Oklahoma Timeline

Spain, England and France claimed the area at different times during Oklahoma's history. Fourteen flags, including those of four foreign nations, have flown over the territory that became Oklahoma.

  • The first known inhabitants of Oklahoma were the Osage, Quapaw, Caddo, Wichita, Waco, Tawakony, Kiowa, Comanche, the Apache, and several other tribes of Indians.
     

  • 1528-1536—Four survivors of Cabeca de Vaca's expedition, captured by the Indians, first saw the buffalo in the Red River valley and are supposed to have been taken through a portion of Oklahoma.
     

  • 1541—Francisco Vasquez de Coronado made an expedition from Mexico northward and is believed to have penetrated as far north as Northeastern Kansas, crossing Western Oklahoma. They named the Great Plains the "Llano Estacado."
     

  • 1541-42—Moscosco and a few survivors of DeSoto's exploring party are believed to have crossed one or more of the counties of Western Oklahoma.
     

  • 1549—Bonilla, Spanish explorer, explored far out on the Great Plains and is believed to have crossed one or more of the counties of Western Oklahoma.
     

  • 1601—Onate, Spanish governor of New Mexico, is believed to have passed through the western part of the state in search of Quivira, the land of supposedly fabulous wealth of gold.
     

  • 1611—A Spanish expedition was sent to the Wichita Mountains, and until 1629 Spanish missionaries labored among the tribes in that section.
     

  • 1650—Don del Castillo with a force of Spanish spent several months in the Wichita Mountains seeking gold. He found many pearls which he sent to the governor of New Mexico at Santa Fe.
     

  • 1655—The Crown of Great Britain made a grant for the colony of Carolina, embracing all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific between 30 degrees and 36 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude.
     

  • 1673—Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary. and Louis Joliet, a Quebec trader, floated down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Arkansas.
     

  • 1678-1682—Robert de la Salle explored the Mississippi to its mouth and claimed all land drained by that river and its tributaries for the King of France in whose honor he named the great region Louisiana.
     

  • 1714—Saint Denis from New Orleans ascended the Red River along the southern boundary of Oklahoma.
     

  • 1717—The Spanish under Padilla marched from the Spanish settlements on the Rio Grande across the Great Plains to punish the Comanche for making warfare on them. They fought a hard battle on the western border of Oklahoma and captured seven hundred prisoners.
     

  • 1719—Bernard de la Harpe, under direction of Governor Bienville at New Orleans, set out from Natchitoches on the Red River to explore the valley- of that stream. He passed over Southern and Southeastern Oklahoma.
     

  • 1723—New Orleans was proclaimed as the seat of government for the territory of Louisiana. Etienne Venyard du Bourgmount crossed Oklahoma, visiting the Pawnee, Kaw, Osage, Missouri, and then the Comanche on the Arkansas River in what is now Central Kansas. He loaded the Indians with presents in an effort to win their attachment to the French, thus beginning the rivalry with the Spanish for the Great Plains region.
     

  • 1739-40—Two brothers named Mallet and four companions ascended the Missouri River to the Platte, following that river to the Rocky Mountains. Skirting the mountains, the party went to Santa Fe, N. M, where they spent the winter, separating in the spring, three members of the party returned overland to the Missouri, while the other three passed down the Arkansas through Oklahoma.

  • 1760—Brevel, a French Creole trader from New Orleans, visited the Wichita Mountains in company with the Caddo Indians. He reported the Spaniards to be engaged in mining operations in the mountains at that time. Spanish priests were also present among the Indians.

  • 1763—The territory of Louisiana was secretly ceded to the Spanish by the French to prevent its falling into the hands of the British.
     

  • 1801—Louisiana was ceded back to the French by the Spanish.
     

  • 1803—Louisiana was purchased by President Thomas Jefferson for the United States for $15,000,000 cash and the assumption of obligations amounting to $3,750,000.
     

  • 1806—Captain Richard Sparks, Second United States Infantry, sought to explore the Red River but was met on the southern boundary of Oklahoma by a force of Spanish and compelled to return. Lieutenant Wilkinson of Zebulon Pike's exploring descended the Arkansas from a point near Great Bend, Kansas, to the settlements on the lower course of the river.
     

