The Great Run For Land

Detail of Land Run Picture

It was insane.

Horses and buggies, light carriages, wagons, bicycles, all manner of conveyances tangled in a mass trying to get in position for the starting of the greatest race in this country's history, the great Land Run of 1889.

What must it have looked like, this seething mass of pioneer stew, to the Kiowa, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche and the other tribes who were about to lose the last of their buffalo hunting grounds, the "Unassigned" lands, the Great Prairie?

There were cowboys who knew the trail, riding for the good pasture lands around the Hennessey grave site. There were ambitious men determined to build a town where no town lots had been platted. There were immigrants from Europe, eager for land of their own.


One hundred, sixty acres of land, more if families could stake adjacent claims, all to be had by the Detail of Land Run Picturefastest, the strongest, the most determined. When the sun set on Resurrection Sunday, April 21, 1889, hope was high. Disappointment lay in the dunes along the Cimarron and under the Hennessey bluffs, but at high noon, April 22, 1889, every man, woman, and child raced toward their dream.

In 1938, the Kingfisher Study Club collected stories from early day Kingfisher and the book, Echoes from Eighty-Nine preserves the memories of those chaotic times. In excerpts from that book which is available for reference in the Hennessey Public Library:

  • M.O.Stetler tells of the family's run for Hennessey.
  • Mrs. Emma Umberger tells of keeping their stock lariated with wire while her husband, Dave Umberger, made the run.
  • Mrs. H. V. Sturgeon, mother of H. Violet Sturgeon, the first woman in Oklahoma to serve as an officer of the Oklahoma Medical Association, tells her story of the run and life on the claim.
  • Her brother, Frank Snapp shares his teaching experiences in the territory.