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Local History in the Research Center : Oklahoma Timeline

CHRONOLOGY OF OKLAHOMA EVENTS

1541

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado crosses western Oklahoma in search of the golden city of Quivira. He claims land for Spain but makes no permanent settlement. Hernando de Soto explores along present eastern border of Oklahoma. Don Diego del Castillo spends six months in the Wichita Mountains prospecting for gold and silver.

1682

Robert-Rene Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claims for the King of France all lands drained by the Mississippi River (including present-day Oklahoma) under the name of Louisiana.

1804

All of Louisiana north of the thirty-third parallel is designated as the District of Louisiana and placed under the administration of Indiana Territory; William Henry Harrison thus becomes the first American governor of Oklahoma. 

1805

District of Louisiana is organized as the Territory of Louisiana with the seat of government at St. Louis. 

1806

Lieutenant James B. Wilkinson descends the Arkansas River crossing northeastern Oklahoma.

1808

Several Cherokee chiefs and headmen inform President Jefferson that a portion of the tribe wishes to emigrate to the West.

1811

Territory of Louisiana is organized as the Territory of Missouri. George C. Sibley, United States Indian agent, explores the  Great Salt Plains near the present Cherokee. 

1817

Cherokees sign the first removal treaty obtaining land in the present state of Arkansas, and the movement of one-third of the tribe to the new location begins. Fort Smith is established on the present border of Oklahoma to protect the immigrant Indians.

1819

That portion of the Territory of Missouri south of 36°30' is organized as the Territory of Arkansas, including all of Oklahoma except a strip along the present northern boundary. Thomas Nuttall, English naturalist, visits Oklahoma studying flora and fauna. Boundary between the United States and the Spanish possessions is fixed at the Red River and the one-hundredth meridian, thus establishing the southern and western limits of Oklahoma. 

1820

Choctaws purchase the area south of the Canadian and Arkansas rivers- the first eastern Indian tribe to acquire land in Oklahoma—but few remove to the new location. Arkansas legislature passes an act creating Miller County in southeastern Oklahoma and establishing the Miller Courthouse, the first court within the present state. 

1821

Rev. Epaphras Chapman founds Union Mission on Grand River among the Osage-the first Protestant mission in Oklahoma. Sequoyah completes the Cherokee alphabet. 

1824

First post office in Oklahoma is opened at Miller Courthouse. Fort Gibson— the first fort in Oklahoma—is established on the Grand River; Fort Towson is established on the Red River near the mouth of the Kiamichi.

1825

 

Treaty with the Choctaws fixes the present eastern boundary of Oklahoma from Fort Smith to the Red River.

1826

Creeks purchase a tract of land in Oklahoma, and a portion of the tribe prepares to emigrate. Military road is constructed from Fort Gibson to Fort Smith, the first road established in Oklahoma. 

1828

First immigrant Creeks arrive in Oklahoma and begin to lay out farms in the Arkansas valley. Cherokees in Arkansas exchange their land for a tract in Oklahoma; the boundary established by this treaty fixes the remainder of the present eastern boundary of the state.

1829

Arkansas Cherokees begin their removal to Oklahoma; Sequoyah settles in the present Sequoyah County; Dwight Mission, established by the Presbyterians for the Arkansas Cherokees, is removed to Oklahoma. Sam Houston, after resigning as governor of Tennessee, setdes near Fort Gibson and is granted full citizenship rights by the Cherokee Council. President Andrew Jackson in his message to Congress advises removal of all Indians remaining in the East.

1830

 

The Indian Removal Act is passed by Congress. Choctaws cede the remainder of their land in Mississippi and prepare to remove to Oklahoma, the main removals taking place during the suc- ceeding three years. A Presbyterian church is organized among the Creeks in the Arkansas valley. 

1832

 

Cherokee Council provides for the opening of five schools, the first school law enacted in the present state of Oklahoma. Washington Irving accompanies United States rangers on an expedition from Fort Gibson to the present site of Norman [and back to Fort Gibson], recording his experiences in A Tour on the Prairies. Creeks cede the remainder of their land in the East, thus paving the way for the removal of the succeeding four years. A Presbyterian church is organized among the immigrant Choctaws at Wheelock, and a Baptist church among the Creeks. 

1833

 

Seminoles sign a removal treaty, which is followed by the long and exhausting Seminole War and the final colonization of the tribe in Oklahoma.

1834

 

United States Commissioners draw up a territorial form of government for the immigrant Indians, the first of many futile attempts to create an Indian state of Oklahoma. Leavenworth-Dodge Expedition from Fort Gibson visits southwestern Oklahoma and establishes friendly relations with the wild tribes.

1835

 

Samuel A. Worcester installs a printing press at Union Mission and publishes the first book printed in Oklahoma.Comanche and Wichita Indians enter into treaty relations with the United States at a council held near the present site of Lexington. Criminal jurisdiction of the Federal courts of Arkansas is extended over Oklahoma. Cherokees remaining in the East cede their land to the United States, thus paving the way for the removals of the succeeding three years. 

