Benjamin, where are you from? And what has brought you to the Cherokee Strip to claim a piece of property?
I’m originally from Hennessey in Oklahoma Territory. My fiancée and I had planned to come here, to build a church, and to find our own Promised Land. After my beloved died, I decided to still come and fulfill what we’d hoped to do together.
Just what is the Cherokee Strip? And what did you have to do to make a claim?
The US government resettled Indian tribes and during that process, part of the northern portion of Oklahoma Territory was given by treaty to the Cherokee Nation. Officially, it’s called the Cherokee Outlet, but most call it the Cherokee Strip. It’s only sixty miles wide and about 225 miles long, just south of the Kansas border.
The president opened the land for settlement. The sections were marked ahead of time. On September 16 at noon, nine different starting places along the Kansas and Oklahoma Territory border will provide the opportunity for people to race to claim a piece of property. Once you find your property, you need to go to a claim office to make it official. You have five years to improve on your claim before the land is truly yours.
How would you describe yourself?
A man who longs to do the Lord’s will. My ma would say I have blond curls and hazel eyes.
Rumor has it that someone else laid claim to the same piece of land. Can you tell me something about her?
She’s the most frustrating woman I know and she’s stubborn. Don’t let her long blonde wavy waist-length hair and blue eyes fool you.
How are things going between you and this Elsie Smith?
To be honest, it’s been rough. We have different ideas of what’s best for the land, and she gets uptight about the smallest things. I honestly don’t know why the Lord put her as an obstacle on my path to serving Him.
It’s worse than I thought, then. I hope you two will eventually learn to get along.
What is your plan for resolving this land claim you both made on the same piece of property?
Sigh. For now, we’ve decide to both live on the land until the courts decide who is awarded ownership. I tell you, that time can’t come soon enough for me.
Who do you think will wind up gaining the claim?
I’m sure it will be me. I felt a peace in my heart when I saw this land, and I know God wants me to build a church and serve here.
After what you’ve told me about Elsie, I wonder what she would say about that!
What are your hopes and dreams for the future? For your new congregation?
I eventually want a helpmeet to serve along with me as we minister to this little community. I pray the Lord will bring someone when I’m ready. I desire for my congregation to grow and develop a deeper knowledge of being in Christ.
Thank you, Reverend David. For your own sake, I hope you can work things out with that stubborn Elsie Smith. I hear she isn’t planning on leaving the land any time soon!
The 125th anniversary of the settlement of the Cherokee Outlet was on September 16thand To Claim Her Heart is based on a true story which took place at the time of that event. If you’d like to learn more, here’s something about To Claim Her Heart and its author:
Back Cover Blurb for To Claim Her Heart
In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.
Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.
Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.
About the Author:
Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at http://www.jodiewolfe.com.