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Oklahoma: The Forty-Sixth State
Source: "Belleville News Democrat" - November 22, 1907
Transcribed and Contributed by: Frances Cooley


Oklahoma, "the land of Now", (embracing Oklahoma and Indian Territories) entered the union as a state on November 15 with a population of about 1,600,000.

The government census (four districts missing) shows a population of 1,408,000. In addition to the persons residing in the four missing districts, a number of Indians not reached by the census takers are believed to have been omitted from the government census total.

The Indian is passing out of the life of Oklahoma into its history. But he is still as much in evidence in Oklahoma as the Negro is in a number of northern states. Records believed to be ultra conservative show that the new state of Oklahoma contains 72,000 Indians. Only about 10,000 of these, however, are more than three-quarters blood. The wild Indians of Oklahoma exist only in history. The Redman of the present is adjusting himself to the white man's civilization.

"Oklahoma" is a Comanche Indian word, signifying the "Land of the Fair God". Surely the fair god could not select a more comfortable place for a home. For instance, everything good to eat which that distinguished personage might desire is obtainable from Oklahoma soil. Upon a single Oklahoma farm can be seen growing simultaneously the products that grow in all the states from Maine to California. Corn and cotton thrive side by side.

Amazing Natural Resources

Within it borders Oklahoma is known to have vast stretches of coal lands, natural gas, also, is abundant, while the state's resources in salt, asphalt, oil, granite and marble, building stone, zinc, lead, copper, gold and timber, place it among the most desirable sections of the country for investors.

Eighteen years ago this great new state was a cattle range and Indian hunting ground.

The first rush into Oklahoma was on Monday, April 22, 1889. On the morning of that day Oklahoma City the present metropolis of the state, then known as Oklahoma Station consisted of half a dozen small buildings. The Santa Fe station, section house, United States quartermaster's house, and a small building used as a hotel. Between noon and sunset of that day Oklahoma Station became a town of 5,000 people. Within a month 1,160 buildings, many of them ugly, temporary affairs, were erected.

And so Oklahoma City has continued to grow until it now claims a population of 45,000, modern schools educating 9.481 children this year, as against 7.375 last year, buildings (including ten story skyscrapers) aggregating in value $15,000,000; banks having an aggregate capital and surplus of $1,060,834, and deposits aggregating $6,519,000, post office receipts in 1906 aggregating $141,509, and freight tonnage, into and out of Oklahoma City in 1906, 1,228,246,902 tons. Factories are springing up Oklahoma City this year has 2,347 factory employees, a gain of 531 over last year, and 1,176 jobbing house employees, a gain of 220 for the year.

State is Democratic

Oklahoma will probably be Democratic in politics for some time to come. The Governor elect, C. M. Haskell, of Muskogee, received a majority of 27,000 votes. The state will cast approximately 250,000 votes, of which number from 10,000 to 15,000 are by Negro voters.

Gov. Haskell is one of the newer residents of the state, having gone there from Ohio. Other officers are: Lieutenant Governor, George Bellamy, of El Reno; Secretary of State, "Bill" Cross, of Oklahoma City, whose friends say he would not be recognized if referred to as "William Cross;" Treasurer, J. B. Menefee, of Anadarko; Attorney General, Charles West, of Enid, and Chairman of the Commissioners of Corporations, J. J. McAllister.

The state in primaries has selected to represent here in the senate the first blind man who has ever sat in that body. Hoils T. P. Gore, who lost his sight when a boy in Mississippi, where he was born. He has served in the territorial legislature. Robert Lee Owen, who will be elected as the other senator, is a totally different type. Born in Virginia, he is one-eighth Cherokee Indian, and is looked upon as an extreme conservative. He distinguished himself as a lawyer by earning a fee of $150,000 in a single case. Both these men have been chosen by the Democratic primaries, which is equivalent to their election by the legislature. Of the representatives Bird S. McGuire for some years territorial delegate from Oklahoma, in congress, is the only Republican of the five elected. Others are C. L. Fulton, a brother of Senator Fulton, of Oregon, Second District; James S. Davenport, Third District; Charles D. Carter, Fourth District, and Scott Falins, Fifth District.

