Warren A. Flower (Athena)
1905 POW pg. 130 Athena “Flower, Warren A photographer”
1989: “STILLWATER – The 50,000 land-hungry pioneers who raced for homesteads in the Run of 1889 were not alone.
Alongside – and at times ahead – of them were many photographers and reporters. They were on hand to record the historical moment and relay the information to newspapers and magazines around the world, although some also managed to find ways to become participants.
For instance, there is the story of Nanitta Daisy, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, who rode into the newly opened territory on the cowcatcher of a train. Along the way she leaped from the locomotive, ran to a nearby piece of land and staked her claim while passengers cheered, then ran back to the rolling train and was pulled aboard the back of the last car.
Land still held the most promise in America, and many of the journalists and photographers were as thirsty for land as the rambunctious hordes whose stories they covered.
In a tight hole-in-the-wall office above Red’s Deli in Stillwater, Red Hilyard unwraps the wrinkled packaging that protects his family’s collection of ’89er history.
He spreads out metal plates with photographic images and yellowed photographs mounted on cardboard, inscribed at the bottom with the name of the photographer, Warren Flower, Hilyard’s uncle.
“I’ve always been a history nut,” Hilyard says. “Pictures give it a personal feeling.
“With photographs,” he says, grinning, “you can brag about your past.”
Flower saved the images of the past not only for his family, but many other territorial families in the hundreds of photographs he took in and outside of his studio in Guthrie and later in Stillwater.
It was an invaluable service Flower performed, apparently not without some sacrifice. Photography, as a profession, was not enough to sustain a man and his family, Hilyard says, and Flower turned more and more to farming.
Finally, in 1897, he traded his studio for a wheat binder.
Flower had come from Weeping Water, Neb., to the Unassigned Lands – the 2 million acres of land opened in the first land run in what is now central Oklahoma. He came to the territory soon after his two brothers – Charles (Hilyard’s grandfather) and Perl – both of whom rode in from the west boundary in the land run.
The three brothers, all in their early 20s, established their homesteads or their shops, then sent back for their families, Hilyard says.
Hilyard’s grandfather staked his land along the Cimarron River about five miles east of where Perkins lies today.
Perl set himself up near Perry.
Warren Flower did not homestead but started his photography studio in Guthrie. He later bought farmland near Enid in the Cherokee Outlet which was opened by land run in 1893.
Flower and other photographers who made the run made their participation known through a wealth of pictures of the first homesteaders as they put up their tent cities.
Perhaps because the photographers were making the run themselves, there are no known photographs showing the pioneers racing for the land in the 1889 Run. The photos of land runs that have survived are of succeeding land runs.
Many newspapers sent back eyewitness accounts of the run. Practically every major newspaper and many lesser ones appeared to be represented.
Many reporters crowded onto railroad cars designated for the press, fighting past hundreds of home seekers seeking passage into the territory on overcrowded trains.
With only a few telegraph lines to go around, reporters had to scramble for opportunities to send their stories in. Several sent them via horse and rider to nearby towns outside the territory, such as Arkansas City, Kan., to have the story sent by telegraph from there.
Often, reporters and photographers had to be nearly as resourceful as their pioneer subjects to get their stories or pictures.
One hundred years later, several generations of ’89er ancestors and history enthusiasts are grateful for their persistence.
Red Hilyard says he has plenty of history sealed in his photographs which he intends to pass on to his son.
“These are things that were passed down to our parents,” he says.
“You pass them on to your kids and hopefully they will cherish them, too.”
Racing to a photo finish – Reporters caught up in the rush. Tulsa World (Oklahoma) April 20, 1989, pg. 1C.