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Map Documenting Unassigned Lands in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

Among the First Separately Printed Maps of Oklahoma

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312.     [MAP]. HUDSON-KIMBERLY PUBLISHING COMPANY. KANSAS CITY TIMES. The Kansas City Times’ Map of Oklahoma. Taken from Government Surveys [below neat line] Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., Printers, Binders, Map Engravers, Etc., Kansas City. [inset text at left] Direction for Locating a Claim…United States Land Offices. Kingfisher & Guthrie. [inset text below preceding and slightly to right] Read the Kansas City Times for reliable news in regard to the Oklahoma Country. “The Times” will maintain its position as leader in the Oklahoma movement until that country shall become a State…. [below text box for preceding] H-K Pub Co. Engs. K.C. [inset untitled area map at lower left with Oklahoma as it was then in yellow, in relation to surrounding areas of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and Indian Territory, the latter of which then included Neutral Strip, i.e. future Oklahoma Panhandle and the Cherokee Outlet; neat line to neat line: 17.4 x 15.7 cm] [table of mileage at lower center in irregular border] Kansas City to Wichita.—228…. [key at lower right with symbols] Reference Proposed R.R. Stage Line and Road. Kansas City, [ca. 1889, date from Streeter]. Lithograph map with yellow shading machine applied, printed on flimsy newsprint, graphic scale = approximately six miles to the inch. Neat line to neat line: 42 x 78.2 cm; map & text above and below: 46.3 x 78.2 cm; overall sheet size: 56 x 81 cm. Creased where formerly folded, a few clean splits and small holes (minor losses), a few small spots in blank margins, overall a very good, original condition of a fairly early separately printed map of Oklahoma. Separately issued newspaper maps of this type are understandably difficult to locate. Two locations known: Kansas City Public Library (with voids and library markings) and University of Michigan (Clements Library). Eberstadt 163:49 (silked).

     First edition of one of the earliest separately printed maps of Oklahoma. Gilcrease-Hargrett does not list this map and states that “the first map of Oklahoma, and a prime rarity” is the 1885 Kansas State Journal Map of Oklahoma (Gilcrease-Hargrett, p. 254; Phillips, America, p. 637). The next separately printed map listed by Gilcrease-Hargrett (p. 255) is the 1894 Map of Oklahoma Territory published by Forbes Company in Boston and New York. The present map is not in Phillips, America, Rumsey, and other standard sources. A mounted copy of the present map was in the Streeter Sale (590), where Streeter comments: “This map shows Oklahoma north of the Canadian River subdivided into squares of one square mile, that is one section of land, with an inset map showing the relation of this to the surrounding region, Texas, Kansas, and so on. Though undated, it was probably issued before a large block of this land north of the Canadian was opened for settlement on April 22, 1889, by presidential proclamation.” This map was intended as a general information map and promotional, including text on “Direction for Locating a Claim” and how to contact the U.S. Land Offices at Kingfisher and Guthrie.

     The map was distributed as an extra by the Kansas City Times, a morning newspaper published in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1867 to 1990, when its then owner, the afternoon Kansas City Star, assumed the role of a morning newspaper. The Times had great influence over the years, winning two Pulitzer Prizes in 1982. The newspaper was influential from the beginning, creating the anti-hero myth of Jesse James and in later years influencing the career of President Henry Truman. It was in the pages of the Kansas City Times that Dr. Morrison Munford first used the terms “Boom” and “Boomer” in reference to the effort to establish settlements in the “Unassigned Lands” of Oklahoma and to the people involved in those efforts. The Kansas City Times publicized and promoted the Oklahoma Land Rushes. As stated in an inset text box: “The Times will maintain its position as leader in the Oklahoma movement until that country shall become a State.”

     The present map represents the first of a series of land rushes in what is now Oklahoma. Referred to as the “Land Rush of 1889,” it initiated the process of selling Native American “Unassigned Lands.” This map represents the sales involving most of what is now Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties. At high noon on April 22, 1889, legal aspirants were allowed to enter the “Unassigned Lands” and choose 160 acres of land for an agricultural homestead. “It is an astonishing thing,” the New York Herald observed on the eve of the opening, “that men will fight harder for $500 worth of land than they will for $10,000 in money.” Surely this event was an outstanding example of American capitalism distilled to pure Darwinian survival of the fittest. By setting the stage for non-Native-American settlement of other sections of Indian Territory, the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 quickly led to the creation of Oklahoma Territory under the Organic Act of 1890 and ultimately to formation of the forty-sixth state of the Union, Oklahoma, in 1907.

     The so-called Oklahoma Land Rushes were the culmination of a centuries-old process in which European settlers constantly and relentlessly pushed Native Americans from the Eastern Seaboard towards the interior. Despite lavish promises made to the tribes when they were settled in Oklahoma and even later ones, such as the 1885 treaty that promised them their lands “as long as the grass grows and water runs,” the unwavering push of the white population into the West caused promise after promise to be broken. The present map is a beguilingly attractive representation of the latest such broken treaty that resulted in the transfer of millions of acres of Native American lands to the expanding U.S. population.


Sold. Hammer: $1,200.00; Price Realized: $1,440.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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