the Lawton box on the west side of the platform. One of the boxes was held stationary by Commissioner Dyer and the other by United States Deputy Marshall Hickok. The envelopes for the Lawton district were yellow and those for the El Reno district were white. As soon as a box was emptied the clerks tossed it into the crowd. Each box was promptly torn up and pieces were preserved by the spectators as souvenirs of the great event.

The American woman was just as interested a spectator of the great drawing as the American man. She stood in the crowd, and took her chances for seeing the proceedings as did her brother. Women stood and sat everywhere possible and the majority of them were well cared for by the men in the crowd. The work of placing the envelopes took longer than was anticipated and as the minutes passed by each person in the crowd fretted that his chances were promptly dwindling away.

Colonel Dyer, just before the drawing began, stepped up to the front of the platform and addressed the crowds assembled. He said in part, "I never saw a better crowd assembled together. You are all here with equal rights as American citizens. We have selected young men, not having chances in this lottery, to draw out the names. We have selected them, knowing their families they represent, are the foremost in the territory. Twenty-five names will be drawn from the El Reno box first and then twenty-five names from the Lawton box.

This is to be absolutely fair and every person interested is to have an equal chance. We rely upon every citizen assembled here to see fair play and justice done to every man.

The boys drew slips in order to ascertain who would draw the first name from the box containing the El Reno envelopes. No. 3 was the number of the boy, Ben Hegler of Guthrie, drawing the name. When Colonel Dyer made the announcement that No. 3 had been selected to draw the first name he stated: I hope to God that each of you will get No. 1." This statement, was met with a hearty response from the crowd.

It took until 10:50 to get the names placed in the boxes and at 11 o'clock the first name in the El Reno district was drawn.

There was not a sound when the boxes stopped rolling and the first name was drawn. Colonel Dyer read the name of the lucky man and a cheer went up from the crowd. Colonel Dyer read all of the names as they were drawn and there was a lull in the interest in the El Reno district, but everyone was expectantly waiting for the announcement regarding the prize claim at Lawton. When this name was read the cheer that went up was a stunner. People were glad that a young woman got second chance at a fine claim and everything on the identification card had to be read to satisfy the crowd.

After the fifty names had been drawn the announcement was made that a recess would be taken until 1:30 o'clock. In a few minutes the thousands of people had disappeared only to return by 1 o'clock to witness the drawing of other names.

There were many people on the platform. There were newspaper men, government clerks, United States marshals, representatives of various states, etc. The accommodations afforded were better than anticipated and every detail was arranged for by the commissioners. After the envelopes were all placed in the boxes, the three large openings were nailed fast. In each of the boxes there were five openings just large enough to admit an arm. These are the openings from which the envelopes are taken. It is impossible for anyone to see what envelope is being taken out and the boy probably grabs the first envelope he touches. The man securing the first prize in the Lawton district had his name taken from the box by Roy Winton of Guthrie.

As soon as the envelope is drawn out, it is stamped by a stamping machine thus giving it the proper number. The envelopes are placed in boxes which are kept locked.

The drawing of names during the morning did not proceed rapidly, but plans were made during the recess to proceed with more rapidity during the afternoon.

All night long Sunday night men were at work erecting booths around the platform for the drawing. These stands were stocked up early by their proprietors in order to accommodate the people desiring refreshments. Some of the men had good propositions and made a good sum of money during the first day's drawing. By noon there were dozens of stands up and ready for the business which came to them.

The crowd in general was an orderly one. One or two little fistic encounters occurred, because one man stood upon a rock or box and obstructed the view of another. The differences were soon settled and everything was carried on smoothly. A deputy United States marshal walked out into the crowd before the drawing began and came back with a Winchester and a belt well filled with cartridges. The man came from the Indian territory and anticipated that he would find trouble. The gun will be kept until after the drawing, when the Indian territory citizen can secure his property. No guns were seen in the crowd with the exception of those used by the United States Marshals.

One of the best places for seeing the drawing at a distance was next to the Irving school building. The ground is elevated enough to see right into the stand. Thousands of people occupied this elevation and saw what was going on in the stand, even if they could not hear.

One man by the name of Middleton was overcome by heat this morning. He was in the crowd and promptly taken to the shade of a home adjacent to the stand where the day's drawing took place. Middleton was given medical attention and will recover. The heat was intense and it is remarkable that there were not more prostrations. One of the redeeming features of the day was the breeze, although at times the dust completely covered everything.

James R. Wood, of Weatherford who drew the prize claim at Lawton is 27 years of age. He was born in Illinois and weighs 150 pounds. His height is five feet seven inches. Whether he was one the ground this morning or not, is not known but if he was he was undoubtedly the happiest man in the United States. Woods is a country school teacher. During the summer he has been in Weatherford.

Stephen A. Holcomb, of Pauls Valley, who is number one in the El Reno district is 47 years of age and a native of Virginia.

Asa C. Sharpe who secured number fifteen in the Lawton district, was just released from the federal jail last week on bond. He was convicted of bribery while agent of Indian lands. Sharpe was in town when his name was called and his rejoicing over his success.

The crowd after dinner was not nearly so large as the one in the morning. The first interest had worn off and many people did not care to stand in the sun and wind to see the drawing. The impression that everyone received was that the drawing was absolutely fair and each man an applicant was willing to let his chance come when it would. Close to the stand was always a crowd of people, but they were not as loud in their demonstrations as they were in the morning.

James R. Wood who won the first prize at Lawton is in charge of a hardware store at Weatherford. He taught school in Kansas for several years. Wood is a son-in-law of C. Kimmell, ahardware merchant of El Reno. He formerly lived here, working in Kimmell's store. It was during his residence here that he met and wooed Kimmell's daughter.

Assistant Passenger Agent Thompson of the Rock Island railroad announced tonight that trains will be running into Richards, via Anadarko by August 5.


The following persons are the lucky ones whose home is in Wichita, or are known to a great many people in this city. They are numbered among the first one thousand:



Mattie H. Beal
Thomas J. House
John C. Swope
Jesse Gwyn
Alice A. Papes
Dudley H. Brown
Hugh O'Brien
Young Ingram
Wm. T. Kearns
Walter Bolte
Wm. N. Caswell




Source: The Wichita Daily Eagle, July 30, 1901, front page, 2nd page

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