The U Ranch Site
At the 1835 signing of the Treaty of New Echota, Georgia,
by a faction of the Cherokee, the US government promised the tribe,
in addition to new lands in the northeast corner of Indian Territory,
a perpetual outlet from their territory to hunting grounds in the
west. The New Echota treaty led to the forceable eviction of most
of the Cherokee from their ancestral lands in the infamous march
known as "The Trail of Tears" which claimed a variously
estimated 2,000 to 8,000 of the 17,000 people removed to Oklahoma.
The 60 by 200 mile strip below the southern border
of Kansas promised as a hunting outlet became known as the Cherokee
Outlet or the Cherokee Strip. At the end of the Civil War, in which
the Cherokees had joined the Confederacy, they were forced to re-negotiate
their treaties. The new treaty signed in 1866 gave the US government
power to take Cherokee lands which they did to settle other tribes
including the Osage, Ponca, Kaw and Tonkawa. These tribes in the
eastern part of the Outlet effectively closed off the land to the
Cherokee. Meanwhile, Texas ranchers, using trails through the area
to move cattle to Kansas markets, often allowed their cattle to
linger along the trail to fatten on the good grasses.
The Cherokee who found themselves unable to use these
lands began making an effort to collect grazing fees for all the
cattle finding their way onto the Outlet. These collections were
necessarily haphazard and cattlemen often moved their cattle for
a short while up into Kansas to avoid paying fees.
One rancher who had moved into the Outlet instead
chose to pay the fees and negotiate directly with the Cherokee.
He was Major Andrew Drumm who had extensive experience in the cattle
business and had become wealthy selling cattle to San Franciscans
during the Gold Rush years. In 1874, Drumm selected as his ranch
headquarters a location between the Salt Fork and Medicine Rivers,
a location a few miles north of present day Cherokee, Oklahoma.
This ranch covered 150,000 acres, and Drumm paid leasing fees to
the Cherokee of 40 cents a head for cows, 25 cents for two-year
old cattle and nothing for calves.
These arrangements between ranchers and the Cherokee
came to the attention of the federal government when conflicts between
ranchers forced the attention of the Department of Interior. Drumm
and some other ranchers had begun using the recently invented barbed
wire to fence off portions of the Outlet. The Cherokee approved
of this development since it made it easier for them to collect
the leasing fees they were owed and prevented non-paying cattlemen
from using the rangeland. When a Kansas rancher complained to Interior
that Drumm had fenced property for which the Kansas rancher had
paid leasing fees, an investigation followed. Although Drumm prevailed,
it was clear that pressures were building which threatened the large
ranches of the area.
In 1883, Drumm and several other prominent ranchers
met in Caldwell, Kansas to form an organization to protect the ranchers'
interests. Called the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association, Drumm
was elected a director of the group. He helped negotiate a lease
agreement with the Cherokee for a five year lease for Outlet lands
for the sum of $100,000 per year. Every six months, a lease payment
of $50,000 in silver dollars was transported in wagons from Caldwell
Meanwhile, political pressures were building in Washington
to open the Outlet to the so-called "Boomers." The Boomers
believed the government should open unoccupied "Indian Territories"
for settlement by farmers and homesteaders.
At the end of the five year lease, the Department
of the Interior notified the Cherokee tribe that no leasing arrangement
of the Outlet by the Cherokee was valid. The government negotiated
a purchase of the 5 million acres from the Cherokee, who had been
left with no other options, for $1.40 an acre. Eventually, the federal
government ordered all permanent structures removed from the Outlet
and in 1893 the Cherokee Strip Land Run took place.
Andrew Drumm, always an astute businessman, had already
moved his cattle operation further south so that he did not have
to dump his cattle on a depressed market as so many other ranchers
had. His business interests were widespread and he eventually bought
a house in Kansas City. At his death, his will founded the Drumm
Institute in Independence, Missouri for the care of orphaned and
indigent children. The Institute is still in operation today.
"Major Andrew Drumm: Cowman, Businessman, and
Visionary," by Bonnie Haas and Joyce J. Bender, Chronicles
of Oklahoma, Volume 79, No. 1, 2001.
"Of Cattle and Corporations: The Rise, Progress,
and Termination of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association,"
by William W. Savage, Jr., Chronicles of Oklahoma,
Volume 71, No. 2, 1993.
"The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association," by Edward
Everett Dale, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 5,
No. 1, March, 1927.
"Range Riding in Oklahoma," by Ralph H.
Records, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 20, No.
2, June, 1942.
Number of Prehistoric Sites in Alfalfa
County Identified by Time Period*
*There are 20 sites identified in Alfalfa County at this date (August
2005). Eight of these are unaffiliated prehistoric, eight are historic,
one is believed to be Plains Village (in the chart above) and three
are of uncertain age. The lack of sites in Alfalfa County is believed
to be a result of very little archaeological reconnaissance work
having been done there rather than a reflection of the actual number
of archaeological sites in the county.