Three Shawnee workmen were seriously injured while at their work on the afternoon of May 27, 1920. Two from the Shawnee Ice Company’s plant were burned by an ammonia gas explosion. The third was a Rock Island workman, who was injured by a falling wrench.


Three Shawnee workmen were seriously injured while at their work on the afternoon of May 27, 1920. Two from the Shawnee Ice Company’s plant were burned by an ammonia gas explosion. The third was a Rock Island workman, who was injured by a falling wrench.

Bob Renniger and another workman named Sheffler, were seriously injured at 4:30 P.M., at the Ice Company when a large vat of ammonia exploded, throwing the burning substance over their bodies. Renniger was the most seriously hurt and was said to be in critical condition. Sheffler was also badly burned but was not suffering as much as his co-worker. Both men were burned about the face and arms and suffered internal injuries by the shock.

Kelley Steward, residing on south Kickapoo Street, and a Rock Island workman, was hurt on the job. While working at the shops that afternoon, he was stooping over a large wrench. It fell from a trestle string and hit the man in the small of his back, inflicting a very painful injury. All three of the workmen were hospitalized but survived their injuries.


One of the largest crowds ever attending a memorial service in Shawnee assembled on May 31, 1920, to pay tribute to their fallen- soldiers. Starting with a parade from Convention Hall, in which it was estimated more than 400 participated, the city band led the procession up 9th Street to Market Street. From there, they went down to Main Street and then east towards the Santa Fe crossing. There they all loaded into automobiles and drove to Fairview Cemetery. There, they dedicated the day to the soldier dead. The American Legion took charge of a most impressive eulogistic service.

Following the band in the parade came the members of the firing squad from Company C of the National Guard under the command of Captain C.M. Reber. Then in order, came the Girl Scouts as flower girls, carrying wreaths and bouquets of beautiful flowers. Next were city officials and members of the local post of the G.A.R. and Confederate veterans, who were carried in automobiles.

Behind them were about 75 members of the Bernard Gill Post of the American Legion and several Boy Scouts brought up the rear of the marching column with almost 200 cars joining the process as it progressed down Main Street.

In a patriotic service at the cemetery, Charles E. Dierker, a member of Bernard Gill Post, delivered the principal speech of the day. In a simple direct way, he spoke of our wonderful heritage, a never-faltering courage, a flag never dipped in defeat, and our national greatness coming only as the result of the strenuous effort of those gone before. In a historical review, he voiced the sentiment that in honoring the memory of the dead and consecrating the day to those, who had fallen for the country. He paid a glowing tribute to those who fought in the Civil and Spanish-American wars. He concluded his speech with a dedication of the day to the veterans of the recent Great War.

The program also included several other speeches from various organizations involved in the day’s ceremonies. The day ended with a volley of shots fired by the squad and the benediction.


“A message with a punch,” was the way one man described Billy Sunday’s address given at the Elk’s Flag Day celebration on June 14, at Convention Hall. Another citizen, who was previously heard to remark that he wouldn’t walk across the street to hear Sunday, because he does not approve of his evangelistic methods, was completely won over, and said he wished he could hear him every day. Whether a steady diet of Sunday would work was a question for debate. However, the fact remained that Sunday had a power which won and held his audience.

Personal magnetism was his in abundant measure, not only marked by his irresistibly winning smile, but in the rhythmic movement of his body, every music of which seemed to be on spring. It was apparent that the pulpit gymnastics of the noted evangelist kept him in as good shape as his training during his baseball days, for he was every inch an athlete.

As for his eccentricities, there was no disappointment in this line. His pulpit calisthenics were toned down in keeping with the thermometer, and too the hard motor trips between which the address was sandwiched was not conducive to any over exertion.

Convention Hall held the largest crowd in its history at the Flag Day celebration, seats being placed for 3,300. While many stood and all the windows were filled and many went home who found it impossible to get in. Another impressive ceremony was the presentation of a beautiful flag by the city of Shawnee to Post Bernard Gill, which was preceded with the “Elks Tribute to the Flag,” a brief address by Claude Hendon, a Pottawatomie County boy who returned less than a month earlier from two years overseas service.

Rev. & Mrs. Sunday made the trip to Shawnee by automobile from Oklahoma City. They were met at OBU and escorted into the city by a committee composed of Fred Sage, Willard Johnston, C.M. “Cash”Cade, F.W. Christner, Earl Housch, E.C. Stanard, J.H. Fisher, Wallace Estill, L.L. Sanders, and J.P. Wirfs.

In his opening remarks, Rev. Sunday said that Monday was his “rest day” and that he very rarely accepted invitations for that day. However, because of the nature of the celebration and his love and esteem for the Elks Lodge, he could not refuse their request to come. He made a strong appeal for every true-hearted patriot to stand up for his country. He urged that “the filthy rotting carcasses of that I.W.W.’s (International Workers of the World) and all who followed the red rag of rebellion and anarchy be sent back from where they came. The time was coming and was close at hand, when who is who in America, was going to be fought to a finish. Every red-blooded patriot would be called upon to line up on the side of duty and right.”

The evangelist closed with an account of the sorrowful and tragic end of several of his old comrades, who chose to continue the broad road. He spoke in a decidedly “Sundayesque” account of the Lord helping him when he got in a tight place in a ballgame soon after his conversion. Sunday acted out all the moves and various maneuvers of the play to the delight of the audience. Of course, he “caught the ball” although he had to manipulate a miraculous stunt or two in doing so, saving the day for the White Sox. He received a 10-dollar Stetson and an 80-dollar suit of clothes from Tom Johnson, and that in a day when only plutocrats ever went above 30 dollars for a suit.

 (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.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.