Much excitement and anticipation hit the city when the rumor was started that the home of the new state Democratic leaders might be Shawnee. They were told they proposed to move from Oklahoma City to Shawnee. It would mean that all the active state campaigns would radiate from the city.


Much excitement and anticipation hit the city when the rumor was started that the home of the new state Democratic leaders might be Shawnee. They were told they proposed to move from Oklahoma City to Shawnee. It would mean that all the active state campaigns would radiate from the city.

It was also believed by just about every politician in Shawnee that this was simply the “ground floor” for the establishing of the state capital in the city. They really believed that it was almost a settled matter, because it seemed so logical to them.


What was thought of at the time as maybe the largest higher education institution in the southwest before long, was opened for bids to several cities in Oklahoma in late March of 1907. Secretary Farmer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma announced that bids would be received until September 9, from all cities of the new state desiring the institution.

Immediately after the lucky city was chosen, the committee would commence constructing the building. It was estimated that $200,000 would be spent on the structure alone. An attendance of 200 students was anticipated for the first year and many donations from prominent Baptists of the United States, like John D. Rockefeller would be forthcoming.

The school would be supported by the Baptists of both territories and judging from other Baptist universities, it would not be long before the institution would be the largest in the southwest of its kind. It was reported that the Shawnee Baptists and other citizens were desirous of locating the university in Shawnee and were willing to work for that end.


The votes were in and Frank P. Stearns was elected as the new mayor of Shawnee by a wide margin on April 2, 1907. However, his strength was not enough to pull the other Republicans in the city to victory. In fact, the Democrats won with a great majority.

The new officials of the city were: Mayor, Frank P. Stearns; City Clerk, A.D. Martin; City Attorney, P.O. Cassidy; Chief of Police, Williams F. Sims; Police Judge, D.C. Flowers; City Treasurer, F.W. Mohrbacher; Street Commissioner, Thomas L. Spencer; Assessor, M.H. Ernest; and Treasurer of the School Board, W.G. Dickson.

Elected to the City Council were: First Ward, M.B. Hairston; Second Ward, W.H. Parker; Third Ward, Joe A. Farris; Fourth Ward, William Wayne; Fifth Ward, M.D. Day; and Sixth Ward, W.T. Love.


Lillian and Dorothy Gish, later of Hollywood movie fame, lived with their uncle in the city in 1907. Uncle Leroy Gish was a Rock Island engineer. They lived near the present Santa Fe Depot and attended school in Shawnee.

Lillian Gish (1893-1993) and Dorothy Gish (1898-1968), were born in Ohio, but were abandoned by their alcoholic father, and moved around a lot before becoming famous in Hollywood.


To most of the citizens of Shawnee, they realized they needed a big Convention Hall, and were determined to have it before the summer passed. The Chamber of Commerce, at its meeting on April 5, appointed a committee to work out a plan for raising the funds needed for that purpose.

The committee was composed of George E. McKinnis, W.M. Longmire, F.B. Reed, C.W. Cook, and Dr. Theodore P. Bringhurst. No definite sum was suggested, because they made clear that whatever the cost, it was worth it for Shawnee. It was to provide all the accessories necessary to accommodate big crowds and needed to be centrally located. They believed it would make Shawnee the “natural convention city” of the new state of Oklahoma.

There were several plans put forth as to how to fund the project, including selling stock in the building. In the final analysis, the Chamber would develop the plan.


A movement was started in the spring of 1907, for a Pottawatomie County Historical Society as an auxiliary of the Carnegie Library in Shawnee. Many citizens believed that much interesting data could be obtained on the part of published history.

The movers believed there was a world of historical facts connected with the Indian life in the surrounding country that few of the present inhabitants were aware of. If the Society was perfected, it would be its aim to save all that would give light on the events and occurrences worth mentioning from the days of the Spanish exploration, down to the day of statehood. It was mentioned that many other cities and counties already had an organization of this kind. The results of their efforts into studying the past had reaped great rewards. The future would show that this organization would grow to be a blessing for all the county.


Frank Carter and John Murphy were arrested on April 14, for passing money under false pretense by Deputy Sheriff Will Carr. They entered the restaurant of Will Oldham on Main Street, where after eating to the extent of 30 cents, offered a 10-dollar bill and received $9.70 in change. Oldham noticed the bill was the same on both sides and had the men arrested.

It was discovered that the bill was one formerly used as an ad and contained a perfect copy of a regular bill with an ad on the opposite side. Two of these were split and the good sides were pasted together in a manner that made a fairly good-looking bank bill with each side a duplicate of the other. Deputy Carr took the men to jail, where upon searching them, found a quantity of other bad bills and several fake gold rings.


Shawnee was again after the Presbyterian University for the new state to be located by the committee who was scheduled to meet in Oklahoma City on April 28. There was a movement on foot in Shawnee, backed by many of the most influential men of the city, to make a strong bid for the school.

Option was secured on a site of 40 acres, which was intended for a campus. It required great energy and liberal donations to secure the necessary funds by the date required.

The Presbyterian currently had Kendall College in Muskogee, with realty valued at $100,000. The plan was to sell it and the proceeds converted into an endowment. While the Presbyterian denomination was not the strongest numerically in Oklahoma, it conceded to be very wealthy.

The church committed to support the university in elegant style. The supporters of this cause in Shawnee felt that it would be a great fit to Shawnee in a social and commercial way, if it could be secured. This energy would continue for a few weeks in the city with great excitement and anticipation.

 (These stories and many more will appear in the upcoming publication of the history of Shawnee. Look for it in late 2018 or early 2019.)