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Janelle Richardson (View posts)
Posted: 924091200000
Classification: Biography
By Janelle Pond Richardson-Great Granddaughter of Lewis Rinn
June 1996

It was a warm July morning in 1902 on the Rinn Homestead in Caddo County in Oklahoma Territory. Work began early because there was much to do to establish a productive farm on uncultivated land that once belonged to the Indians. Everyone worked hard but it was worth it because the land would soon belong to them. Lewis Rinn had been lucky when he came to the territory in the summer of 1901 and selected land for the lottery. Out of over 165,000 applicants, he was one of the lucky 13,000 who drew land. Once the requirements for homesteading were completed, the 160 acres would be his, or so he thought until he picked up the weekly mail at the Leal Post Office that morning and saw the official government letter addressed to Mr. Lewis Rinn. He couldn't believe that it said he had 60 days to prove that the was a citizen of the United States or he would lose his claim. He couldn't lose the homestead. His family had sacrificed so much for it. At the age of sixty and disabled by rheumatism, he had sold his meat market and ice cream shop in Williamsburg, Kansas and brought his wife, Marguerite and nine children to start over in this new land. They had traveled three weeks by covered wagon down through Kansas and Oklahoma in the cold of November. After the joy of arriving at this beautiful spot that was their new home on November 17, 1901, they had to set about building a log house shelter that was 14 x 48 to protect them from the cold "Northerners". A spring well was enclosed and about half the place was fenced with barbed wire fencing to enclose the pasture for the live stock. When Spring came, 40 acres were cultivated and the first crop was maturing. To provide some cash income during this first year, both Lewis and Marguerite went into town, Minco 10 miles away, and opened another meat market and ice cream shop. Everyone in the family had made sacrifices. So far, there wasn't even a school nearby for the younger children to attend. The older children, who ranged from 24 years downward, had left many friends behind.

When Lewis Rinn filled out his Homestead Entry Paper on August 10, 1901, he stated that he came to the United States with his parents as a young boy, 10 years old, from Germany. His father was a naturalized citizen so that would qualify him as a citizen. The government was asking for proof that his father became a citizen. Lewis Rinn had no proof. It must be remembered that the family had been in the USA for 50 years and the father was deceased and it was unlikely that his son would have or carry naturalization papers around with him. (This researcher has been unsuccessful in finding the naturalization record of his father in PA, but the search continues).

Lewis Rinn responded to the government letter and said he couldn't furnish proof of his father's citizenship, but he had a right to the Homestead because he was eligible for immediate citizenship himself based on his service as a Union Army soldier for three years during the Civil War. An act of Congress qualified an honorable army discharge as the first papers for naturalization. He set in motion the process of getting a certified copy of his discharge papers. It was agreed that Lewis Rinn would qualify for naturalization and be able to get his homestead and become a citizen both at the same time. It appeared that the Rinn Homestead was saved, however, bureaucratic glitches made it difficult for Lewis Rinn.

To prove or get title to his land, Lewis Rinn needed to pay $1.25 per acre or $200. (This researcher believes he may have taken out a mortgage). Another requirement was to live on the land for five years. He was given credit for his three years of service in the Army, so he gave notice to the government that he was going to give final proof on November 25, 1903. His deteriorating health may have motivated him to get title as soon as possible. He wanted to protect his family from losing the land.

On the cold morning of November 25, 1903, Lewis Rinn and W. S. Thompson, one of his witnesses and future son-in-law, left the homestead, crossed the Canadian River and made the long ride to the courthouse in El Reno with the intention to complete the citizenship papers and then meet his other witness, William C. Ross, at the Land Office and get the title for the land. It was believed that only one trip to El Reno was necessary. On arriving at El Reno, he was dismayed to find that he couldn't get his citizenship papers. The court had been in session, but had adjourned until Monday, November 30th. Returning once again to the El Reno Courthouse, Lewis swore his allegiance to the United States and became a citizen on November 30, 1903. Neighbors Lawrence C. Pederson and William C. Ross were his witnesses. This was after living in the country for 50 years and volunteering and serving 3 years in the army during the Civil War. On the same day, title to the homestead was transferred to him. Witnesses besides W. S. Thompson, and William Ross were Charles H. Black and William J. Sullivan.

By the time the land described as the NE 1/4 of Section 18, Township 10N, Range 8 West, became his, the family had continued working hard and had 50 acres under cultivation, built a barn, planted an orchard, and added a frame addition onto the log house. The Hazel Dell School had been built and the first classes held fall term of 1903. The Rinn family had attended the meeting of all the neighbors which was held under a shade tree when plans were made to erect the school. L.D. Rinn was one of 22 men who went to Minco and signed a joint note in order to buy the lumber and supplies to build the one room school. The first school term of six months began with about 30 pupils enrolled. No doubt Edmond, Seona and Jessie Rinn were students.

Lewis Daniel Rinn, who had suffered with rheumatism and kidney problems for more than 20 years, died February 11, 1905. This was little more than a year after claiming his homestead. Despite almost losing it, he had persisted and proved to the government that he qualified for the land. His family was able to continue living on the land long after his death.

1. Homestead Application and Patent of Lewis Rinn, 1901-03. Land Office, El Reno Ok. National Archives, Washington DC.
2. Military Disability Pension Application of Lewis Rinn, July 8, 1890, Franklin Co, Ks. National Archives, Washington, DC.
3. Minco, Oklahoma, 1890-1990, History Book Committee, Minco, OK, page 43. 4. Naturalization Record of Lewis Rinn, 1903. U.S. Naturalization Cert. dated Nov 30, 1903, District Court, Canadian County, Territory of Oklahoma. 5. "Registers, Receivers and Entrymen", The Chronicles of Oklahoma, Spring 1989, pg.67.
1. Homestead Application and Patent of Lewis Rinn, 1901-03. Land Office, El Reno Ok. National Archives, Washington DC.
2. Military Disability Pension Application of Lewis Rinn, July 8, 1890, Franklin Co, Ks. National Archives, Washington, DC.

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Janelle Richardson 924091200000 
Helena Pond Bayer 925214400000 
Thomas B Green 1088798439000 
lynnby6 1330281095000 
larson_jodi 1356495432000 
christinamora... 1507793086000 
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