Oklahoma City was not the first capital of Oklahoma, and many are surprised to hear that. Many are also surprised to hear several interesting historical tidbits about the state's largest city. What follows is a brief history of Oklahoma City with information gathered from a number of sources including the Oklahoma City Visitor's Bureau, the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The Oklahoma TerritoryMany are familiar with the Native American relocation to the Oklahoma Territory in the 1820's, most famously illustrated in the Cherokee "Trail of Tears" recount. The United States government forced the Five Civilized Tribes to endure a difficult resettlement into the lands of Oklahoma, and many died in the process.
Much of the western lands of Oklahoma, however, were part of the "Unassigned Lands." Including what is now Oklahoma City, these areas began to be settled by a variety of pioneers in the late 1800's. Doing so without permission, these pioneers were referred to as "Boomers," and they eventually created enough pressure that the US government opted to hold a series of land runs for settlers to claim the land.
The Land RunThere were actually several land runs between 1889 and 1895, but the first was the most significant. On April 22, 1889, an estimated 50,000 settlers gathered at the boundaries. Some, called "Sooners," snuck across early to claim some of the prime spots of land.
The area that is now Oklahoma City was immediately popular to the settlers as an estimated 10,000 people claimed land here. Federal officials had to help maintain order, and there was a great deal of fighting and death.
Nevertheless, the early settlers remained, and a provisional government was put in place. By 1900, the population in the Oklahoma City area had more than doubled, and out of those early tent cities, a metropolis was being born.