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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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(a Choctaw Indian word meaning " red people "), a south central state of the United States of America lying between 33° 35' and 37° N. lat. and 94° 29' and 103° W. long. It is bounded N. by Colorado and Kansas; E. by Missouri and Arkansas; S. by Texas, from which it is separated in part by the Red river; and W. by Texas and New Mexico. It has a total area of 70,057 sq. m., of which 643 sq. m. are water-surface. Although the extreme western limit of the state is the 103rd meridian, the only portion W. of the tooth meridian is a strip of land about 35 m. wide in the present Beaver, Texas and Cimarron counties, and formerly designated as " No Man's Land." Physiography. - The topographical features of the state exhibit considerable diversity, ranging fro g $ wide treeless plains in the W. to rugged and heavily wooded mountains in the E. In general terms, however, the surface may be described as a vast rolling plain having a gentle southern and eastern slope. The elevations above the sea range from 4700 ft. in the extreme N.W. to about 35 o ft. in the S.E. The southern and eastern slopes are remarkably uniform; between the northern and southern boundaries E. of the tooth meridian there is a general difference in elevation of from 200 to 300 ft., while from W. to E. there is an average decline of about 3 ft. to the mile. The state has a mean elevation of 1300 ft. with 34,930 sq. m. below loon ft; 25,400 sq. m. between 1000 and 2000 ft.; 650o sq. m. between 2000 and 3000 ft.; and 3600 sq. m. between 3000 and 5000 ft.

The western portion of the Ozark Mountains enters Oklahoma near the centre of the eastern boundary, and extends W.S.W. half way across the state in a chain of hills gradually decreasing in height. In the south central part of the state is an elevated tableland known as the Arbuckle Mountains. In its western portion this tableland attains an elevation of about 1350 ft. above the sea and lies about 400 ft. above the bordering plains. At its eastern termination, where it merges with the plains, it has an elevation of about 750 ft. Sixty miles N.W. of this plateau lie the Wichita Mountains, a straggling range of rugged peaks rising abruptly from a level plain. This range extends from Fort Sill north-westward beyond Granite, a distance of 65 m., with some breaks in the second half of this area. The highest peaks are not more than 1500 ft. above the plain, but on account of their steep and rugged slopes they are difficult to ascend. A third group of hills, the Chautauqua Mountains, lie in the W. in Blaine and Canadian counties, their main axis being almost parallel with the North Fork of the Canadian river. With the exception of these isolated clusters of hills the western portion of the state consists almost entirely of rolling prairie. The extreme north-western part of Oklahoma is a lofty tableland forming part of the Great Plains region E. of the Rocky Mountains.

The prairies N. of the Arkansas and W. of the Neosho rivers are deeply carved by small streams, and in the western portion of this area, where the formation consists of alternating shales and sandstones, the easily eroded rocks have been carved into canyons, buttes and mesas. South of the Arkansas river these ledges of sandstone continue as far as Okmulgee, but the evidences of erosion are less noticeable. East of the Neosho river the prairies merge into a hilly woodland. In the N.W. four large salt plains form a striking physical feature. Of these the most noted is the Big Salt Plain of the Cimarron river, in Woodward county, which varies in width from a m. to 2 m. and extends along the river for 8 m. The plain is almost perfectly level, covered with snowy-white saline crystals, and contains many salt springs. The other saline areas are the Little Salt Plain, which lies on the Cimarron river, near the Kansas boundary; the Salt Creek Plain, 3 m. long and loo yds. wide, in Blaine county; and the Salt Fork Plain, 6 m. wide and 8 m. long, so called from its position on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas river.

Following the slope of the land, the important streams flow from N.W. to S.E. The Arkansas river enters the state from the N. near the 97th meridian, and after following a general south-easterly course, leaves it near the centre of the eastern boundary. Its tributaries from the N. and E.-the Verdigris, Grand or Neosho and Illinois-are small and unimportant; but from the S. and W. it receives the waters of much larger streams-the Salt Fork, the Cimarron and the Canadian, with its numerous tributaries. The extreme southern portion of the state is drained by the Red River, which forms the greater part of the southern boundary, and by its tributaries, the North Fork, the Washita and the Kiamichi.

