Oklahoma’s last US Land Office spent decades in a house in Enid

ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – From the Cherokee Strip Heritage Center to the year 1893, it’s not a long walk in historical terms, a few more generations and a slight right turn for museum director Jake Krumweide.

“That’s where it all started,” he says.

It might not look like much, but the crown jewel of their historic village of Humphrey is a nondescript, meant to be temporary structure labeled US Land Office.

He explains: “Anyone claiming land in the Territory would walk through that door.

In 1893, as hundreds of thousands of settlers poured into the strip overnight, the army chose Enid as one of 4 places to place land offices.

If you staked a claim somewhere near here, you had to come and register it.

“There was one in Perry, Alva, Enid and Woodward.”

“Anyone staking a claim in this area had to go to the nearest land office in this district.”

Of course, it took years for the outnumbered clerks to settle the competing claims.

“It was an endless line,” laughs Krumweide

The land office occupied a place in the square of the future courthouse for at least 20 years, until suddenly it no longer did.

“It would have been the very first building established here in Enid,” he says. “Then it just kind of went away. We didn’t know what happened to him.”

Generations of settler descendants lived and died having forgotten what happened to this small building until residents remodeling an old house a few blocks west of downtown Enid discover enough to identify the structure.

US Land Office as home

At that time, Krumweide says, it was “the only surviving land office in the state of Oklahoma.”

That was almost 30 years ago.

It took some shoring up.

The old land office had to survive another move to a location near Government Springs.

This former office, then a former home, is now a treasured monument, the only place from that era that Oklahomans can still save as a piece of history they can step into.

Learn more about the Cherokee Strip Heritage Center and the original Land Office on their website.

For more information on their planned lantern walks, head over to their Facebook page.

Gregory M. Roy