It was made public in January of 1906, that the county Poor Farm was being managed in a bad fashion. Several of the reputable citizens were incensed for the victims living there.

THE POOR FARM IS IN “POOR SHAPE”

It was made public in January of 1906, that the county Poor Farm was being managed in a bad fashion. Several of the reputable citizens were incensed for the victims living there.

Molly Blackburn, a poor Black woman, was sent to the Poor Farm, along with her aged husband. They were assigned to a small house near the main building. There, her husband died and since his death, she had been in poor condition. She told her son that she was obliged to watch alone at night beside her husband’s corpse, before he was buried.

In a helpless condition, she was forced to sit on a hard pallet alone in the cabin for weeks. She said she received meals occasionally, but sometimes once every three days. She was finally taken to her son’s home and told there was nothing else the county could do for her.

This was a typical example of what many taxpayers said was going on at the Poor Farm. Many were complaining and asking for improvements at the facility.

NORMAL COLLEGE SITUATION IN A BAD WAY

Because so few responded to the call for a mass meeting on January 28, 1906, at the Opera House, it was deemed best not to hold the Shawnee Normal College session, and the meeting was abandoned. This caused great discouragement among the people in attendance and the also the leaders.

Professor J.F. Whitecarver stated that about $1,000 was needed to secure title to the location of the college and unless the money was raised by that night, he believed the plan had to be called off.

He said considerable excavation work and surveying had been done and the parties paid, but he was willing to abandoned that, rather than risk more money. The result was that the idea was abandoned for good.

THE BUFFALO BILL MEN IN SHAWNEE

Chief of Police William Sims said he received two photos showing the men arrested at Denver, charged with making and passing the $10 Buffalo Bill counterfeit money. A number of those bills were passed in the Shawnee area.

The photos were of Daniel W. Blackburn and James Robert Barnard. Both men were known by the police to have been in Shawnee back in December. There was no doubt of the guilt of the two, for it was alleged that Blackburn had confessed that he and Barnard passed the bills. There were other members of the gang that were implicated. This to some sort, exonerated H.C. Ellis, who was wrongly charged back in December.

BECKER THEATRE OPENS WITH HUGE CROWD

For several weeks, the people of Shawnee and the vicinity were watching the progress of the new Becker Theatre on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets. On the night of February 8, 1906, it was formally opened and tickets for the first performance were sold out.

The new house was three stories in height and contained a parquet on the ground floor, a large balcony, and a gallery. The stage was very large and the place was built with a design to make it not only very beautiful, but strong as well.

The opening performance was conducted by the “Pretty Peggy” Company. Becker Brothers, the new managers, guaranteed that every “objectionable character” would be excluded from the new house always. J.M. Marlett oversaw construction for his boss, G.H. Johnston of St. Louis.

Nearly all the seats in the lower part were sold, and a large part of ladies called in earlier for seats in the gallery. Gallery seats cost 50 cents.

The scenery and curtains were all in place and it was lighted very well and elegantly furnished. Even steam heat was provided throughout the building.

The “Pretty Peggy Company” arrived at noon that day over the Santa Fe Railroad with more than one baggage car filled with scenery.

The Becker Theatre would play host to some “big time” performances in the future.

CAPITAL LOCATION STRONGLY PROTESTED

People from all parts of Pottawatomie County were urged to attend a mass meeting on February 22, at the Christian Tabernacle on 10th and Broadway. The tabernacle was selected because it seated more people than any other place in the county. The purpose was to discuss the legislation giving Oklahoma City a big advantage in the location of the permanent capital of the new state of Oklahoma.

A large crowd attended the meeting that was held three days earlier at the Council Room of the City Hall. Not only voters from Shawnee, but many from Tecumseh and elsewhere. At this meeting, Lou S. Allard made a motion to put Judge Leander G. Pitman as the head of this effort. He was selected unanimously.

Charles F. Barrett read the action taken by the Oklahoma City people at a great mass meeting during the preceding week. They were strongly against the “1915 Capital Clause” in the pending statehood bill. Meetings were being held in every county and nation in both territories protesting this clause.

On the motion of Frank P. Stearns, the chairman appointed Barrett, W.T. Williams and Allard as a committee to draft resolutions to be submitted to Congress concerning the injustice of the Guthrie 1915 Capital Clause. They also requested an amendment of the clause which held statehood questions postponed until March 1, 1907. At the meeting, one gentleman declared that the capital belonged to Shawnee.

ELECTION AND BOND ISSUES DOMINATE SHAWNEE SCENE IN APRIL OF 1906

The Republican Party elected three councilmen and one member to the School Board at the April 3, election. This cut the Democratic majority in all wards to a minimum. The election was described as quiet, but the workers kept things on the move and did some excellent work.

Arthur Dimmers was elected to the Council and Frank P. Stearns to the School Board in the Fourth Ward, both were Republicans. In the Fifth Ward, P.E. Noll was elected to the Council as a Republican. Hal Johnson won easily in his re-election for the Council.

In other races for the Council, John Lain was the victor in the Second Ward and Dean Blakley was re-elected; R.H. Clayton was retained in the Third Ward; and in the Sixth Ward, Hal Johnson won easily. James M. Aydelotte would continue for another year as Mayor.

The school bonds carried rather easily, and the $15,000 building for the east side of town would soon be erected. A total of 696 votes were cast for and 345 against the sewer bonds. That gave the bonds six votes more than two-thirds needed for the proposition. However, in the future, there would be much legal debate as to whether, according to the current statute, the question legally passed.

(These stories and many others make up the comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee. Look for its publication in 2018, or early 2019.)