My second great-grandfather, George Newton Skipper, ran in the 1893 Cherokee Strip Land Run and staked a piece of land. George Newton Skipper was born on 22 July 1857 in Effingham, Illinois. His parents were John Wesley Skipper (1835-1878) and Mary Ann Chadwell (1838-1924)
I found George Newton on the 1860 Census with his parents Wesley and Mary Ann. George was 3 years old. There was also a Mary E Howard listed, she was eight months old and I have no idea how she is related to John Wesley and Mary Ann.
By the 1870 Census, John Wesley and Mary Ann had three more children, Sarah age 10, Eliza age 7, Mary age 6. There was also a 14-year-old Caroline Chadwell living with them. I believe that Caroline is Mary Ann’s sister. I have an Ivy Caroline Chadwell, born in 1856 to Mary’s Parents John Chadwell (died 1859) and Elizabeth Cohea (1818-1896)
George Newton married Sarah Cathine Bishop on 10 March 1878 in Effingham, Illinois. Sarah was born on 12 August 1861 in Effingham, Illinois. She is the daughter of Frances A Bishop (1835-1892) and Mary Jane Davis (1839-1917)
George and Sarah had 13 children in 25 years.
- Clara Bell Dorie Skipper born 2 September 1879 in Effingham, Illinois
- Nora Jane Skipper born 25 January 1881 in Effingham, Illinois
- Cora Mae Skipper born 13 April 1883 in Effingham, Illinois
- Charles Edgar Skipper born 2 April 1885 in Effingham, Illinois
- William F Skipper born 21 April 1887 in Effingham, Illinois
- Lennie Oscar Skipper born 11 June 1889 in Effingham, Illinois and died 24 March 1890 in Effingham, Illinois
- Mary Ann Skipper born 25 January 1891 in Effingham, Illinois
- Harry Ward Skipper born 31 August 1893 Mulhall, Oklahoma
- Billy Skipper born 26 August 1895 in Effingham, Illinois and died 1 September 1895 in Effingham, Illinois
- Daisy Florence Lumandy Skipper born 25 December 1897 in Effingham, Illinois
- Freddy Leotis Skipper born 18 July 1900 in Logan, Oklahoma and died 3 December 1900 in Logan, Oklahoma
- Jesse Llewellen Skipper born 14 November 1901 Logan, Oklahoma
- Opal Beatrice Ethel Pearl Hazel Rosie Dollie Dell Skipper born 28 February 1904 in Goodnight, Oklahoma and died 14 September 1904 in Goodnight, Oklahoma
This is a small amount of information I know about George Newton and Sarah Skipper. Now I want to talk about George’s experience staking a claim of land in the 1893 Cherokee Strip Land Run. The wiki page has some information about the land run: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Run_of_1893
This week I decided to search and see what I could learn about George Newton’s experience in the land run because I knew very little about it. George Newton ran in the land run three weeks after the birth of my great-grandfather Harry Ward Skipper. I did know from family stories that he was not happy with the land he staked and sold it pretty quickly, this is when he moved his family back to Illinois. What I found in my research is beyond anything I thought I would find.
I found the Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian and Pioneer Historical Collection, 1937. In this Robert Small interviewed George Newton about his experience as a Pioneer in Indian Territory. Oklahoma did not become a state until 1907. According to the document Robert interviewed George on 23 March 1938.
Interview with G.W. Skipper, Tonkawa, Oklahoma.
“I was born July 22, 1857, in Illinois and lived there until in the early spring of 1893 at which time I moved my family from Illinois to a farm about six miles from Mulhall(Oklahoma). My wife’s people lived in that part on a farm and they assisted me to get me to get located on farmland near them. About all I had was a family; no money and no job; I worked at anything I could get to do but there was nothing much to do outside of a little farm work.
When the proclamation was issued opening the Cherokee Outlet to settlement I began to prepare all I could to get ready for the opening; I went to registration booth near Orlando and registered for the opening run and I saw more people at this registration booth than I have ever seen before assembled at one place.
After considerable delay, I got registered and on the day of the big race I made the run from near Orlando. I had always wanted a farm with timber and water on it and when I made the race I went into a section that had timber and water and secured a claim that had a good spring on it and also had timber. But the land was not very good and since the government had decreed that this land should be paid for at the rate of $5.00 per acre at the end of five years, I got to studying about what it would cost me, to say nothing of the improvements I would have to place on it and the more I thought about that $5.00 per acre the less I thought of the claim.
There were quite a few claimants who came there to the spring for water and along late in the afternoon an old man, driving a team to a wagon, stopped and asked if he might get water and stay overnight. I told him he could and that night we conversed together quite a bit and I learned that the old gentleman was a Civil War Veteran. He had a wooden leg and had driven over quite a bit of country but had not been able to find any vacant claim and was very much interested in trying to get land somewhere in the country, if possible.
