Dates and Place names to use for "No Man's Land" or the Neutral Strip?

+7 votes

I'm bumping into this question a great deal with a Westward Ho project.

What place names are we using and what dates for which place names for "No Man's Land" or the "Neutral Strip" today known as the Oklahoma Panhandle. Wikipedia summary is here (but all details need to be verified elsewhere). The cited book by historian/author Harry Chrisman (not Christman as it says in Wikipedia) may have best historical information but not finding it online (will check local library). Anyway, we have several options depending on the dates from Cimarron Territory for a time, Neutral Strip and No Man's Land appear on official maps, it was even known as Seventh County for a time.

Could United States and Categorization have a look at this and decide what to use for which dates? 


in Genealogy Help by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
There hasn't been any response to this from categorization in almost two months. How do we need to proceed to get this accomplished?  Thanks.

1 Answer

+5 votes
I never saw this until now. I do believe you need input from US and/or Oklahoma project as to the use for this as a location category.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (805k points)
I'll also gather factual data from Oklahoma State Hist Soc and we might then want to decide how detailed to make the categorization (this land was part of various entities and different territories at different times as well as being part of nothing "No Man's Land" for an extended period of time).

Abstracted from Oklahoma Historical Society encyclopedia: This 34.5-by-167-mile rectangle (36˚30´ N to 37˚ N and between 100˚ W and 103˚ W) was unattached to any state or territorial government from 1850 to 1890. [Today this approximately encompasses Cimarron, Beaver and Texas counties of Oklahoma, i.e., the Oklahoma Panhandle.] It was identified on most government maps as "Public Land" or "Public Land Strip." During the late 1880s it was popularly known as "No Man's Land." Some maps portrayed the Public Land Strip as part of Indian Territory, and some Strip ranchers had paid fees to Cherokees for use of the land. On such grounds, the Post Office Department assigned by fiat the name "Neutral Strip of Indian Territory" to the Public Land Strip. From the establishment of Beaver City's post office until 1890, the Strip's post offices were assigned to the Neutral Strip of Indian Territory (postmarked N. S. I. T.). Thereby the Post Office Department reinforced the erroneous view that the Public Land Strip was part of Indian Territory. Between 1885 and 1890 Strip residents actively sought rights to homestead their claims. The most ambitious effort was the attempt to gain territorial status under the name of Cimarron Territory. Although failing Congressional approval, the Cimarron Territory Provisional Government met from late 1886 into early 1889. The 1890 Organic Act made the Strip part of Oklahoma Territory and brought it homestead rights. The entire Strip was designated the Seventh County, soon renamed Beaver County, and a land office was placed at Beaver City, county seat for the entire Panhandle. During 1890 and 1891 government surveyors partitioned the land into sections, and the squatters' self-surveyed quarter-section lines were corrected. The old-settler squatters who could verify their claims received up to three years' credit toward the homestead requirement of five years' residency. A new stage of economic development that blossomed when the first railroad, a Rock Island line through Liberal, Kansas, and Dalhart, Texas, obliquely transected the center of the Oklahoma Panhandle in 1901.

Maps I have seen show any of the names above and more. Locally, this is still referred to as "The Strip" for the place and time period. I think categorization should decide which name should be used in WT and if the dates 1850-1890 would be the inclusive period. There's significantly more detail at the link.

Like Natalie, I did not see this message until today. I have heard of this strip, but I knew next to nothing about it.

The Oklahoma Historical Society write-up on "No Man's Land" at seems like very solid information. From that page, I get the impression that "Public Land Strip" would be a good choice for a category name, but that is clearly not the only option.

I guess this category probably should have parent categories of Indian Territory, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas. Is that what you are thinking?

I wonder about the parent being Indian Territory since the Oklahoma Historical Society says that the Post Office use of Neutral Strip Indian Territory was false--not part of Indian Territory: "Thereby the Post Office Department reinforced the erroneous view that the Public Land Strip was part of Indian Territory."
Ellen, think I misunderstood your meaning above, sorry. To include within Indian Territory since that is a common misconception might be good (and notate that it's incorrect but commonly seen), and then also Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas. That would cover all of the connections at various points in time.
What needs to be done to move this forward? Just getting ready to create another new profile that should be categorized in the Neutral Strip.
What name are you proposing to use for this category, T?
I think we should use "The Neutral Strip" or "Public Land Strip." (The latter is not in common use here but I suspect people would know what was meant.) And, we should have a way to mention the other names by which this was known: Cimarron Territory which although never formally approved as a territory did have a territorial legislature and the term appears on maps and some legal documents. And, I think it should somehow appear under Indian Territory (I think you suggested this above in the thread) since the post office used an inappropriate place name that is referred to in many places.
And...  Do we want a Homesteaders category under The Neutral Strip? I'm thinking not but asking. I've got profiles that would fall under that but have been categorizing those homesteaders by the current county names even though their actual "claim" was under the Neutral Strip. After the 1890 Organic Act those homesteaders got several years credit toward their "claims" which were honored as legitimate provided some documentation or testimony could substantiate the claim.
And would there be local "landing-level" categories for named places in the strip, like "Beantown, Public Land Strip" or "Devonia, Neutral Strip," or would you use the local categories that include the later state name, like Beantown, Oklahoma? (These are totally random names -- I didn't look for real places in the Strip.)

Let me consult with the county historian (born in the "panhandle") about what landing-level places might be appropriate for the period.

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