.......................ie the climate of the Southern States are tempered by the gentle zephyrs from the north; the happy medium where the blizzards from the north are met by the tempering influence of the Gulf stream: the land where the cotton of the south grows in the same field with the corn and wheat from the north; where the grass is green nine months in the year and stock require no shelter; the land where the farmer can work in the field every day in the year. This is the land for you, and here is the place for you to make your home, whether it be in the Cherokee Strip or the Cheyenne Reservation.
On the 22d of April, 1889, a little more than 2,000,000 acres of land lying along the Cimmaron and Canadian rivers, in the heart of the Indian Territory, called Oklahoma, was thrown open to settlement. Between noon and sunset of that memorable day over 40,000 people had entered the "promised land" and at once began the building of cities and the establishment of homes. From that day to the present Oklahoma has never stood still a moment, but on the contrary it has made greater progress than any other country in the world ever attained, in the same length of time, and it is destined to soon become one of the most populous, progressive and prosperous commonwealths in America. The Territory as now organized contains over 24,000,000 acres of as fine farm land as can be found in any State or Territory of the Union.
In a few months, at farthest, the Cherokee Strip embracing over six million acres of fine grazing and farming lands will be thrown open to settlement.
The far famed Wichita Reservation, of nearly a million of acres, and the Kiowa and Comanche Reservation of over three million of acres, which comprises the cream of all the lands in the Indian Territory will be given to the home seeker just as soon as certain preliminary work can be done by the government. These three reservations, the Wichita; Kiowa and Comanche, lie directly south and west of El Reno; the north line being only about 12 miles from the Rock Island depot.
This vast area of country is greater in extent than Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware combined. It is well watered, with sufficient timber along the streams for fuel and building purposes, capable of furnishing homes for four or five hundred thousand people, having a splendid, healthful climate and producing grain, fruit, grass, cotton and vegetables of every variety known to the north temperate zone.
The rainfall, as officially reported by the Government, at Fort Reno, averages about 35 inches, the greater portion of which falls between March the 1st and August the 1st. Indian farmers and others who have been acquainted with the country for years assert that during the past 30 years only two drouthy seasons have occurred, the first in 1864, and the last in 1890, and in both of these years the drouth extended over the entire western and middle states.
Oklahoma is an exceptionally fine country for wheat and oats. Last year numerous Canadian county farmers harvested from 40 to 45 bushels of wheat, of excellent quality, and from 80 to 120 bushels of oats. Corn, rye, barley and all kinds of tame grasses, such as timothy, red top, blue grass, clover and alfalfa is grown successfully, and the whole region is intended by nature for the production of fruits and vegetables of almost every variety, while cotton grows with the same rankness that it does in the most favored localities of Texas and the South. Almost every product of the soil can be raised here, with less labor and greater profit to the husbandman, than in most of the older settled States and Territories. One good span of horses is all that is needed to break the sod the first time and a good crop is generally raised the first season.
An abundance of wild fruit, such as plums, persimmons, grapes and berries of all kinds are found everywhere. Peaches, apples and pears do well, as is attested by the few experiments made at the military reservations, and by the Indian farmers, as well as our own people who put out fruit trees soon after the opening three years ago. It is no exaggeration to say that Oklahoma is as fine a fruit country as there is in the world.
The following table is a sufficient indication as to the fertility of the soil of this region:
Clover, 4 feet high.
Native grass, 21 feet high.
Corn Stalk, 14 feet high.
A beet weighing 17 pounds.
Timothy, 7 feet high.
A squash weighing 109 pounds.
A cabbage weighing 27 pounds.
A watermelon weighing 79 pounds.
A potato weighing 6 pounds.
A hill of potatoes that yielded 41 pounds.
An onion weighing 3 pounds and 1 ounce.
A sample of oats from a yield of 130 bushels per acre.
A sample of wheat from a yield of 65 bushels.
A number of the above specimens have been preserved and will be on exhibition at the World's Fair.
It is no figure of speech to say that Oklahoma has the best all around climate of any section in the United States; lying as it does in the "happy medium" between the north and the south, with an elevation of from 1,000 to 1,500 feet above the sea, it is neither subject to the blizzards of the north nor the scorching heat of the south. The falls are long and delightful, flowers often blooming in the open air until after Christmas. The winters are so mild that stock requires but little feeding. Farmers plow all winter with the exception of a few rainy days. Corn is usually planted in March and early April, and is matured by the first of August. Wheat is harvested in the months of May and June. The average temperature is about 50 degrees. July and August are the warmest months of the year, when the mercury occasionally reaches 90 to 100°, but the cool winds from the Gulf always makes it pleasant in the shade and the nights are cool and refreshing.