1837

 

Chickasaws surrender their lands in the East and begin their removal to Oklahoma. 

1838

 

Choctaws complete a council house of hewn logs near the present site of Tuskahoma, the first capitol built in Oklahoma.

1839

 

Newly arrived Cherokees and "Old Settler Cherokees" adopt a new constitution and establish a council ground at Tahlequah.
1842  Fort Washita is established to protect the Chickasaw settlements from the wild tribes of the Southwest. Choctaw congregation at Wheelock builds a stone church, which still stands as the oldest church building in Oklahoma. 

1843

 

A great council of eighteen Indian tribes is held at Tahlequah, and a code of intertribal law is drawn up and adopted by the Cherokees, Creeks, and Osages. 

1844

 

The Cherokee Messenger—the first newspaper published in Oklahoma-is issued at a Baptist missionary station north of the present Westville; it is followed a month later by The Cherokee Advocate, published at Tahlequah. First cotton gin in the Cherokee Nation—probably the first in Oklahoma-is constructed on the Arkansas fifteen miles above Fort Smith. 

1849

 

First Masonic Lodge established in an Indian tribe is organized at Tahlequah. Hordes of California gold-seekers follow a well-defined trail across Oklahoma. 

1850

 

Texas relinquishes the land north of 36° 30', thus forming the southern boundary of the Oklahoma Panhandle. 

1851

 

Fort Arbuckle is established. 

1852

 

Tahlequah is incorporated under Cherokee law—the first incorporated town in Oklahoma. 

1854

 

Kansas-Nebraska Act defines the southern boundary of Kansas at 37°, thus fixing the northern boundary of Oklahoma.

1856

 

Seminoles separate from the Creeks and form their own government. Chickasaws set up a tribal government, adopt a constitution, and establish Tishomingo as their capital.

1858

 

Butterfield stage and mail route is laid out, crossing Oklahoma from Fort Smith west and south to the Red River. 

1859

 

An intertribal law code is drawn up by the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles) at North Fork Town. Fort Cobb is established on the western frontier of civilized Indian settlement. 

1860

 

Choctaws adopt the constitution under which their government functions until the end of the tribal period.

1861

 

United States abandons the forts in Oklahoma; most of the Indian tribes align with the Confederates; thousands of Union Indians flee to Kansas. 

1862

 

A Union military expedition from Kansas penetrates to Fort Gibson.

1863

 

Union forces defeat the Confederates at Honey Springs, the most important battle fought in Oklahoma during the Civil War.

1865

 

Confederate Indians surrender to Union forces more than two months after Appomatox; United States officials hold a council with the Indians and lay down terms for the resumption of treaty relations. 

1866

 

Five Civilized Tribes sign treaties with the United States freeing their slaves, ceding the western half of Oklahoma for the settlement of other Indians, and agreeing to a tentative intertribal organization. The name Oklahoma is first suggested by Allen Wright, member of the Choctaw treaty delegation. Congress grants franchises for the construction of the first two railroads across Oklahoma. 

1867

 

United States makes the first of a series of treaties, assigning reserva- tions to Indian tribes in the ceded territory. Creeks adopt their final constitution. 

1869

 

Fort Sill is established as the base of operations against the Plains Indians. 

1870

 

Construction is started on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad—the first to enter the Oklahoma area. Federal government begins the survey of the Chickasaw district, establishing the initial point from which all of Oklahoma except the Pan- handle is eventually surveyed. First meeting of the intertribal council is convened at Okmulgee.

1872

 

First coal mining on a commercial scale begins at McAlester in the Choctaw Nation. 

1874

 

Fort Reno is established.

1875

 

Resistance of the Plains Indians to white encroachment is finally crushed. Intertribal council at Okmulgee holds its last session. Last buffalo herd is reported in Oklahoma.

1879

 

First telephone in Oklahoma is set up, connecting Fort Sill and Fort Reno. "Boomers" begin their attempts to settle on the "Oklahoma Lands." Will Rogers is born in the Cherokee Nation near Oologah. Population of the Indian Territory is estimated at 81,381; this includes Indians, a few white residents, and ex-slaves of the Indians.

1882

 

Isparhecher begins the rebellion against the Creek government known as the Green Peach War. Atlantic and Pacific Railroad establishes a station in the Creek Nation at a place called "Tulsey Town" by the Indians. 

1883

 

Isparhecher faction makes peace with the constitutional Creek government. Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association leases the "Outlet" from the Cherokee Nation.

1884

 

A company of Choctaw citizens drills for oil near Atoka.

1887

 

Congress passes the Dawes Act, providing for breaking up the Indian reservations into individual allotments and opening the surplus land to white settlement.

