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Arresting Behavior

January 22, 2003

Almanac Transcript

Arresting behavior this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

It seems that almost every stage of Oklahomaís development as a state involved some sort of illegal or immoral activity, and the initial attempt at settling the unassigned land is a perfect case in point. Land taken away from the tribal lands sat for almost thirty years in the middle of what is now Oklahoma unused and virtually abandoned by the US Government, tribal nations were forced to vacate the area as part of their punishment for siding with the south during the civil war, and Euro-Americans were not allowed into the area.

Many people felt that these unassigned lands, once called Americaís desert, were now prime farm sites and should be put to good use. "Boomers," as they were called, utilized legal and illegal means in an attempt to force the US government to open this island of unused land.

The most notable of this group was David L. Payne. Payne, using Kansas border towns as headquarters, organized groups of interested Boomers, or "squatters," and led them to various locations in what is now Payne, Lincoln and Oklahoma counties. One of the preferred sites of the Boomers lay on the southern edge of present day Stillwater. The reliable water source at that location provided the creek, and eventually the town, with the name Stillwater, as in, "there is still water there."

These forays and settlement attempts made by Payne and his followers were in every sense of the word, illegal, and at times gun battles erupted between the determined Boomers and U.S. Military forces sent to return them to Kansas. Dug-in and well armed, government forces in some instances were forced to call in batteries of artillery to displace the trespassers.

Payne led dozens of settlement trips into what is now Oklahoma, and in this week, in 1882, he led his followers on an attempt to establish what he thought would be the capital of the new land. Oddly enough, he chose as his capital site the exact location of present day Oklahoma City. It was in this week of 1882 that Payne and others invaded the region and began platting out the new city. Lots were surveyed, a stockade built and wells dug before the cavalry discovered the intruders forcing them back to Kansas. The determined Payne died two years later in 1884, five years before his precious unassigned lands opened for settlement in 1889.

Boomer Sooners in trouble with the law, once again, this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

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

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