Fauna and Flora.-Of wild animals the most characteristic are the black bear, puma, prairie wolf, timber wolf, fox, deer, antelope, squirrel, rabbit and prairie dog. Hawks and turkey buzzards are common types of the larger birds, and the wild turkey, prairie chicken and quail are the principal game birds. The total woodland area of the state was estimated in 1900 at 24,400 sq. m., or 34.8% of the land area. The most densely wooded section is the extreme E.; among the prairies of the W. timber is seldom found beyond the banks of streams. The most common trees are the various species of the oak and cedar. The pine is confined to the more mountainous sections of the E., and the black walnut is found among the river bottom lands. These four varieties are of commercial value. Other varieties, most of which are widely distributed, are the ash, pecan, cottonwood, sycamore, elm, maple, hickory, elder, gum, locust and river birch. The prairies are covered with valuable bunch, grama and dropseed grasses; in the extreme N.W. the cactus, sagebrush and yucca, types characteristic of more arid regions, are found.

Climate.-The climate of the state is of a continental type, with great annual variations of temperature and a rainfall which, though generally sufficient for the needs of vegetation, is considerably less than that of the Atlantic Coast or the Mississippi Valley. The western and central portions of the state are in general cooler and dryer than the E., on account of their greater elevation and greater distance from the Gulf Coast. 'Thus at Beaver, in the extreme N.W., the mean annual temperature is 57° F. and the mean annual rainfall 18.9 in.; while at Lehigh, in the S.E., these figures are respectively 62° and 35.1 in. At Oklahoma City, in the centre of the state, the mean annual temperature is 59°; the mean for the summer (June, July and August) is 78°, with an extreme recorded of 104°; the mean for the winter (December, January and February) is 38°, with an extreme recorded of -17°. At Mangum, in the S.W., the mean annual temperature is 61°; the mean for the summer is 81° and for the winter 41°, while the highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded are respectively 114° and -17°. The mean annual precipitation for the state is 317 in.; the variation between the E. and the W. being about 12 in.

Soils.-The prevailing type of soil is a deep dark-red loam, sometimes (especially in the east central part of the state) made up of a decomposed sandstone, and again (in the north central part) made up of shales and decomposed limestone. Not infrequently there are a belt of red sandy loam on uplands N. of a river, a rich deposit of black alluvium on valley bottom lands, a belt of red clay loam on uplands S. of a river, and a deposit of wind-blown loess on the water parting. Loess, often thin and always containing little humus, also covers large areas on the high, semi-arid plains in the western part of the state.

Agriculture and Stock-raising.-For some time before the first opening to settlement by white men in 1899, the territory now embraced in Oklahoma was largely occupied by great herds of cattle driven in from Texas, and since then, although the opening was piecemeal, the agricultural development has been remarkably rapid. By 1900, 22,988,339 acres, or 52.1%, of the total land surface was included in farms, and 8,574,187 acres, or 37.7%, of the farm land was improved.' The farm land was divided among 108,000 farms containing an average of 212.85 acres; 26,121 of them contained less than 50 acres, but the most usual size was 160 acres; and 4 8 ,9 8 3, or 45.35%, contained from TOO to 174 acres. A considerable portion of the larger farms (there were 2390 containing 500 acres or more) were owned by Indians but leased to white men. Much land as late as 1900 was held in common by Indian tribes, but has since been allotted to the members of those tribes and most of it is leased to whites. In 1900, 59,367 (or a little more than one-half of all) farms were worked by owners or part owners, 33,347 were worked by share tenants, and 13,903 were worked by cash tenants. Indian corn, wheat, cotton, oats and hay are the principal crops, but the variety of farm and garden produce is great, and includes Kafir corn, broom corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, flax, tobacco, beans, castor beans, peanuts, pecans, sorghum cane, sugar cane, and nearly all the fruits and vegetables common to the temperate zone; stock-raising, too, is a very important industry. Of the total acreage of all crops in 1900, 4,431,819 acres, or 68.64%, were of cereals; and of the cereal acreage 56.45% was of Indian corn, 34.45% was of wheat and 7.15% was of oats. The acreage of Indian corn increased from The statistics in this article were obtained by adding to those for Oklahoma those for Indian Territory, which was combined with it in 1907.