  • 1809—A band of Cherokee Indians made agreement with President Jefferson to move beyond the Mississippi River to what is now the state of Arkansas. These lands were ceded to them by treaty in 1817.
     

  • 1811.—The Salt Plains of the Cimarron and Salt Fork were explored by George C. Slbley, United States Indian Agent at fort Osage on the Missouri.
     

  • 1812—Oklahoma becomes part of Missouri Territory

  • 1817—Fort Smith was established as a military post, at the mouth of the Poteau on the Arkansas River. Federal Government starts sending Indians to the area. Indians sent from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. The state was divided amoung the Five Nations: Creek, Cherokee, Chichasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole.

  • 1819—Major William Bradford, stationed at Fort Smith, marched through Eastern Oklahoma to expel "intruders," most of whom were declared to be renegades and fugitives from the eastern states. He was accompanied by Thomas Nuttall, the noted botanist, who visited the valley of the Grand, Verdigris, Cimarron and the Deep Fork of the Canadian during the season.

  • 1819—Treaty was made with Spain whereby the Red River was to be the northern boundary of the Spanish possessions to the 100th meridian, following that meridian to the Arkansas River and the channel of that stream westward to the Continental Divide. Most of Oklahoma becomes part of Arkansas Territory

  • 1819-20—Major Stephen Long's party of engineers entered Western Oklahoma just north of the Canadian River, and following that river, believing it to be the Red River, landed at Fort Smith. His course was generally along the divide between the two Canadians

  • 1820—Choctaw treaty made with Generals Jackson and Thomas Hinds, subsequently ratified by the treaty at Washington in 1825 and the Dancing Rabbit Creek treaty in 1830.

  • 1821 Captain Nathan Prior, Hugh Glenn and Jacob Fowler left Fort Smith with a party of traders and trappers on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains. They crossed through Northern Oklahoma. Oklahoma Panhandle becomes part of Mexico

  • 1822—American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions established a mission school on the Grand River for the Osage Indians, a few miles north of the spot upon which Cantonment Gibson was built.

  • 1824—Forts Gibson and Towson were established.

  • 1825—First treaty made with the Creeks for their removal from Georgia. This treaty was confirmed by the treaties of 1826 and 1832. The Santa Fe Trail, crossing what is now Texas and Cimarron Counties, was laid out.

  • 1826— Eastern boundary of Oklahoma from Red River to Arkansas was surveyed.

  • 1828—Treaty made with the Cherokees of Georgia by which they were to move on a reservation of 7,000,000 acres, west of Arkansas, with an outlet to the region of the Great Plains.

  • 1830—By act of Congress provision was made for the establishing of the Indian Territory.

  • 1832— The Seminole treaty was signed, but was unheeded by the tribe. In 1836 they were provoked into hostilities and in 1842 were forcibly removed to the Indian Territory. Chickasaw treaty was signed at Pontotoc Creek, Mississippi, and the tribe came to Indian Territory. A company of mounted rangers under command of Captain Nathan Boone from the Osage Agency, near Fort Gibson, marched westward to a point near Guthrie and then turning south passed between the sites of Oklahoma City and El Reno, and thence southeastward across Cleveland and Pottawatomie Counties and to Fort Gibson.

  • 1833—War broke out between Osage and Kiowa Indians and General Henry Leavenworth with a body of troops marched westward to a point between Anadarko and the Wichita Mountains and thence southwestward through the Wichitas, in an effort to pacify the warring tribes. This led to a general peace council at Fort Gibson.

  • 1835—Second treaty made with Cherokees in Mississippi in February with John Ross as principal chief of the tribe. The Cherokees became dissatisfied with the amount fixed by the United States Senate for their lands, which Ross sought to refer to a general council of his people for deliberation. A meeting held in October resulted in the tribe refusing to consider the offer. At a second council called by the government in December only a few of the Cherokees were present. A treaty was perfected with the few present and the Senate ratified this, making the official proclamation May 23, 1836.

