Woman Recalls Horseback Race for Free Land

Traveling by covered wagon and horseback, settlers participated in Cherokee Strip Land Run looking for free land.

| Good Old Days

Her dimming eyes sparkle with excitement when Eva Wintermute talks about the Cherokee Strip Land Run in 1893 in what is now Oklahoma. With a keen memory for detail, she adds new zest to the story of searching for free land:

"All we heard during a long, hot, miserable summer was talk of the Big Run. The Cherokee Outlet was the last frontier, a land of lush grass and fresh streams – five million acres of 'Promised Land.'

"I was only 17, too young to get a claim, but I had promised to marry Walter the next spring, so we looked forward to getting a claim of our own. Since Father's death, I had helped Mother keep the farm going and could handle a team like a man, so I agreed to drive the supply wagon for the Wintermute brothers, who would make the Run on horseback.

"Mother and I set out in a covered wagon from our home near Chautauqua Springs about a week before the Run and made the hot, wearisome trip to Arkansas City, where the men planned to register.

"We camped in the yard of a friend's home and cooked meals to take to Walter and his brothers, while they stood in line three days to register. Between meals, we fanned and shooed flies and visited with camp neighbors. Thirty thousand people were crowded into that town of 4,000.

"All kinds were there, the peddlers, the fakers, the blind and the greedy. Plain folks, whimpering children and yelping dogs, horse traders with business, young men selling water at 10 cents a cup. The heat was fierce, and a thick dust was on everything, swirling in the streets, clinging to our sweaty faces. Nothing but Strip talk was heard, but the most urgent need was for a cup of fresh water.

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