2,501,945 acres in 1900 to 5,950,000 acres in 1909; 2 between 1899 and 1909 the yield increased from 68,949,300 bushels to 101,150,000 bushels. The acreage of wheat decreased during this period from 1,704,909 acres to 1,225,000 acres, and the yield from 20,328,300 bushels to 15,680,000 bushels. The acreage of oats increased from 317,076 acres to 550,000 acres, and the yield increased from 9,5 11 ,34 0 bushels to 15,950,000 bushels. The hay crop of 1899 was grown on 1,095,706 acres and amounted to 1,617,905 tons, but nearly one-half of this was made from wild grasses; since then the amounts of fodder obtained from alfalfa, Kafir corn, sorghum cane and timothy have much increased, and that obtained from wild grasses has decreased; in 1909 the acreage was 900,000 and the crop 810,000 tons. Except in the W. section, where there is good grazing but generally an insufficient rainfall for growing crops, cattle-raising on the range has in considerable measure given way to stock-raising on the farm, and nearly everywhere the quality of the cattle has been greatly improved. The total number of cattle decreased from 3,236,008 in 1900 to 1,992,000 in 1910, but at the same time the number of dairy cows increased from 2 7 6 ,539 to 355,000. The number of horses increased from 557,153 in 1900 to 804,000 in 1910; of mules from 117,562 to 191,000; of swine from 1,265,189 to 1,302,000; and of sheep from 88,741 to 108,000. Winter wheat is used extensively for pasturage during the winter months with little or no damage to the crop. No other branch of agriculture in Oklahoma has advanced so rapidly as the production of cotton; the culture of this fibre was introduced in 1890, and the acreage increased from 682,743 acres in 1899 to 2,037,000 acres in 1909, and the yield increased from 227,741 bales to 617,000 bales (in 1907 it was 862,383 bales). There was only a very small crop of broom corn in 1889, but in 1899 the crop was 3,565,510 lb. The state has risen to high rank in the production of sorghum cane and castor beans also; in 1899 16 ,477 acres of the cane yielded 40,259 tons, and 14,070 acres of castor beans yielded 77,409 bushels. Two crops of potatoes may be grown on the same ground in one year, and the acreage of potatoes increased from 15,360 acres in 1899 to 27,000 acres in 1909, and the yield from 1,191,997 bushels to 1,890,000 bushels. Oklahoma is already producing large crops of apples, peaches, grapes, water-melons and musk-melons, and many large apple and peach orchards and vineyards have been planted. Pears, plums; apricots, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, cabbages, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers are grown in considerable quantities. The cereals and most of the fruits and vegetables are grown throughout the greater portion of the middle and E. parts of the state, although the soil of the N. middle section yields the best crops of wheat. Kafir corn and sorghum cane are the most common in the W. sections, where the climate is too dry for other crops. Some cotton is grown N. of the middle of the state, but the S.E. quarter takes in most of the cotton belt. Broom corn grows best in Woods county on the N. border, and castor beans in the central and N. central sections. About 3000 acres (nearly one-half in the narrow extension in the N.W.) were already irrigated in 1909, and surveys had been made by the Federal Reclamation Service with a view to irrigating about 100,000 acres more-10,000 to 14,000 acres in Beaver and Woodward counties, under the Cimarron project, and 80,000 to ioo,000 acres in Kiowa and Comanche counties, under the Red River project.

Lumber and Timber Products.-The merchantable timber is mostly in that part of the state which formerly constituted Indian Territory, and consists largely of black walnut and other valuable hard woods in the bottom lands, of black jack and post oak on the uplands and of pine on the higher elevations S. of the Arkansas river. The manufactured forest products of Indian Territory increased in value from $189,373 in 1900 to $588,078 in 1905, or 205.78%.