There is no healthier country in the United States than Oklahoma. The water is good, the air is pure and comparatively free from malarial influences. We are not subject to the deadly fevers peculiar to the low temperature of the South or the blizzard-cursed latitude of the North.
A remarkable feature of the whole country is the excellence of the wagon roads. Those who have struggled through the mud of some other sections find that on coming to Oklahoma the good road on which to get to market, church and school, greatly enhances the comfort of country life.
Although Oklahoma is situated in the heart of the Indian Nation, our red brother is neither a menace nor a drawback to the safety or advancement of our people. A few years ago, when the white man first made his advent among them, they were living in rude tepees in a semi-barbarous condition, subsisting upon the fruits of the chase and the natural products of the soil. But to-day many of them are living in good, substantial frame houses, surrounded by the comforts of civilization, with their children in schools and their herds of cattle and horses on every hill. The Indian disturbs no one and, in view of the thousands of dollars the government disburses annually among them, they are an actual benefit to the country. They furnish a market to the farmer for his surplus produce and are the best paying customer the merchant has.
Gov. Seay, in his report to the Secretary of the Interior, says "that the social and industrial progress of our people is apparent, even to a casual observer. The marks and monuments of industry meet the traveler on every hand, in town and country, and the attainments already realized are the surprise of strangers within our gates. Better farms, implements, stock, houses, and barns are the rule, not the exception, among the agricultural population. In city and village the varied branches of business, the shop, mills, and factories, though yet in their infancy, give proof of faith in the future development of our Territory, as well as an attempt to utilize her present resources. The increasing number of attractive and comfortable homes in these towns evince that a portion of the capital brought or acquired here is being used not for greed or gain, but for culture and comfort.
The newspapers, the schools, the boards of trade, the societies of Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, United Workmen, Legion of Honor, Grand Army, Ladies' Circle, Blue and Gray, Daughters of Rebecca, Eastern Star, Chautauqua, Ladies' Columbian Society, and the churches, with many other instrumentalities of good, are building up a social fabric out of heterogeneous population that speaks well for our present, and augurs well for our future. While there are wrongs to be righted or eradicated, and the remedies may not be forthcoming as speedily as all good citizens could wish, yet we unhesitatingly attest the creditable social status of Oklahoma to-day."
Canadian county is the banner agricultural county of the Territory. It took its name from the two rivers, the North and the South Canadian. The North Canadian traverses the entire length of the county from east to west, and the South Canadian forms the southern boundary. These two rivers, with their numerous tributaries, form a combination of gentle rolling prairies and broad, beautiful valleys, unsurpassed in fertility by any section of country in the great south-west. The valleys of the far famed Canadians have ever elicited the highest encomiums from all who have had the fortune to view them. Canadian county embraces an area 30 by 36 miles of these rich, and beautiful valley lands.
If you will look at your map you will see that Canadian county will be in the exact geographical center of the Territory when the Cherokee strip on the north, and the Wichita and the Kiowa and Comanche country on the south is opened up to settlement. You will also see that the Great Rock Island Route in its march from Chicago to the gulf, cuts the county in halves from north to south, bringing us within a few hours of Kansas City and Chicago, and affording a ready market at nearly sea-board prices on the south for all the surplus grain the farmers have to sell. You will also observe the Choctaw rail-road running through the county from east to west, bringing the inexhaustible coal fields of South McAlister, and the pineries of Arkansas and Northern Texas to our very door; giving us an endless quantity of cheap lumber and fuel. The man who owns a quarter section of land in Canadian county and will improve it, can count himself a rich man in less than five years. There is no place in the new south west that offers such golden opportunities to men of small means to come and buy a farm which is sure to double in value the first year, and continue year by year in that ratio until the fabulous prices asked for lands in the east is attained. No person who visits Oklahoma should fail to come to El Reno, the county seat of Canadian county, and look the country over before leaving or making a purchase elsewhere.
There are about five thousand quarter sections of land in Canadian county, and every one of them is occupied. A great many of these claims are well improved, while others, the occupants have not as yet been able to make much improvements. Claims are meeting with ready sale for from $200 to $4,000, owing to the improvements and the proximity to the towns or railroads.
