Ivy Johnson, 20-years-old, of Mattoon, IL, did not heed the warning of his sister not to “beat” his way home on a freight train, and thus, lost his life. He attempted to board an east bound freight train in the Rock Island yards shortly after 9 P.M., on February 10, 1912. He was so badly injured that his death followed the next morning.


Ivy Johnson, 20-years-old, of Mattoon, IL, did not heed the warning of his sister not to “beat” his way home on a freight train, and thus, lost his life. He attempted to board an east bound freight train in the Rock Island yards shortly after 9 P.M., on February 10, 1912. He was so badly injured that his death followed the next morning.

A letter was found in his pocket after his death that disclosed the fact that his sister lived in Mattoon. She had written him telling of his intention to “steal” a ride home on freight trains. She begged him not to do so. The victim did not heed the advice, and it cost him his life.

He quit work on the John Scheidt farm north of Shawnee, where he was employed for some time. He came to Shawnee that night and went down Broadway Street, where he waited for a freight train going east. Shortly after nine, a freight came along and was moving pass the crossing when Johnson attempted to board it. He reached for one of the handles on a car and missed it. He fell beneath the car, with the train passing over his right arm.

No one saw the incident. Johnson got up from the side of the track where he had crawled. He started across the street and then turned in the direction of the Choctaw Cotton Oil Mill, where he fell in a faint from loss of blood.

“Patrolman Cochrane, while on his way to the Katy station, noticed a man lying by an oil tank. He walked over to where the man lay and asked him if he had a problem.

“I am hurt,” said Johnson. A baggage wagon was called, and the young man was taken to police headquarters. There it was found he was more seriously injured than was at first thought. He was rushed to the hospital, where an operation was performed. Greatly weakened from the effects of his injuries and loss of blood, death was certain.

Johnson was wearing two suits of underclothes, a new suit of overalls, shoes, and a heavy coat when injured. The body was moved to the Fleming & Brown Morgue until word was received from his sister in Mattoon.


Some apprehension was expressed over the presence of a case of spinal meningitis that was made public to the Superintendent of the City Health Department on February 14, 1912. The case developed in a family named Mayab, residing on north Tucker Street. The patient was a child.

As soon as the case was called to the attention of the Health Department, Dr. H.A. Wagner went to the Mayab home and confirmed the report. The house was immediately quarantined, and other instructions were given about fumigation and excluding the patient from the rest of the family. At the time, the patient was not seriously ill, but the expectations were not good.

On that same day, Dr. J.M. Byrum, County Superintendent of Health, was notified that a case of meningitis developed in a family residing about 10 miles northwest of the city. Dr. Byrum drove out in his automobile and checked it out. In a telephone conversation, he stated the disease was confirmed and it was another child. The house was quarantined.

The city and county health departments cooperated in the crusade against the spread of the disease. They ordered a general cleaning up several days earlier but noted that the public order was generally disregarded.

Dr. Wagner had urged the citizens to clean up about their premises. The order was a result of a trip throughout the city, where he found the sanitary conditions in many places as “shameful.” Alleys were strewn with tins cans, dead chickens and as for refuse he said, “It was placed in piles in many instances.”


The Shawnee High School basketball team virtually clinched the championship of the state on February 28, when they defeated the Cleveland High School team. The final score was 27-12. The game was one of the most brilliantly played ever and witnessed in the city. Time and again the crowd cheered for the clever work of the home team.

Shawnee was on an eight-game win streak. They defeated the State Normal College at Weatherford, as well as many other teams. Tulsa High School had eliminated itself from any claims to the championship by refusing to play Shawnee.

The basketball team had a couple of games still to play before disbanding for the season. In those days, there were no official playoffs for the championship. Many times, schools would just make their own claims for the title.


The building of a fair grounds in Shawnee was given impetus by the announcement that the Pottawatomie County Fair Association would build and equip the fair grounds. This was the statement of W.T.S. Barnes of Oklahoma City, who was in Shawnee on March 3, 1912. The Association was capitalized at $40,000. It was owned by Shawnee and Oklahoma City.

It proposed building the fairgrounds in the Inglewood Addition in the southwest part of the city. A half-mile track was laid out and a grandstand capable of seating 5,000 people was also planned. All the buildings necessary for housing stock brought to the city for exhibition were also in the works. One other project was also in the plans. A pleasure park adjoining the site. The place was a natural one for the park, with hundreds of oak trees stretching over a beautiful tract of ground. There were natural ravines where it was planned to construct an artificial lake. Several deep-water wells and a water pump to supply the lake were mentioned.

Among the men who were associated with Barnes in the movement, was Judge Barton of Oklahoma City. He was a member of the American Trotting Association. This assured that the best and fastest horses in the southwest would race at Shawnee. The Judge said that he expected Shawnee to be the “winter headquarters” for more than 100 race horses.

The location for the proposed site was considered as one of the best in the area. It was located three-quarters of a mile from Main Street. The land was high and well drained. Horsemen who visited the place stated the soil insured the building of a fast track. While the proposed site was off from the street car line, it was understood that negotiations would start for construction of a spur line to the fairgrounds. It was suggested to build it down Bell Street and thence west to the grounds.

(These stories and hundreds more will appear later this summer in Volume One of the history of Shawnee, entitled: “SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1870-1950.” It will be mostly available in digital form on a flash drive, but a traditional printed copy will be available if needed. However, the traditional copy will be more expensive because of printing costs. It looks to be at least 800 pages and will read on the computer just like a traditional book. It will contain thousands of names and places, fully indexed. It will also contain a glossary with many of the public office holders through the years. There will also be a Memorial-Tribute section, where you can buy a page to memorialize a family, person, or organization. The cost will be $100 per page. The later volume will consist of updates by decades as they are ready. Anyone who buys the first volume can obtain an update for a minimal price. The 1950s should be ready before the end of 2018.)