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Sexist Housing Authorities and a Giant Land Grab

September 13, 2000

Historian's Notes

The Bathsheba incident seemed extremely interesting to me. What a forward thinking group of women!! I had a hard time getting even this little bit of knowledge about Bathsheba.

The Cherokee Outlet Opening was the largest land-run in terms of actual land opened for settlement so, of course, is a newsworthy event.

Resources for "Bathsheba Commune":

Fugate, F. L., & Fugate, R. B. (1991). Roadside history of Oklahoma. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Pub. Co.

Further information came from a quick scan of newspapers at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Resources for "Cherokee Outlet Land Grab":

Material for the Cherokee Outlet Opening was easy to find and came from numerous Oklahoma history texts.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

Sexist housing authorities and a giant land grab make the news this week!

On September 16, 1893 the Cherokee Outlet was thrown open to settlers. As the starting cannons fired people surged across the lines to begin new towns, farms and lives. The Cherokee Outlet or Cherokee Strip as it is sometimes called was a large block of land running across the northwestern corner of Oklahoma. Owned by the Cherokees and leased mainly by livestock associations the Cherokee Outlet had long been desired as a settling place by whites in the area.

Due to the desirability of the land the land run of 1893 was one of the most crowded ever. Over 100,000 individuals raced across the prairies in an attempt to obtain one of only 40,000 available claims. Newkirk, initially known as Lamoreaux, only twelve miles from the Outlet border, was one of the first towns established in the newly opened area. Initially the counties of Pawnee, Kay, Noble, Grant, Garfield, Woods and Woodward were formed from the territory with more being added later by the State Constitutional Convention.

One of the more bizarre stories connected with the Cherokee Outlet land opening is the founding of Bathsheba between present day Perry and Enid. The town was intended to be a "women only" commune of sorts reportedly even banning male chickens, horses and hogs. According to statements from residents the community was established by disgruntled women who came to the new country to get away from men. Reports of the settlement are few and sketchy due to the fact that reporters, all male at the time, could only view the town from afar utilizing binoculars and telescopes.

The group of thirty-three women began their community with strict rules and laws, one of the founding members was ousted after it was learned that she had a razor in her possession. The town court ruled that masculine implements such as the razor were subversive to the vital anti-male principles of the community. The communal experiment didn't last long, within the first week twelve of the thirty-three original inhabitants had deserted the town with the rest soon to follow. On a return visit one local newspaper reporter found abandoned equipment and empty dwellings, the sad end of a valiant effort...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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