Minerals.-The coal-fields extend from Kansas on the N. to Arkansas on the E., and have an area of about 20,000 sq. m. The principal mining centres are McAlester, Wilburton, Hartshorn, Coalgate and Phillips. In quality the coal varies from a low grade to a high grade bituminous, and some of the latter is good for coking. The output increased from 446,429 short tons in 1885 to 1,922,298 short tons in 1900, and to 2,948,116 short tons in 1908, the output for the last-named year being much less than for 1906 or 1907, when it was over 3,500,000 tons. The range of hills extending from the centre of the state N.W. to and beyond the Kansas border are composed chiefly of great deposits of rock gypsum. A similar but minor range extends parallel with it 40 to 50 m. S.W. There are also deposits in Greer county in the S.W. corner, and some gypsite in Kay county on the N. middle border. For working these extensive deposits there are, however, few mills; these are in Kay, Canadian and Blaine counties. Some petroleum was discovered in the N. part of Indian Territory near the Oklahoma border as early as 1890, but there was little development until 1903, when several wells were drilled in the vicinity of Bartlesville. Then wells were drilled to the W. on the Osage Reservation, and to the S., until in 1906 about 110 wells were drilled into the famous Glen Pool near Sapulpa. One of these wells has a flow of about moo barrels a day, and the total product from the Oklahoma oil-field (which includes wells in The agricultural statistics for 1909 are taken from the Year-Book of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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The manufactures in 1905 were still largely such as are closely related to agriculture. Measured by the value of the products, 618% were represented by flour and grist mill products and cottonseed oil and cake. Among the manufacturing centres are Oklahoma City and Guthrie, and the combined value of their factory products increased from $1,493,998 in 1900 to $4,871,392 in 1905.

Transportation and Commerce

The navigable waters in Oklahoma are of little importance, and the state is almost wholly dependent on railways as a means of transportation. The first railway was that of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, which completed a line across the territory to Denison, Texas, in 1872. The railway mileage was slowly increased to 1260 m. in 1890, and on the 1st of January 1909 was 5829 m. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas railway crosses the E. part of the state, and somewhat parallel with this to the westward are the St Louis & San Francisco, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, two lines of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient railways. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific also crosses the middle of the state from E. to W. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Chicago, Rock Island & Gulf cross the N.W. part. The St Louis & San Fiancisco crosses the S.E. quarter. A line of the Frisco system extends along the S. border from the Arkansas line to the middle of the state, and with these main lines numerous branches form an extensive network.


The population of the territory now embraced within the state increased from 258,657 in 1890, when the first census was taken, to 790,391 in 1900, or 205.6%, to 1,414,177 in 1907, and to 1,657,155 in 1910. Of the total population in 1900, 7 6 9, 8 53, or 97.4%, were native-born. The white population increased from 172,554 in 1890 to 1,054,376 in 1907, or 611%, the negro population during the same period from 21,609 to 112,160, or 419%, and the Indian population from 64,456 to 75,012, or 16.3%. In 1890 the Indians and negroes constituted 33-3% of the total population, but in 1907 they (with the Mongolians, who numbered 75) constituted only 13.2% of the total. The only Indians who are natives of this region are a few members of the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache tribes. The others are the remnants of a number of tribes collected here from various parts of the country: Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Osages, Kaws, Poncas, Otoes, Cheyennes, Iowas, Kickapoos, Sauk and Foxes, Sioux, Miamis, Shawnees, Pawnees, Ottawas and several others. Until 1906 the Osages lived on a reservation touching Kansas on the N. and the Arkansas river on the W. (since then almost all allotted); but to the greater portion of the Indians the government has made individual allotments. Only about one-fourth of the socalled Indians are full bloods. A large portion are one-half or more white blood and the Creeks and some others have more or less negro blood. In 1906 there were 257,100 communicants of various churches in Oklahoma and Indian Territory, the Methodist Episcopalians being the most numerous, and next to them the Baptists. The population in places having 4000 inhabitants or more increased from 29,978 in 1900 to 140,579 in 1907, or 368.9%, while the population outside of such places increased from 760,413 to 1,273,598, or only 67.5%. The principal cities in 1907 were Oklahoma City, Muskogee, Guthrie (the capital), Shawnee, Enid, Ardmore, McAlester and Chickasha.


