The first of Shawnee’s soldier dead to be returned from overseas for burial, arrived in the city on September 3, 1920. The body of Bartelles Tatom, eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. E.S. Tatom of north Draper Street, arrived from New York under military escort on the Rock Island train. He would be buried with full military honors on September 5.


The first of Shawnee’s soldier dead to be returned from overseas for burial, arrived in the city on September 3, 1920. The body of Bartelles Tatom, eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. E.S. Tatom of north Draper Street, arrived from New York under military escort on the Rock Island train. He would be buried with full military honors on September 5.

Tatom, who was 22-years-old at the time of his death, died at Liverpool, soon after landing in September of 1918. He suffered from bronchial pneumonia, following an attack of the flu. He was in the band with the 109th engineers.

Tatom was one of Shawnee’s most promising young men, graduating with honors from Shawnee High School in 1915. He had specialized in commercial art and was employed in Blackwell as a sign painter at the time of his enlistment.

Services were held at the home, with Rev. B.B. Moreland of the Methodist/Episcopal Church officiating. The American Legion was in charge of the service and interment took place at Fairview Cemetery.


All wheels of industry were stopped in Shawnee on Monday, September 6, 1920, except the ones essential to keep the fires smoldering sufficiently for firing up purposes. The greatest parade in the history of the city’s labor organizations was featured during the morning. The afternoon and evening were given over to merry-making. The different labor unions, whether separately or in groups, spent the time in various ways.

The weather man chose it as one of the few days of the season when he was not on his perfectly good behavior. There was threatening rain in the morning, filling the marchers with apprehension for a time. It interfered, to some extent, with the golf and tennis tournaments at the Country Club. However, the shower held off until after the parade, with the slight drizzle falling scarcely unnoticed by all that lined the streets.

The parade was headed by W.T. Mahan, marshal of the day, and his aides, Bill Gibbons, Chief of Police W.A. Gentry, and Bill Crow. The queen’s float was preceded by a delegation on foot from the Trades Assembly, and a float from the local Garment Workers Union, from whom the queen, Lena Veigh, was chosen. She was seated with her maidens, Kathryn Speak, Inez McCord, and Helen Boswell.

Just about every union in the city was represented with a float in the parade. It was perhaps the largest Labor Day celebration in the history of the city up to that time.


Those who served food to Shawnee people, were now forced to be clean, or they would be put out of business by the health ordinance passed by the city council on September 21, 1920. It made all who engaged in the manufacture of ice cream, candy, bread, and all who served those goods to the public. It also included all who worked in and for the different restaurants in the city, to be free from all contagious disease.

The ordinance made it necessary for all public eating houses, bakeries, and confection manufactories, to have permits from the health department, before they could operate. Failure to have the permit, and failure of the businesses to comply with the law, would bring about a closing of the business in Shawnee.

The ordinance was introduced in the council several weeks earlier by Dick Richards and City Attorney Tom Waldrep. It did not apply to grocery stores, but several grocery men volunteered they would follow suit. This was also true of the meat markets and barber shops.

The health department stated that persons inflicted with tuberculosis, venereal disease, or any other “communicable” disease must be dismissed from the employment of these types of businesses.

Also, discussed at the meeting was the speed ordinance of the city. It was extended to include all blocks adjoining school grounds in the “eight-mile-per-hour” law.


George Davis was killed and his wife, and Mr. & Mrs. G.C. Ticer were seriously injured on the morning of September 29, 1920. A Frisco freight train struck the automobile in which they were riding to the Oklahoma State Fair. The accident occurred at the Frisco-Ozark Trail crossing, seven miles east of Oklahoma City.

Mr. Davis, who was a Rock Island painter, and the party, left Shawnee early in the morning to drive to the city to attend the fair. Those who saw the accident said that the Davis car was leading a line of some seven or eight automobiles, and that they were all traveling at a good rate of speed. The Davis car dashed in front of the train when the engine was a few feet from the crossing and was struct squarely in the center.

Davis was hurled about 30 feet to the right and was killed instantly. Mrs. Davis and the Ticers were not thrown as far and were seriously injured.


Shawnee citizens were shocked on October 16, 1920, when they learned that Postmaster Otis B. Weaver fell dead of apoplexy while conversing with Mose Thomas in a confectionary shop on Main Street. Weaver was feeling badly for several days, but his condition was not considered serious.

He left his apartment on west Main Street about noon and was on his way to a cleaning establishment with a suit of clothes. He stopped in the confectionary and bought a bunch of grapes and was sitting on a stool eating them when he suddenly fell to the floor. A physician was summoned and said that death was instantaneous.

For two decades, Weaver had been a factor in the upbuilding of Oklahoma. For the past nine years, in which he had been the publisher and postmaster since 1915, and he purchased Shawnee’s two daily papers, the Herald and the News-Herald. He continued as publisher of the paper until he sold the publication in 1919, to H.G. Spaulding. The new owner changed the name to the Shawnee Morning News. Weaver continued to publish the semi-weekly Herald in Shawnee.

In 1915, Weaver was appointed postmaster in Shawnee and continued in that position until his death. He was born at Mount Vernon, TX, 43 years earlier. He came to Indian Territory in 1897, locating at Pauls Valley. He was recognized as a town-builder, having established the Ada Evening News.

(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.