Vickie McDonough: The Lottery For Free Land

We’re very happy to welcome back Vickie McDonough! Her books pull you in and keep you there all the way to the last page, then leave you wanting more. Give her a big Wildflower Junction howdy.

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Vickie McDonough 3 smallIt’s great to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Last time I was here, I talked about the Oklahoma land runs. After the chaos of the land rushes, where many people were injured and thousands of lawsuits filed over land disputes, the government sought a better, more civilized way to settle the remaining Indian lands. Thus, the decision was made to hold a land lottery.


On July 4, 1901, President William McKinley, signed the Proclamation opening for settlement all land acquired from the Kiowa-Comanche, Apaches, and Wichita Indians, with certain land set aside as grazing lands for Indians and for town sites. The Proclamation provided for the land to be divided into two districts by a line running east and west, with offices at El Reno and Lawton. All registrations for the lottery had to be done at either El Reno or Fort Sill. Applicants were required to designate which district he wanted to live in, because no one was permitted to register for a chance at both.


Vickie OK or bust


Thousands of people came from all corners of the country in hopes of being successful in securing a home on some of the last land available in Oklahoma. The government lottery had about thirteen thousand homesteads to distribute, worth from one hundred to five thousand dollars each. Though it is possible that some claims near the county seats may have been worth from ten thousand to forty thousand dollars.


The registration offices opened on Wednesday morning, July 10th, and closed on July 26th. The registration process was simple. The settler presented an affidavit to the registration officer stating he or she was over twenty-one or head of a family and that he did not own more than 160 acres of land in some other state. Then he filled out a card with his name, date of birth, height, weight, and other information about himself. He was then given a registration receipt.


There were six regular booths where people could register. Booth number one was at the Kerfoot Hotel, and the Boomers were lined up in front of it all day. It was estimated that ten thousand came into El Reno Monday night, and around three hundred slept in line Tuesday night, waiting for the booth to reopen. There were over twelve thousand strangers tramping through the El Reno streets. Nine out of ten registrants were farmers. Although not many women participated, a special registration booth was provided for them. When the booths closed the last day of registration, one hundred and sixty-five thousand had registered in both districts.


land lottery tent

A platform thirty-two feet square was erected in the street on the north side of the Irving school ground. On Monday, July 29, the envelopes containing the names of all who had registered were brought to the platform in consecutively numbered pasteboard boxes. The envelopes were placed in two rotating bins, ten feet long, two and one-half feet wide, and two and one-half feet deep, one for each district, which were revolved for a sufficient length of time to insure a thorough mixing of the envelopes.


Fifty thousand people witnessed the drawing. The immense throng was wrought up to a frenzied pitch, and the drawing of the first few names was followed by a mighty shout that must have been heard for miles over the prairies. Each envelope drawn was consecutively numbered and opened at once. The identification slip, which it contained, was given the same number, and the name and residence of the winner was publicly announced. One thousand names were drawn from the wheel the first day, five hundred from El Reno and five hundred for Lawton.


On August 6th, those who won claims appeared at the land office to select their plots. They were processed in the order their name was drawn. All in all, the lottery was a peaceful endeavor and a great success.


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My Land Rush Dreams trilogy features the 1889 and 1893 land runs and the land lottery of 1901. Sarah’s Surrender, book 3 in the series releases July 1st and is available for pre-order now. Click HERE.

Sarah's Surrender


When Sarah Worley rejects Luke McNeil’s marriage proposal to pursue property in the Oklahoma Territory land lottery in 1901, the ranch hand pulls up stakes and goes after her. But he’s the last person she wants to see. The land lottery gives Sarah the chance to realize her dream of independence and a home of her own. But with it comes challenges she never considered. When her dream becomes a nightmare, she must decide whether to stay on her land or give up and return to the life she left. Luke hopes that by winning a claim, he can give Sarah the home she’s always wanted. How can he prove his love and show the stubborn woman that he’s the right man for her?