  • 1835-36—Fort Holmes was established by the American Fur Company of St. Louis as a trading post with the southwestern tribes. Fort Holmes was abandoned three years later when a trading post was established in the southern part of what is now Cleveland County. Choteau, a trading post on the west bank of Cache Creek, near the present site of Lawton , was also established.

  • 1836—The main body of the Creek tribe moved to their new reservation.

  • 1837—The Chickasaws and Choctaws made a treaty near Fort Towson by which the Chickasaws purchased a joint interest in the granted Choctaw Reservation. The treat witch the Kiowa, Apache, and Tawakony was signed. The Cherokee Outlet was surveyed by the Rev. Isaac McCoy.

  • 1838—A force of 2,000 troops under command of General Winfield Scott forcibly moved the Cherokees west.

  • 1839—As a culmination of the feeling between the "Treaty" and "Anti-Treaty" factions of the Cherokees, Major Ridge Elias Boudinot and John Ross were killed. Civil war in the tribe threatened for a time. Bill was introduced in Congress providing for the organization of the Indian Territory. It was submitted to the several tribes but was not largely approved and no action was taken.

  • 1834-39-40—Santa Fe traders made the trip across Oklahoma from Fort Smith and Van Buren in each of these years under military escort.

  • 1842—Fort Washita was established twenty-two miles above the mouth of the Washita River

  • 1843—Captain Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, made a second exploring expedition through the valleys of the Arkansas and Cimarron and their tributaries.

  • 1845—Texas was annexed to the United States. Panhandle "No Man's Land" included in Texas lands.

  • 1845-48—Between these years 7,000 Choctaws moved from Alabama and Mississippi to the tribal reservation.

  • 1846—The government succeeded in getting the factions of the Cherokee tribe to sign a treaty between themselves. War broke out with the Kiowas and Comanches.

  • l849—A part of California gold seekers crossed the state from Fort Smith and Van Buren, following the valley of the Canadian.

  • 1850—Texas relinquished all claims to the land north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes. The establishment of the bounds of New Mexico left the so-called "No-Man's-Land" unattached to any state, territory or Indian reservation. Lieutenant J. H. Simpson laid out an overland trail across Oklahoma from east to west. The route followed the Canadian to a point in what is now the southern part of Cleveland County, on the north side of the river. There a crossing was made to the south side and the trail continued to a point in the northern part of Caddo County where it crossed over into the valley of the Washita, re-entering the Canadian in Roger Mills County.

  • 1851—Fort Arbuckle was established near the Wichita Mountains.

  • 1852.—Captain R. B. Marcy led a surveying and exploring expedition up the Red River. Some mistakes made in his map are declared to have resulted in the dispute over the Greer County boundary.

  • 1853.—First attempt was made by the Cherokee and Creek to perfect a treaty with the plains tribes. A peace council was held by the government with the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches, and a part of the terms was that the government should make a yearly allowance of $18,000 for the ensuing ten years.

  • 1854—Captain Patrick Calhoun, son of John C. Calhoun, Ied an expedition against the hostile Indians in the Wichita Mountains and in the valley of the Red River from Western Texas. Great hardships were experienced in the winter months by the command. Captain Calhoun dying four years later as a result of his broken health caused by the trying winter of the campaign in Southeastern Oklahoma.

  • 1855—The Chickasaws and Choctaws signed an agreement by which the Chickasaws obtained their political separation on payment of $150,000.

  • 1856—A part of the Creek Reservation was set aside by a treaty with the government for the Seminoles.

  • 1857—Fort Gibson was abandoned as an army post. It was afterwards garrisoned by Confederate and then Federal troops, being finally abandoned in 1890. The Choctaws and Chickasaws adopted new tribal constitutions.

  • 1858—The north boundary line of Oklahoma was surveyed by Lieutenant Joseph E. Johnson, afterward famous as a Confederate general. Camp Radziminski was established in the southern portion of Kiowa County.

  • 1859—Fort Cobb was established in the Washita Valley.

