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Sprinkled among the tantalizing recipes in Café Oklahoma are historical vignettes reflecting the colorful past of the Sooner State.  I hope you enjoy these glimpses into Oklahoma history.


At sunup April 22, 1889, Oklahoma City consisted of a train depot, a couple of wooden buildings, and a water tank. At sundown, it was a tent city with 10,000 residents. It was the first of the great Land Runs, and America had never seen anything like it. The word went out that there was free land, available in claims of 160 acres, on a first-come, first-served basis, and if you were hardy enough to be a Boomer, it was yours for the taking. All you had to do was line up at the border – along with the other 50,000 prospective homesteaders – and wait for the U.S. Cavalry to give the signal… And line up they did, weeks in advance. In prairie schooners, buckboards, buggies, bicycles, on horseback, even on foot. Others rode one of 15 railroad special trains. Lined up along the northern border of the Oklahoma District, they waited – most of them. As always, there was an unscrupulous few who entered the District early, in secret, and staked claims earlier than the rules allowed. Some of them hid in ravines and waited, but others were outright brazen – the story goes that one homesteader arrived at a choice parcel only to find it occupied by a character who had already planted a vegetable garden. He explained the days-old sprouts by saying, “The soil’s so rich, I planted those onions an hour ago, and up they came!” Since they claimed land sooner than was legal, that’s what they were called – Sooners. Being a Sooner guaranteed you good land, but it had its downside, too – from being disqualified, to being lynched, to just being shot on sight. At noon, the bugles blew and the pistols fired, and the thousands thundered across the prairie into what they hoped would be a new beginning and a better life. One cowpuncher recalled the sound more than anything, saying it was much like the sound of 10,000 cattle on a stampede. Those who had a prior acquaintance with the land were in great demand, and many of them, like legendary Indian scout Pawnee Bill Lillie, did quite well for themselves serving as guides to groups of newcomers. Some staked out claims for farmland; others staked “town plots” for property in one of the new cities – Guthrie, Kingfisher, Norman, and Oklahoma City. They used anything they could find to stake a claim – sticks, blankets, even pantaloons and petticoats nailed to posts and fluttering in the springtime breeze. Unlike cities in other states, these cities had no growing up process. They were considered “born grown.” A temporary government was set up the first month, a City Directory published shortly thereafter, and the first elections followed soon behind. Although there were no taxes, schools, or formal laws during that first year, the social amenities that would form the foundation of the city – The Ladies Whist Club, the Opera House, the Five O’Clock Tea Club and the Ladies Chautauqua Circle – had already begun to appear. The evening of the Run, as darkness fell, the sound of a distant voice rang out on the still air. “Oh, Joe, here’s your mule!” Another voice took it up, and another, and still another, until it seemed that everybody within earshot was announcing that Joe’s muse had been found. Having taken care of that, the brand new city settled down to its first night’s sleep.

Sooner Salsa
Oklahoma Crude Cake
Pawhuska Potato Salad
Hickory Ribs

A Tradition of Outlawry
  If there's a touch of larceny in the Sooner soul, we come by it, well, honestly...

First Wedding in Oklahoma
  It was a brilliant day, November 16, 1907, and the ceremony was lavish ....

Maybe Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
  And line up they did, weeks in advance...