OFF MY BEATEN PATH - The Oklahoma Panhandle
The "Neutral Strip"
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.
In 1886, Interior Secretary L. Q. C. Lamar, declared the area to be public domain and subject to "squatter's rights".
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. A group disputing the Chase organization met, and elected and sent its own delegate to Washington. 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. Another delegation went in 1888 but did no better.
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.