The constitution now in operation was adopted in September 1907, and is that with which the state was admitted into the Union in November of the same year. Amendments may be submitted through a majority of the members elected to both houses of the legislature or through a petition signed by 15% of the electorate, and a proposed amendment becomes a part of the constitution if the majority of the votes cast at a popular election are in favour of it. The legislature may also at any time propose a convention for amending or revising the constitution, but no such convention can be called without first obtaining the approval of the electorate. An elector must be able to read or write (unless he or an ancestor was a voter in 1866 or then lived in some foreign nation) and must be 21 years old, and a resident of the state for one year, in the county six months, and in the election precinct 30 days, and women have the privilege of voting at school meetings. General elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in odd-numbered years and party candidates for state, district, county and municipal offices and for the United States Senate are chosen at primary elections held on the first Tuesday in August. The Massachusetts ballot which had been in use in1897-1899was again adopted in 1 9 00. Oklahoma has put into its constitution many things which in the older states were left to legislative enactment.

The governor is elected for a term of four years but is ineligible for the next succeeding term. The number of officers whom he appoints is rather limited and for most of his appointments the confirmation of the Senate is required. He is not permitted to pardon a criminal until he has obtained the advice of the board of pardons which is composed of the state superintendent of public instruction, the president of the board of agriculture and the state auditor. He is a member of some important administrative boards, his veto power extends to items in appropriation bills, and to pass a bill over his veto a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house is required. A lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, examiner, and inspector, commissioner of labour, commissioner of insurance, chief mine inspector, commissioner of charities and corrections, and president of the board of agriculture are elected each for a term of four years, and the secretary of state, auditor and treasurer are, like the governor, ineligible for the next succeeding term.

The law-making bodies are a Senate and a House of Representatives. One-half the senators and all the representatives are elected every two years, senators by districts and representatives by counties. Sessions are held biennially in evennumbered years and begin the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. The constitution reserves to the people the privilege of rejecting any act or any item of any act whenever 5% of the legal voters ask that the matter be voted upon at a general election; and the people may initiate legislation by a petition signed by 8% of the electorate.

For the administration of justice there have been established a supreme court composed of six justices elected for a term of six years; a criminal court of appeals composed of three justices appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; twenty-one district courts each with one or more justices elected for a term of four years; a county court in each county with one justice elected for a term of two years; a court of a justice of the peace, elected for a term of two years, in each of six districts of each county, and police courts in the cities. The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction in all civil cases, but its original jurisdiction is restricted to a general control of the lower courts. The criminal court of appeals has jurisdiction in all criminal cases appealed from the district and county courts. The district courts have exclusive jurisdiction in civil actions for sums exceeding $1000, concurrent jurisdiction with the county courts in civil actions for sums greater than $500 and not exceeding $1000, and original or appellate in criminal cases. The county courts have, besides the concurrent jurisdiction above stated, original jurisdiction in all probate matters, original jurisdiction in civil actions for sums greater than $200 and not exceeding $500, concurrent jurisdiction with the justices of the peace in misdemeanour cases, and appellate jurisdiction in all cases brought from a justice of the peace or a police court.

Local Government

The general management of county affairs is intrusted to three commissioners elected by districts, but these commissioners are not permitted to incur extraordinary expenses or levy a tax exceeding five mills on a dollar without first obtaining the consent of the people at a general or special election. The other county officers are a treasurer, clerk, register of deeds, attorney, surveyor, sheriff, assessor and superintendent of public instruction. ' The counties have been divided into municipal townships, each of which elects a trustee, a clerk and a treasurer, who together constitute a board of directors for the management of township affairs. The trustee is also the assessor. Cities or towns having a population of 2000 or more may become cities of the first class whenever a favourable majority vote is obtained at a general or special election held in that city or town, and this question must be submitted at such an election whenever 35% of the legal voters petition for it.