  • 1861—The Choctaw Council on February 7 adopted resolutions declaring their affiliation and sympathy with rhe Southern States in the Civil War. Fort Smith was captured by the Confederate forces April 23; Fort Arbuckle, Fort Cobb, and Fort Washita were abandoned by the Union forces and occupied by the Confederates. The Chickasaw legislature, by resolution, allied themselves with the Confederate States. The Indian Territory was declared to be under the military control of the Confederacy May 13. Albert PIke, special commissioner of the Confederate states, signed a treaty at Eufaula with the members of the Choctaw, Chickasaws, Creek, and Seminole Nations July 10-12 and August 1. The Cherokees in council signed a treaty of alliance and friendship with the Confederate States October 7. Alliance and friendship treaties were signed by Commissioner Pike with representatives from parts of the Comanche, Wichita, Waco, Caddo, Anadarko, Tawakony, Tonkawa, Keechi, and Delawares August 12 at Anadarko, with the Osage, Quapaws, Senecas and Shawnees October 2-4. The major portion of the Osages and the Shawnees remained loyal to the national government. Many Indians of the respective tribes, also remained loyal to the Union and fought in the Union Armies.

  • 1865—General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate Army surrendered at Fort Smith May 26. The Indians under General Douglas H. Cooper refused to enter into the compact with the Confederates, declaring for a separate agreement of surrender with the Union forces. This surrender was effected June 23 at Doaksville, Choctaw Nation. The Chisholm Trail was laid out from the present site of Wichita, Kansas to the Wichita-Caddo Agency, where Anadarko is now located.

  • 1866—The new Seminole treaty was signed March 21, is being the first with the Indians who had allied themselves with the Confederacy. This joint Chickasaw-Choctaw treaty was signed April 28; the Creek treaty, June 24; and the Cherokee, July 19.

  • 1867—Removal of the Kansas tribes to Northeastern Indian Territory. Medicine Lodge treaty was signed with Kiowas, Comanches, Apaches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes.

  • 1868—Removal of the Shawnees from Eastern Kansas to the Cherokee country. Congress passed an act that there should be nor more treaties with the Indians. General George A. Custer waged the Washita Valley campaign.

  • 1870—The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad began laying its tracks into the Indian Territory.

  • 1872—The Atlantic and Pacific Railway was built, effecting a junction with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas at Vinita.

  • 1869-72—Quakers were appointed as Indian agents for the Wichita-Caddo and affiliated tribes.

  • 1871-72—Indian raids in the southwest were renewed under Satanta. Satanta, Satank, and Bit Tree were arrested for their raids in Texas, found guilty at Jacksboro, Texas, on charges of murder and sentenced to be hanged, but sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

  • 1872—The Five Civilized Tribes met with the plains tribes at Fort Cobb and endeavored to get them to leave the warpath.

  • 1874—The last outbreak on the part of the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho was made. Peace was restored the following year.

  • 1875—First cattle ranches were established in Western Indian Territory.

  • 1877—The Northern Cheyennes were brought to Fort Reno from Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

  • 1878—A band of the Northern Cheyennes under the leadership of Dull Knife went on a raid and were permitted to return to the North. The remainder of the Cheyennes were escorted to the Pine Ridge Agency in 1883.

  • 1879—The Carpenter Colony of settlers from Kansas City, MO, made the first attempt to enter the unassigned lands, known as Oklahoma. They were ejected by troops under command of General Wesley Merritt. Another was organized at Topeka, Kansas, under J. R. Boyd, and one was organized in Texas to operate from Caddo, Indian Territory. The Carpenter Colony entered near what is now Coffyville, Kansas. May 7.

  • 1880—The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe built its line to Caldwell, Kansas, on the northern border of Indian Territory. Captain David L. Payne and his colony of settlers crossed into Oklahoma locating in Oklahoma County, where they were apprehended by the troops, taken to Fort Reno, later escorted to the Kansas line by soldiers, and released June 7. Within a month Captain Payne returned to Oklahoma and was arrested a second time and taken to Fort Reno and from there to Fort Smith where he was released without bond.

  • 1881—Stockmen of the Cherokee Strip met at Caldwell, Kansas, for the discussion of common interests. This was the beginning of the movement which culminated in the organization of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association two years later. Captain Payne brought suit in the United States Court at Topeka, Kansas, for damages on account of his forcible removal from the territory. He was frustrated by repeated postponements and in the fall he went to Texas where he organized his second colony. They came to Oklahoma and encamped on Cache Creek but were expelled by the troops.

