European white settlers early in the seventeenth century looked wistfully west at over 3 million square miles of to them essentially vacant land since it had no fences and few inhabitants of settled lands who even understood the concept of “property.” Many whites from England were younger sons disinherited by primogeniture who emigrated to obtain their own land. It didn’t take them long to take much of it by force and two more centuries by law, but by April 22, 1889 50,000 of aspiring land owners raced into two million acres of unassigned lands in Oklahoma Territory and began immediately to clamor for statehood.

Indian Territory

European white settlers early in the seventeenth century looked wistfully west at over 3 million square miles of to them essentially vacant land since it had no fences and few inhabitants of settled lands who even understood the concept of “property.” Many whites from England were younger sons disinherited by primogeniture who emigrated to obtain their own land. It didn’t take them long to take much of it by force and two more centuries by law, but by April 22, 1889 50,000 of aspiring land owners raced into two million acres of unassigned lands in Oklahoma Territory and began immediately to clamor for statehood.

The Oklahoma Enabling Act of 1906 authorized the Eastern Indian Territory and west Oklahoma Territories to “marry” in a ceremony held Nov. 16, 1907 on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Guthrie—the first State Capitol. My Dad, placed on a limb of a tree on the library lawn by my Grandfather, observed the ceremony. [Children in trees are in official photos.]

Since the ‘Run’ Guthrie was considered the State Capitol but in 1910 OKC civic leaders of larger OKC engineered an election to move the Capitol. OKC won, Guthrie was second, and Shawnee was third. [A few houses in the near north side Shawnee were built in anticipation of winning.] Soon thereafter Secretary of State Bill Cross came to Guthrie in the middle of the night and carried off the State seal from the Logan County Courthouse and took it to Governor Haskell then ensconced in the Huckins Hotel. My Dad always referred to that incident as, “When OKC stole the State Capitol from Guthrie.”

Santa Fe RR

The U.S. acquired the “West”, meaning essentially everything beyond the east bank of the Mississippi River with Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but widespread settlement wasn’t possible until Lincoln’s sponsorship of the Transcontinental Railroad across the newly-acquired territory. In 1884 the Southern [aka Southwestern?] Kansas Railway Co., a subsidiary of the Santa Fe RR was authorized by Congress to lay tracks through the Unassigned Lands in what would become Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s geology changes approximately where both the Santa Fe RR and modern I-35 run. East of there hills, trees, and mountains make rail and road construction difficult and expensive. That juncture forms the N-S line bifurcating the state. West of it are grassy prairies affording much easier, cheaper road construction. It was on that line they built the Santa Fe line.

If you notice many states placed their capitals in the center of their states to make travel equidistant from its borders. Often the site was equidistant from the two largest cities competing for the capital such as Columbia, Missouri. Hence, OKC is in the N-S center of the State. They named their station in the vicinity of Bricktown ‘Oklahoma Station.’ The Post Office did not change the name to ‘Oklahoma City’ until July 1,1923. Until then it was simply ‘Oklahoma, Okla.’ The earliest settlers traveled to the Territory on the Santa Fe line from Topeka.

The jumping off place on the Santa Fe into the Territories was Arkansas City with major stops between there and Oklahoma Station in Red Rock and Guthrie. My great grandfather came Mattoon, Illinois to Chicago where he caught the Santa Fe through St. Louis, Topeka, Arkansas City, Red Rock to Guthrie probably after the terrible Panic of 1893-7—nearly as severe as the Great Depression.

The Santa Fe line bisects the state between its two Territories through downtown OKC beside Bricktown. They built feeder lines to wheat areas giving it 1475 miles of track in a spider-web configuration. Many towns grew up along their rails and were named for either the local Postmaster or Station Agent of one of the railroads.

Logan County

Occupation of Indian Territory owes much to the railroads. Most of all we owe the federal government for both the legislation required to filch the land from the Indians and for surveying property, establishing post offices, and granting enormous subsidies that essentially financed railroad construction. All this was the work of lawyers who were influential in Washington at the time. A major determinant of political influence in that era was the Civil War. Many politicians made personal alliances during the war and the Republican Party was founded and replaced the Whig Party because of the war. Being a Union vet, Republican, and lawyer were key to politics in that era. President Benjamin Harrison [1889-1893] was all three, and while in office [1889-1893] six western states were admitted to the Union.

Illinois Democratic Congressman before the Republican Party emerged in 1856 and a U.S. Senator thirteen years after the War, John Logan was undoubtedly a colleague of younger Benjamin Harrison in the Republican Party from its origins until his death in 1886 the county was named to honor him two years after Harrison was elected in 1890.

Guthrie

John Logan was from Indiana before moving to Topeka, home of the Santa Fe RR the year the Civil War . He was admitted to the bar in Indiana and married in Logansport only 77 miles north of Indianapolis, home base of President Harrison who named the post office on the Santa Fe Line for him two years following his death in 1890. A Republican and veteran in the Union army from Indiana—home state of the President—and a lawyer and judge in the home town of the railroad through Indian Territory, Guthrie had all the boxes check to be honored.