Miscellaneous Laws. - The property rights of husband and wife are practically equal, and either may buy, sell or mortgage real estate, other than the homestead, without the consent of the other. Among the grounds for a divorce are adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty and imprisonment for felony. Article XII. of the constitution exempts from forced sale the homestead of any family in the state to the extent of 160 acres of land in the country, or I acre in a city, town or village, provided the value of the same does not exceed $5000 and that the claims against it are not for purchase money, improvements or taxes. A corporation commission of three members, elected for a term of six years, is intrusted with the necessary powers for a rigid control of public service corporations. A state board of arbitration, composed of two farmers, two employers and two employes is authorized to investigate the causes of any strike affecting the public interests, and publish what it finds to be the facts in the case, together with recommendations for settlement. Labour laws, passed by the first legislature (1908), were amended and made more radical by the legislature of 1909: a child labour law forbids the employment of children under 14 in factories, workshops, theatres, bowling-alleys, pool-halls, steam-laundries or other dangerous places (to be defined by the commissioner of labour), and no child under 16 is to be employed in such places unless able to read and write simple English sentences or without having attended school during the previous year; no child under 16 is to be employed in any of several (enumerated) dangerous occupations; no child under 16 is to be employed more than 8 hours in any one day, or more than 48 hours in any one week in any gainful occupation other than agriculture or domestic service; age and schooling certificates are required of children between 14 and 16 in certain occupations. A state dispensary system for the sale of intoxicating liquors was authorized by the constitution, but the popular vote in 1908 was unfavourable to the continuance of the system, the sentiment seeming to be for rigid prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors. A law passed in May 1908 against nepotism (closely following the Texas law of 1907) forbids public officers to appoint (or vote for) any person related to them by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree to any position in the government of which they are a part; makes persons thus related to public officers ineligible to positions in the branch in which their relative is an official; and renders any official making such an appointment liable to fine and removal from office.


The common school system is administered by a state superintendent of public instruction, a state board of education, county superintendents and district boards. The state board is composed of the state superintendent, who is president of the board; the secretary of state, who is secretary of the board; the attorneygeneral and the governor. Each district board is composed of three members elected for a term of three years, one each year. Each district school must be open at least three months each year, and children between the ages of eight and sixteen are required to attend either a public or a private school, unless excused because of physical or mental infirmity. There are separate schools for whites and negroes. In addition to instruction in the ordinary branches, the teaching in the district schools of the elementary principles of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, stock-feeding, forestry, building country roads and domestic science is required. A law of 1908 requires that an agricultural school of secondary grade be established in each of the five supreme court judicial districts, and that an experimental farm be operated in connexion with each; and in 1909 the number of these districts was increased to six. There is a state industrial school for girls, teaching domestic science and the fine arts. The higher institutions of learning established by the state are the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, a land grant college with an agricultural experiment station at Stillwater; the Oklahoma School of Mines at Wilburton; the Colored Agricultural and Normal University at Langston; the Central Normal School at Edmond; the North-western Normal School at Alva; the South-western Normal School at Weatherford, Custer county; the South-eastern Normal School at Durant, Bryan county; the East Central Normal School at Ada; the Northeastern Normal School at Tahlequah, Cherokee county; and the University of Oklahoma at Norman. The State University (established in 1892, opened in 1893) embraces a college of arts and sciences, and schools of fine arts, applied science, medicine, mines and pharmacy. In1907-1908it had 40 instructors and 790 students. There is a University Preparatory School (1901) at Tonkawa in Kay county, and there are state schools of agriculture at Tishomingo and at Warner. The common schools are in large part maintained out of the proceeds of the school lands (about 1,200,000 acres), which are sections 16 and 36 in each township of that portion of the state which formerly constituted Oklahoma Territory, and a Congressional appropriation of $5,000,000 in lieu of these sections in what was formerly Indian Territory. The university, agricultural and mechanical college and normal schools also are maintained to a considerable extent out of the proceeds of section 13 in several townships. The university owns land valued at $3,670,000. Among the institutions of learning, neither maintained nor controlled by the state, are Epworth University (Methodist Episcopal, 1901) at Oklahoma City, and Kingfisher College at Kingfisher.