  • 1882—Cattlemen began fencing ranches in the Cherokee Strip. Payne went to Washington, D. C. to consult with the Secretary of the Interior in regard to the status of the Oklahoma land, but received no satisfaction. Returning, he organized a third colony and was arrested again and taken to Fort Reno, and thence to Fort Smith, but the case was continued on the motion of the district attorney, and Payne began organizing his followers for a fourth attempt to affect a settlement in Oklahoma.

  • 1883—Payne made another attempt to settle Oklahoma with a colony of several hundred persons. They made their way into the valley of the North Canadian where he was again arrested and taken to Fort Reno while his followers were escorted by th troops to the Kansas border. Payne sought to obtain an injunction against the military authorities in the district court at Topeka in July. A band of 250 "Boomers" from Arkansas City left in August for Oklahoma, but Payne was not with them. He and three associates were arrested at Wichita and formally indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, and in the meanwhile the injunction proceedings were postponed from time to time.

  • 1884—Oklahoma "boomers" began to settle the country singly instead of coming in a body, but as fast as the settlers were removed others followed. Payne and seven other leaders were arrested August 9 at Rock Falls, four miles south of Hunnewell, Kansas, in the Cherokee Strip on a charge of conspiracy by intruding on Indian lands. Judge C. C. Foster, of the United States District Court, held that the title to the land in Oklahoma was vested in the United States, and therefore settlement by citizens was not a criminal offense. This was Payne's first and only real victory in the courts. Captain Payne died suddenly at Wellington, Kansas, November 27, and it was but a few days later when Representatives Sidney Clarke, James B. Weaver of Iowa, and W. M. Springer of Illinois, aligned themselves behind a bill providing for the opening and settlement of Oklahoma. Representative Clarke introduced the bill.

  • 1885—W. L. Couch, on of Payne's lieutenants, moved from the Kansas line at the head of a large colony of ":boomers" little more than a month after the death of Payne. The party reached the valley of Stillwater Creek, where they encamped, laid out a town, and staked claims, but were driven out at the point of guns to the Kansas border. Couch and twelve leaders were arrested on a charge of treason in January and were placed in jail in Wichita. The Oklahoma lands were declared Indian lands by President Cleveland March 13. The cattlemen were notified by the military authorities to move, but no record is had that they heeded the notice. Couch and his companions were released some weeks later when General Hatch, who had ousted them from Stillwater Creek failed to appear at the trial. President Cleveland issued a proclamation ordering the removal of the cattle ranch fences from the ranges of Oklahoma, August 7. The last effort at colonization was under the leadership of Couch during the fall but the colonists were removed by Lieutenant Colonel E. V. Summer, Fifth Cavalry, November 10. The beginning of construction work on the new railroad from Arkansas City south to Fort Worth, Texas, was begun. This gave the "boomers" inspiration that the lands would soon be opened to settlement.

  • 1886—The Santa Fe was completed north and south across the country.

  • 1887—Immigration of settlers into "No-Man's-Land" began.

  • 1889—U. S. purchases "Unassigned Lands" and "No Man's Land" from Indians. The Oklahoma Bill was passed by the House of Representatives early in February but Senator Preston B. Plumb of Kansas made an impassioned speech when it was reported from the Senate committee on territories and the measure failed to pass, but the famous "rider" on the Indian appropriation bill, opening Oklahoma to settlement, was passed by Congress and it became a law March 3, 1889. March 23, President Harrison issued the proclamation naming April 22 at 12 noon as the day and hour of opening. First land run, about 50,000 people.

  • 1890—The organic act was passe and became a law May 2, giving the land an organized form of territorial government. Territorial government established - capital at Guthrie. The population of the Indian Territory as reported by the federal census was 179,321, of which number 50,616 were Indians. The population of Oklahoma was given at 61,834. The reported coming of an Indian Messiah caused much unrest among the Indians west of the Mississippi and the Indians in Western Oklahoma began holding a series of "ghost dances" which cause considerable excitement among the settlers. Apiatan, a Kiowa leader, exploded the story by making a trip to a remote part of Nevada, where he is reported to have found the reputed Messiah and ascertained that he was an imposter. George W. Steele of Indiana was appointed territorial governor May 22. First election for choosing members of legislature was held August 5.