1889

 

1889 First Federal court in Oklahoma is established in Muskogee. Oklahoma's first producing oil well is drilled near Chelsea. First Run opens an area in Oklahoma to white settlement; Oklahoma City, Guthrie, Norman, and other cities and towns are established. 

1890

 

1890 Congress creates a Territorial government for the settlers in the "Oklahoma Lands"; Guthrie becomes the capital; George W. Steele is appointed governor; the First Territorial Legislature adopts a code of laws and establishes a school system. Panhandle is joined to the Territory of Oklahoma. First Federal census shows a population of 78,475 in Oklahoma Territory and 180,182 in the area of the Five Civilized Tribes.

1891

 

First statehood convention is held in Oklahoma City. First Territorial college- later the Central State College- is opened in Edmond; the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College is opened at Stillwater. The Sac and Fox, Iowa, Shawnee, and Potawatomi reservations are opened for settlement, adding two new counties. 

1892

 

University of Oklahoma is opened at Norman. The Cheyenne and Arapaho country is opened for settlement, adding six new counties.

1893

 

Dawes Commission is created for the purpose of liquidating the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes. Oklahoma Historical Society is founded at Kingfisher. Cherokee Outlet is opened to white settlement by the greatest of all the Runs in Oklahoma.

1896

 

Greer County is awarded to the United States by a Supreme Court decision and joined to the Territory of Oklahoma.

1897

 

Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles make agreements with the Dawes Commission. 

1898

 

Congress passes the Curtis Act providing for compulsory liquidation of the Five Civilized Tribes. Many Oklahoma and Indian frontiersmen serve with Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War.

1899

 

United States takes over the schools, the Dawes Commission starts allotting the lands, and the first townsites are platted for the Five Civilized Tribes. 

1900

 

First course in geology is taught at the University of Oklahoma. Federal census shows a population of 398,331 in the Territory of Oklahoma and 392,060 in the Five Civilized Tribes area.

1901

 

Kiowa-Comanche and Wichita reservations are opened to settlement, the last opening in Oklahoma. 

1905

 

Inhabitants of the Five Tribes area hold a convention and draw up a constitution for a state to be named Sequoyah. Glenn Oil Pool is discovered.

1906

 

Congress passes the Enabling Act providing statehood for Oklahoma; the constitutional convention meets at Guthrie.

1907

 

November 16. Oklahoma is admitted to the Union, the forty-sixth state; the first election reveals overwhelming Democratic majority; Charles N. Haskell, the first governor, is inaugurated at Guthrie. Special Federal census enumerates a population of 1,414,177 for the new state.

1910

 

State capital is removed to Oklahoma City. Population, 1,657,155.

1911

 

State legislature provides for placing a statue of Sequoyah in Statuary Hall in the national Capitol. Lee Cruce is inaugurated as governor.

1912

 

Cushing Oil Pool is discovered. 

1913

 

Healdton Oil Field is discovered. 

1915

 

Robert L. Williams is inaugurated as governor. 

1916

 

Oklahoma National Guard sees service on the Mexican Border. 

1917

 

United States declares war on Germany; in the first draft Oklahoma registers 173,744; the sporadic "Green Corn Rebellion" breaks out against conscription. 

1918

 

End of first World War, for which Oklahoma furnished 88,496 men in uniform and purchased $116,368,045 worth of Liberty Bonds. 

1919

 

J. B. A. Robertson is inaugurated as governor of Oklahoma. 

1920

 

Oklahoma for the first time in its history votes Republican. Oil fields in Osage County begin spectacular production. Population, 2,028,283.

1921

Tulsa's Greenwood District is the site of one of the most devastating race riots in United States history.

1923

 

John Calloway (Jack) Walton becomes governor, is impeached and removed from office, and is succeeded by Martin Edwin Trapp.

1926

 

Greater Seminole Oil Field is developed, bringing serious overproduction in the oil industry.

1927

 

Henry S. Johnston becomes governor. 

1928

 

Oklahoma City Oil Field is opened.

1929

 

Governor Johnston is impeached and removed from office; William J. Holloway becomes governor. 

1930

 

Population, 2,396,040. 

1931

 

William H. ("Alfalfa Bill") Murray is inaugurated as governor. Governor Murray closes Oklahoma oil wells in an effort to stabilize prices. Wiley Post, noted Oklahoma air pilot, completes round-the-world flight of 16,474 miles in 8 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes.

1935

 

E. W. Marland is inaugurated as governor. Will Rogers and Wiley Post die in airplane crash in Alaska.

1937

 

Construction begins on $22,750,000 Grand River Dam in eastern Oklahoma. 

1939

 

Leon C. ("Red") Phillips becomes governor. 

1940

 

Population, 2,336,434, a loss of 59,606 since census of 1930. 

 

Information in this table is taken from Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State (1941) from the WPA. Find a more in-depth timeline of Oklahoma history in the Oklahoma Red Book Volume II (1912).