A Day in Their Lives – Oklahoma 1897

My husband’s family left Missouri for new opportunities in Oklahoma and, although they settled there before statehood in 1910, they weren’t among the Sooners in the land runs in the early 1890s.

I can’t imagine what life must have been like, moving from a settled community to completely open land, but those hardy souls who took a chance soon created all the social and community events that existed in their former homes.

Chronicling America has several early Oklahoma newspapers and, every so often, I browse in the hopes that I find some family mentions.

These excerpts are from The Indian Chieftain, published in Vinita, Oklahoma on 18 November 1897. Vinita is northeast of Tulsa.

Reading the local news is actually a lot of fun and feels like a step back in time.

Here is what was happening around Vinita 120 years ago. This issue was four pages long and contained all the important news of the day.

The “serious” territory and national news was on page one:

However, the real news was mixed in with advertisements written up to appear as news. I wonder how many bottles of “Dr. King’s new discovery” were bought because of these articles?

This little tidbit was also front page news:

As was this:

There was urban renewal even back then, mixed in with social events, a marriage and making good use of the new jail:

During the warm weather, some children actually went to school barefoot, but as cold weather set in, parents had to purchase shoes – the prices look pretty good for 30% off:

To say justice was swift for Jess Orum and Mr. Brown would be an understatement. I guess you didn’t mess with Judge Thomas:

I remember how excited I was when I was little, finding my name in the newspaper for some school event. If I was living in Vinita, I’d be checking pages 3 and 4 for all the social news.

If you were planning a trip, train service was readily available, which surprised me being this early in the territory’s history.

Business news was extremely important in the community. Ranchers published their cattle brands:

Services were advertised.

Court news was published.

And, lastly, official Public Notices  were listed.

The last notice is quite interesting – The Vaughn Ex-Slave Pension association, with headquarters at Vinita, I.T. I had never heard of a pension association for former slaves. I’ll have to look into that topic more deeply.

Besides a walk back in time, I hope you noticed that there was lots of daily life events mentioned in the Vinita newspaper. Most digitized newspapers are not fully indexed and with OCR scanning as it is, some are mis-indexed.

If you find a local newspaper pertaining to a community where your ancestors lived, take the time to read each page of the news as the newspaper may well be the only place where you would learn something that brings your ancestor to life.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.