Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Sooner Lynched By Boomers

There were several land runs during the late 1800s when Oklahoma was being opened up to white settlement, but the biggest was the one that occurred when the Cherokee Outlet, a six million acre strip of land along Kansas's southern border, was opened up in September 1893. Prospective landowners poured into so-called "boomer" camps to await the official opening of the Indian land. The word "boomer" referred to those who had been lobbying since 1879 for the opening of the Indian lands, but it took on a double meaning in the context of the land runs because those who gathered in the camps just outside the Indian land were awaiting the "boom" of the cannon as the official signal that the rush was on. Spurred by high land prices elsewhere and the financial panic of 1893, people poured into the camps by the thousands. People who wanted to participate in the land run had to acquire certificates authorizing them to do so, and the government posted guards along the border to try to keep unauthorized settlers out. Still, many "sooners," as they were called, sneaked in ahead of time. Tensions ran high in such an atmosphere, and incidents of violence were almost inevitable.
One such incident was the lynching of a sooner named Asa Youmans (or Yeamans). Youmans was an ex-sailor who'd formerly lived at Carthage, Missouri. He was one of several Missourians organized and paid by a syndicate of real estate men to acquire land in the Cherokee Outlet, and they sneaked onto the land south of Arkansas City, Kansas, prior to September 16, the official opening day. When the cannon boomed at noon on the 16th, the land run was officially on, and men thronged across the border in search free land on which to stake their claims.
When the first group of boomers from the Arkansas City camp reached the vicinity of present-day Blackwell, Oklahoma, they found about fifty sooners holding down claims with rifles as their only authority. One man, Asa Youmans, was holding down two claims, saying his partner had gone out in search of water. The first boomers went on without attempting to dislodge Youmans but reported what they'd witnessed to some of their fellow boomers. Two of the newcomers defiantly planted their flags on the land Youmans was claiming and resolved to stand by them. Youmans raised his rifle and ordered the two men off his claim. One of them asked to see his certificate, and Youmans admitted he had none and did not propose to get one. "I am a sooner," he reportedly proclaimed, "and I would like to know what in the hell you propose to do about it."
Facing the threat of a gun, the two men, like their predecessors, departed without further resistance, but they rounded up about two dozen of their friends and returned. Now greatly outnumbered, Youmans still showed fight and claimed, perhaps in the spirit of bravado, that he had already killed two settlers and could get away with killing more. The boomers promptly dispensed with anymore of Youman's braggadocio by placing a rope around his neck and stringing him up to a nearby tree, where they left him hanging as a warning to other sooners.


Blogger A.P. Hill said...

Interesting. Also, 1893 was not that long ago.

May 22, 2016 at 4:17 PM  

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