<u><BOLD>Development of the Indian Territory


Among the events of importance in this period of Oklahoma history was the annexation of Texas and its admission as a state into the Union. Originally a part of the Republic of Mexico, it had revolted and declared its independence a few years before. Its annexation to the United States was one of the chief causes of the Mexican War. The history of Oklahoma is involved by reason of the fact that all of that part of Oklahoma lying west of the 100th meridian was included within the bounds of Texas when it was an independent republic, before it was annexed to the United States. In 1850, the state of Texas formally relinquished and ceded to the United States all of that part of its domain which extended northward from latitude 36 degrees, 30 feet. This action was taken in order to comply with the provisions of the Missouri Compromise, of 1820, whereby it had been agreed that no more slave holding territoriy north of that line should be admitted into the Union as states. The organization of the territories of Kansas (1854) and New Mexico (1850), together with this new northern boundary of Texas and the western boundary of the Cherokee Outlet, left an area of three degrees (166 miles) in length by one-half degree (thirty-four miles) in width which was never included within the bounds of any state or territory until it became a part of the Territory of Oklahoma, in 1890. Until that time, it was often called No-Man's-Land. It now includes the counties of Beaver, Cimarron and Texas.

At the outbreak of the Mexican War, in 1846, most of the soldiers of the garrisons of Forts Gibson and Towson and Washita were ordered to join the army on the southern border. Soldiers from other states marched across Oklahoma to Texas and New Mexico on their way to the same war. After the war ended some of the troops which had taken part in it were again stationed at these posts in the Indian Territory.

In 1849, after the discovery of gold in California, when thousands of people were thronging across the continent toward the goldfields, a large party was formed at Fort Smith, on the eastern border of the Indian Territory and, with an escort of United States troops under the comand of Captain Randolph B. March, marched westward across Oklahoma toward Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trail made by this party of gold seekers crossed the Canadian River at the site of the present town of Purcell, in McClain County, and followed the divide between that stream and the Washita most of the way to the western border of Oklahoma. It was followed by other parties of gold seekers, emigrants and overland travelers during the succeeding years and it became known as the California Road. The same route was followed by the Pacific railway survey, by Lieutenant Amiel W. Whipple, in 1854. A number of Cherokee Indians went to California during the gold excitement, some of whom never returned to the Indian Territory.

When the territories of Kansas and Nebraska were organized, in 1854, the northern boundary of the Indian Territory was fixed on the 37th parallel of north latitude. This boundary line was surveyed in 1858 by a party under the command of Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, of the U. S. Army.

From the time they were moved to the Indian Territory until 1855, the Chickasaw Indians had been citizens of the Choctaw Nation. Likewise, from the time the Seminole Indians had been brought west until 1856, the Seminole Indians had been citizens of the Creek Nation. Neither the Chickasaw nor Seminole people ever were satisfied with these arrangements, however, and, in 1855, they asked for seperate tribal governments, which were organized during the following year. The written constitutions of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations date from that time.

In 1858 and 1859, there was war between the white people and the Comanche Indians, who ranged over the western part of the Indian Territory. Several battles were fought, including one in Ellis County, near the Antelope Hills, and one near Rush Springs, in Grady County, and, although the whites were victorious, the Indians remained unconquered.

Late in the summer of 1859, the Caddo, Waco and several other small tribes of Indians which had been located on the Brazos reservation, in Texas, were brought to the Indian Territory and settled with the people of the Wichita tribe in the valley of the Washita, in what is now Caddo County. Fort Cobb, a new military post, was established for their protection. Fort Arbuckle, near the Washita River, in Murray County, had been established in 1851. Fort Towson was abandoned as a military post in 1852 and Fort Gibson was likewise abandoned in 1857.

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Ann Maloney, Bartlesville, OK.
Copyright © 1998 Ann Maloney all rights reserved.