As far back as the Creeks know themselves, they were living in Alabama and there came trouble among them, and one part of them went to Florida. These were called Seminoles. They made a treaty for the country in which they now live about the same time the Cherokees moved west. Possibly as late as 1836 they, by agreement, divided their territory among themselves, the Seminoles taking the west part. They made a treaty in 1866, and sold their surplus land in Oklahoma, as the’ Cherokees had done, at 47½ cents per acre, to be used to settle friendly Indians upon, as well as freedmen. On their land the government settled the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, Sac and Fox, Iowas, Pottawatomies, and Kickapoos.
A part of this country was not settled by any Indians, and was the original Oklahoma. The Creeks claimed that the title reverted to them, arid, they let it out for grass pasture land to various cattlemen, among others Wagoner, Auho & Burnet, Pitckguel Brothers and the Miller Brothers, who established the famous 101 ranch. In the fall of 1880 Captain Payne led a colony of settlers into that country.
The Creek government contended that the land had not been sold to white settlers, but Captain Payne and his “Sooners” settled on Deep Fork at the stage line between Welch and the stage station on Deer creek, and began to build houses and to dig wells. The government notified them to get off, but they paid no heed to the warnings. Finally soldiers were sent to enforce the command. They had to tie Captain Payne to get him out of the country.
After this boomers continued to cross the line continuously, and the soldiers had a busy time putting them out. After the death of Captain Payne Captain Couch took his place, guided by one of the most determined cowboys of the west, Phil Johnson, who had spent many years in the country after cattle and knew it to be a good country. He knew also all the good camping places, and being, as well as Couch, a determined man, they defied the government until finally, in the fall of 1888, President Harrison bought the land from the Creeks for white settlement, and old Oklahoma was opened for settlement on April 22, 1889.
The opening of Oklahoma might be called the opening wedge. Too much credit for it cannot be given Captain Payne, Captain Couch and Phil Johnson. There should be a monument of Oklahoma stone built for those three men.
The opening of Oklahoma threw the surrounding tribes of Indians into closer touch with the white men, and introduced them to civilization. The Pottawatomie, Sac and Fox, Iowa and Ponca country was opened for settlement on September 22, 1891. The next reservation to be opened was that of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, whose country was opened for white settlement on November 19, 1892. The next was the Kickapoo country, opened for settlement on May 23, 1895.
It will be remembered that all these openings up to this time had been “on the run.” The prospective settlers had been lined up outside the new country, and at a given signal they rushed into the new land, to secure what farms or lots they could. The man with the fastest horse and the biggest gun and the most friends would get the best place.
The Creek Indians were the first to make a final treaty with the United States for the closing of their tribal government, and were also the first to open a land office. The allotment of their land was about completed by January 1, 1903.
- Additional Creek and Seminole Resources
Source: Puckett, J. L. and Ellen. History of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and Homeseeker’s guide. Vinita, Oklahoma, Chieftain Publishing Company, 1906.