Active steps were taken on March 19, 1909, at an informal meeting in the Elks Club Rooms to start a Country Club in the immediate vicinity of Shawnee. It started off with the backing of several prominent businessmen who wanted to take up the past-time of golf and other outdoor sports.


Active steps were taken on March 19, 1909, at an informal meeting in the Elks Club Rooms to start a Country Club in the immediate vicinity of Shawnee. It started off with the backing of several prominent businessmen who wanted to take up the past-time of golf and other outdoor sports.

To prepare for the endeavor, several notices were sent out to prospective members. A committee was organized of the following men: C.J. Benson, Claude Rorer, A.J. Cammack, Willis Fertig, J.W. Rubey, H.T. Pierson, Fred Christner, W.S. Anderson, Wallace Estill, and F.S. Caldwell. They were selected by H.T. Douglas.

C.R. Dean and Rorer were commissioned to arrange for a tract of ground, to contain 40 acres or more at once. It needed to be convenient to the Trolley Car Line. The car company pledged that if it was not, they would build tracks to it. A large, modern Club House was among the plans of improvement for the property that was secured.

Within a few days, Chairman C.J. Benson announced that he had secured the option of the 80-acre tract of school land northeast of the city, which was moved and converted into a club grounds. The east side car lines ran within a short distance of the property, and the traction company announced they would extend the line to the club house.


For a couple weeks in late March and early April, Evangelist Dr. Ellwood J. Bulgin took city and county leaders to task in his revival meetings in the city. He had basically charged them with graft and immoral leadership.

This did not set well with the “powers that be,” and they then took him to task. They wished to bring charges against him for libel. The accused authorities wanted him brought up on charges, but the tables were turned in a few days.

On April 22, District Judge W.N. Maben and County Attorney Virgil Biggers were indicted by the Grand Jury. Bonds in the sum of $5,000 each were fixed at the arraignment before Judge John Caruthers. Several prominent Shawnee businessmen showed up in court and signed for the bonds.

Just a few minutes after the two were informed of the indictments, they were on the Interurban and headed for Tecumseh. They were represented by attorneys Sargent P. Freeling and R.J. Burke. In the court, the attorneys stated that while the indicted officials were willing and ready to give any amount of bond, they thought that $1,000 would be reasonable.

One indictment was returned against Judge Maben, charging him with embezzlement while serving as probate judge, prior to his election to the district judgeship; another indictment charged that he accepted a bribe from Ben Bond and the other indictment charged him with receiving bribes from B.O. Johnson and L.B. Howell.

Three indictments were returned against County Attorney Biggers, charging him with having accepted a bribe of $500 from Frank Witherspoon. All the indictments were based on the basic charge of bribery.

The local media charged that there was rottenness in the courthouse at Tecumseh. Eventually, the Grand Jury had reason to believe this, and one of their acts was to recommend the probing of all county records. This was followed by a request from Judge Caruthers to have the Governor send the state examiner down to investigate at once.

Attorney General Charles Orville West said he would personally appear before the Governor and make a report and urge the assignment of two or three inspectors to go through the county records.

Moreover, Chief of Police William Sims, and officers Jack Kelley and John Garrett were also arrested on indictments returned by the Grand Jury. Sims had four indictments against him for accepting bribes; Kelley had two for the same charge; and Garrett was charged on five counts with bribing officials.

Things were only getting started in the scenario surrounding these various cases of bribery. It was also countered with accusations of conspiracy against the same officials.


Notices were served upon Judge Caruthers, Attorney General Charles West, and State Enforcement Attorney Fred Caldwell at their rooms in the Norwood Hotel on the night of April 26, 1909. They were informed that proceedings would begin in Guthrie the next morning, asking for a writ of prohibition to restrain them from further action in suspending or removing Judge W.N. Maben. Deputy U.S. Marshall Johnny Jones served the notices.

The question arose as to whether a district court had the authority for such proceedings. They suggested that this could only be pursued by the state legislature.

Attorney General West had just filed an application before Judge Caruthers to suspend Judge Maben, pending trial on the various indictments returned on him. The request was also made against County Attorney Virgil Biggers and Chief of Police William F. Sims.


County Attorney Virgil Biggers was suspended from office on April 27, pending the outcome of the trial on the several indictments returned against him by the Grand Jury.

When the application was filed by the prosecution, Biggers made a brief talk consenting to acquiesce in the proceedings without contest. He was suspended by agreement satisfactory to both sides. C.P. Holt, former assistant County Attorney was appointed to replace Biggers.

Chief of Police William Sims was not removed, even though an application had been made to the court for that purpose. It was pointed out by the defense that Sims just had a few days more to serve and the court held that no public good could be accomplished by removing him.

 (These stories and hundreds more will appear in the comprehensive history of the city of Shawnee. Look for its publication in 2019. The 1200-1,500-page volume covers from the time of the creation of Indian Territory, until 2019. It will contain an index of 10,000 names and a glossary, listing officer holders through the years.)