No Man's Land - Oklahoma Territory - OK/ITGenWeb

No Man's Land
Oklahoma Territory

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Land Openings
1889 - 1907

LaRae Halsey-Brooks
Eireann Brooks

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No Man's Land encompasses the OK Panhandle counties of
Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron.

No-Mans Land of early Oklahoma history became what is now known as the Panhandle and touches Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Its history begins about 1850 when Texas relinquished claim to that territory in compromising over the slavery question. Little or no settlement had been made there then. The Santa Fe Trail traversed what is now Beaver County in 1822. An 1850 map shows it as merely part of the public lands neighboring on the Cherokee Outlet. It was already a haven for outlaws for Texas had paid little attention to the extreme northern part of her territory.

The type of population in the panhandle are responsible for its high rank in many respects. There are practically no Negroes and very few Indians. Those Indians that are there have settled along the railroads and have come as enterprising individuals rather than tribes or bands which were forced to locate there as is true in the rest of the state. The few negroes who are there were not slaves to be released after the Civil War because it was north of 36 degrees and 30' and the latter fact makes the history of No-Mans Land what it is. The outlaws who drifted into that territory because it was so long unorganized and unprotected drifted out when the opposite condition began to prevail leaving the original settlers who had come, like the type already mentioned more as individuals than as groups, who had gradually filtered in from settlements in surrounding states and territories. Probably because there were no large groups led or driven into this territory statistics show they are more capable of individual self government than other peoples to be found in the state. The population for the whole panhandle rose slowly but steadily until 1900, sank between 1900 and 1910, and has risen very gradually since.

One of the agreements made in 1866 as a result of the Civil War was the right-of-way to railroads across the "Indian Country". One of these, the Santa Fe, followed the old Santa Fe Trail across Beaver County. In 1879 the Jones and Plummer Cattle Trail from Toscasco to Dodge City first crossed Beaver Creek, and at this crossing a fur trader built a sod store. Several years later this place became Beaver City. The name Beaver, first given to the creek, later to all No-Mans Land and finally to the present Beaver County was probably in honor of a chief of the Choctaw Indians. An 1880 map shows this country a 'Public Land" strip surrounded by states and territories.

In 1885 and 86 the general tide of immigration into southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado swarmed over into No-Mans Land. By 1887 the population had reached 6000 yet there was no way for the settlers to claim the land upon which they lived, no way to make marriages legal in the territory, no laws to govern tax foreclosures, the organization of corporations, etc. More than that the desperados and horse thieves who had come there because of this condition were not pleasant neighbors for the peaceful settlers who held their land merely by common consent and good faith. The main trouble was that during dry years these settlers often had to leave their holdings for a time in order to subsist and if someone "jumped their claim" while they were gone there was no way of forcing off the intruder.

Under the circumstances there was nothing the people could do but organize their own government. The main hindrance to this was the constant rivalry and meddling of townsites and ambitious politicians. A meeting was held in Beaver City on 26 October 1886 which organized a "Claimants Board" to protect land claims. The inhabitants had only the "squatters rights" Federal law to work from. In November of the same year a meeting was held in the sod schoolhouse in Beaver City for the purpose of manufacturing "quit claim" deeds at which the foundation was built for the organization of a new territory known as the Cimarron Territory.

At the same time a scheme was being worked on by those who wished to delay or prevent the settlement of the "Indian Country" by white people to make No-Mans Land a part of Kansas.

The first election in the new Cimarron Territory was held 22 February 1887. The nine delegates chosen at this convention met in the same sod schoolhouse on March 4 and organized a first legislative body of the Cimarron Territory. This territory was divided into five counties - Benton, Beaver, Palo Duro, Optima, and Sunset. Laws were made governing land, marriages, taxes, foreclosures, etc. What public property there was at the time had been secured by private freewill contributions.

The next three years were marked by the rivalry of political organizations divided over purely local issues. J. E. Dale and Orville G. Chase both reported in Washington, showed credentials, and asked to be recognized as the official delegate to Congress from an Organized Territory. Either would have been seated if it had not been for the opposition of the other. As it was Congress could not decide which to recognize and that more than anything else kept No-Mans Land from eventually becoming a separate State.

In 1890 the Organic Act which organized the Indian Territory made No-Mans Land part of that territory. It also made it all one of seven counties and called it Beaver County. Beaver County then had a population of 64,000. Among other things this county then boasted a newspaper published in Beaver City known as the Beaver Herald. This paper is still being published. The town of Rothwell was then a rival of Beaver City and had caused much of the political dissension. Beaver City succeeded in becoming the county seat.

This item can be found in the vertical files for Texas County in the Oklahoma Historical Society's Genealogy Library. It appears to have been part of the Oklahoma Writer's Project, written on 22 July 1936. The opinions expressed by the writer of the article in no way represent the opinions of the coordinator, OKGenWeb, or the USGenWeb projects. However, it is a fascinating view of the county from the 1930's.

Thanks to Mark Adkinson, former host of Texas County OKGenWeb.

Photographs of No Man's Land
submitted by Nancy Brister

About the US GenWeb Project


My name is LaRae Halsey-Brooks, and my daughter,
Eireann Brooks, and I are the Co-Coordinators
for the No Man's Land ITGenWeb Project page.

If you would like to contribute your information
to this page, please let us know!

If you are interested in sponsoring a county in the OKGenWeb Project,
or have questions regarding the OKGenWeb Project, please contact:

OKGenWeb State Coordinator: Linda Simpson
Asst State Coordinator: Mel Owings

For more information, you may also visit the Adopt A County page.

To post your Queries, Biographies, Bible Records, Deeds, Obituaries,
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This page was last updated
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