I’m giving away a print copy of JOLINE’S REDEMPTION, book 2 in her Land Rush Dreams series. Also, I’d love to have anyone who’s interested sign up to receive my newsletter. Just visit this link:  NEWSLETTER

Jolene's Redemption

About Vickie:

Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her latest series, Land Rush Dreams, focuses on the Oklahoma land runs.

Vickie has been married forty years to Robert. They have four grown sons, one of whom is married, and a precocious nine-year-old granddaughter. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:



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37 thoughts on “Vickie McDonough: The Lottery For Free Land”

  1. Howdy! Thank you for your piece on the Oklahoma land lottery. I’m very interested in Oklahoma history since my grandfather was born in Indian Territory and my mom in the state of Oklahoma. We also had some “cousins” who came on the Trail of Tears but my great-grandfather and his brothers moved into Indian Territory after the war.

      • Yes, many times. Thank you for asking. We have still have family there to visit, and I’m the family genealogist as well, always looking for more details. My family first lived in the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations, while my mom was born in Tulsa, but later also lived in OKC and East Texas growing up.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. That was a lot of people registering for a chance at land. Wow!!
    Also, thank you for the opportunity to win one of your books.

    • Thanks for stopping by today, Mary. It really is amazing how many people registered for the free land. Can you image the chaos of so many people riding in the lands runs?

  3. Hi Vickie, welcome to the junction! I’ve really enjoyed your Oklahoma land blogs and books! I had to laugh when I read that registration was simple. It’s hard to believe that any government-run endeavor was simple. Can you imagine what hoops we’d have to jump through today to enter such a lottery? Of course there would have to be an environmental impact report, climate study, a threatened and endangered species review, water and drainage considerations and all sorts of permits before the land could be developed. The mind boggles just thinking about it.

    • No kidding, Margaret. Things were so much simpler in the old days. Although, I do have to admit to enjoying the luxuries we enjoy like air conditioning, cars, and refrigerators.

  4. I love this part of history, especially since my husband’s family participated in the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. Fascinating history.

    I love your books, Vickie. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading Gabriel’s Atonement, Stacey! Joline’s Redemption is about Jo, Lara’s bratty little sister. Her bad choices land her up to her neck in hot water.

  5. Hey everybody, the Kindle version of Gabriel’s Atonement and Joline’s Redemption, books 1 & 2 in my Land Rush Dreams series are just 99 cents right now. Grab them before the price goes up!

  6. I enjoy reading your books. Have a wonderful weekend. thank you for the opportunity to win one of your books.

  7. I enjoy reading your books. Have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

  8. I always love your historical tidbits and blogs, Vickie! You seem to find the right stuff to encourage me in my love for the history of my home state. My great, great grandfather settled in what is now the Seminole area and set up the first sorghum mill. It was a landmark for years before it was torn down. My roots run deep, being the fourth generation born in Oklahoma/Indian Territory. Your books have always encouraged me in hard times and I can never wait til I get the next book!

  9. What a beautiful write up about Oklahoma. Fascinating details and amazing research went into you finding all of this rich history. I’m from Texas but live in Kansas now, I’m meeting my parents ( who still live in TX) this next weekend in Clinton, OK only about 10 miles eat of El Reno. We always go out looking for things to do and we all love history, we may just mosey on over to El Reno and see if we can find any historical markers about the history of that town and Oklahoma land lottery.

  10. Thank you for this great post,Vicki! Always love learning more about American history! Thanks,too for your wonderful stories. Looking forward to reading this series! 🙂

  11. Hi Vickie, always fun learning more about Oklahoma! No need to enter me in the drawing, I have the book.

  12. Thank you for an interesting post. I had known about the rushes but didn’t realize they also did the drawing. It was certainly a more fair and safe way to handle it. Either way, it gave the opportunity for land ownership to people who might otherwise never be able to have it. Too bad the native americans had to loose their lands to make it all possible.
    Too bad I am not still working at the library. This is the type of series that our patrons would enjoy. I look forward to reading it and sharing it with my daughter.

  13. Great post I enjoyed it have always loved to study history. My husband and I are planning our first trip to Oklahoma this summer by way of Little Rock AK. Would love some advise on what all to see and do while there.

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