Pictured here is John Brogan’s wholesale grocery tent. We don’t have a lot of details on Brogan’s life, but census records indicate that he was born in the 1840s in Knox County, Kentucky and eventually migrated to Kansas where the Wichita city directory for 1887 and 1888 list him as a restaurant owner. Brogan and his family then participated in the Land Run of April 22, 1889 and established what is believed to have been the first store in the new city of Oklahoma City. With about 10,000 hungry mouths around town on that famous day, one can imagine the Brogans were very busy. This photo was taken by Andrew A. Forbes (1862-1921) who was an itinerant photographer famous for his documentation of the life in the ranches, mines and frontier towns of the American West. This photo is undated, but was undoubtedly taken during the first few days of Oklahoma City’s history. Brogan would later be elected to the first city council in 1890 and though he never made a fortune, his obituary boasted that “he is remembered by all who homesteaded here as one of the first citizens of the city.” He died in Oklahoma City on March 29, 1929.
- Current, Karen and William R. Current, Photography and the Old West. New York: Abrams, 1978.
- “Funeral for ‘89er Will Be Saturday,” Daily Oklahoman, March 30, 1929.
- For an exhibition of Andrew A. Forbes photographs see Photographic Division, Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries http://libraries.ou.edu/locations/docs/westhist/Forbes/index.html