Cushing was in the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation opened to homesteaders on September 21, 1891. By the act of Legislature in 1939, October 10 was designated as "Oklahoma Historical Day."
In the run on September 22, 1891, William R. Little located a homestead of 160 acres on the present site of Cushing. Little, then 38 years old, was born in Illinois, came to Indian Territory for the first time in 1886, and in the following year took a homestead in the southwest corner of Kansas commuting it to cash shortly before coming to Oklahoma again on April 22, 1889.
He entered the Sac and Fox lands on the opening date and in a few days had fenced his new homestead. His family consisted of his wife and two children for who he built a $400.00 house, lathed and plastered, and consisting of a room 14 by 28 feet and a kitchen 14 by 16 feet.
January 18, more than a month before his house was completed, Little filed an application with the Guthrie Land Office to commute to cash 80 acres of his land as a town site. A plate was filed with the application.
Little made the application under the provisions of the Act of May 2, 1890, by which Oklahoma Territory was established.
According to the act, the applicant should submit a plat of the proposed town site showing not less than 10 acres reserved for parks, schools and other public purposes. Patent for such reserved lands should be issued to the town when organized as a municipality.
The secretary of the interior, if he approved the plat, should issue to the applicant a patent for the remaining lands in the town site upon payment of $10 per acre. Sums so received should be paid over to the proper authorities of the Municipality when organized, to be used by them for school purposes only.
Accompanying Little's application was statement which pointed out there was no town nearer than 14 miles and no large town nearer than 40 miles. He mentioned several business enterprises wanting to locate in the proposed town, including a Country Store, a Doctor with a Drug Store and a Blacksmith Shop.
Little described his homestead as rolling prairie. He said it was most valuable for agriculture purposes, excepting the 80 acres he desired for a town site. He said that to his knowledge there were on the homestead no indications of coal, salines, or other minerals.
Dennis T. Flynn, representative in Congress, had suggested the name of Cushing for the Post Office, for Marshall Cushing, a private secretary to John Wanamaker, Postmaster General in Harrison's Cabinet.
Establishment of the Cushing town site was delayed for a few months because of legal questions and because of the quality of the paper on which the plats were drawn.
One June 25, 1892, Horace Speed, Guthrie Attorney, asked Commissioner T.H. Carter of the General Land Office to have the necessary acceptance sent "at as early date as may be." On July 8, he again wrote Carter saying that a large crop was being harvested in the neighborhood of the prospective town. Speed was afraid that if approval of the town site was left to the regular course of business there might be an interim of some months.
On August 6, 1892, the General Land Office returned the plat of Cushing to the Guthrie Land Office and directed that a final cash certificate be transmitted at once. Three days later Little paid $694.80 for 69.48 acres, allowing 10.33 for parks, schools and other public purposes as specified on the plat. He was then in position to begin the sale of the lots on this tract which was the original town site of Cushing.
Such was the beginnings of Cushing which by 1915 was nationally known for its oil field. That year the Cushing Fields produced more than 300,000 barrels per day amounting to 17% of total quantity of oil marketing in the U.S. or 30% of the output of high grade oil. Approximately 3,600 producing wells were drilled in field.
The activity was unbelievable. Thirty to forty brick buildings were under construction at one time in downtown Cushing. Special trains from Tulsa brought men and equipment to Cushing then were transported to the oilfield by means of wagons and teams. Men slept everywhere they could on floors of buildings, in the depots and in rented rooms throughout the town. Almost every home rented rooms or had sleeping quarters for the people. Tents were placed everywhere on every vacant lot in town to house men and equipment for horses and teams.
Cushing's boom was the talk of the country. The real impact of greatness of the oilfield was not felt perhaps until the end of 1915 when there were 710 wells producing 72,000,000 barrels of oil annually. This great oilfield was over a year old before the petroleum trade realized its potentially.
During the period Cushing, Oklahoma was known in oil circles throughout the world. Peak production in 1915 was 49,080,000 barrels of oil.