By 1903, the citizens of Shawnee expressed their pride in the phenomenal growth that had taken place during the past year in the city. No city in Oklahoma or Indian territories out grew Shawnee in the amount of expenses spent on the growth of businesses and residential areas.

By 1903, the citizens of Shawnee expressed their pride in the phenomenal growth that had taken place during the past year in the city. No city in Oklahoma or Indian territories out grew Shawnee in the amount of expenses spent on the growth of businesses and residential areas.

A careful estimate of the amount of money spent on residential buildings in 1902, exceeded $250,000. This alone was for new homes and probably another $50,000 on additions and improvements in existing residences. They were not confined to one area, but scattered all over the city. The eastern part of the city had grown substantially and added to its beauty.

The new Draper & Whittaker, Sawyer, Frey & Hart, Artificial Stone Company, and many other substantial business blocks were erected at great cost and were already occupied. New store buildings were built on the principal avenues and old wooden stores were torn down and replaced with the permanent structures.

Hotels, lodging houses, brick plants, new banks, department and clothing stores, churches, factories, and mills had all become part of Shawnee’s pride during the previous year, and the building activity was not ceasing. Lumber dealers asserted that at no time in recent years had sales amounted to as much as they had during 1902.

The canning factory, cotton mill, gas plant, garment and candy factories, wholesale drug and grocery houses were among the new institutions already added into the process of going up.

A prominent citizen speaking of the strides Shawnee had made to this point in its history said, “There is no city in Oklahoma that can claim as much building being done as is now going on in Shawnee. I have just returned from a trip throughout the Territory, visiting all of the prominent cities, and I fail to see any signs of expenditures for growth as in this city. They all seem to think that we lead the Territory among the big cities.”

There were many new promised improvements for Shawnee in the way of new railroads, new city buildings, school buildings, paved streets and other municipal improvements.

With the flattering prospect for single statehood, Shawnee would rapidly advance to an enviable position of a commercial center of 50,000 people, they thought.

The railroad building had done much for Shawnee in 1902, and would continue in 1903. With the expectation of the Santa Fe, Ozark & Cherokee Central, the MK&T, in addition to the old Choctaw, now Rock Island, the citizens felt there was nothing to prevent the city from becoming the “Hub of the Railway Lines” in Oklahoma.

The population of the city was approaching 10,000 by this time, and many felt it would swell to 25,000 during 1903. The Six O’clock Business Men’s Club, the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce, was the institution that was materially aiding the growth and advancement of the city.

NEW ACTING MAYOR STEPS UP

Acting Mayor Thomas L. Spencer tendered his resignation to the Council on January 7, wishing to become just a plain, ordinary, everyday alderman. As President of the Council, he was legally obligated to be the acting Mayor in the absence, death or suspension of the regularly elected mayor. Spencer said that his official duties required too much of his time and attention and he felt that he must devote more of his time to his railroad duties.

The Council accepted his resignation, but he retained his position on that body. They quickly elected his successor, James M. Aydelotte, who was the elected member from the First Ward. He immediately assumed his duties of President of the Council and acting Mayor, which offices are one and identical, if needed.

A few other actions took place on the Council. T.M. Boyd resigned as alderman from the Fourth Ward, a position that he held for only a month. He was immediately selected to succeed M.B. Wells as Sanitary Policeman at a salary of $50 per month.

Boyd was succeeded on the Council by C.M. Arthur, who was elected to fill the vacancy. S.G. Ashbaugh was selected to fill the vacancy in the Council from the Fifth Ward, to replace Walter Rayborn.

STREET RAILWAY MAN IMPRESSED WITH SHAWNEE

J.M. Carter, the Texan who tried to secure a street railway franchise in the city after a real “selling job,” for the General Construction & Equipment Company, was favorably impressed with the city. He said in February that he would soon be returning to file his bond and arrange the preliminaries for constructing a street railway and an interurban line connecting Shawnee and Tecumseh, if the Council approved. He also said he planned on maintaining a park for a summer resort and perhaps even fair grounds, a race track and many other things.

He had many good things to say about the city: “Shawnee’s preeminence consists of its cultured, law-abiding and energetic citizenship; it’s congenial climatic phases, its central position geographically; its surrounding rich productive soils; its remarkable facilities for marketing its products; its superior banking facilities; the never failing supply of pure waters afforded by the North Canadian River which runs through its suburbs; its inexhaustible supply of building material consisting of stone, sand, fire clay and shale for making pressed brick; its undulating site affording natural drainage in every direction rendering storm sewers unnecessary; its many industries which afford employment to a host of wage-earners at a fair remuneration in price; its able city government; its economy of administration; its activity in preserving the best interest of the community; its united business effort controlling the hearty support of every business man in the city regardless of political or religious sentiment; its low rate of taxation; and many other things, the mere mention of all of which would compile a book, and make up a statement of facts, the truthfulness of which would not be questioned by the most credulous.”

He went on the say that Shawnee had a population by recent official count of 12,780 free-born white American citizens; five national banks; deposits that amounted to half a million dollars; the largest cotton oil mill in the southwest; the railway shops of the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf, where the monthly payrolls amounted to $100,000, and that company had recently purchased 40 additional acres adjacent to the present shops.

“This road is now the property of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and its branch operating in Asher,” he went on to say.

“The Santa Fe has just finished a grade into the city and track-laying is being rapidly pushed and the cars are expected to enter Shawnee in the next 60 days.”

He mentioned that the MK&T (Katy) had established engineering headquarters in town and let the contract for the construction of its line from Coalgate, I.T., which was expected to be finished within the next five months. He also said that a franchise had been granted to a company for the construction of a system of electric lines in Shawnee and work was to begin any day.

(Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian who is researching and writing a comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee. Look for its publication in 2018.)