Charities and Correctional Institutions

The state has a hospital for the insane at Fort Supply, the Whitaker Orphans' Home at Pryor Creek, the Oklahoma School for the Blind at Fort Gibson and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf at Sulphur; and the legislature of 1908 appropriated money for the East Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane at Vinita, a School for the Feeble-Minded at Enid, a State Training School for Boys at Wynnewood and a State Reformatory (at Granite, Greer county) for first-time convicts between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. Under the constitution the supervision and inspection of charities and institutions of correction is in the hands of a State Commissioner of Charities and Corrections, elected by the people. The commissioner must inspect once each year all penal, correctional and eleemosynary institutions, including public hospitals, jails, poorhouses and corporations and organizations doing charitable work; and the commissioner appears as next friend in cases affecting the property of orphan minors, and has power to investigate complaints against public and private institutions whose charters may be revoked for cause by the commissioner. By act of legislature a State Board of Public Affairs was created; it is made of five members appointed by the governor, with charge of the fiscal affairs of all state institutions. Convicts were sent to the state penitentiary of Kansas until January 1909, when it was charged that they were treated cruelly there; in 1909 work was begun on a penitentiary at McAlester.

Banking and Finance

The unique feature of the banking system (with amendments adopted by the second legislature becoming effective on the 11th of June 1909) is a fund for the guaranty of deposits. The state banking board, which is composed of the governor, lieutenant-governor, president of the board of agriculture, state treasurer and state auditor, levies against the capital stock of each state bank and trust company, organized or existing, under the laws of the state to create a fund equal to 5% of average daily deposits other than the deposits of state funds properly secured. One-fifth of this fund is payable the first year and one-twentieth each year thereafter; 1% of the increase in average deposits is collected each year. Emergency assessments, not to exceed 2%, may be made whenever necessary to pay in full the depositors in an insolvent bank; if the guaranty fund is impaired to such a degree that it is not made up by the 2% emergency assessment, the state banking board issues certificates of indebtedness which draw 6% interest and which are paid out of the assessment. Any national bank may secure its depositors in this manner if it so desires. The bank guarantee law was held to be valid by the United States Supreme Court in 7908 after the attorney-general of the United States had decided that it was illegal.

The revenue for state and local purposes is derived chiefly from taxes. The constitutional limit on the state tax levy is 31 mills on a dollar, and legislation has fixed the limit of the county levy at 5 mills, of the levy in cities at 7, in incorporated towns at 5, in townships at 3, and in school districts at 5. There is a tax on the gross receipts of corporations, a graduated land tax on all holdings exceeding 640 acres, a tax on income exceeding $3500, and a tax on gifts and inheritances. The aggregate amount of indebtedness which the state may have at any time is limited by the constitution to $400,000, save when borrowing is necessary to repel an invasion, suppress an insurrection or defend the state in war.


