Fitzpatricks Made the Most of Oklahoma Land Run

An Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 treated this homesteading family well.

| Good Old Days

This story of the Fitzpatrick family's move to Oklahoma after the Oklahoma land run of 1889 is part of a longer manuscript written by my mother, Iva Fitzpatrick Potter, when she was 91 years old. After the death of her mother when she was seven months old, the little girl lived with her grandparents for nearly 15 years. These recollections begin when she was seven years old:

My grandfather, Joseph J. Fitzpatrick, and my father, William W. Fitzpatrick, made the run to Oklahoma from Arkansas City, Kan., on April 22, 1889. They staked claims cornering, five-and-a-half miles southeast of Mulhall on Beaver Creek.

My father had been on his claim only a few hours when a man came by and said he had staked a claim on the land before Father did. Father knew he was a Sooner or claim jumper, as some called the men who came into the territory before it was officially opened. All they wanted was money or something that could be turned into money. Father offered him money-$25, I think. The man gladly took it, and Father never saw him again.

After the run, Father and Grandfather stayed on their claims so they could improve them. They had brought as many farming implements as they could carry in two wagons. They plowed up the sod, and planted pumpkins, potatoes, turnips, corn and other garden seeds. They dug wells and walled them with rock. Grandfather built a two-room cabin from oak logs which he and Father hewed so they would fit together closely; if there was a space between logs they chinked it with clay from the creek bed.

In October the men came back to Kansas to bring their families to Oklahoma. When we came to the Salt Fork, it was bank-full so we couldn't ford it. Some men had a ferry boat there which held a team and wagon. Horses on the bank pulled the ferry across by means of a heavy rope; men helped with their long poles. My uncles, on horses, drove the cows across.

The next stream we crossed was Red Rock, and as the wagon went down the bank to the stream, a barrel of pickles my grandmother was taking to her new home turned over. I cried as some pickles went floating downstream, but Grandfather lifted the barrel quickly and we didn't lose many.

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