Metropolis of New State

The largest city on the Oklahoma side is Oklahoma City, with a population of 80,000 and 10 miles of asphalt pavements. Muskogee, in the Indian Territory has a population of 21,000, which represents a growth from 3,500 people in 1900. The new state will have 700 banks, of which 275 are national, the latter with deposits of $50,000,000, 23 cottonseed oil mills, more than a hundred flour mills, 50 daily papers and more than 400 issued weekly.

Oklahoma alone had in 1906 86,908 families, of which more than 60,000 owned their homes, and of these 50,000 were free from mortgages. The average price for Oklahoma land in 1906 was $18.25 per acre, an increase of $325 from the previous year. The new state has thousands of acres of un-appropriated public domain, coal lands of wonderful capacity, oil wells, asphalt beds of great worth and all of these practically undeveloped, to say nothing of the vastness of her opportunities to the tiller of the soil.

The story of the rise of two dozen other Oklahoma cities with populations exceeding 10,000 is almost synonymous with that of the rise of the metropolis. Such cities as Guthrie (the state capital), with 25,000 population. Tulsa (in the center of the oil fields), with 20,000 population. Muskogee, Ardmore, Lawton, Shawnee, Enid, South McMosier, Vinta and El Reno are battling enthusiastically for commercial supremacy, and present indications are that all these cities will grown and proper, each supported mainly by those farm lands for which it is the natural outlet to market. The casual reader may wonder how so many large cities can be supported by mere farms. The fact is that Oklahoma has 250,000 farms; most of them worked by their owners for hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested their small savings in Oklahoma land and are getting rich with the state by tilling the soil. Six out of every ten farmers in Oklahoma own their own homes. Most of them live upon the land they homesteaded. Landlords are idle in Oklahoma.

Drawn from All States

Probably not more than 200,000 of Oklahoma's 1,500,000 residents are native Oklahomans. This new state is not typical of any particular section of the United States so far as its population is concerned. Northerners, southerners, easterners and westerners mingle harmoniously there, all growing prosperous together. Every state in the union is represented by at least 500 natives.

A substantial evidence of the intellectual worth of Oklahomans generally is the number of modern daily newspapers which they support. Furthermore, they have good schools, libraries and churches.

Oklahoma has a modern public school system supported by the income from a $35,000,000 public school fund and local taxation. The "35,000,000 fund" consists of 3,100,875 acres of land, valued at #30,000,000, the income from the rental of which amounts to about $600,000 per year, and $5,000,000 paid into the school fund by Indian Territory in lieu of land, all of the 3,100,875 acres being in the former Oklahoma territory. The original act opening Oklahoma territory to settlement reserved in all that section of the territory then thrown open sections 16 and 36 in every township for the benefit of the public schools of the future state. Each successive act provided for similar reservations and the statehood enabling act made additional institutions, resulting in the big total above named. The state will decide whether the school lands shall be sold. All proceeds from sale of the school lands must be turned into the school fund and forever remain intact.

Fine State University

The head of the public school system of Oklahoma is the state university, located at Norman, open to female as well as male students, and comprising a college of arts and sciences, a school of medicine, a school of applied science, a school of pharmacy, a school of mines, a school of fine arts, and a preparatory school. The campus consisting of 60 acres lies at a slight elevation, overlooking the South Canadian River. University hall was built five years ago at a cost of $70,000. Science hall is a new building, 63 x 125 feet, of gray processed brick. The university is also provided with a library building given by Andrew Carnegie, and a gymnasium, 55 by 100 feet. There are four buildings, two of wood, devoted to engineering work, and two devoted to the anatomical laboratory.

