The dismissal of J.A. Holland, as secretary of the Water Commission office of the city, was the basis of a stormy session of the City Council on the night of January 2, 1912. Holland was present with his lawyer, Fred Reily, when new Mayor A.D. Martin asked for the Council’s confirmation on the action of dismissal. Turbulent actions followed.


The dismissal of J.A. Holland, as secretary of the Water Commission office of the city, was the basis of a stormy session of the City Council on the night of January 2, 1912. Holland was present with his lawyer, Fred Reily, when new Mayor A.D. Martin asked for the Council’s confirmation on the action of dismissal. Turbulent actions followed.

Through his attorney, Holland was asked to have a hearing in the matter. He went to some lengths in discussing the actions behind Holland’s dismissal.

Councilman Joe Farris said they were waiting for an opinion about the situation from the City Attorney, E.E. Hood. He gave the proper interpretation of the city ordinance bearing upon the case. The entire Council then voted to sustain the motion from the Mayor for dismissal.

Charles Dierker was named as Holland’s successor. He was appointed immediately and confirmed by the Council. It was assumed that the action taken by the Council would be taken to court on behalf of Holland’s sake.

The circumstances behind the scenario began a few weeks earlier. Charles Murphy was the assistant Water Commissioner. He engaged in a wordy argument with Holland and was dismissed from his position by the latter. After hearing of the details, Mayor Martin expressed his desire for a complete sweep in the department. This included Holland’s resignation.


Willard Barnett, manager of the Elk’s baseball team, sent out a call to baseball enthusiasts and those who were likely to become enthused. He asked them to be present at a meeting set for January 15. The meeting was held at the Elks’ Club rooms on north Broadway Street.

Uppermost in importance was the discussion of a park site. The plan of selecting a site in the city was generally approved. Benson Park was not the most desirable place for the holding of games for two reasons. First, was that the distance from the city. Secondly, the fact that the Park could not be reached by road. These prompted the promoters to select a new baseball park site.

There was considerable baseball “small talk” held at the “smoker” in the Elks’ Club rooms earlier in the week. Several pledged themselves to subscribe to a fund in which to purchase a site and for other purposes in fitting up a park.

The baseball season was scheduled to start a little earlier in 1912. While the schedule of games last season brought some of the best amateur teams in the state to Shawnee for games, it was the desire by Barnett to schedule some of the best teams in the southwest. Plans were made to engage a couple of major and minor league teams while they were on their way to training camps.


The consummation of a deal on January 19, whereby OBU was enabled to make a loan of $200,000 appeared to assure the building of the university. It seemed to remove every barrier that was retarding the work. The latest development, together with the certainty of the building of the Catholic University, increased the number of men to be employed at the Rock Island shops, and prospects of a prosperous year for crops in the county, caused renewed interest in conditions in Shawnee.

It was apparent that some action would have to be taken in the financial situation with OBU. Lack of funds in the completion of the Administration Building stopped the work several months earlier, soon after the foundation work was started. Efforts to raise the money in various ways did not meet with good results. The Trustees were then confronted with a grave situation. For a time, it was thought the work would have to be abandoned because of a lack of finance.

The plan of securing a loan was suggested to the Board by President Carroll and Dr. J.K. Scott, Dean of the college. It was shown that if a satisfactory loan could be made, the work would be rushed to completion. Conferences were held, and it was decided that such a plan would be possible.

On the 19th, the deal was closed with the Provident Loan & Trust Company of Oklahoma City for $200,000. At the same time, a contract was entered with J.C. Henderson of Oklahoma City, a noted contractor, to carry on the work of constructing the Administration Building and two dormitories. The money was expected to be in the hands of the Trustees within a short time.


“There is the man,” an officer shouted at the Rock Island station on the morning of February 10, 1912, when Charles Foster turned about. He was looking down the muzzle of a 45 six-shooter.

“Hands up,” said William Davis, a special enforcement officer and constable. Foster drew one hand from his pocket, but hesitated about removing the other, until told by Officer Davis to “be quick.”

“He isn’t the man,” said a constable from Keokuk Falls, who had accompanied Davis to the station. Foster, who by this time was on the verge of collapse, recovered his composure sufficiently to ask the officers what he was wanted for. He was told that he was thought to be the man wanted in Southwest City, MO, on a charge of murdering his sweetheart. The officers were searching for a man named Charles Foster, and the description fit the one put out on the murderer. The fact that Foster’s thumb on his right hand was not missing, saved him from being held to await the arrival of officers from that city.

“I am glad I have all the fingers on my right hand,” Foster said as he boarded the train, “for I am liable to have to look down the muzzle of a gun again before I get back to “Old Missou.”

The circumstances surrounding the case were such that the suspicions of the officers were attracted as soon as Foster reached the city. Foster’s actions intensified the situation. He came to Shawnee from Oklahoma City the night before and registered at the Willard Hotel. A constable from Keokuk Falls became suspicious that Foster was the man officers were searching for, but he didn’t arrest him. He became more firmly convinced that Foster was the right man while the two were eating breakfast at the hotel.

Foster left the hotel and went to the office of M.K. Owenby. He had a letter of introduction to Owenby from an attorney in Oklahoma City. Foster owned an 80-acre farm near McLoud, which adjoined the Kimmerly farm, upon which a gas well was located. That made it valuable, although Foster wanted to make a quick sale, and was willing to turn it for $1,000.

Owenby agreed, but directed that Foster send him an abstract of the deed to the farm. Foster agreed as soon as he returned to Oklahoma City. He left the office and soon after Davis and the constable from Keokuk Falls rushed into Owneby’s office.

“Was that man’s name Charles Foster?” asked Davis.

When told that was the name he gave, the officers rushed out and followed Foster to the station. Davis explained that the description tallied so closely with the man wanted that he was certain he had his man.

(These stories and hundreds more will appear in Volume One of the comprehensive history of Shawnee, entitled “The Early Years, 1870-1950,” coming in late summer. It will be approximately 800 pages in length and will be available on flash drive. A traditional printed copy will be available upon request, but the cost will be a little higher. It will be fully indexed, with about 4,000 individuals listed, along with about 1,500 various businesses and other entities. There will be a glossary listing the office holders in several of the public positions throughout the years. Look for more details later.)