On the afternoon of April 19, the new state of Oklahoma’s Constitution was signed by members of the state constitutional convention at Guthrie. President of the Convention, William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray of Tishomingo, signed his name with a pen presented him by custodian W.P. Campbell of the Oklahoma Historical Society. It was made from an eagle quill, with a holder of alfalfa stems, wrapped with Oklahoma-grown silk. Most of the other delegates signed with pens that they used during the convention and had them preserved as well.

NEW STATE CONSTITUTION SIGNED

On the afternoon of April 19, the new state of Oklahoma’s Constitution was signed by members of the state constitutional convention at Guthrie. President of the Convention, William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray of Tishomingo, signed his name with a pen presented him by custodian W.P. Campbell of the Oklahoma Historical Society. It was made from an eagle quill, with a holder of alfalfa stems, wrapped with Oklahoma-grown silk. Most of the other delegates signed with pens that they used during the convention and had them preserved as well.

HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS GET STARTED

A high school track and field meet was held for the first time at League Park on April 19, 1907. It was a combination of Shawnee High School and the Shawnee Business School members. From the winners, a team was going to be picked to compete for the first time in an interscholastic meet at Norman on April 26-27, sponsored by the University of Oklahoma for high school teams.

The results from the League Park competition were as follows: 100-yard dash: 1-Loyal Payne, 2-Carl Mohrbacker, 3-Robert Loy. Hammer throw: 1-Robert Wood, 2-Royce Wyant, 3-William Brill. Shot Put: 1-Robert Wood, 2-Royce Wyant, 3-Omer Nickel. Quarter Mile: 1-Burton Witherspoon, 2-Randall Clark, 3-F. Keller. Half Mile: 1-Robert Brown, 2-Dan Wilfong, 3-John White.

Mile Run: 1-William Brill, 2-Morgan Hart, 3-S.W.E. Blackburn. Pole Vault: 1-Omer Nickel, 2-Loyal Payne, 3-Randall Clark. High Jump: 1-Morgan Hart, 2-Burton Witherspoon, 3-Loyal Payne. Running Broad Jump: 1-Lawrence Scheteri, 2-Morgan Hart, 3-Loyal Payne. Discus: 1-Robert Wood, 2-William Brill, 3-Burton Whiterspoon. Relay Race: 1-Burton, Whiterspoon, Charles Meir, and Randall Clark, 2-Loyal Payne, John Kelley, Robert Loy.

SHAWNEE SURE OF PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE

In the first decade of the 20th century, Shawnee went through several stages of excitement and effort in attempts to secure an institution of higher learning for the city. When the rumors of another possible college in the community came up, the progressive citizens of the town almost assumed it was a done deal.

On the afternoon of April 26, 1907, a huge crowd met at the Becker Theatre for a “fundraiser,” to get things off on the right foot. The Mammoth Department Store started it off with $1,500 for the cause. They were followed with several $1,000 donations.

Before the gathering at the Becker, at 1:30 P.M. a monster parade started from the City Hall, with the Shawnee Brass Band leading the line. It was followed by President George Kerfoot and Secretary Sidney J. Roy of the Chamber of Commerce. Next were the speakers and prominent citizens. Then came the children of the public schools. Every business house in the city was closed from 1-4 P.M., with most of them participating in the gala event.

Finally, at the meeting after the parade, several speakers addressed the cause for celebration. With Roy leading the meeting, he made some emotional statements to the crowd.

“The sweet voices of the children appealed today for an equal opportunity with every other child in Oklahoma. Unless Shawnee goes down into her pocket, she will not have this splendid college.

“The Presbyterians are offering an opportunity to get their college, which will build character and citizenship wherever it is located. This is a turning point in the history of Shawnee.”

Other speakers included Superintendent Scott Glenn of the Public Schools, who talked about the importance of education. He was followed by Willard Johnston, who explained the proposition at hand. He talked about the great work that was already underway to procure the college for the city of Shawnee.

Johnston added, “Why should we send our children away from Shawnee, when we have such a great opportunity to receive the Presbyterian University with an endowment of $150,000?”

He said the Synod would give $10,000 to support the institution during its first four years. It required a campus of about 40 acres and money to assist in putting up the buildings. He also added that it was probable that Oklahoma would not get any more schools after the Presbyterian and Baptist colleges were located. He believed that Indian Territory, that was neglected to this point, would get any others.

RICHARDS SHOT TO DEATH AT MURPHY’S LAKE

Rufus Richards, of east 10th Street, and 28 years of age, was shot and killed by Rand Cowart on the evening of May 1, 1907, at Murphy’s Lake, two miles east of Shawnee, on Highland Avenue. Cowart used a shot gun at about a distance of five feet and the lower part of Richards’ face was torn away.

The next morning a coroner’s jury recommended that Cowart be held to await action of a grand jury without bond. The jury was composed of C.P. Jackson, L.A. Brown, J.A. Fullerton, W.M. Foster, J.P. Day, and F.A. Timmons.

Richards had gone out to the Murphy farm, where he was once employed and felt at home, to take advantage of some excellent fishing at the lake. Cowart was renting part of the farm and objected to anyone fishing in the lake. He had stated to neighbors that if he caught anyone fishing there, he would shoot them.

After the shooting, Cowart jumped on his pony and rode immediately to his neighbor, John M. Cox’s house.

He told him, “John, I shot Richards, but I had it to do. Go over and see what you can do, while I go for the doctor.”

Cox ran to the body and then shouted out to Cowart that it was too late to go for the doctor. Cox and the other neighbors eventually called for the authorities.

A search immediately happened for Cowart, and he appeared to have “lit out!” Deputy William Carr had a clue that he was in the city and a search in every rooming house needed to be made. He found him in a room on east Main Street in the Hotel Reeble.

Cowart, 30, was arraigned that afternoon before Judge Edgar Reasor. He was committed to the county jail without bond.

ABBOTT MURPHY IN SHAWNEE

A committee of Shawnee citizens called on the Rev. Abbott Murphy of the Sacred Heart College on the morning of May 3, 1907, during his visit to the city. The matter of locating the Catholic University in Shawnee was taken up with him, but he would not go into details at the time.

The Order of Benedictine monks, of which Rev. Murphy was the head in the southwest, now owned a tract of 80 acres in Shawnee. It had long been presumed that is was purchased for building a university at this point for the southwest. Rumors were that it would embrace all departments of collegiate law, medical and scientific schools.

The Reverend did intimate that the Order had contemplated the building of a university at some time. The Order had maintained a monastery and Indian Mission at Sacred Heart for 30 years, during which time it became famous all over the world as an historic place.

(These stories and many more will appear in the publication of the history of Shawnee, coming in 2019. It appears to be a 1,000-page volume, containing hundreds of pictures and charts. There will also be a memorial section that you can put focus on your parents, or someone else in the community that you believe played an important role.)