The other advanced public educational institutions of Oklahoma are an agricultural and mechanical college, three state normal schools, a university, and a school at Chilicco, on a reservation containing 8,900 acres of agricultural land, for the education of Indian boys and girls in the higher branches of learning.

Color Line Drawn

The supervision of instruction is vested in a board of education, of which the state superintendent of public instruction is president and the governor, secretary of state and attorney general are members on officio. A color line is drawn on Negroes in Oklahoma, separate schools being provided for Negro children, but with the same accommodations as the schools for the white children. Education is compulsory.

The Chilicco Indian School is one of the most interesting educational institutions in Oklahoma. About 3,000 of its 8,960 acres are in cultivation, the rest being in meadow or pasture land. This school has 700 to 800 students, 70 instructors, more than 40 buildings and is known as the best institution in the Indian service for imparting practical agricultural knowledge in Indians. In addition to agriculture stock raising, dairying, etc., all other lines of industry are taught at Chilicco.

Oklahoma has more than 1,200 manufacturing plants, representing investments aggregating $25,000,000, and giving employment to 10,000 wage earners. These plants include flour mills, oil mills, cotton gins, broom factories, brick and tile works, salt works, cement factories, woodenware and carriage works.

Oil Fields Are Rich

Some of the richest oil fields in America are in Oklahoma. The Glenn Pool oil district, south of Tulsa, between Red Path and Mounds, has between 450 and 500 producing oil wells, with a total capacity of 100,000 barrels a day. The first of these wells was sunk in December 1905. Pipe lines have been constructed for the transportation of this oil to the Texas seaboard and to the refineries at Whiting, Ind. More than $10,000,000 has been invested in tanks, pumping stations, and pipe lines in Tulsa County.

Eastern Oklahoma which is not so uniformly even as the western portion of the state, produces more than 3,000,000 tons of coal a year, for which its mines receive about $6,000,000. The coal field extends from the vicinity of Tulsa on the north to the Texas line on the south and is more than 100 miles broad. The state contains about 160 coal mines, employing about 10,000 operators.

The principal rivers of Oklahoma all of which flow toward the south east, are, naming them from north to south, Arkansas, Salt Pork, Clarion, North Canadian, South Canadian, Wachita and Red.

The government acquired what is now Oklahoma more than a century ago under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. Early in the century the government set this land apart for the segregation of the various Indian tribes, then being driven most by the advance of white settlers. Hence, while, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and other Louisiana Purchase states were being populated Oklahoma remained for 80 years a wild Indian camping ground.

Passing of the Indian

As recently as 35 years ago the American people generally knew of Oklahoma only as a haunt of Indians and a hunting ground for the same. Early in the eights white settlers, who had over run Kansas and the new middle west states began to investigate Oklahoma. They found the new territory rich and appealed to the government for the opening of it to settlement. The government did not readily set upon the request, and many of those whites, becoming impatient, entered the reservation forcibly and set up their homes. They were driven out, but repeatedly renewed their efforts and many clashes with soldiers occurred.

But these pioneers, then looked upon by the government as outlaws, finally persuaded congress to open Oklahoma to settlement. Hence, the names of these same "outlaws" have been immortalized in Oklahoma history.

At the same time of the opening all of Oklahoma, except that portion taken from Texas in the Greer county boundary dispute and the narrow strip between Kansas and Texas, extending to the Colorado and New Mexico lines, was included in the Indian Territory. Oklahoma territory which was held by the government for the use of the Indians, but had never been assigned to any tribe, consequently consisted in those days of only about 2,000,000 acres. There occurred the first great rush for homes, which brought into existence Oklahoma City. From time to time the government transferred other portions of land from the Indian Territory to Oklahoma territory for settlement by whites, until, when the Oklahoma Indian Territory statehood bill passed, all that remained of Indian Territory were the reservations of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and Quapaw tribes.

Source: "Belleville News Democrat" - November 22, 1907
Transcribed and Contributed by: Frances Cooley

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