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GOVERNOR OF OKLAHOMA
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1902.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.
TERRITORY OF OKLAHOMA,
Guthrie, Okla., September 15, 1902. Sir: Complying with instructions in your letter dated July 5 of the present year, I, as governor of Oklahoma, have the honor to submit a report on the general conditions of the Territory for the year ending June 30, 1902.
In submitting this report, permit me to say that Oklahoma is in every respect qualified to take a place among the States of the Union. In population, wealth, and education she is eminently fitted for immedate statehood. No reasonable argument can be made against it, while the Territory has a vast array of logical arguments in favor of early admission. Very respectfully,
THOMPSON B. FERGUSON,
Governor. Hon. E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D. C.
Oklahoma was formed from a portion of that vast tract of land known as the Louisiana Purchase. "For more than two hundred years prior to the time of the acquisition of this land by the United States, people of the Old World, particularly the Spaniards, entertained exaggerated ideas of great treasures of gold and silver which might be obtained by him who was fortunate enough to reach the fabled fairyland of the Southwest in safety. The adventurers of old failed to find the riches of the land which the home seeker of recent years has produced from the fertile soil with his plow and hoe. The dream of gold and silver has been realized from the great wheat and cotton fields.
The country of which Oklahoma is a part has been visited by many noted explorers and travelers, each intent upon his own object in wandering over the land. De Soto, with his band of adventurers, sought there for wealth long years before it was even dreamed that anyone would inhabit that then wild and rer ote region of the earth.
Lewis and Clarke, the early American explorers, Washington Irving, the magic word weaver, at one time traversed that land of beauty and romance.
Oklahoma was formed because of the demands of a great class of energetic people who must have a country in which to give vent to the spirit of progress which was swaying and urging them on, who longed to break away from the environments of the older States and to form a new empire in the Southwest. Year after year a little band of energetic Westerners known as Oklahoma “boomers," led by Payne and Couch, endeavored to convince Congress of the necessity of the new State. It was a struggle, long and weary, to those most interested. From about the year 1872 to March, 1889, the boomers haunted the balls of Congress, when at last their faithful efforts were rewarded by an act which provided for opening to settlement on April 22, 1889, original Oklahoma, composed of nearly 3,000,000 acres of fertile land in the center of the Territory. The country was opened at noon on that day and taken possession of by people who were waiting along the line on every side-some on fleet-footed horses, others on foot, and thousands in covered wagons with their families and all their worldly goods, determined to obtain a home in the coveted land. It was a sight never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The thousands of immigrants pouring in from all directions demonstrated how much the country was needed and wanted by the home builder. By dark on April 22 but little of original Oklahoma remained without a settler, and great cities were built up almost by magic. The Territorial form of government was established in June, 1990, and about that time No Man's Land, now Beaver County, of 3,681,000 acres, was added to Oklahoma. In September, 1891, 1,282,434 acres in the Sac and Fox and Pottawatomie Indian reservations were opened to settlement in the same manner as that of the original opening. The next lands to be allotted and given to the homesteader were the Cheyenne and Arapaho reservations, in April, 1892. These lands bounded original Oklahoma on the west and comprised 4,297,771 acres, forming the western parts of Kingfisher and Canadian counties and the whole of Blaine, Dewey, Day, Washita, Custer, and Roger Mills counties. September 16, 1893, witnessed a rush of people for homes equally as great as characterized the first opening. The Cherokee Strip, containing 6,014,239 acres of exceptionally rich land, lying along the northern border of Oklahoma, was at that time given to the white settler, and was divided into seven counties-Kay, Grant, Woods, Garfield, Woodward, Noble, and Pawnee. The strip was opened by the booth system, each person being required to obtain a booth certificate from the
proper authorities. It was believed that this was the best way to prevent
soonerism.” In 1895 the Kickapoo Reservation, comprising 206,662 acres, was opened to settlement. "In 1896 Greer County, claimed by Texas, was added to Oklahoma by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oklahoma acquired no more territory until August 6, 1901. The Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Wichita reservations were opened by the registration system and formed into three counties, Kiowa, Comanche, and Caddo. This was undoubtedly the most successful of all the openings in Oklahoma, and was followed by very few contests.
With this addition of 4,000,000 acres Oklahoma has an area of 24,223,205 acres, settled by wide-awake, busy home builders from North, South, East, and West, every State in the Union being represented.
Geographically Oklahoma is a Southern State, but the habits and occupations of the people are more like those of the North. The climate closely resembles that of Tennessee. The agricultural products are similar to those of southern Kansas. As a fruit-growing country Oklahoma is without a rival. The water supply is abundant, of the best quality, and found from 15 to 45 feet below the surface. The soil in most portions is a rich red, very productive, prairie predominating, although there is a vast amount of valley and river bottom land that for richness is unsurpassed in any State in the Union.
There is considerable timber throughout Oklahoma, among which beautiful cedar trees grow in abundance. A large quantity of Oklahoma cedar was recently shipped to Germany for use in the manufacture of pencils.
The great natural resources of Oklahoma, combined with the brain, energy, and push of her citizens, have made her what she is to-daythe most progressive of any of the Western Commonwealths. A story that would sound like a fairy tale might be truthfully written of the progress and advancement of the Territory of Oklahoma, the “Land of the Fair God,” which is now anxiously waiting to be placed on equal footing with the States, many of whom were half a century in reaching the standard that this young giant of the Southwest has attained in thirteen years. The facts and figures submitted in this report illustrate more substantially than words can do the true state of affairs. The schools, colleges, churches, and other public enterprises show what manner of people live in beautiful Oklahoma.
The first lands opened to settlement in Oklahoma were free. In 1900 Congress granted free homes to the settlers of the other lands in Oklahoma. In 1901 the lands now embraced in the counties of Kiowa, Caddo, and Comanche were opened to settlement. It would seem that the free homestead policy should in justice be extended to this newlyacquired portion of Oklahoma.
The population of Oklahoma, as shown by the returns of the county assessors, is 511,480. This shows a gain over 1901 of 143,149, or nearly 36 per cent. This enumeration indicates an average of 14 persons to the square
mile on an area of 38,830 square miles. The three new counties of Comanche, Caddo, and Kiowa have a combined population of 73,833. As a result of the system of drawing for claims, which was instituted at the opening of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Indian Reservation for settlement, the fortunate holders of winning numbers came from every State in the Union as well as some from foreign countries.
Our people are intelligent and well educated, the percentage of illiteracy being only 54 per cent, which compares well with the Northern and Eastern States, and is much lower than any other Commonwealth in the same latitude.
According to the census report of 1900 the percentage of foreign born is about 4 per cent. Also, according to the same authority, the proportion of males and females is 54 per cent male to 46 per cent female. Of the male population over 15 years of age, 54 per cent