The city continued to show growing pains at the end of 1904, and the beginning of 1905. Shawnee was looking for an institution of higher learning, even before statehood, and needed improvements in its services to the public.
The city continued to show growing pains at the end of 1904, and the beginning of 1905. Shawnee was looking for an institution of higher learning, even before statehood, and needed improvements in its services to the public. Another treat was the visitation of the “hatchet lady,” Carrie Nation. She always put citizens on edge, especially the boozers and smokers.
SHAWNEE WANTS THE COLLEGE
There was a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in mid-October of 1904, to discuss the matter of securing a new Presbyterian College. It was already settled that one would be located somewhere in Oklahoma.
It was attended by about 35 citizens, representing the business and professional elements of the city. President F.B. Reed of the Chamber of Commerce occupied the chair, and after stating the object of the meeting, introduced Dr. T.F. Barrier of Blackwell. He represented the Presbyterian synod in the college matter.
Dr. Barrier was described as a polished and versatile gentleman, and made a fine impression on the audience. He made an interesting talk regarding the college and advantages accrued to the city that secured its location. Not only would the students spend a considerable amount of cash during the terms of the school, but the college would be a magnet that would draw new people to the city.
“It is a well-known fact that the best class of people are attracted to a college town,” said Dr. Barrier.
Dr. Barrier said they intended to erect a $40,000 building to begin with, and others would follow. The proposition presented to the citizens of Shawnee was that they give the college site and campus, 15-20 acres, and a $50,000 endowment fund to be used for the support of the school.
STREET RAILWAY UNDER FIRE
The City Council was finally compelled to take note of the reckless driving of the street cars over the various lines of the city. It was the opinion of the Council on the last day of November, 1904, that the services could be improved by a stricter regulation of the system. It had come to the attention of many that the cars were run in some parts of the city at too high a speed.
The crews in charge were considered too indifferent to the convenience of public safety. They did not stop at the proper places on the crossings and often they did not stop to let passengers off when signaled.
The ordinance passed at the meeting sought to cure those defects and regulate the service. The Chief of Police William Sims was directed to see that the provisions of the ordinance were observed and enforced. Also, the receiver would be required to provide his cars with fenders, adjusted at least three inches from the rails. It was further developed in the general discussion that the company would replace its tracks on Union Avenue.
SANTA FE SHOPS ARE IMPROVED
The improvements at the Santa Fe yard and shops had steadily progressed through the first two years of its existence. By December, the southeastern part of the city became what only a few months earlier had been a piece of low-lying river bottom farm, with no distinguishing features, except the richness of the soil.
But later came the grading contractor with its army of men and the necessary machinery. In a short time, the site was raised about five feet by the addition of the required dirt from several of the deep cuts that were made along the main line. After this, came the laying of the miles of sidetracks and the preparation of the many other acres of land that were used.
Then the big well was dug that gave an endless supply of good, soft water that was needed for boiler purposes. This was followed by the building of coal chutes.
The next plans were for the construction of a 16-stall roundhouse. By the end of 1904, it would stand as one of the most impressive in the West. It was the only one of its kind on the entire Santa Fe system.
During his visit to the city, Construction Superintendent H.A. Tice said that more than $500,000 had already been spent on the building of the site and before they were finished it would approach a million dollars.
POSTOFFICE MOVES TO NEW LOCATION
The removal of the Post Office from its old quarters on north Bell Street to the Estes Building on north Broadway was effected on February 1. Most every citizen felt the relocation was appropriate for the consideration of the great volume of business conducted, and for the convenience of location.
Postmaster George E. McKinnis was the presiding officer over 20 people working under his leadership in the various departments of the service. His assistant was A.E. Kennedy.
CITIZENS WISH TO EXTEND STREET CAR LINES
For some time in the spring of 1905, there were efforts made by the owners of Broadway Heights and the Rose Garden additions, and residents along the proposed route, to have the electric street railway extended through those areas.
Estimates of the cost of the proposed extension were set at $18,720. J.C. Fisher, Trustee of the Traction Company, was busy trying to secure an order from Judge B.F. Burwell action for the improvements to be made. Promoters of the scheme circulated petitions among owners of property along the line to contribute to the cost of construction.
The supporters of the project said that it would open one of the most attractive residential sections of the city. It would also open a mode of “quick transportation” to the large number of people living beyond the street car line. It would also eliminate the demand for suburban stores and bring more business to the city proper.
CARRIE NATION ARRIVES IN THE CITY
Carrie Nation, who had exhibited escapades in the past in the city, was publicized as on her way back to the city in May of 1905. The concern about her formal “smashing rages” were settled when her private secretary, T.J. Philpin, assured the media that this was not going to happen.
Philpin was asked by the newspaper, “Does it mean that a crusade against liquor selling accompanied by a hatchet campaign will be inaugurated on her arrival in Shawnee?”
“Oh, no,” said the secretary of the most extensively advertised crusader against intemperance of the day. “Miss Nation comes here to her newly adopted home after a lecture tour of the western part of the territory, which will be concluded at the Guthrie Prohibition Convention next week.
“No, Miss Nation hasn’t any plans for a specific campaign here. In fact, if she ever had any plans of campaign laid out for her work, I never heard of it. What she might do in Shawnee in the next few weeks is as much a matter of speculation with me, as it probably is with you.
“All I know is gleaned from her letters, in which she says that she is coming ‘home’ for a few days needed rest. In the meantime, look for the erection of her new private residence, along with a half-dozen nice cottages on her two and on- half acres of land in the Whittaker Addition in the east part of the city.”
The narration of Nation’s experiences, which were known to every newspaper reader during the past decade, and reiterated by her secretary, showed that she had won her spurs by many hard-fought battles with tongue and hatchet. It finally ended, as did her incarceration in the Wichita, KS, jail a few weeks earlier. She was released from punishment there for an unwarranted destruction of saloon property.
(Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian. He is currently researching and writing the comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee. Look for its publication in late 2018.)