The second decade of the 20th century was another period of great progress for the city of Shawnee. New modern conveniences were springing up all over town. The metro was now equipped with running water, electric lights, up-to-date transportation, with the advent of the trolley cars, and new businesses popping up everywhere.

The second decade of the 20th century was another period of great progress for the city of Shawnee. New modern conveniences were springing up all over town. The metro was now equipped with running water, electric lights, up-to-date transportation, with the advent of the trolley cars, and new businesses popping up everywhere.

These years also saw many kinds of obstacles in the way of becoming, what many were thinking, as the leading city in the state. There were the struggles for the county seat with Tecumseh, and the location of the state capital with Oklahoma City and Guthrie. There were the scams over packing plants and stockyards that dominated the first few years. These things were followed by desires to secure higher education institutes in Shawnee, yet so many setbacks before those were realized.

Political battles locally, state and nationally also effected the lifestyle of the community. Murders and dastardly crimes also pictured the landscape. “Bad guys” from the past era were hanging on an attempt to continue their old ways. New villains emerged to modernize crime as well. The advent of the “Great War” changed the mind-set in the city to complicate things.

Other setbacks included destructive fires that seem to plague every decade, along with troublesome weather. The advent of the automobile was a great asset to the city, but it also caused some sad results as well. A few people lost their lives for the first time due to the lack of regulations on driving the new “self-propelled” vehicles.

One other thing that started to show up in the decade was the passing of many of the old “town founders.”


It was announced in Shawnee that the consummation of the $3 million deal of which had been only rumored in the past was complete. Through the efficiency of the Chamber of Commerce, the city had secured a “monster” packing house, union stockyards and three new railroads.

The contracts were clinched several weeks earlier by the signatures of the officers of the Chamber of Commerce and M.B. Wells and Associates. To handle the proposition of locating the big plant, the Shawnee Development Company was organized, with a capital of $100,000. The shares were $25 each, and not more than 40 shares could be issued to any one person, firm, or corporation.

Options on almost 2,000 acres of land near Shawnee were secured. The money paid into the corporation would go toward the purchase of the land. This stock was eagerly taken by local people. A total of 38 people took $1,000 each as soon as the subscription list was opened.

Everyone in the community and county were ready for a big “hurrah.” They believed that this would cause the entire Southwest to set up and take notice. Many believed that within a year or two that Shawnee would have 50,000 citizens.


“University Heights,” that was the comment made by the Shawnee News on February 9, 1910. They asked, “How does that sound?” They went on to say that the people better get used to it, because the Shawnee boosters had landed it.

The claims at that time was a half-million-dollar Baptist school that had had many efforts before it was a done deal. The consideration was a site and $100,000 in cash bonus. The selection of the site was not made by the Baptist Committee in charge of that event. At the time, most thought that the bonus money would be ready in a few days.

The plan was for work to begin very shortly on the new building for the campus. The expected cost for all the buildings eventually needed would cost near a half-million dollars. They felt at the time that it would be paid by the Baptist Educational fund.

It was believed that the 15,000 Baptist families in Oklahoma would provide more than enough students to make the school successful. At the time, there were approximately 60,000 Baptists in the state.

However, by the next day, the story that the contract had already been signed was false. It was only agreed upon, but some of the details had to be worked out.

The locating committee was not in the city to do their work. The Daily Oklahoman commented about the site on February 10.

“Although the locating of the proposed Oklahoma Baptist State University has dragged along for several years, with one place and then another place announced as the favored site, it is now reasonably certain that Shawnee has been finally selected. That lively young city is to be congratulated upon its enterprise in securing what is destined to become one of the most important denominational colleges in the state. In securing the Baptist University, that city will in a large measure, become the Mecca of that denomination in Oklahoma. It is numerically one of the strongest religious organizations in the state.”


The “Packing Town” already started in Shawnee by the Big Four Packing Company was showing apparent signs of growth very early. The Shawnee News posted that another packing concern had already secured an option of 60 acres adjacent to the stockyards site, where they proposed to construct a complete plant. The company, it was said, would ask for no bonus because they were attracted to the city by the Union Stockyards that was to be built by the Big Four.

Officers of the Shawnee Development Company were questioned about the matter and were very reticent, but intimated that they would have something else to announce and an update on the Cotton Mill proposition for the city.

James M. Aydelotte, who signed the agreement for the Shawnee Development Company, was asked if the land was for Swift & Company, as rumored.

He said, “I am not at liberty to state, but will say it means more than our people realize.”

A.M. Coffin, who acknowledged the instruments, stated that the tract is to be used for packinghouse and stockyard purposes only. “You will know who the parties are when the deeds are recorded.”

It was also understood that plans for the belt line were well under way. That line, it was understood, would be controlled by the Big Four Company and would be operated for the use of all the railways entering the city at the time, and “those yet to come.”

It was generally understood that the principal reasons for the locating of the packing plants and the Union Stockyards were related to Shawnee being the hub of the feed industry of the entire state. Shawnee’s mills and elevators handled more corn, alfalfa, and cotton seed meal than those of any other city.

The Choctaw Cotton Oil Company, with P.A. Norris at its head as manager, R.K. Wooten as secretary-treasurer, and T.S. Blackman of Chickasha, F.J. Phillips of Greenville, Texas, and J.M. Aydelotte of Shawnee as directors, was one of the strongest financial institutions in the state. The Shawnee Mills produced 100 tons of feed per day.

The Shawnee Milling Company was handling 48 tons of alfalfa hay every day and their output of feed was about 70 tons every 24 hours. The Rorer Mill & Elevator Company had recently finished a large addition to its mill, substantially built of reinforced concrete. The Highland Burr Mill and the Gate City Mill, both located on the Santa Fe right-of-way, handled principally feed in car lots, grinding corn and shipping in transit. The Perry Milling Company for the year made Shawnee its principal distributing point for the great southeastern part of the state.

Stock had to be fed. To cheapen the feeding of the great herds of cattle, hogs, and sheep which passed through the union stockyards, they would pass through the doors of the great packing plants. They were expected to be built in Shawnee. All of this meant unlimited capital for the city in the future.