The Board of Education met in an adjourned session on the afternoon of March 30, 1904, at Superintendent Griffith’s office in the Central School building. Most of the School Trustees were also present. They immediately went into executive session.


The Board of Education met in an adjourned session on the afternoon of March 30, 1904, at Superintendent Griffith’s office in the Central School building. Most of the School Trustees were also present. They immediately went into executive session.

The plans of a few architects for the construction of the new schools throughout the school district were considered. The specifications of A.C. Davis, C.C. Cook, and Keith & Whittaker were carefully examined. There were some points in each of the three plans that excited favorable comment. But when it came to a vote, the plans of Davis were accepted.

The plans called for substantially built schools, and the only opposition to the plans arose from a doubt that the schools could be built for the money proposed. However, Davis was present with his certified check that the buildings could be erected for $51,500 or less. The plans of Davis were accepted and bids were advertised over the next 10 days. Davis mentioned that all contractors would be allowed to bid on the work.

Some were concerned about allowing out of town contractors to bid on the projects. There was a general sentiment that the work should be done by Shawnee men, and as much as possible, the materials should be obtained in the city.

The question about the exact sites of the new schools had not yet been settled. It was believed that the Sixth Ward school should be built on the corner of Louisa and Wallace streets. The city already owned 10 lots in that block.

There was still a lot of debate about the site of the Third Ward school. It was basically believed by most of the Board that it would be built on the present site of the old building. There was a lot of support for building it in Farrall Park.

The Fourth Ward school was already pretty much settled on the general location. The basic plan was to erect it somewhere east of the Santa Fe tracks. The exact spot had not yet been determined.


The first brick ever laid on street paving in Shawnee was put down on April 1, 1904, under the leadership of Mayor Charles J. Bocher at 2 P.M. Within five minutes, hundreds of others followed and the experts were laying them at the rate of 100,000 per day.

The laying of the first brick was characterized by the persistence of a large crowd, including many councilmen and parties who were interested in securing the pavement. It took place at Main and Minnesota streets, within a block of the east end of the paving district. It marked the beginning of the brick work in an $80,000 contract. Along with other contracts, the total was $500,000, including what would be about eight miles of paving.


The city election held on April 5, clearly showed a sweeping Democratic victory. It might have been viewed as an election of little interest, considering the light registration for voting. From this standpoint, it appeared it would be a rather tame process. Although very light in numbers, it showed much of the complexion in Shawnee politics in 1904.

There was some hard work done at the polls, and it led to some arguments, and even blows in certain cases. Some of the candidates received “drubbings” before the day was done.

In the Fourth Ward for the office of Councilman, Will Keller bested Charles Linn by 34 votes after a stubborn race. Several acts of “rowdyism” occurred in the ward. The “opening number” of the day was between two peace officers. The excitement from this resulted in several other minor squabbles.

The Sixth Ward was the scene of a bitter contest. The friends and enemies of the Pemberton-Reily tickets worked like beavers all day, and nearly every qualified vote was gotten out during the day.

In the Third Ward, there were three tickets. During the morning hours, it was estimated that all of them were running “neck and neck.” But by the afternoon, the straight Democrat ticket began to forge ahead, and its candidates ruled the day.

There was no race for the Mayor’s office, thus the Democrat candidate, Charles J. Bocher, was selected. For Chief of Police, William F. Sims won easily over Harry L. Rorschach by a count of 847 to 418. For Councilman, in the First Ward, the nod went to Mose B. Hairston; in the Second, Frank Watts won out; in the Third, it was James T. Farrall; in the Fourth, Will Keller was victorious; the Fifth Ward went to Jess B. Rayborn; and in the Sixth, Joel H. Pemberton barely edged Edward Reily, 80-78. However, they both were elected as there was a need on the Council for two representatives from that ward. Nothing sensational came out of the election and the winners went to work.


After a debate extending through the entire session, on April 19, the bill providing for joint statehood of Oklahoma and Indian Territories, under the name of “Oklahoma,” passed.

However, some Congressmen suggested that the bill was simply a ploy to delay the admittance of Oklahoma and Arizona into the Union. The Democrats said that they believed the Republicans had no plans to admit them during this session, or that it would even pass through in the end, because they would be Democratic states.

In a brief speech from Charles Curtis of Kansas, he made mention that 90 percent of the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes and the whites in Indian Territory were in favor and was ready for joint statehood with Oklahoma Territory. In the end, the final vote resulted in showing strict party lines on the matter. The final vote was 147 to 104, in favor of single statehood.

(Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian. Look for his book on the history of Shawnee, coming in late 2018.)