The annual census estimate issued by the Bureau of the Census gave interesting figures relating to Shawnee’s steady growth. Shawnee’s official count for 1910 was 12,474. Succeeding estimates showed consistent growth: 1911, 13,576; 1912, 14,488; 1913, 15,400; 1914, 16,312; 1915, 17,225; and for 1916, 18,138.

SHAWNEE CONTINUES TO GROW AT STEADY PACE

The annual census estimate issued by the Bureau of the Census gave interesting figures relating to Shawnee’s steady growth. Shawnee’s official count for 1910 was 12,474. Succeeding estimates showed consistent growth: 1911, 13,576; 1912, 14,488; 1913, 15,400; 1914, 16,312; 1915, 17,225; and for 1916, 18,138.

The estimate gave Oklahoma’s population at 2,202,081, against the estimate of 1,675,441 in 1910. Other cities of interest in the consensus were: Ardmore, 10,462; Chickasha, 15,447; Enid, 20,307; Guthrie, 12,035; McAlester, 18,504; Muskogee, 44,218; Oklahoma City, 92,943; Sapulpa, 12,929; and Tulsa, 30,575.

The summary showed that Shawnee had gained 5,664 in population in the past six years, and 15,000 in the past 16 years. The gain had been steady.

ROTARY CLUB ORGANIZES

The Rotary Club of Shawnee was launched on the night of January 26, 1917, when a party of Oklahoma City Rotarians officiated at the exercises in Shawnee. The meeting was called to order at the Walcott Hotel by Edward Howell, president, who gave a brief history of the organization in Shawnee. He introduced Fay Thompson, president of the Oklahoma City Rotary Club, who acted in place of the District Governor. He addressed the meeting about what membership in this club meant.

“On an occasion of this kind, it is customary for the District Governor to say a few words on Rotary. The first Rotary Club was organized in Chicago in 1905 and consisted of four members. Today there are 264 affiliated clubs, with a total membership of 29,250.

“Fellow Rotarians of the Shawnee Club, I do not know of any place where a man could obtain such a diversified crop of ideas in so short a space of time as at a Rotary meeting. Out of each meeting should come instruction, information, humor, enthusiasm and acquaintance.”

SHAWNEE’S HOPES GO GLIMMERING

Shawnee High lost to Oklahoma City again on February 17, by the same score as the previous night, 37-26. This left Oklahoma City to all intents and purposes in the undisputed possession of the Central High School Conference championship.

The first game on Friday, Shawnee led Oklahoma City 20-14 at the end of the first half. The opening of the second half saw a change in the lineup that appeared to confuse the Shawnee boys. They were unable to cope with the onslaught of the Oklahoma City team. However, the star for the Shawnee boys in the games was Thurman Meek.

OBU took another step toward the state championship that night when they defeated Oklahoma Methodist University of Guthrie, 59-33. The Baptists showed very superior team work and outplayed the Methodists at all stages of the game. The OBU second team defeated Tecumseh High School in the opening game, 33-8.

OZARK TRAIL DAY DECLARED

A huge ad was placed in the Shawnee Daily News on March 25, 1917, imploring men from Shawnee to volunteer on the 29th to help build the Ozark Trail through this area. This new road would be basically the first “modern highway” through the state of Oklahoma.

The Ozark Trail began in St. Louis, MO, and was to be built through to California. The advertisement said it meant much more to the cities and towns through which it would run than the citizens could imagine. The superintendent of construction commented that 300 trans-continent automobiles passed over the Santa Fe or the Lincoln Highway daily, which meant that practically 1,200 people visited these towns and cities each day. He said, WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN TO SHAWNEE?

He also said that over 200 miles would be saved by the route through Shawnee over any other route considered. The highway north of the county line was pronounced as the best anywhere, and the possibility for Shawnee to be on the trail was very much in its favor. He said it all depended upon Shawnee’s efforts.

The ad went on to say that the city could easily furnish the required number of workers. Merchants, bankers, professional and real estate men, and capitalists were all needed. In fact, every man interested in Shawnee was expected to respond by giving his time to the enterprise for the one day. “PUT ON YOUR OVERALLS AND OLD SHOES and don’t forget your shovel, pick and hatchet, and come prepared to show our neighbors that we mean business.”

The U.S. engineer had already outlined the work so that every man could be assigned a certain task to perform. The word was that loafing would be very unpopular on the 29th. The ad suggested that if you were physically unable, or for some other good reason could not attend, you were expected to furnish a man in your place with the required tools.

True to their pledges to work on the proposed Ozark Trail west of Tecumseh, on March 29, 1917, Shawnee men and boys assembled to go to work. About 800 gathered and departed for the scene of road improvement, amid an abundance of enthusiasm. Almost 100 automobiles were involved.

An abundance of equipment was taken along to handle the various problems of good roads. Many of the volunteers and a great deal of the implements were carried in big motor trucks, furnished by Moore Brothers & Charles Singleton, the Shawnee Gas & Electric Company, and J.M. Marcus.

A large amount of the enthusiasm was contributed by the high school boys, 150 strong. They were granted a holiday so that they might join in the road work.

The road building enthusiasm took hold of some of the big corporations as well as individual citizens. The Rock Island Railroad furnished 15 good, practical workers for the day. The order for such an arrangement came from Superintendent D. Van Hickey at Haileyville. O.H. Weddle of the Shawnee-Tecumseh Traction Company also furnished a good quota of men for the day.

Shawnee’s big army of workers as it whirled through Tecumseh and by farms on the way was said to have excited much admiring attention.

All banks were closed for the day in accordance with Mayor Frank Stearns proclamation of a holiday. The city hall was all but deserted. Nearly all the officials and employees were sent to work on the road.

Only one deserter was reported. One Shawnee man drove back to town about noon, with blistered and a general run-down appearance. Ask why so soon his return, he explained he had come home for dinner. He came just 14 miles for the eats.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in Volume One of the comprehensive history of Shawnee, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” The price has been lowered to $45 and can be purchased at the PCHS, or by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918)470-3728. Volume Two: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1930-1949,”is ready for print, but is being held because of lack of sales on volume one. Help us continue with this project of five books on the city by purchasing book one.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.