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Indian Territory Interlopers and
Cocaine Fiends from T-Town

January 24, 2001

Historian's Notes

A LOT of Oklahomans get Boomers and Sooners mixed up and it's easy to understand why: both entered the state early and illegally. This segment is meant to help clear up some of the misunderstanding surrounding the Boomer movement.

The Tulsa cocaine fiends story I included to reveal to listeners the fact that cities have always had problems with drug abuse and it seems to matter very little if the drugs are legal or not. Also, it's kind of funny as well.

Resources for "Territory Interlopers":

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

Resources for "Cocaine Fiends from T-Town":

Tulsa Daily Democrat. 1900.

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 Indian Territory interlopers and cocaine fiends from T-Town make the news.

Late in the year of 1884 a wagon train of Boomers crossed the Cherokee Strip of Indian Territory on their way to the unassigned lands near the middle of what is now Oklahoma. The Boomers, under the leadership of W. L. Couch, stopped near the present day town of Stillwater choosing a site on Stillwater Creek as their permanent camp.

The unassigned lands desired by the group were off limits to any settlers and the "Boomers," as they were called, felt that these lands should be opened to white settlement. The encroachment onto the unassigned lands was illegal and punishable with fines and prison time, but the Boomers forged ahead undaunted. After about a month at their Stillwater site a small contingent of U.S. cavalry confronted the Boomers ordering them to move. Armed to the teeth and ready to fight, the Boomers refused to leave. A much larger force of cavalry soon surrounded the Boomer encampment cutting them off from food or supplies. It was in this week January 26th, 1885 that the Boomers finally gave up on their dream of Stillwater and were escorted back across the Kansas border facing fines and prison sentences upon their return.

For many years the drug Cocaine was legal and available from the nearest pharmacy. Addiction rates and abuse of the drug were rampant in every large city and Tulsa was no different. It was in this week in 1900 that the Tulsa Police Department arrested four of the cities largest cocaine “fiends” as the police department labeled such addicts. Three of the men were picked up on vagrancy charges, and the fourth was arrested for public intoxication and indecent exposure after he removed his clothes in the middle of the street in order to bathe in a nearby creek. Fines for the fiendish four included ten days in jail for the nudist, ten dollar fines for two of the addicts while the fourth was given half an hour to leave town or face jail time as well as a fine.

Arrested Boomers and early day drug busts this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Kite.

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

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