By October of 1905, it was obvious that Shawnee was one of the leading cities in Oklahoma Territory, if not the leader. Many citizens felt it would lead Shawnee to be the capital of the new state that was on the horizon. Several features of progress were exemplified in the following stories.

By October of 1905, it was obvious that Shawnee was one of the leading cities in Oklahoma Territory, if not the leader. Many citizens felt it would lead Shawnee to be the capital of the new state that was on the horizon. Several features of progress were exemplified in the following stories.

NEW CARNEGIE LIBRARY OPENS AFTER DEDICATION SERVICE

The new Carnegie Library in Woodland Park was formally dedicated on the evening of October 12, 1905. While the inside decorations were complete, the furniture had not been installed. The building proved to be a source of wonder and delight to the audience in attendance. The building was filled and many people could not gain admittance to the event.

The exercises opened with an overture by the Shawnee Orchestra, which donated its services and was publicly thanked by Chairman C.J. Benson. Following the invocation by Rev. L.C. Wolfe, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Benson introduced City Attorney Fred H. Reily, who delivered the address of welcome. He mentioned that the city secured the new library through a generous donation of $15,000 from millionaire philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

George E. McKinnis, the local Postmaster, responded on behalf of the people with an address which left nothing unsaid. He warmly commended the Board, and as he was one of the most eloquent speakers in the southwest. He won the hearts of the audience by his words. His speech was followed by “The Will O’ the Wisp,” performed by the orchestra. After that, Mrs. J.I. Schloss, President of the Library Board for the past three years, read a short history of the founding of the Shawnee Library, which began in 1901. She also talked about its struggles until its triumph in securing so splendid a building as they were celebrating at the time.

The Library was formerly kept in rooms donated by various parties, lodges and societies, and the Chamber of Commerce. From 102 books in a room donated for the purpose, it had risen to a library of 1,600 volumes and 6,800 magazines, and many other fine pieces of reading material. It had turned into arguably the finest in Oklahoma Territory.

The orchestra then rendered their version of the “Birds and the Brook,” and then followed by Chairman Benson who introduced the feature speaker, the President of Oklahoma A&M College out of Stillwater, A.C. Scott. He made a magnificent speech about books that was well-received by all.

Benson then ended by saying the that cost of the facility was $15,638. However, he mentioned that the Board must raise the $638, and planned to by donations and other various means.

Following the benediction by Rev. Wolfe, the audience adjourned to the lower floor that was incomplete, but was described as a delight anyway.

The design was made by Architect King of Denison, TX, and Architect Peters & Nethercott, of Shawnee, who superintended the construction. The contract was let to A.O. Campbell of Oklahoma City and work was done by Shawnee workers. All the sub-contracts were done by Shawnee contractors.

OIL STRUCK IN SHAWNEE

For many days the people of Shawnee, and especially those who subscribed to the $40,000 stock in the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Company to insure the drilling of the deep well northeast of the city, were anxiously watching the drilling. Many delays had occurred, all described as unavoidable, but on October 17, the hopes of the company and of all the city were raised by the striking of oil at a depth of 1,100 feet.

The drillers were working in salt water for some time, but expected almost hourly to strike something tangible. The morning drilling entered a strata of oil sand and began working through it. The results were not of sufficient size to insure a flowing well, but it was a very good indication that oil and gas was a short distance from the bottom of the well. They expected that another 300 to 400 feet would present a gusher.

WOODLAND PARK IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETED

By late October of 1905, the work of improving Woodland Park was practically completed. However, the big fountain for the center of the park was not finished and it was expected to be in place by the next spring.

The Park commissioners, headed by President C.M. “Cash” Cade and Secretary J.A. Walker, worked faithfully until the appropriation ran out. Despite this, their work had been rewarded with one of the best parks in Oklahoma Territory.

Broad driveways of crushed stone, topped with fine screenings, ran from Broadway at 11th Street to the center of the park. There a large circular drive was constructed and the main driveway led to Bell Street. Broad walks of gravel from the northeast corner at Broadway, from Douglas on the north, Union on the east, Bell on the south, and Broadway on the west, converged at the center, and made an excellent way for pedestrians. It was done in such a manner that City Engineer James Frazier saved all the trees, with few exceptions.

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES PAVING

The City Council met on October 24, with Mayor James M. Aydelotte presiding, and most of the alderman present. The Clerk read the notice to contractors regarding bids. They concerned the paving, curbing and draining of Bell, Beard and Broadway from the south end of the present paving on those streets to the Katy right-of-way.

Charles T. Derr, of the Oklahoma Paving & Construction Company, made a bid for the work. His presentation was described as eloquent. The street paving, it was said, was hanging on whether arrangements could be made with the Rock Island and Katy railroads willingness to pay for part of the work. However, it was found that they were agreeable and that became a non-issue.

When all the bids were entered, it was found that the Oklahoma Building and Construction Company of Oklahoma City won. They agreed to begin work within 10 days, and complete the work within 60 days.

THE BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL TEAMS MEET

The girls of the High School organized a basketball club on Thursday, October 26, 1905. They elected Helen Williams, a Freshman, as President. The girls rented a practice hall and were preparing to hone their skills.

The High School Athletic Association also met and elected a manager and a captain for their football team. The boys began practicing hard and were expected in a week or so to be ready to play any “eleven” in the Territory. This would be Shawnee High School’s first football team.

(Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian. He is working on the comprehensive, 1,500-page publication of the history of the city. Look for it in late 2018, or early 2019.)