The body of Corporal Bernard Gill, first Pottawatomie County boy to make the supreme sacrifice in the recent World War, was laid to rest on April 3, 1921, in home soil. Funeral services for the young soldier were held at the St. Benedict's Catholic Church, of which he was a faithful and consistent member.
SHAWNEE PAYS LAST RESPECT TO BERNARD GILL
The body of Corporal Bernard Gill, first Pottawatomie County boy to make the supreme sacrifice in the recent World War, was laid to rest on April 3, 1921, in home soil. Funeral services for the young soldier were held at the St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, of which he was a faithful and consistent member.
The young hero, who belonged to Company C, Second Brigade, Machine Gun Battalion, was killed in action on May 29, 1918. Among different citations received at the time by his mother, the following was of the most interest:
“Corporal Bernard A. Gill, Company C, Third Machine Gun Battalion, displayed extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice by leading a patrol of men through ‘No Man’s Land,’ under heavy shell and rifle fire, after the newly won position of the American forces had been consolidated. Although killed by rifle fire, the success of this patrol was due to his great courage and leadership. By order of Major Davis, W.P. Walz, First Lieutenant and Adjutant.”
The body of Corporal Gill arrived in New York on March 17 and was received in Shawnee shortly afterward. High mass was celebrated by the Rev. Father Blaise, who also preached the funeral sermon. The members of the “Bernard Gill” American Legion post, named in his honor, attended the funeral in a body and had charge of the services at the gravesite.
DEMOCRATS DOMINATE AGAIN IN CITY ELECTIONS
George B. Caruth became the new mayor of Shawnee during the city-wide elections held on April 5, 1921. The popular city clerk out-distanced Frank Stearns, his Republican opponent, by 597 votes, after one of the hardest fought elections in Shawnee history. The entire Democratic ticket went into office easily.
Frank Zeliff, running for councilman for the first ward, made the best showing for the Republicans, when he held Frank Brown’s majority to 455 votes. The other councilman race was in the fourth ward, with George McMillin winning handily over B.J. Collins.
Cora Stevens won the race for city treasurer over Minta Koons to become the first female treasurer of the city. In the school board races, Frank Keller, Dr. George S. Baxter, and J.B. Crabb were elected.
CITY COUNCIL START YEAR WITH APPOINTMENTS
Things happened fast and furious when the new mayor and council took their seats April 12, 1921. After Mayor Frank Watts and Councilmen Wade Willard and Tom Adams had turned their places over to Mayor George Caruth and Councilmen Frank Brown and George McMillin, a recess was taken during which time the appointment to city offices was discussed.
When the council returned, Deputy Clerk Frank Carleton read the resignation of Councilman Jim R. Coleman of the second ward. Upon motion, the resignation was accepted, and Dan Burt was then named by the Council to succeed Coleman.
As its first step, the new council passed an ordinance designed to give the water department greater revenue. The measure passed, with Councilman Frank Urban favoring a minimum rate increase. He dissented to the measure.
The Mayor then read his appointments to the heads of the various departments. Those appointed were: City Clerk Frank V. Sims, Deputy Clerk Frank Carleton, City Attorney Tom Waldrep, Chief of Police Ira J. Sims, City Detective F.A. Budd, Secretary of Street and Health Department Jim R. Coleman, Ray Evans as municipal court Judge; E.L. Moon as the superintendent of the water works; M.O. Couch as chief of the fire department; and Dr. J.H. Scott as superintendent of health.
LITTLE GIRL STALKER KILLED IN WOODLAND PARK
Detective Flavius A. Budd shot and killed a man, giving his name to the police as Jim Robinet on the afternoon of April 14, 1921. The two had staged a running fight in Woodland Park. Robinet was shot three times through the breast and twice through the arm. Budd received a flesh wound in the neck.
Complaints came to the police office a couple of days earlier that a strange man was stopping school girls in the park and acting improperly with them. Budd was assigned to watch the park.
About 3 P.M., the plain-clothesman went to the park and pretended that he was aiding in the cutting of some of the trees in the park. About the time that school was out, a girl about 10-years-old was stopped by the man and the two started playing at one of the slides. Budd watched the proceedings for some time and was thoroughly satisfied that the man was the one whom the complaints had been lodged against.
He then went to the two, asked the little girl if she knew the man. When she told the officer that she did not, Budd informed her that she had better go on home. The girl told the officer that Robinet had given her money for the last three days and that he was going to take her to the movies that night.
After the girl had departed, the officer informed Robinet that he must go to the police station for questioning. Budd ordered the suspect to turn around so that he could search him and to take his hands out of his pockets. When Robinet turned, he came back with a .32 automatic levied at the officer.
“I’m a government man and no small-town policeman can arrest me,” he told Budd.
Budd standing with his hands in the air, used his wits and told him that “if that is the case, you have it all over me as I am nothing but a small city officer.”
During the short conversation, Budd was backing away from the man. Robinet started backing away also. When the two were about 12 feet apart, Robinet stumbled and in righting himself, allowed his gun hand to fall. Budd reached for his gun and shouted to Robinet to “drop your gun.”
The man refused to drop his gun and started firing at the officer. Budd returned the fire, shooting four times. By the time that the officer had “talked back” four times, Robinet had emptied his automatic and had jumped behind a tree to reload. When Robinet went behind the tree, Budd ran at him, and shouted for him to drop his gun before he was killed.
Robinet had reloaded his pistol before Budd reached him and fired from short range, striking Budd in the neck. Budd fired one more shot and Robinet started to run.
Reloading his gun, the officer followed his man through the woods until they reached the junior high school building. There Budd fired again, and the man fell. Budd stated that there were two shots fired and workmen on the building said that it seemed that Robinet shot himself. At any rate, the man fell, and examination showed that he had been shot five times, any one of three shots being enough to have taken his life.
After the shooting, the man talked freely with the officers at the city jail. He stated that he knew he was going to die and that while he had a family of his own, he didn’t care to say where they lived and all that he wanted to notify was his sister in Missouri. He claimed that he had the right to be carrying the gun but did not have proof of that. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died within 30 minutes.
Investigation showed that Robinet had been rooming at Mrs. Leaps on Minnesota Avenue for the past five months and that he had never had a suit case or any personal belongings there. Police officials were firm in their belief that Robinet was the man who accosted a person in the Griffin Grocery on south Beard recently. His description was exactly fitting. The shoes and “horseshoe tacks” in the soles were identical with the tracks made by the man escaping from that building. He had a black handkerchief with “eye holes” cut in it. He had 10 finger stalls and $102 in cash on his person when he was searched. He also carried a rope about six feet long.
A search of his room revealed nothing except a pistol. The police also thought he was the Katy safe blower as well as the Griffin Grocery store robber.
Chief of Police Ira Sims was confident that Robinet meant to mistreat the little girl and probably would kill her. Robinet admitted that he was trying to get her to go to the movies with him but would not explain why he was carrying the rope.
(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 sometime before Christmas. 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, bringing the history up to the current time of publication.)
Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.