Rare Boomer Ephemera by the Father of Oklahoma

Gilcrease-Hargrett: “Excessively Rare”

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472. [OKLAHOMA TERRITORY]. PAYNE, David L[ewis]. To Our Oklahoma Colonists. Those Who Wish a Home in that Beautiful Country. Dated at end: Wichita, Kansas, June 8, 1882. [4] pp., unbound leaflet. 8vo (22.5 x 14.5 cm). Other than some smudging on final page and a few minor marginal chips (no losses), very good. Very rare (two copies located on OCLC—Yale and Newberry—and one reported in Gilcrease-Hargrett).

     First printing. Gilcrease-Hargrett Catalogue states: “A highly important document in the history of the boomer movement, and a glowing picture of the wonders and delights awaiting those who would join Payne’s colony. Excessively Rare.” Graff 3226. Midland Notes 101:444. Streeter Sale 583 (Lester Hargrett, 1945): “Payne claims that the Indians have no title, only at best a ‘hunting permit’ to the land west of the 96th meridian, but that in any event his colonists can settle on land granted the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Payne denies that he had been held under bail for violating the laws of the United States by settling these lands, and refers to his case against General Pope for damages for being removed from the lands. He again asks for colonists and describes the land in glowing terms.”

     Boomer David Lewis Payne (1836-1884), first cousin of David Crockett, is considered the Father of Oklahoma and has been called the rolling stone of the frontier. After serving in the military in the Civil War, he held a variety of positions, including being elected to the Kansas Legislature and serving as assistant doorkeeper at the U.S. House of Representatives. It was while in Washington that he became interested in Oklahoma and rose to be the most prominent proponent of the Oklahoma Movement. He created the Southwest Colonization Association. His intrusions onto unclaimed lands in the Territory were repeatedly frustrated because the U.S. Army removed the settlements every time. He died without ever permanently settling in Oklahoma, although his family eventually removed his remains to Stillwater, county seat of Payne County, which was named in his honor. The opening of Oklahoma to settlement in 1889 was Payne’s posthumous victory. One of Payne’s contemporaries, a Wichita editor, stated: “What Daniel Boone is to Kentucky, David Payne will be to Oklahoma.” The claims Payne staked out are now the heart of the Oklahoma oil fields. For more on Payne, see Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, p. 1123; and Carl Coke Rister, Land Hunger: David L. Payne and the Oklahoma Boomers (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942).

     T.C. Richardson in his review of Rister’s book Land Hunger (Southwestern Historical Review, Volume 46, Number 3, January 1943, pp. 282-283) commented:

David Payne was a product of his times and environment, and a baffling study in contrasts of strengths and weaknesses—high ability as a leader and personal responsibility. He resorted to every trick of the demagogue and promoter to keep memberships in his colony pouring in, but circumspectly based his campaign on his concept of law....

To his followers he was a selfless leader; to others he was an opportunist and deadbeat, the “drunken idol of deluded followers.” His life work changed the history of Oklahoma and affected all the neighboring states. Though neither gold nor silver existed, the Oklahoma Boomer movement attracted intense and widespread interest, causing a population movement comparable to the California gold rush of ‘49 in its consequences, and far surpassing the more recent Pike’s Peak and Black Hills episodes. Its history again illustrates the inherent inertia of government, the perennial conflict between special interests and the masses, and the intricate processes of intrigue, political and financial, by which such conflicts are finally resolved or compromised.


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,900.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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