David L. Payne
David Lewis Payne
David Lewis Payne (December 30, 1836 — November 28, 1884) was an American soldier and pioneer. Payne is considered by some to be the "Father of Oklahoma" for his work in opening the state to settlement. Others considered him a shyster, con man and a different kind of "Payne" lower down and to the posterior.
He organized, trained, and led the "Boomer Army" on its forays into the Unassigned Lands. Payne's excursions into the Unassigned Lands, trips led by others, and lobbying of Congress by railroad interests eventually convinced the government to open the Unassigned Lands for settlement in 1889, about four years after Payne's death. The formation of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory followed, and Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
Payne was born in 1836 in Grant County, Indiana, on a farm near Fairmount. He grew up working on his father's farm. During winters he attended the local rural school.
In the spring of 1858, Payne and his brother left home intending to join in the Utah War. Their interest evidently waned by the time they crossed the Missouri River, as they stopped in Doniphan County, Kansas. There, in Burr Oak Township, Payne acquired some land and built a sawmill. It soon failed and Payne fell to hunting to support himself. Eventually private parties and then the Federal government hired him to scout for their various expeditions.
At the opening of the Civil War, Payne enlisted in the 4th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. In April 1862, his regiment and the 3rd Kansas Infantry and 5th Kansas Infantry were consolidated to form the 10th Kansas Infantry. He served from August 1861 to August 1864 as a private in Company F. During his service the unit saw action in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Cherokee Nation, including the Battle of Prairie Grove in 1862.
At the end of his three-year service Payne returned to Doniphan County and was elected to the Kansas Legislature, serving in the 1864 and 1865 sessions.
In March 1865 Payne enlisted for one year in the 15th Kansas Cavalry as a private assigned to Company H. The unit had been activated in response to a January state legislative resolution which called for the organization of a regiment of veteran volunteer cavalry to protect western Kansas from Indian activity.
In July 1867, Kansas Governor Samuel Johnson Crawford issued a proclamation calling for volunteers to protect Kansans from Indian attacks in the west. The 18th Kansas Cavalry was brought up for four months as a result. Payne enlisted and was mustered in as the captain of Company D. This battalion replaced the Seventh Cavalry which had been transferred to the Platte River for the summer. In October 1868, Payne mustered in as a lieutenant in Company H of the 19th Kansas Cavalry, which served in a winter campaign against Indians on the western Great Plains. During this campaign, Payne served as a scout for General Philip Sheridan.
In 1870 Payne moved to Sedgwick County, near Wichita, and the following year he was again elected to the Kansas Legislature. This led to appointments as Postmaster at Fort Leavenworth in 1867 and as Sergeant-at-arms for two terms of the Kansas Senate. In 1875 and 1879, Payne served as assistant to the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives.
During the intervals between political engagements and military service, Payne supported himself by hunting, scouting, and guiding wagon trains.
Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee citizen working as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., published an article about the public land issue in the February 17, 1879 edition of the Chicago Times. Dr. Morrison Munford of the Kansas City Times began referring to this tract as the "Unassigned Lands" or "Oklahoma" and to the people agitating for its settlement as Boomers. Munford is the first person to use the terms "boom" and "boomer" to describe the movement of white settlers into these lands. To prevent settlement of the land, President Rutherford B. Hayes issued a proclamation in April 1879 forbidding unlawful entry into Indian Territory.
Inspired by Boudinot, Payne began his efforts to enter and settle the public domain lands as allowed by existing law. He returned from his job in Washington and returned to Wichita in 1879. On his first attempt to enter Indian Territory, in April 1880, Payne and his party laid out a town they named "Ewing" on the present-day site of Oklahoma City. The Fourth Cavalry arrested them, took them to Fort Reno, then escorted them back to Kansas. Payne was furious, as public law (specifically the Posse Comitatus Act) prohibited the military from interfering in civil matters. Payne and his party were freed, which effectively denied them access to federal and state courts.

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