C of C Pamphlet Here Tells of Historic Past of City
Editor's Note: The following is an account of the attractions of Guthrie which was published several years ago by the Guthrie chamber of commerce. Its lively description of the early days of Guthrie was prepared by Gerald "Cowboy" Curtin, then secretary-manager of the chamber, and now publisher of the Watonga Republican.
Nesting amid fertile acres near the juncture of the Cottonwood and Cimarron rivers in Logan County, a few miles from the geographical center of Oklahoma, is Guthrie, a city of nearly 11,000 population, the birthplace of Oklahoma.
Though new in an atmosphere of sturdiness, Guthrie is old and steeped in the history of the 46th state of the nation...Guthrie's founding and development reads like a chapter from Arabian nights.
It was on April 22nd, 1889 at high noon, a salvo of shots from carbines split and electrified the air, a signal for settlers to rush into Oklahoma's Indian Lands and stake site for their future homes. Hundreds crowded the several trains that streamed down the Santa Fe with Guthrie as the focal point.
Thousands rode horses. Others made "the run" in buggies, buckboards, and heavy wagons. Before noon, on that eventful April 22, 1889, Guthrie was but a city prospective and a plot of virgin soil, untrodden save by the feet of the Indians and the sacrilegious "Sooner."
By the time the evening sun's last spring rays fleeted into obsurity, it was a tented city of nearly 20,000 souls.
Probably the settlement of no new state was attended with more thrilling episodes and incidents. A lone frame building, the U.S. Post Office, about 200 yards from the Santa Fe station was the only permanent structure. It was from the railroad station named after Judge John Guthrie, that the city received its name.
Nearly an hour after the high noon opening of this new empire, trains began steaming into the station carrying the hundreds of home seekers. They represented virtually every state in the union. History reports it in an amusing way. Baggage would come tumbling from the railroad cars as the train approached the station. Diving after it were the owners, who after retrieving, would dash up the hill to stake a lot for a future home or a future business. Additional impetus was given the bustling scene after the arrival of each train.
Blankets, tents, flags, streamers of every hue and color were bruoght into use, lending to the spirit of the occasion. This was the beginning of Guthrie. It followed President Benjamin Harrison's proclamation of March 23, 1889, setting that day as the official opening of the Oklahoma county.
Immediate action was taken to organize territorial government. A call was issued late in May, 1889, for a convention to meet at Guthrie on July 17. Imagine a situation where there was no law or rule to govern the people. Counties, cities, voting precincts, and election of territorial officers for the new territory were things to be done.
Guthrie was the center for all of this activity, hence it comes by its sobriquet, the "Birthplace of Oklahoma."
With a host of leaders and no law to govern, it is easy to conceive why Guthrie proper was municipalities. They were East Guthrie, West Guthrie, and Capitol Hill. Each elected its own city officers, its council and Updated its own laws. Two days after the opening, a few men conceived the idea of selecting and reserving a suitable place for the permanent capitol of the territory. Captiol Hill was an ideal place for the reservation.
Ten acres were needed but the settlers already had the area staked. Mayor Duer of Guthrie Proper, Mayor Edwards of East Guthrie, and F. H. Greer, editor of the Oklahoma State Capitol, called the people together with the aid of a bell and told them what was wanted.
The next morning every lot of the desired ten acres was vacated, but those efforts were in vain because a near score years later, after statehood, the vote of the people moved the capitol, tentatively located at Guthrie, to its present site at Oklahoma City.
Individual physical might and the six-shooter was the only law in those early hectic days of the city. Yet the history of Guthrie reveals no murders and little thievery. The major crime was "lot jumping." However, the will and sense of justice of stout hearted pioneers building a city in a new state was triumphant over all. Today in this prosperous city of modern stores and homes those pioneer and their kin are still living. Punctuated by moderness and back of its sturdy past, the possibility of age-old hardihood exists; the sight of farm wagons and trucks parked side by side with dozens of the newest automobiles is usual.
It represents an ordered activity within the peaceful environment of an agricultural area. Its City Hall, which housed the first territorial legislative assembly... still stands in use, shrouded with the lore which surrounded Guthrie's early history...
So, Guthrie, sired by alert and pioneering leaders and developed into one of Oklahoma's most thriving and substantial cities, justly is popular as an excellent place in which to live. Basicly supported by agriculture with the off industry, local manufacture and general business giving balance, Guthrie's prosperity cycle is an even one....
The copyright (s) on this page must appear on all
copied and/or printed material.