I went to bed and lay there thinking about the rough claim I had staked and the $5.00 per acre I would have to pay for it so the next morning I called to the gentleman and he came to me and I told him that I had decided to leave my claim and that if he wanted to he could pull up my stake up and place his own there, and a happier old man I never saw then he was.
I went back to my home near Mulhall that day and a neighbor and I got together and decided that since we each had one horse a piece we would put our horses together and get a wagon and start looking for some better claims than the one I had abandoned.
On Thursday following the opening we struck out into a section of country west of Perry; I knew that several Chickasas Indians had made the run for the sole purpose of selling out as soon as they could find a buyer and we were looking for men of that kind. About ten miles west of Perry I stopped and talked with a claimant who told me he was from Iowa and that he had been there on the claim since he staked it and had not but little to eat since he had been there. He said he had sent to Perry by two or three different people, none of whom he knew, to get something for him to eat and that none had ever returned and he was out the money he gave them and also was out of food. He showed me a part of his round trip ticket he had bought in Iowa and said he would sell out if he could get $10.00 for his claim. I told him that I would give him $10.00 for it if I could get a filing on it and he agreed to let me place my filing on it before I paid him. He took my name and address and I took his and agreed to send him the $10.00 after I filed on the claim. It took me about sixty days before I got my filing through on the land at which time I wrote the fellow a letter but I couldn’t get a reply. I wrote him two more letters later but never did hear from him after he left the claim.
I built a home on the claim by digging down in a bank about four feet and then building the sides up with sod; I also placed a sod roof over it. I made a small window in either side and one door at the end and had a dirt floor; the house was about 14×16 feet. I also built a sod barn about fourteen feet square. I had no well or spring on the place so hauled water a distance of about one-half mile as long as I lived there.
I broke up about thirty-five acres of sod the first year which I placed in kaffir and cane; the kaffir made a fine yield and I cut it up and shocked it in the field, but the prairie chickens tried to eat it all up and I had to haul it out. I had put out a crop of wheat on a share basis down near Mulhall in the fall of 1893 and that made about twenty-five bushels per acre, but after I hauled my part to Mulhall to sell it I only got 25 cents per bushel for it.
In 1895 I sold my claim for $600.00. I bought a span of young mules and a new wagon and moved my family back to Illinois where I was raised but after three years in Illinois, I came back to Muhall again and rented land in that section of country and farmed for over twenty years.
Cotton was the principal money crop and I put most of my time and efforts in raising cotton. I had a large family and in those days it was easy for a man with a large family to rent all the good land for cotton that he could cultivate. In 1907 I raised fifty bales of cotton, one of the largest cotton crops I ever grew. My children were deprived of an education by staying in the cotton fields from early spring until late in the winter working in the cotton.
We had lots of sickness in our family; we had thirteen children born, of whom only nine lived to be grown. Doctor bills, loss of time from work on account of sickness and other bills incident to sickness kept my nose to the grindstone, in spite of all the hard work I have always done.
In the spring of 1894 I had forty acres in corn and it looked very fine about the time it began to tassel but in the less than two weeks the hot winds had completely ruined it so that I never got a penny from corn that year.
I raised castor beans as a sideline for a few years but never grew many at a time-just a grew a few bushels each year. They were about as profitable as growing cotton and did not require as much work.
There were some deer in the timbered country where I lived not far from Mulhall, and a few turkeys and lots of prairie chickens when I went there in 1893.
There were few schools in that country in 1893 for people did not seem to take as much interest in schooling their children as they did raising cotton. Church and Sunday schools were seemingly factors of little importance in may communities of that section of country in the early days.
In 1921, I moved from the farm to Ponca City and worked for the Marland Oil Company at that place for some few years, then in 1926 I moved from Ponca City to Tonkawa, where I have resided since.
Owing to poor health I have been unable to work but little in the past two or three years. It seems very odd to me not to be able to work every day for I was never used to being idle since I can remember till now.
I was married sixty years ago the 10th of last March. My wife is quite active for her years and performs all her household work daily.”
Geroge passed away just five months after this interview on 25 August 1938 in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. There are so many things I learned about George from this interview and his life in Oklahoma. As I have read this interview I am amazed at the life George lived and how hard he worked to provide for his family.
I also thought about the house he built in 1893 after the land run was tiny 14×16 sod dugout and he had eight children living in the house with him and his wife. I have tried to imagine living in a house so small with ten people. While I realize how lucky I am to live in a time that I can have real floors and not dirt floors, that I have a nice warm house with more room than I need, I am grateful for the lives of my ancestors and the ability to learn from them and about them.
Sarah lived for another sixteen years after, George passed away, and died on 15 July 1954 in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. Sarah outlived all but four of her children. She buried nine of her children. I am amazed at the strength of Sarah and how she kept faithful until the end.
This has reminded me that I need to go back and check records occasionally for my ancestors. It has been many years ago that I researched George and Sarah, had I not decided to write this blog about George in the land run I may have missed his first had account about his life in the early days of Oklahoma.