|Answer - Quiz #5
At what intersection in what town was this picture taken,
and what was the approximate date?
|Photographs courtesy of Linda Williams.
Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
We received many responses about the location of this picture, including Philadelphia,
New York, and Tickfaw, LA (just kidding). The answer to this part of the quiz can be
found by looking at the back of the photo, shown above. It bears the logo of Mitchell
and Degroff Photographers, Guthrie, Ind. Terr. (Indian Territory).
On March 2, 1889, two days before he left office, President Grover Cleveland signed
the Springer Amendment to the Indian Appropriations Bill, opening the Unassigned
Lands of the Indian Territory to permanent settlement. The new President, Benjamin
Harrison, set the date and the time for the land run as noon, April 22, 1889. The land
would be available on a first come first served basis. Landseekers would be allowed to
enter the district at that time, find a claim, and file at the U.S. Land Office in Guthrie or
Kingfisher, which was approximately 30 miles to the west. These two locations were
the only towns designated under the Indians Appropriations Act and only because the
land offices were located there.
An estimated 50,000 to 75,000 people participated in the land run, entering the territory
on noon of that day by foot, in covered wagons, on horseback, and by train. The
population of Guthrie before the run consisted of soldiers, deputy marshals,
government officials, and railroad personnel; by nightfall it had swelled to
10,000-15,000 people living in tents or crude shacks.
Guthrie was a very prosperous new city that developed rapidly after 1889, and
well-constructed brick buildings made their appearance quite early. An photo of
downtown Guthrie found at www.treasurenet.com/images/americanwest/westok.html
taken in 1893 from E. Harrison Ave. at 1st St. shows such brick buildings. The
structures in the contest photo are much more primitive, indicating that the picture was
taken earlier. Further supporting an earlier date, the web site
http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~tammie/hotels/hotels.htm reports that the Capitol
hotel (seen to the left in the photo) burned down April 15, 1893.
In the 1890 Directory (found with other Guthrie directories at
http://www.rootsweb.com/~oklogan/dir/), the Capitol Hotel appears at the SE corner of
the government acre, with Cohen and Strauss' New York Clothing House at the SW
corner. The address ranges indicate that the government acre was a single city block,
about 400 ft x 400 ft. The 1890 Directory also shows that the government acre was
the square occupied by the US Government Land Office located at the corner of
Oklahoma and 2nd (the building in the left foreground).
In 1890, Coyle and Smith Wholesale and Retail Grocers are listed in the directory at
Harrison nr 2nd. This places them in the correct location to be the grocery shown
further down 2nd St. in the photo. Furthermore, in the 1890 Directory the distinction
of mercantile companies as wholesale vs. retail is sharply drawn. There are a rather
small number of "wholesale" companies, each in a different line of business. Only
Coyle and Smith's is listed as "wholesale and retail groceries" (and there are no other
purely wholesale grocery companies). There is a woman looking over the balcony of
the grocery store, which has a white banner hanging down to the first floor. I thought
I could decipher the letters "ball" on the sign, but at this time, the Kimball Grocery and
Provisions company was located at the corner of Noble and Capitol Blvd, so that the
banner must say something else.
A map of Guthrie's town center can be found by clicking here or on the sketch below
that shows the location of these various establishments.
A final fact contributing to the evidence that
the photo was taken 1889 - 1890 is that the
building at the SW corner of government
acre where the N.Y. Clothing House is
located (the SE corner of Harrison and
2nd), does not appear to be the DeFord
Building, built on that site in 1890. The wall
of this building that would have been facing
the camera is described on the site
www.sandplum.com/guthrie /hm03.htm as
"featuring contrasting-colored arched
windows with worked wooden fans above
corbelled brick, with a small turret marking
the south end". From this, we can conclude
the photo was taken between April 22, 1889
when the land rush occurred, and sometime
in 1890, before the DeFord building was
Linda Williams, the submitter of this photo, sent in two other pictures she discovered in
the book Birth of Guthrie Oklahoma's Run of 1889 and Life in Guthrie in 1889 and
the 1890s, by Lloyd McGuire, Jr. (You can see it on Amazon by clicking here.)
These pictures seem to have been taken at the same event as the contest photo.
Although the book states they were taken on the 4th of July, 1889, this is unlikely.
Looking at the clothing of the people in the pictures, it seems that the weather is cool,
not terribly cold, but certainly not the Oklahoma summer temperatures that can reach
into the 100s. It is also unlikely that the town would not have been built up so much in
two and a half months.
The most likely date for the picture is 2 May 1890 because on this date there would
have been cause to celebrate -- and parade -- in Guthrie. Guthrie's Logan County and
about five other counties in the original "Unassigned Lands" at the center of Indian
Territory became a new and different Territory- the "Oklahoma Territory" - by act of
Congress, with Guthrie as its capital.
One final mystery remains. The Mitchell and DeGroff photographers are not listed in
Guthrie until the 1899 city directory, so how could a picture with their logo on the
back date to ten years earlier? The answer is that the photo was taken at the earlier
date, and the photographers were selling it in 1889 - 1890 to commemorate the tenth
anniversary of the creation of the Oklahoma Territory.
Thanks to Phil Bolian for contributing many of these observations.
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
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