|Callie Hutton, author|
by Callie Hutton
Copyright © 2012 Callie Hutton
When the sun rose one hundred twenty-three years ago this coming April 22, a non-existent town, boasting only a train stop in Indian Territory, had a population of zero. When the sun set that same day, ten thousand people called themselves citizens of the new town of Guthrie, Oklahoma.
That was the day the first Oklahoma Territory Land Run took place. Those adventurers who sought a new life, and a chance at a better one, arrived in wagons, on horseback, on bicycle and, even on foot. They gathered on the borders of what had been Indian Territory and waited for the noon signal that the race was on. Cannons boomed, and bugles blew, and they were off.
Thousands had elected to take The Santa Fe Railway as their means of transportation. So many were loaded onto the trains, they stood on the roof, and jumped off when something appealed to them. The train, however, did make stops, with the majority of town lot seekers disembarking in Guthrie.
From there they raced to plots of land that had been divided and marked by government officials into town lots. After shoving a stake into the ground (staking your claim), the next stop was to the Land Office where the new citizen swore he or she was eligible under the Land Run Act. They stood in lines, hungry and thirsty, for hours, before receiving a piece of paper registering the plot. They were now land owners in the newly opened Oklahoma Territory.
Fights broke out between those claiming land where another’s possessions were already placed. But, most likely because of the lack of alcoholic beverages, all those individuals arrived, claimed land, and settled in, with no violence to mar the event.
Thousands of others claimed grants of 640 acres of land to start farms. They mostly traveled in covered wagons, with all their earthly possessions, and numerous family members, stuffed inside. The noise was deafening, and the dust choking. However, soon the Runners fanned out, and headed in different directions.
Many claimants had snuck in before the official start of the race, and garnered the name “Sooners.” Unfortunately, many of the lots in Guthrie were claimed by the very men who were designated to supervise the settling of the town. They took advantage of their position, and set up on the choicest lots in town, which they had been forbidden to do. One can only imagine the frustration of Land Runner racing with everyone else, only to find upon arrival in Guthrie that tents were set up already, obviously by those who had been there for some time. Years of lawsuits followed.
For a while Guthrie was the capital of Oklahoma Territories, but shortly after it became a state in 1907, the capital was moved to Oklahoma City. Today, the historical town still boasts buildings that were erected during the early days of settlement.
My Oklahoma Lovers Series takes place in Guthrie. During the research phase of the first book, I took a trip to Guthrie, which is only about forty-five minutes from my house. The town was in the midst of celebrating a Territorial Christmas where shopkeepers, and even some shoppers, dressed in Victorian clothing. I took these pictures during that trip.
Since I was born and raised in New Jersey, I had absolutely no knowledge of the Land Run. We probably covered it in history class a one point, but no emphasis was placed on it. New Jersey’s own rich history of early settlements, and the Revolutionary War took precedence.
After I moved to the great state of Oklahoma, I heard the story of the Land Run, and it immediately caught my interest. I had to investigate further. The courage of the men and women who took the plunge, and raced with thousands of others for a new life, touched something deep inside me. How desperate must their existences have been to take such a chance?
A Run For Love (Oklahoma Lovers #1) starts at the Land Run, and follows Tori Henderson and Jesse Cochran as they clash, then marry, then clash again. A Wife By Christmas (Oklahoma Lovers #2) features one of the characters from A Run For Love seventeen years later. Ellie Henderson is now all grown up and giving Max Colbert a twitch in his left eye. He figures getting her married off will get her out of his life, but no one seems to be worthy of her. I recently finished A Prescription for Love (Oklahoma Lovers #3), and features another character from the original book, Michael Henderson’s venture into love.
Where you can purchase A Run for Love: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Soul Mate Publishing
Win a FREE Book!
Callie will provide a free download of either A Run for Love, or A Wife By Christmas, (your choice), to one commenter. If you’ve read both of her books, and you’re willing to wait, you can receive a free download of An Angel in the Mail when it becomes available. Drawing will be held April 21st at 9pm Pacific Time. Comments on both this article and Monday's interview are welcome, so you have all week! Be sure to include your email address or we'll have to draw another name.
Thank you, Callie!
Visitors, please check out Callie's interview.