David L. Payne: The Okie Who Refused to Give Up


From Civil War Soldier to Boomer Pioneer; David was willing to go to jail for his convictions

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Have you ever held an unpopular opinion? Most of us have at one time or another. Sometimes we stay quiet and just let it go. Sometimes we speak up and pay the price.

His convictions about who should be able to live in Oklahoma

David L. Payne was a prominent figure in the Boomer movement that sought to settle the unassigned lands in Indian Territory.

Born in Ohio in 1836, David left home at the age of 21 to seek out adventure. He served with the Fourth Kansas Infantry during the Civil War and was elected to the Kansas Legislature in 1864. After the war, he returned to Kansas and became a doorkeeper in the National House of Representatives, a position he held for four years.

In the 1880s, David met Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee lawyer who paved the way for Oklahoma to become a state. Payne became the leader of the Boomer invasion into Oklahoma, along with William Couch and led dozens of raids into the Oklahoma territory, annoying both the president and the local Indian tribes.

David believed that the unassigned lands in Indian Territory should be open to settlement by non-Indians, and he led several unsuccessful attempts to settle the territory.

Arrested and put in jail for speaking out

Payne was arrested and jailed for his efforts, but his influence continued to inspire others to push for Oklahoma statehood.

Payne died in 1884 before he could see his dreams of an open Oklahoma realized. However, his legacy lived on, and less than five years later, in 1889, the Oklahoma Land Run opened up the territory to non-Indian settlement.

Payne is remembered today as the "Prince of the Boomers" and called the "Father of Oklahoma" for his leadership and dedication to the Boomer movement. His efforts helped pave the way for Oklahoma's eventual statehood and the settlement of the American West.

****If you enjoy reading about the history of Oklahoma, you might enjoy A vanishing at Spiro Mounds: Thriving society of 20,000 individuals disappears

Hi, I'm Judy! I love bringing a magnifying glass to where psychology and history cross. What makes people do what they do? Why did they make that choice? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments and share this article on social media and with family and friends, if you'd like.

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Judy Derby has worked in the surrounding communities as a social worker and advocate. providing resources and information to help local families meet their basic needs. She's been writing about social issues and related topics for over 10 years.

Antlers, OK

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