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First Incorporated Town / Halloween
(Rebroadcast on October 31, 2001)

November 1, 2000

Historian's Notes

Many people consider Oklahoma to be a relatively new state with not much history behind it. It is always a shock for these people to find out that the first incorporated town in Oklahoma came into being in 1852, less than seventy years after the Revolutionary War ended! This Almanac expounds on that fact.

The Halloween story came about after I read a recent -- 1999, I think -- newspaper article describing how people felt that Halloween was better and safer when they were children. A number of folks mentioned a lack of juvenile delinquents causing trouble. I quickly found out that "juvies" have been creating Halloween havoc -- and not just on Halloween -- for as far back as the records go.

Resources for "First Incorporated Town (Tahlequah)":

The Angie Debo Papers are held at OSU's Special Collections & University Archives.

Resources for "Halloween":

Information about Halloween pranks comes from a perusal of local newspapers.

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.

This week in 1852 the first town in what is now Oklahoma was incorporated. It was on October 30, 1852 that the Cherokee tribe incorporated their tribal headquarters, the town of Tahlequah. The Tahlequah site had been chosen as the Cherokee Capital in 1839 and at that time a small town began to emerge. By 1843 the site had been platted and lots sold to Cherokee citizens. An act of the Cherokee Tribal Council incorporated the town thirteen years after its beginning. Of the major tribes relocated to Indian Territory, the Cherokee’s were the only ones that held provisions for incorporated town sites. One other Cherokee town was platted before the Civil War, that being Ft. Gibson. The military abandoned the post in 1857 leaving it to the tribe. After platting the town and selling over $20,000.00 worth of town lots the Civil War began and the town was forcibly taken over by the U.S. Military. Under the Cherokee statutes for incorporated towns were provisions for mayors, a five member town council and constable as well as a tax assessor and collector. The Cherokee’s incorporation act was efficient and worked well, it was later copied by other groups in the region and provided an excellent example for early day town building in Indian Territory.

Halloween in the United States has, it seems, always been associated with pranks and practical jokes as well as ghosts and candy. It was in this week in 1911, at Oklahoma A&M, that a mystified Professor emerged from his house on the morning of Nov. 1st to find a fully assembled horse carriage sitting on the roof. The culprits were never caught. For Halloween in 1922 the Oklahoma City Police Department placed its full staff on duty as well as swearing in fifty extra officers. The Department, determined to keep the inevitable vandalism and pranks down to a minimum, was less than successful as reports of Halloween shenanigans poured in from across the city.

On Halloween Eve in 1922 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a young vandal was shot in leg by an angry homeowner after the youth was seen cutting down clotheslines. For the 1956 Halloween, Tulsa police not only called out all available officers but also enlisted the aid of hundreds of Civil Defense volunteers in an effort to keep Halloween damage down as much as possible, as usual with very little success...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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