The year of 1902, like many others, had a great impact upon the development of the young city of Shawnee. During the final month of the year, the city government considered several “modernized” improvements for the community. All entities in the city were looking for ways to improve their circumstances. Businesses began to grow and new ones appeared on the local scene. The following stories are situations that developed in December of 1902 in the “Proud Princess.”

The year of 1902, like many others, had a great impact upon the development of the young city of Shawnee. During the final month of the year, the city government considered several “modernized” improvements for the community. All entities in the city were looking for ways to improve their circumstances. Businesses began to grow and new ones appeared on the local scene. The following stories are situations that developed in December of 1902 in the “Proud Princess.”

STREET CAR MAN IN THE CITY

J.M. Carter, manager of the General Construction and Equipment Company of Dallas, Texas, was in the city in December of 1902. He was looking over the situation with a view to establishing a street car line in the city. He was also interested in connecting it with the county seat of Tecumseh. He submitted a proposal to the City Council for their consideration, meeting with them on the evening before the regular council meeting.

Carter visited the city about six months earlier and said he thought the project would be good for the city and would be a paying proposition. He also said that it would involve a paving project between Shawnee and the county seat of Tecumseh. He said he would also present to the Council a proposition of paving Main Street with brick. It appeared to be a good deal for the city of Shawnee, but it would be up to the City Council to act upon it, favorably, or otherwise.

CITY COUNCIL TAKES IMPORTANT ACTION

The City Council took some important action on Wednesday night, December 17, 1902, concerning three things for the city. The first was the calling of a special bond election for January 20. A second was the passing of a street resolution, and the third was the turning down of a street railway franchise.

At the previous meeting, the Council instructed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance providing for a special election to vote bonds for a waterworks extension and one providing for an election to vote bonds to build a new city hall and jail. The City Attorney submitted the drafts at the meeting and they were immediately acted upon.

The amount for the waterworks issue was set at $35,000, which included sinking one or more wells. For the jail and city hall, the amount was set at $30,000. Both bonds were set for the same day in January.

The Council was unanimous in these matters, without a dissenting vote in the matter of the amount of funds needed for these two projects. City Attorney P.O. Cassidy then cited the law that a city must have a bona fide population of at least 10,000 before it can issue bonds for a city hall and jail purposes. He mentioned that there was no current census and he suggested that a special census enumerator to investigate this matter within 10 days. The suggestion was acted upon and passed by the Council.

A question also came up about voting an additional $5,000 in bonds for a storm sewer, but was finally dropped. The Council agreed that the city had adequate drainage and this was not needed. They also turned down the request for a franchise in the city for a street railway car system.

On that same day, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated George E. McKinnis as the new Postmaster in the city. He replaced Frank P. Stearns, who resigned. McKinnis had held various positions through the years in Shawnee, but was currently involved in real estate and insurance and was the vice-president at the First National Bank.

SHAWNEE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL GETS FUNDS

Congress appropriated $20,000 for the Shawnee Industrial Training School in December of 1902. This information was made public by the superintendent of the institution, Frank A. Thackeray.

Thackeray made a trip to Washington and presented the needs of the school to the Department of the Interior. He asked that this need be added to the Indian Appropriation Bill. A big part of the need included the improvement of the roads between the school and the city of Shawnee. It would also go to the construction of new buildings needed for improvements.

The Commercial Club of Shawnee took the matter up a few months earlier and endeavored to secure an appropriation of $50,000, saying that the institution needed that amount to invest in new buildings. However, they said the $20,000 would “come in handy.”

The school currently had over 100 students and the facilities were not adequate for their care. Many Indians were turned away because there was no room in the school for them. The local Shawnee Herald expressed the invaluable need of the school and the good impact it had on the city of Shawnee.

POTTENGER DRUG COMPANY READY TO EXPAND

The Charles C. Pottenger Drug Company was chartered in December with a capital of $50,000. It secured two lots on the corner of Main and Market streets for the site of a large two-story brick building that would be occupied by the company. It was involved in the manufacture, wholesale, and retail of pharmaceutical preparations and flavoring extracts, among other items.

The company was backed by some good men and an abundance of capital and was officered by President Charles C. Pottenger, Vice President Roy Hoffman, and Treasurer L.Q. Morgan. Its outlook at the time appeared to be one of the most promising business institutions in the city.

Pottenger started his business operation in Tecumseh, but was recruited to Shawnee in the early days because of the bright prospects of the city. He was associated in those days with J. Marvin Remington in the drug line, but eventually broke the partnership and started his own business.

The big firm would employ considerable help in manufacturing and wholesale departments, as well in the retail line. He maintained five traveling salesmen at the time. It also included a specialty of cigar jobbing, carrying what was described as the finest cigars available.

The business did not last long at this spot. Within two years, the building was converted and was known as the Becker Theatre. The entertainment house would last for many years and hosted some of the most renown actors and performers in the world.

(Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian. He is working on a comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee. Look for its publication in 2018.)