Early in the 19th century, the United States of American came into possession of a huge parcel of land in the present-day state of Oklahoma. This land was taken from the Native American tribes who previously lived in the area and were later relocated to a reservation.
This parcel of land was called the ‘Unassigned Lands’ and was considered a very good piece of land. Naturally, everyone wanted to get a part of this land. So the government came up with a method of assigning this land to the people who wanted to live there.
It was indeed something like that. There were only a few simple requirements to get a large piece of land in the Unassigned Lands. A person simply had to go into the Unassigned Lands at a set date and then take control of a piece of land which he liked.
The size of land one person could claim was 160 acres. The government then required this new owner to remain on this land for at least 5 years and to improve it. Then he could file a claim and get official deed of the land, effectively becoming its owner. But it was not all that simple. That was because there who a lot of people who came to claim this land.
The total size of the land that was up for grabs in 1889 was two million acres in the present-day state of Oklahoma. President Benjamin Harrison authorized the division of this land among the prospective settlers. The date that was set for granting the land was April 22, 1889.
So before this data, thousands of people from all over USA came and camped on the borders of the Unassigned Lands. These included farmers, cowboys, freed slaves, even people with their entire families in wagons. They all wanted a piece of land they could own and live in, and wanted to start a new life here. In all, nearly 50,000 people came to claim the land.
On the noon of April 22, 1889, government officials sounded off a signal. As soon as this was heard, thousands of people raced into the Unassigned Lands to mark off their properties. They spread all over the 2 million acres area and marked off their own 160 acres in different parts.
Some of the people had sneaked into the Unassigned Lands before the race began. They lay hidden in the area so that as soon as the signal was given, they could race to the best pieces of land and claim them. These people came to be known as the Sooners. Their illegal entry before the government signal later led to many legal disputes between the Sooners and the people who entered later at the right time and claimed the land.
The Land Rush was incredibly fast. Within a few hours, thousands of people had claimed their pieces of land, marked off the boundaries and started improving the land that they now owned. The place where the Oklahoma City is situated today had no population before April 22, 1889. Within one day, this place had a population of 10,000 people. Within 2 weeks, this new city had schools. Within a month, the city had 6 newspapers and 5 banks. This made Oklahoma City to be one of the fastest cities to have come into being.