With the exception of the narrow strip N. of the most N. section of Texas the territory comprising the present state of Oklahoma was set apart by Congress in 1834, under the name of Indian Territory, for the possession of the five southern tribes (Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws and Chickasaws) and the Quapaw Agency. Early in 1809 some Cherokees in the south-eastern states made known to President Jefferson their desire to remove to hunting grounds W. of the Mississippi, and at first they were allowed to occupy lands in what is now Arkansas, but by a new arrangement first entered into in 1828 they received instead, in 1838, a patent for a wide strip extending along the entire N. border of Indian Territory with the exception of the small section in the N.E. corner which was reserved to the Quapaw Agency. By treaties negotiated in 1820, 1825, 1830 and 1842 the Choctaws received for themselves and the Chickasaws a patent for all that portion of the territory which lies S. of the Canadian and Arkansas rivers, and by treaties negotiated in 1824, 1833 and 1851 the Creeks received for themselves and the Seminoles a patent for the remaining or middle portion. Many of the Indians of these tribes brought slaves with them from the Southern states and during the Civil War they supported the Confederacy, but when that war was over the Federal government demanded not only the liberation of the slaves but new treaties, partly on the ground that the tribal lands must be divided with the freedmen. By these treaties, negotiated in 1866, the Cherokees gave the United States permission to settle other Indians on what was approximately the western half of their domain; the Seminoles, to whom the Creeks in 1855 had granted as their portion the strip between the Canadian river and its North Fork, ceded all of theirs, and the Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws ceded the western half of theirs back to the United States for occupancy by freedmen or other Indians. In the E. portion of the lands thus placed at its disposal by the Cherokees and the Creeks the Federal government within the next seventeen years made a number of small grants as follows: to the Seminoles in 1866, to the Sauk and Foxes in 1867, to the Osages, Kansas, Pottawatomies, Absentee Shawnees and Wichitas in 1871-1872, to the Pawnees in 1876, to the Poncas and Nez Perces in 1878, to the Otoes and Missouris in 1881, and to the Iowas and Kickapoos in 1883; in the S.W. quarter of the Territory, also, the Kiowas, Comanches and Apaches were located in 1867 and the Cheyennes and Arapahoes in 1869. There still remained unassigned the greater part of the Cherokee Strip besides a tract embracing 1,887,800 acres of choice land in the centre of the Territory, and the agitation for the opening of this to settlement by white people increased until in 1889 a complete title to the central tract was purchased from the Creeks and Seminoles. Soon after the purchase President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation announcing that this land would be opened to homestead settlement at twelve o'clock noon, on the 22nd of April 1889. At that hour no less than 20,000 people were on the border, and when the signal was given there ensued a remarkably spectacular race for homes. In the next year that portion of Indian Territory which lay S. of the Cherokee Strip and W. of the lands occupied by the five tribes, together with the narrow strip N. of Texas which had been denied to that state in 1850, was organized as the Territory of Oklahoma. In the meantime negotiations were begun for acquiring a clear title to the unoccupied portion of the Cherokee Strip, for individual allotments to the members of the several small tribes who had received tribal allotments since 1866, and for the purchase of what remained after such individual allotments had been made. As these negotiations were successful most of the land between the tract first opened and that of the Creeks was opened to settlement in 1891, a large tract to the W. of the centre was opened in 1892, a tract S. of the Canadian river and W. of the Chickasaws was opened in 1902, and by 1904 the entire Territory had been opened to settlement with the exception of a tract in the N.E. which was occupied by the Osages, Kaws, Poncas and Otoes. By the treaties with the five southern tribes they were to be permitted to make their own laws so long as they preserved their tribal relations, but since the Civil War many whites had mingled with these Indians, gained control for their own selfish ends of such government as there was, and made the country a refuge for fugitives from justice. Consequently, in 1893, Congress appointed the Dawes Commission to induce the tribes to consent to individual allotments as well as to a government administered from Washington, and in 1898 the Curtis Act was passed for making such allotments and for the establishment of a territorial government. When the allotments were nearly all made Congress in 1906 authorized Oklahoma and Indian Territories to qualify for admission to the Union as one state. As both Territories approved, a constitutional convention (composed of zoo Democrats and 12 Republicans) met at Guthrie on the 20th of November 1906. The constitution framed by this body was approved by the electorate on the 17th of September 1907, and the state was admitted to the Union on the 16th of November.

Governors of Oklahom

Territorial. Bibliography. - See the Biennial Reports (Guthrie, 1904 sqq.) of the Oklahoma Department of Geology and Natural History; the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 1: Preliminary Report on the Mineral Resources of Oklahoma (Norman, 1908); C. N. Gould, Geology and Water Resources of Oklahoma (Washington, 1905), being Water Supply and Irrigation Paper, No. 148 of the United States Geological Survey; A. J. Henry, Climatology of the United States, pp. 442-453 (Washington, 1906), being Bulletin Q of the Weather Bureau of the United States Department of Agriculture; Mineral Resources of the United States, annual reports published by the United States Geological Survey (Washington, 1883 sqq.); Charles Evans and C. O. Bunn, Oklahoma Civil Government (Ardmore, 1908); C. A. Beard, " Constitution of Oklahoma," in the Political Science Quarterly, vol. 24 (Boston, 1909); R. L. Owen, " Comments on the Constitution of Oklahoma," in the Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, vol. 5 (Baltimore, 1909); S. J. Buck, The Settlement of Oklahoma (Madison, 1907), reprinted from the Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters; and D. C. Gideon, Indian Territory, Descriptive, Biographical and Genealogical ... with a General History of the Territory (New York, 1901).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Oklahoma'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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