OFF MY BEATEN PATH - The Oklahoma Panhandle

The "Neutral Strip"

When Texas sought to enter the Union in 1845 as a slave state, federal law in the United States, based on the Missouri Compromise, prohibited slavery North of 36°30' parallel north. Under the Compromise of 1850, Texas surrendered its lands north of 36°30' latitude. The 170-mile strip of land, a "neutral strip", was left with no state or territorial ownership from 1850 until 1890. It was officially called the "Public Land Strip" and was commonly referred to as "No Man's Land."[5][6]

The Compromise of 1850 also established the eastern boundary of New Mexico Territory at the 103rd meridian, thus setting the western boundary of the strip. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 set the southern border of Kansas Territory as the 37th parallel. This became the northern boundary of No Man's Land. When Kansas joined the Union in 1861, the western part of Kansas Territory was assigned to Colorado Territory, but did not change the boundary.[6]



After the Civil War, cattlemen moved into the area.

In 1886, Interior Secretary L. Q. C. Lamar, declared the area to be public domain and subject to "squatter's rights".[8]

The strip was not yet surveyed, and as that was one of the requirements of the Homestead Act of 1862, the land could not be officially settled. Settlers by the thousands flooded in to assert their "squatter's rights" anyway. They surveyed their own land and by September 1886 had organized a self-governing and self-policing jurisdiction, which they named the Cimarron Territory.
The elected council met as planned, elected Owen G. Chase as president, and named a full cabinet.

After the meeting in March, Owen G. Chase went to Washington, D.C. to lobby for admission to Congress as the delegate from the new territory. He was not recognized by Congress.[10] A group disputing the Chase organization met, and elected and sent its own delegate to Washington.[11] A bill was introduced to accept Chase but was never brought to a vote. Neither delegation was able to persuade Congress to accept the new territory.[12] Another delegation went in 1888 but did no better.[10]

The passage of the Organic Act in 1890 assigned No Man's Land to the new Oklahoma Territory, and ended the short-lived Cimarron Territory aspirations.[10]

On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was established as the 46th state in the Union [with the panhandle now officially being part of somebody's land - Oklahoma.].