— The '89er Trail —
Soon after the election on May 1, the city became ensnarled in political conflict.
The rules for establishing lot ownership were unclear and the attempts of the city council to clarify matters with ordinances and lot certificates sold by the city or the Seminole Company poured fuel on the flames. Opponents (calling themselves Kickapoos) challenged the city charter that had been adopted with little debate on April 27.
All summer long the Kickapoo and Seminole factions argued over the need for a new charter. An election on a Kickapoo proposal was blocked by the city government on July 16. A Seminole counter-proposal taken to the polls on August 29 was overwhelmingly rejected. Finally, an election called by the Kickapoos for September 21 was blocked by the mayor and soldiers armed with bayonets.
But even as debate raged in the streets every evening near Main and Broadway, settlers were busy with their new lives. Wooden houses replaced tents, businesses appeared everywhere, churches formed, schools and civic organizations were established, and the tent city quickly became a thriving community.
Top middle: Citizens gather to vote on a new city charter, July 16, 1889. The city council and mayor blocked the election.
Western History Collection, OU Libraries
Top right: The first courthouse, run by O. H. Violet, who was chosen police judge in the May 1 election, shared tent space with his real estate and law office. He was a strict enforcer of controversial ordinances enacted by the city council, and was backed up by Captain D. F. Stiles, the commander of the military reservation. Violet's tent faced Broadway just south of Grand (now Sheridan) where the Cox Convention Center stands today. Western History Collection,OU Libraries