Land!

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Oklahoma remained without organization for nearly thirteen months, until Congress officially designated it as a territory and appointed George W. Steele of Indiana as the first governor. Thereafter its development was rapid, but it was not until 1907, after other districts had been added, that Oklahoma became a state.

Guthrie continued as the capital city until June 11, 1910, when Oklahoma City was chosen by popular vote. Thereupon Guthrie went into a decline, but it is still an interesting place, rich in history.

Strangely, none of the important boomers who were instrumental in the opening of the territory to white settlement found in Oklahoma the Eden they expected. Payne died five years before the opening, and even the lesser members of his original band were hounded all their lives as sooners; those who stayed in Oklahoma eventually purchased their land outright so that there would be no doubt about the validity of their titles.

Only about one in ten of the original frenzied homeseekers “proved up” on the claims they staked, and few of the original businesses continued for more than a year. Here, perhaps, is the only similarity between Oklahoma and the majority of frontier settlements: the first settlers lacked both capital and experience. It remained for those who came later to change the face of the land.