pm_land run

DREW HARMON/The Edmond Sun Nicholas Strong tosses a bean bag during "target practice" at Oklahoma Christian School's Land Run re-creation Friday morning, as Addie Adel, left, and Rebel DeHart wait to throw.

Bonnets, boots and cowboy hats could be spotted on the school’s football field as Oklahoma Christian School fourth-grade students readied for the re-enactment of the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889.

Students were grouped by families for the day’s activities, a culmination of a unit on the Land Run prepared by the Fourth Grade Team composed of teachers Carol Anderson, Jackie Lynch and Julie Troester.

“Each family made family flags with the names of Edmond settlers to fly at their land they staked out during our Land Run,” Anderson said. “They have done a lot of work to get to this day.”

Edmond Police Officer John Cramer started the Land Run by shooting a blank in the air and the settlers were off.

Plats of land 12 feet by 12 feet were marked with ropes while basket lunches sat on blankets and quilts as students went as a family to register their land claims with parent Melody Wilson in the Land Claims office. Wilson looked the part with a painted beard as she chewed on Tootsie Rolls while registering the land claims for the settlers.

“I really liked claiming our land,” Keely Merritt said. “It was lots of fun.”

Participation in ’89ers day was more than just fun. Students researched and completed activities for two weeks before reenacting the Land Run.

“We’ve done a lot of things as families from making covered wagons out of shoe boxes to outfitting them with things the settlers would have brought with them,” Anderson said.

Students’ research included finding the weight of a wagon to measuring the weight of objects they planned to bring with them.

Families had to decide between packing a piano or favorite piece of furniture or bringing extra food and ammunition.

Girls and boys alike participated in making corn husk dolls.

One of the parents helping with the dolls, Ana Milano, had a great-great-grandfather who participated in the Land Run.

“I think this is a great idea,” Milano said. “Not only do the kids learn about history, they also get to put their hands on history.”

Milano said one of her great-great-aunts had the first set of twins in what was then Oklahoma Territory. Their names were Okla and Homa.

Anna Borgert and Rebecca Bingham both thought it would be fun to live during the 1800s.

“It would be cool, but sometimes I think it would be harder,” Rebecca said.

Anna added, “If we lived then we wouldn’t have as many wars.”

At the General Store, the boys made poke pouches while the girls learned to braid cloth rugs.

Seth Truitt said he has a lot of pouches, but this one was going to hold his corn husk doll — a boy doll, of course.

The girls’ rugs were the size of a coaster but made just like the early settlers would have made a rug.

Emily Roberts thought she would take home her braided rug example and keep working on it until she had completed a real rug.

At the chuck wagon all of the students learned to make their own butter. Mom Misty Cox said to mix a pinch or two of salt with 2 tablespoons of whipping cream in a small jar and shake for about two minutes.

Both Seth and Asher Martel agreed the best part of the day was the bean toss, and the tastiest part of the day was making the homemade butter.

Students tasted what a meal on the trail might have been like with their butter spread on homemade biscuits accompanied by beef jerky with water drank from Mason jars at the Water Station.

“I thought the butter we made tastes better,” Samantha Anderson said.

Former music teacher and present-day mom, Kathy Essmiller, led the children in trail songs and a brief do-si-do as she accompanied them on her guitar.

Kentucky Daisy, portrayed by Edmond’s Janet Bass, visited the students and told about her arrival to Oklahoma Territory on a train.

Flapjack relays, sack races, horseshoes and bean bag toss added to the fun of the day.

All the students, including the second-and third- graders, met Steve Bowers from Guthrie and got to ride on his horse-pulled covered wagon.

Principal Donna Leadford said, “Our fourth-grade teachers are awesome. They have totally taken this project on to make learning come alive for our children. They weren’t told to do this or even asked to do this. It is something they believe in and did. We are just blessed.”

(Patty Miller may be reached via e-mail at

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