  • 1891—A. J. Seay was appointed territorial governor October 18. The surplus lands of the Sac and Fox, the Iowa, and the Shawnee-Pottawatomie Reservations were opened to settlement September 22.

  • 1893—Governor A. J. Seay was removed from office by President Cleveland in May and W. C. Renfrow was appointe to fill the vacancy. The Cherokee Outlet and the surplus lands of the Pawnee and Tonkawa Reservations were opened to settlement September 16. President Cleveland appointed ex-Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, Meredith H. Kidd of Indiana, and Archibald S. McKennon of Arkansas, members of the Dawes Commission November 1. Dennis T. Flynn, delegate from Oklahoma Territory in Congress, introduced a bill in the Fifty-third Congress providing for the admission of Oklahoma and Indian Territories as a joint state. Second land run, about 100,000 people

  • 1895—In May the Kickapoo surplus lands were opened to settlement.

  • 1896— A statehood convention was held in Oklahoma City, January 8. Two separate calls had been issued for the meeting, one by the supporters of the joint statehood movement and the other for the separate statehood idea. The meeting was disrupted soon after it convened. Two chairmen were elected by the rival factions and a wrangle resulted which was stopped only the the lights being turned out. Greer County, Texas was made a part of Oklahoma by act of Congress, approved May 4.

  • 1897—Cassius M. Barnes was appointed in April by President McKinley to succeed Governor Renfrow whose term of office had expired. First oil boom at Bartlesville brings thousands more settlers.

  • 1898—Spanish-American war broke out and many young men from Oklahoma and the Indian Territories answered the calls for troops.

  • 1899—The Curtis bill was passed in February.

  • 1901—The Crazy Snake "uprising" was advertised in a sensational manner by newspapers, when some of the Creeks refused to accept allotments. A faction elected Chitto Harjo chief and he called a special meeting of the National Council. He was later arrested with several of his followers, when much excitement had been stirred up, and was confined in jail for a time.

  • 1901—Gas and oil were discovered in the vicinity of Tulsa, Red Fork, Sapulpa and other towns of the Creek Nation early in the spring. William M. Jenkins was appointed governor April 15 to succeed Governor Barnes. The reservations of the Kiowa, Comanche, Wichita, Caddo, Apache and the affiliated tribes were opened to settlement by registration July 9. The drawings began August 6. Governor Jenkins was removed from office by President Theodore Roosevelt and Thompson B. Ferguson was named his successor November 30.

  • 1902—The senate committee on territories visited Oklahoma in the fall. A bill providing for single statehood of the two territories was reported out by the Senate committee when Congress met in December, but the bill became involved with the New Mexico-Arizona Statehood question and action was deferred.

  • 1905—The Sequoyah Constitutional Convention met in Muskogee in July. William H. Murray was chosen President. It proposed the formation of a separate state of the Indian Territory to be maned Sequoyah.

  • 1906—Oklahoma and Indain Territores combined. Land obtained by land lotteries. All of Oklahoma west of the territory of the Five Civilized Tribed had been opened to settlement. Western Oklahoma had reached its present area and shape.

  • 1907—Oklahoma becomes the 46th state. Frank Frantz was appointed to succeed Governor T. B. Ferguson, whose term of office had expired. Congress passed the single statehood bill and it became a law June 14. Under the provisions of the enabling act, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in Guthrie November 20 and was in session almost continuously until the latter part of April of the following year.

  • 1907—Election of first state officials was held Saturday, November 16. C. N. Haskell, Democrat, of Muskogee, was chosen first governor, defeating Frank Frantz, territorial governor, and candidate of the Republican Party.

  • 1910—Lee Cruce, Democrat, was elected governor, defeating Joe McNeal of Guthrie, the candidate of the Republican Party. State Capital moved from Guthrie to Oklahoma City.

     

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