Book paints a portrait of Oklahoma

“The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People,” Volume One: Ancient – Statehood

By John J. Dwyer

Red River Press, $49.95

This book is an important work and should be mandatory reading for every student before they graduate from public schools in Oklahoma.

This historical work begins its coverage in ancient Oklahoma, including early immigrants and the state’s first settlers. Included are tales of Coronado’s Conquistadors and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado plus French explorers.

Oklahoma’s history cannot be separated from the Native American tribes and the impact of Indian Territory in the 19th Century. This book is full of back-story facts about the important role that they played and their struggles. In the 1830s, the Trail of Tears was a sad portion of the history of the state. Persecution arose and tribal wars emerged. There were efforts at ethnic cleansing, battles against liquor sales and trouble in the West.

The book addresses the impact of Christianity from 1840 through the 1850s. Presbyterians and Congregationalists condemned slavery and called for the immediate abolition – a view that frankly didn’t sit well with people in the North or South.

There were missionaries who were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Moravians, Catholics and others. Some members of the Five Civilized Tribes had converted to Christianity prior to their removal but others did not.

Some historians believe that no area suffered as much during the Civil War as Indian Territory. (You really need to read the book to see which side Oklahoma was on).

There is a chapter on the Reconstruction period following the war. Railroads and oil started to shape the state in the 1870s. White folks discovered Indian Territory in 1880s, which was famously demonstrated in the Land Run of ’89. That’s when Oklahoma City was established.

The discovery of oil in Redfork and Glenn Pool in and just south of Tulsa was a remarkable development that brought enormous wealth to the plains.

Progressive politics tried to get a stronghold in the state about this time and its influence can be seen in early states of statehood.

If you like studying politics, you will enjoy the chapter on statehood. If you don’t like politics, you should study that chapter anyway.

This is a scholarly work that is chock full of history and profiles of the rascals and heroes that came before us in this great land.

The forward to the book is written by former Gov. Frank Keating. “John Dywer has written a wonderful story,” Keating wrote. “It is the story of the crash and conflict of peoples, ideas, ambitions and technologies (oil would become the state’s dominant export). Few places personify the symbol of egalitarian, no classes society better than Oklahoma.”

Again, this should be a must read for every student in the state.

John J. Dwyer is an adjunct professor of history and ethics at Southern Nazarene University. He is the former History Chair at Coram Deo Academy in Dallas. He has written several books and is the former editor and publisher of the Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper. Dywer’s grandfather arrived in Oklahoma City at age 21 two years before statehood in 1909 and was a prominent realtor. The Dwyer Family has lived in Oklahoma for more than a century.

Professor Steve Byas, history professor at Randall University in Moore, Oklahoma, and editor of the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper, was a consulting editor for the book.

Byas wrote a high school government textbook, two mystery novels and History’s Greatest Libels. Byas’ great grandfather, Jonah Byas, homesteaded in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, in 1894.

For more information, go to johnjdwyer.com.