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The Archivist: Settlers celebrated Easter before 1889 Land Run

A family rides horses and in covered wagons as they cross into Oklahoma during the 1889 Land Run. [OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY]

Easter occurs on a different Sunday each year. This year, it falls on April 21.

This is only the fifth time Easter has fallen on April 21 since 1889.

Monday, April 22, is significant because it marks the 130th anniversary of the Land Run of 1889, and it is only the fifth time in 130 years that exact date has repeated.

On Easter Sunday before the Land Run, thousands of would-be settlers were making their preparations.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture at describes a group of those hoping for success on Monday:

The Caldwell crowd, a harmonious and happy conglomeration of ten thousand farmers, cowboys, and old soldiers in buggies, wagons, and on horseback, helped one another ford the Cimarron River before making final camp at Buffalo Springs north of Kingfisher. There on the day before the opening, Easter Sunday, they played baseball, held foot races, and conducted religious services.

In 1887, Benedictine priest Father Ignatius Jean was named the second prefect apostolic to continue the mission of the Catholic church in Indian Territory and, according to an article in The Daily Oklahoman on April 23, 1939:

Two years later on the evening of April 21, 1889, he addressed the thousands of homeseekers who thronged into Purcell, waiting until noon of the next day when they would make the run into the Promised Land.

In a sermon which has since become a classic, he told them of the riches of the land before them and exhorted them to live in peace with their neighbors the Indians.

History shows that many churches within the boundaries of the Land Run date their beginnings to the Sunday following Easter when the new residents gathered to give thanks.

If you would like to contact Mary Phillips about The Archivist, email her at