“Few of the thousands of persons who daily traverse Harvey avenue, one of Oklahoma City’s principal thoroughfares, have knowledge that the street was named in honor of Oklahoma’s first congressman, David Archibald Harvey, congressional delegate from Oklahoma territory, 1891-93.” This statement was written by Alvin Rucker, a writer for The Oklahoman in an in-depth article published on Dec. 15, 1929.
David A. Harvey was born a British subject in Nova Scotia in 1845 and moved with his family to Ohio when he was 6. After college in Ohio, he moved to Kansas and worked as a civil engineer and entered the practice of law in 1874. In Kansas, he met David Payne and William Couch, leaders of the Oklahoma “boomer movement,” advocates of the settlement of Indian Territory, and he became a staunch supporter.
When Oklahoma was opened for settlement April 22, 1889, Harvey was already here. He was a “Sooner.” While it cost him his claim, when he was challenged and he admitted he entered before the official opening, it didn’t harm him politically.
He received a commission, as a federal district court commissioner and was an active participant of the Board of Trade, the predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1890, an election was held, and, while he was not the popular candidate, (that was Dennis Flynn, who was too closely aligned with Guthrie at the time) Harvey won.
While in Congress, “he introduced the first joint statehood bill for Oklahoma and Indian territories; he aided materially in passage of the bill under which the government bought the Cherokee Strip and threw it open to settlement; he introduced the “free home” idea …”
“Among the bills introduced by Harvey during his congressional services were:
Eight bills to reimburse settlers for losses sustained through depredations committed by Indians.
A bill to appropriate money to erect a building for the U.S. experiment station at Stillwater.
A bill granting to the Atlantic, Guthrie and Pacific railroad, right-of-way through the Sac and Fox, Iowa, Creek, Cheyenne and Arapaho reserves.
A bill extending over Oklahoma townsites certain Kansas laws.
A bill to approve and legalize Oklahoma legislative acts extending probate court jurisdiction.
A bill to authorize the purchase of school land for cemetery purposes.
A bill to ratify agreement with the Wichita and affiliated Indians and for an appropriation to make the agreement effective.
A bill authorizing the Middle Valley railroad to build through Indian Territory.
A bill to grant the Rock Island rights to buy land at Chickasha, Indian Territory, for station purposes.
A bill authorizing the Santa Fe railroad to purchase land in the Chickasha Nation.
A bill extending the Oklahoma legislative session 30 days.”
Harvey returned to Oklahoma City in 1893, at the end of his congressional service practiced law until 1896, when he moved to Wyandotte, in what is now Ottawa County, Oklahoma, where he became an attorney for Indians.
He died in 1916 and is buried in Seneca, Missouri.
A drive north on Harvey Avenue provides a glimpse of our city’s history in the form of buildings and structures: the OG&E building, ONG building, the new Federal Courthouse and the 9:03 gate of the Oklahoma City Memorial are all on Harvey. Fitting monuments to a forgotten man.
– Mary Phillips