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Pharmacy History of Oklahoma

Pharmacy History of Oklahoma


Submitted by: Mark Ekiss, R. Ph., Curator of the
Oklahoma Frontier Drug Store Museum
214 West Oklahoma Street
Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044


Oklahoma's recorded history began with the Spanish explorers who crossed the area looking for gold. Coronado circled through the state in 1541.
In 1803 Napoleon sold the Louisiana purchase to the United States. Except for the Panhandle, all the land that was to become Oklahoma became part of the United States at that time.
Oklahoma became a haven of refuge for all the Indian tribes. They were first settled from the southern states and later tribes from all over the United States and other Territories were settled here.
After the Civil War some Indian lands were assigned by tribes to the U. S. In the center of the Indian Territory was an area of 2,000,000 acres that were not assigned to any tribe. These "Unassigned Lands" became the goal of homesteaders. Pressure was put on Congress, and in 1889 legislation was passed opening these lands for settlement.
People would be allowed to enter the area only after twelve noon on April 22, 1889 to stake their claims. This would be the famous "Run of 89". Those who tried or did settle illegally before noon were called "Sooners". At the appointed hour on this opening day 50,000 persons were lined up on the four sides of the area. They came on horseback, by train, by buggy, and on foot. By nightfall all the claims were taken. Tent cities sprag up where homeseekers had staked town lots in El Reno, Kingfisher, Norman, Oklahoma City, Edmond, Stillwater, and Guthrie. Six counties were formed out of the new land. They were Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian, Kingfisher, and Payne.
No provision was made for government of any kind in the new land for over a year. On May 2, 1890 Congress passed the Organic Act which made Oklahoma Territory. The Panhandle, which was land given up by Texas in 1850, was added to make the seventh county, Beaver. Guthrie was the capitol of the new Territory of Oklahoma. The population in 1890 was 60, 417.
There were three more "runs" between 1889 and 1895 to open up an additional 9,868,076 acres. Oklahoma won long disputed Greer County from Texas in 1896. Lotteries opened more lands and by 1906 all of the land west of the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes has been settled. In 1905, an attempt was made for Indian Territory, the area of the Five Tribes, to be admitted as a separate state. This failed and in 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Enabling Act providing for the joining of the twin territories into a single state.
As a territory Oklahoma had executive and judicial branches of government, a legislature, and a delegate to Congress. Schools were established. Boards to oversee the various professions were established, including a Board of Pharmacy.
A "pharmacy Law" to establish some qualifications for the practice of pharmacy and to limit that practice to qualified practitioners was passed in Oklahoma Territory in 1891, and in Indian Territory in 1904. After Oklahoma became a state in 1907, it was two years, in 1909, before a state "Pharmacy Law" was enacted.
The Oklahoma Territorial Pharmaceutical Association was formed in 1890. The Indian Territory Pharmaceutical Association was formed in 1895. When, in 1907, the Territory of Oklahoma and Indian Territory were formed into the State of Oklahoma, the respective pharmaceutical associations were merged into the Oklahoma Pharmaceutical Association.
The first drug stores came to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and the first pharmacies did their business out of a tent. Not enough pharmacists wanted to leave their established homes and business in the other states and come to Oklahoma; thus, a shortage of pharmacists existed. In 1893 the new University of Oklahoma responded to a demand made by those in the drug and prescription business for a Department that would fit young men and women for the very responsible position of preparing and compounding medicines. The Secretary of the Oklahoma Pharmaceutical Association at the time was the head of the Chemistry Department of the University, Dr. Edwin DeBarr. He became recognized as the first Dean of Pharmacy in the state.
The territorial board of pharmacy consisted of three members, appointed by the governor. Each held office for three years and one was appointed each year. The board sat during the first week of January, of April, of July and October to examine candidates who wanted to obtain a license to practice pharmacy in the territory.
In 1907 all those engaged in the drug business for six months prior to Statehood were given license to continue to fill prescriptions and manage their stores.
License number one from the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy was issued to Foress B. Lillie of Guthrie in March, 1908. The Board of Pharmacy gradually raised the requirements for entering the profession, and in 1919 a law was passed which was to become fully effective in 1923. This act required not only high school graduation, but also graduation from a recognized College of Pharmacy before application could be made to take the examination for a fully registered pharmacist.
After a constitutional convention, election of state officers and congressional delegates, and ratification of the constitution, Oklahoma was declared a state on November 16, 1907. The Enabling Act made Guthrie the state capitol. In 1913 a state vote chose Oklahoma City as the capitol and the state seal was quickly moved there.
Oklahoma now had a State Board of Pharmacy. Composed of three members, appointed by the governor. Each held office for three years and one was appointed each year. They met in January, April, July and October to give examinations. Graduates of the School of Pharmacy of the university who had one year of practical experience were registered without examination. In 1907 the Secretary of the board was Dr. J. C. Burton, of Stroud.


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