Waiting in line to register for the Run of 1893 was hot, thirsty, and
hungry business. No one could do much about the heat, but the citizens
of the southern Kansas border towns did their best to take care of the
"thirsty and hungry" part- at a good profit. Henry Rein, later a Ponca
City resident, lived in 1893 on a farm near Arkansas City, Kansas. He
recalled that the summer of 1893 had been so dry it had stunted the
growth of apples until they were like marbles. Yet, that September, he
picked two or three bushels a day, which he sold at ten cents per dozen
to the people waiting in line to register. Some of his neighbors sold
water at the rate of five cents for all one could drink, making as much
as ten dollars a day. That was cheap by some accounts-a pint of water
might sell on the day of the Run for one dollar.
Desperate people were willing to pay these prices, exorbitant though
they may be. In fact, they were willing to buy whatever there was. Two
young girls, who, as Mrs. L.C. Hall and Mrs. Henry Ingels, later became
Ponca City residents, nearly started a riot at the registration lines.
While driving through the crowd in a wagon, they repeatedly called out
"Free doughnuts and water! Come and get yours!" At each call, famished
men converged on the wagon. When they found out the whole thing was a
prank, the two girls were lucky to get off with only a scolding from
their embarrassed parents.
"Cashing In on The Run"
Ponca City News
Ponca City, Oklahoma
September 10, 1939
Found on page 62 of NCOHA's award winning book.