Frank P. Stearns was chosen again as mayor of Shawnee in the city election on April 6, 1915. He defeated Charles Myers, the Democratic candidate, and Wesley Boylan, the Socialist candidate, by very wide margins.
For treasurer, J.M. Hamilton defeated William E. Search by 300 votes. A.S. Pace became school board treasurer, with a 400-vote margin over A.L. Albin. Fred Carey and Tom Adams were voted into the city council. G.C. Halley and E.E. Collier were also selected to the school board by the citizens.

STEARNS HEAD OF THE CITY AGAIN

Frank P. Stearns was chosen again as mayor of Shawnee in the city election on April 6, 1915. He defeated Charles Myers, the Democratic candidate, and Wesley Boylan, the Socialist candidate, by very wide margins.

For treasurer, J.M. Hamilton defeated William E. Search by 300 votes. A.S. Pace became school board treasurer, with a 400-vote margin over A.L. Albin. Fred Carey and Tom Adams were voted into the city council. G.C. Halley and E.E. Collier were also selected to the school board by the citizens.

BODY FOUND IN INCINERATOR

Dave Powell of the city scavenger department, reported on April 21, when he opened the oven of the incinerator to put in a load for cremation, he saw what appeared to be the incinerated body of a man in the furnace. He declared that the outline was perfect, and he could even distinguish the ribs and bones of the limbs. The fire, he declared, had also been turned high, and the furnace was at white heat. The lid of the furnace had also been tampered with.

As soon as Powell made the discovery, he turned off the gas and attempted to rake out portions of the object he took to be a human body. However, it had been burned to ashes and fell to pieces as soon as touched.

S.S. Heath, who tended the incinerator in the daytime, was inclined to believe what Powell took for a human body was the remains of a long box filled with spoiled brains and bones from a local meat market, which he put in the oven before quitting work for the night. The story, however, did receive considerable attention.

SQUABBLE BREAKS OUT IN CITY COUNCIL OVER CONVENTION HALL

The race question was interjected into the city council meeting on May 25, 1915, when Alderman Allen “Dick” Richards asked Mayor Frank Stearns by whose permission the blacks could use convention hall for the commencement exercises of the colored schools. The mayor replied that permission was given by the board of works, who had control over all city property.

“If the board of works has control of all city property, why,” asked Richards, “did the mayor some months earlier appoint a special committee on buildings?”

The mayor replied that he did it and put Richards on, because he wanted to give him something to do to keep him busy.

“Didn’t you, Mr. Mayor,” retorted Richards, “appoint that committee to avoid the responsibility of deciding about permitting the use of the hall to certain people, or refusing them the use of it?”

“If I did,” the mayor remarked, “I got by with it.”

Richards then moved that the board of public works be instructed by the council not to permit the blacks to use the convention hall for their graduating exercises.

“This is a white man’s town,” he said. “We have a white elephant on our hands in the convention hall, anyway, and if we let the ‘niggers’ use it, it will get the name of being nothing but a ‘nigger dump’ and people won’t go there at all.”

Alderman Fred Carey said he attended the last exercises of the kind there. He said they were high class and he thoroughly enjoyed them. Alderman Jess Pelphrey thought the colored race should be encouraged to improve themselves and believed it only right to give them the use of the convention hall, especially since their high school building burned down.

Alderman Tom Adams suggested that negro minstrel shows had appeared at the Becker Theater and that theater never got the reputation of being a “nigger dump.”

Alderman Joe Harris suggested that the blacks were entitled to the use of the convention hall at least once a year, as they were taxpayers and had their share of the cost of the building.

Mayor Stearns declared that the blacks could use the convention hall for their exercises. He believed in giving them a square deal. Some of them, he continued, are heavy taxpayers, “and they don’t try to evade their taxes either, like some people do, and I’m talking to this council, too.”

As the clerk started to call the roll, Alderman A.J. Cammack objected. “I am sick and tired of Richards grandstanding and stalling and bringing all kinds of hot-air propositions before the council, to try to unload on us,” he said. “We have no business considering this question here tonight at all, and I am going to object to its further consideration. I make a point of order against this vote being taken.”

The mayor sustained the point of order and the question was not put. Rising on a question of personal privilege, Richards stated that he would insist upon his right, while he represented the people of third ward, to bring before the council any matter of interest to the people.

“And I will be there when some of you are gone,” he said. “And it won’t take an election to get you out either.”

Considerable exasperation on the part of the council was shown in the discussion.

HIGH SCHOOL HAS 17TH ANNUAL COMMENCEMENT

More than 1,100 people attended the 17th annual commencement exercises at the auditorium on the evening of May 27, 1915. A class of 79 received diplomas certifying that they had completed the prescribed course.

New Superintendent H.G. Faust presided and introduced the various numbers on the program. The exercises opened with a piano solo, skillfully rendered by Susie Meek, a member of the graduating class. Rev. Wade H. Boggs, pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church, invoked the Divine blessing upon the assemblage. This was followed by another solo, this time from graduate Bernice Bean.

The keynote address to the graduating class was delivered by Bishop Theodore Pay Thurston of Muskogee. He was Bishop for eastern Oklahoma of the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was considered as a “deep thinker and a great orator.” His remarks resembled his reputation. This was followed by a duet from Caroline Meade and David Wilson of the class of 1916. Dr. W.M. Gallaher, representing the school board, then presented the diplomas to the graduates.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in Volume One of the histories of Shawnee, entitled: “Redbud City: Shawnee in the Early Years, 1830-1929.” It is currently available and can be purchased at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society or from Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728. Volume Two, covering the 1930s and 1940s is now finished, but is stalled in press time because of the lack of sales in Volume One. The entire series covers five volumes reaching up to the present time in the 21st century. Ask about a coupon that can save you money on the first two volumes.)