Frank Urban, Republican, was elected councilman from the sixth ward. Dick Richards, Democrat, was elected from the third ward at the general election of the city on April 6, 1920.


Frank Urban, Republican, was elected councilman from the sixth ward. Dick Richards, Democrat, was elected from the third ward at the general election of the city on April 6, 1920. The election of Urban added another epoch in the history of Shawnee. He was the president of the Trades & Labor Assembly, being the first Republican to be on the city law making body since the new charter was enacted.

Urban defeated Mrs. George C. Abernathy, the first female to win a primary in the history of the city. Richards defeated Garland Hill, an American Legion leader.

Mrs. Abernathy’s defeat was attributed to an antipathy of many to woman suffrage, many voting as they said against the cause and not against the candidate. The race she staged, however, was a very remarkable one. She carried her home ward by a large majority, and this marked the esteem in which she was held by her neighbors.

Richards also set a precedent in the city, being elected to represent the third ward for a third time. The present councilman defeated Hill by 97 votes. This election was one of the largest ever cast in the city, with 1,800 rights of suffrage being exercised.


“Unless present overcrowded conditions of the Shawnee Public Schools are remedied before next year, one-half of the grades will be run on half-day sessions in order to accommodate all the school children of the city,” was the statement of Superintendent H.G. Faust on April 1, 1920. “The immediate means of remedy is to vote for the $264,000 bond issue on April 23,” he added.

“With one-third to one-half the rooms overcrowded now, the teachers have far too many to handle efficiently. Under such conditions, the schools cannot continue to run with best results. This year, the primary departments of the Horace Mann, Harrison, and Central schools have been run on a half-day basis in order that all the children may have efficient instruction. Practically every grade in the Jefferson school is overcrowded, and every grade in the Central is crowded enough to warrant an extra teacher for each grade. That is the condition which the patrons of the school can remedy by voting yes for the bonds.”

Explaining the growth of the schools, Faust gave figures showing the growth since 1918. In that year, the schools had an enrollment of 3,771. In 1919, the numbers increased to 4,284. In 1920, the total amount rose to 4,914.

Faust said if the bonds were accepted, it would mean that the junior high school idea would become a fact. With the erection of a central building in place of the old Central School, the 7-9th grades would be taken from the other overcrowded schools and relieve the situation there. In addition, a new course of study would be outlined for them and they would be allowed a new department in domestic science.

On April 23, by the largest majority school election ever held in Shawnee, the school bond issue and the 10-mill extra levy carried by a vote of almost six to one. A total of 835 votes were cast on the extra levy, with only 787 on the bond issue. Most of the votes were cast by women. The extra levy meant that the schools would function a full term the following year, and the same teaching standard would be maintained.


R.D. Long, manager of the street cars, came to Shawnee on April 27, 1920, and by his trip changed the views of the city council on the street car situation. At least he changed their views on what they said they wanted done within 90 days.

After asking for the forgoing considerations at the hands of the Shawnee-Tecumseh Traction Company, the city council 90 days earlier said that the company would grant these requests or that they would take their cars and get off the streets with them. Long didn’t agree with the line of reasoning, so he came over from Muskogee and told the council that his street car system was as good as their water works system and that he didn’t propose to do what they asked for him to do.

He then told them that he would grade the tracks down to a level on the two blocks on Pesotum Street, where they were high and that when pavement was put in on Kickapoo Street, that he would put his tracks in the center of the street. Also, he was willing that the Kickapoo car line should run down to Burns Street, where it formerly ran. Outside of that, he was willing to do nothing different with the line.

After hearing him talk, Councilman Dick Richards said that he believed that nothing out of the reason had been asked from the company and that he was in favor of getting the new cars, new track, and all that was asked for. Councilman Tom Adams stated that he thought that the proposition as submitted was a good one and that he was willing for that to stand and hold in abeyance the 90-day ultimatum issued by the council. Councilmen Wade Willard, John Cummings and Frank Urban all concurred in the matter.


Four years of patient effort and toil were rewarded on the night of May 14, 1920, when 56 girls and 42 boys of Shawnee High School were presented their certificates of graduation. The Seniors, sober in their new-found dignity, were led in the procession down one aisle by Superintendent H.G. Faust and Dr. F.L. Gordon. Down the other aisle, they were led by Principal Charles W. Gethmann, George C. Abernathy, and Rev. Chris Matheson.

Superintendent Faust, before introducing the speaker of the evening, reviewed the history of the year’s work, showing how successful it had been. He focused on the growth of the school and the support of the community in passing the bond issues to enlarge the facilities.

Dr. Gordon, of Okmulgee, the keynote speaker of the evening, emphasized the closeness of relation of the home and the school. He also mentioned the way the world was opening more opportunities for students like the graduating class. He basically said that the key to their success was to seize those opportunities with their best efforts.

“Get into the game and stick to it, and you are bound to win,” he said. “Keep coming back when disappointment barks your shin, and success will be yours.”

His address was followed by a piano number from Marjorie Corn. She was followed by Jewell Dotson, with a humorous interpretation of the trials of the sweet girl graduate, who drew much applause. Paul Stewart finished the entertainment with a violin number, accompanied by Dwight Galloway on the piano. Abernathy read two poems, before presenting the diplomas to the graduates.

Of the class of 105 starting the school year, only seven failed by the wayside. The speaker of the evening remarked also that the percentage of boys was unusually high. Principal Gethmann responded to the prospect for the coming year. He said 128 have signed up as Seniors, with the male/female mix about even.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. It can be purchased for $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. They may be obtained as a package for $60. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is coming during the late summer or early fall. All three volumes are slightly over 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. They are fully-indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volumes four and five are scheduled in the next two to three years, bring the history up to the current time of publication.)