In the counties lying directly west of El Reno plenty of good lands can yet be found vacant. If you want to establish a home in a country already settled, supplied with railroads and other conveniences of civilization, come to El Reno and buy one of some of our farmers who have as yet been unable to make valuable improvements. If, on the other hand, you want a piece of government land, come to El Reno and then start west between the two Canadian rivers and select you a claim in the valleys of one or the other of their smaller tributaries.
In counties "H" and "G" hundreds of fine claims can be found vacant or purchased for a trifle.
Geographically speaking, El Reno is not only the center of Canadian County but will be the center of the territory, when the lands soon to be thrown open to settlement are added to Oklahoma. It is at this time the great railroad center of Oklahoma, and the pinnacle of commercial and political observation. It is the county seat of Canadian County, and it is believed by many that it is not only destined to be the future metropolis of the territory, but the capital of the coming State of Oklahoma. It is the only city on what is called the "West Side" having the advantages and benefits of two lines of railroads in actual operation, the great Rock Island system running from the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and the "Kali-Inli" or Choctaw, en route from Ft. Smith, Ark., to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is also on the proposed line of the Hutchinson & Southern R. R., and on the permanent survey of the St. Louis & San Francisco R. R.
Within the past twelve months El Reno has developed from a town of 1,500 people into a city of over 4,000, without any high pressure boom, but a steady, healthy and substantial growth. She has the finest system of water works of any town in the New South West. A 150 barrel flouring mill, two grain elevators, an electric light plant, and a motor line projected. A 75 room, brick hotel now under construction. Three frame hotels, one of which cost over $15,000. A new brick opera house, four banks, with capital ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 each. Two well organized fire companies. Five weekly newspapers, and one daily. First-class public schools for both white and colored children. Seven churches and 327 business houses, representing nearly every line. 'Twenty-three of these are quartered in large, fine two-story brick buildings, with seventeen additional brick business houses now under construction.
As before stated, nearly every line of business is represented, yet while this is true, but very few lines of business or avocations in life are over-done. In other words, there is still plenty of room for men of capital, of brains, and energy. Mechanics, artisans and tradesmen of all kinds will find El Reno to be a splendid field for their labors. There is a good opening here for the establishment of a planing mill, a sash and door manufactory. A gas plant, an electric light plant, an ice plant, cornice works, a tannery, marble works, a soap factory, a cannery and a manufactory of agricultural implements.
El Reno has a greater number of outside resources contributing to her greatness than any other town in the territory. For miles around she is encompassed by the rich and fertile lands of the Canadian valley. On the north, south and east for a distance of more than twenty miles, there are no towns of any size to divide the trade, and on the west and south west, she has undisputed control of all the trade for a distance of more than 80 miles. El Reno is the only accessible railroad point, the three leading counties organized a year ago in the Cheyenne and Arapahoe country have. These three counties lie directly west of El Reno, and embrace the best lands to be found in the Cheyenne and Arapahoe country. They are thickly populated and have made wonderful developments in every department. The bulk of the entire trade from this vast area comes to El Reno.
Within four miles of the city is Ft. Reno, the great historic military post of the Indian Territory, where the government disburses annually more than half a million dollars to her soldiers and Indian police, and for military supplies. This post last season furnished a market for 3,000 cords of wood, 3,500 tons of hay, 2,400,000 pounds of corn, 2,000,000 pounds of oats and 1,600,000 pounds of bran.
When it is remembered that the government has reserved 42 sections of land for the perpetual use and maintenance of this Post, and the Indian schools established near by, some idea of the magnitude, and the importance of the same to El Reno can be had. Aside from the large number of cavalry troops constantly quartered here, there are several hundred Indian police and other attaches. The daily cavalry drills, and the semi-weekly concerts given by the celebrated Mounted Fifth Cavalry Band, make it a favorite resort for El Reno people. There is but one other mounted band in the United States.
Three and one-half miles from El Reno is the Darlington Indian Agency, where the Arapahoe and Cheyenne Indians to the number of about 4,000 are supplied with food and clothing by the government, at an annual expenditure of nearly a half a million of dollars; aside from this vast sum expended, the government maintains three Indian schools and a large farm for their benefit and instruction.
Last season $260,000 was paid in cash annuities to the Indians at this point. The greater part of all these vast sums of money paid out by the government finds its way into the cash boxes of the El Reno merchant or into the pockets of the Canadian county farmer in exchange for his produce.