S. Atkins, member of the executive board of the Brotherhood of Railroad Car Men of America, of the Rock Island system, who was employed in the local Rock Island shops, returned to Shawnee on July 25, 1921, from Chicago, and other points. He was gone representing the car men in the negotiations between the railroad heads and railroad labor organizations throughout the U.S. Labor Board at Chicago.

LABOR WILL NOT TAKE RAILROAD WAGE SLICE

S. Atkins, member of the executive board of the Brotherhood of Railroad Car Men of America, of the Rock Island system, who was employed in the local Rock Island shops, returned to Shawnee on July 25, 1921, from Chicago, and other points. He was gone representing the car men in the negotiations between the railroad heads and railroad labor organizations throughout the U.S. Labor Board at Chicago.

Two questions of vital importance to labor stood out in the recent negotiations. The first was the wage reduction, which was handled through the Wage Board. The second was the working agreement discussed directly between the railroad heads and the labor representatives.

The blanket reduction of eight cents an hour affecting all crafts ordered by the Labor Board, which went into effect July 1, was not acceptable to the labor representatives. The issue was referred to the pleasure of the membership of the railroad crafts. The entire vote of the railway employees labor organizations would be before September 1, which would decide whether the labor organizations would accept the cut.

Atkins believed the crafts would refuse overwhelmingly to accept the reduction of eight cents an hour. That slice would cut many of the lowest paid workmen below their rate before the increase of 1920, and the cost of living had not made an equivalent slump.

ROCK ISLAND SHOP MEN QUIT PENDING ACTION ON RULES

Seven hundred men employed in the Shawnee shops of the Rock Island, including all the various trades, except the firemen and oilers, left their work at 2 P.M. on August 14, 1921. They went on strike because of the putting into effect a contract with the firemen and oilers, which was not recognized by the allied shops crafts, that included the boiler workers, carmen, mechanics, blacksmith, and electricians. The 75 men employed at Haileyville, which was under the jurisdiction of the Shawnee crafts, also went out on the same issues.

Within two days, the strike was over. The jurisdictional dispute between the federated crafts and the firemen and oilers was settled after 10 days of negotiations between the representatives of those bodies. Night shifts were ordered back to work on August 16, and that meant all 700 men would be back on duty.

SHAWNEE MEN BOUND OVER FOR TRIAL

How a number of gold rings and stud settings were melted into a lump of solid gold was part of evidence disclosed in Oklahoma City on August 24, 1921, in the preliminary hearing of W.M. Motsenbacher and J.D. Haas, The two men were charged with the robbery of $37,500 worth of diamond rings and studs from a salesman for a large jewelry concern, while staying at a local hotel, several months earlier.

At the close of the preliminary hearing, Judge Walter Benson, Justice of the Peace, in whose court the hearing was held, announced that he would take the case under advisement for a week, while the two men were arranging for bond. He stated that he would bind the men over to the district court for trial the next week.

SHAWNEE MAN CLAIMS HE’S NOT A MURDERER

Cross Johnson, whom the officer in Shawnee claimed to be “Southtown Slim,” the alleged black man who shot and killed George M. Munson, an Oklahoma City taxi driver, and seriously wounded Neff Draper, was arrested in the city on the night of August 29, 1921. They were arrested by Patrolman Henry Peltier and United State Narcotic Officer R.P. Witten. Johnson was extremely nervous and told at least four different stories since his arrest. He disclaimed all knowledge of the shooting and said he lived in Holdenville.

When Witten alighted from a Rock Island passenger train in the city, he gave Peltier a description of the wanted man. Peltier just saw Johnson and the two started a hurried pursuit. When apprehended, the man claimed that he alighted from the train here to purchase an evening newspaper. When an attempt was made to arrest him, the suspect tried to escape. He stopped only when Peltier “covered” him with a gun.

The suspect was about six-feet tall, had a very small mustache, was dark yellow and rather well dressed. He had a large knot near his right ear and a fresh haircut. When accused of the killing, Johnson asked if the man who did the killing had a knot on his head. Officers from Oklahoma City stated that the man wore a shaggy hair due, but officers in Shawnee pointed to the fresh haircut and the knot as a claim that Johnson was trying to ward off identity.

When arrested, Johnson was carrying a suit case loaded with barber tools but was not armed. Orders from Ben Dancy, Oklahoma County Sheriff to Shawnee police that the man be closely guarded were being carried out. Johnson stated that he left Holdenville the previous Wednesday and went to Sapulpa. From there he went to Coffeyville, KS, through Tulsa and claimed that he traveled on the Katy. From Coffeyville, he went to Wichita and then to Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

LABOR DAY FITTINGLY OBSERVED

With the elements bestowing their blessings on Mother Earth, Shawnee labor turned out en masse on September 5, 1921, to properly honored the one calendar day which was set apart for the working man. Amidst showers of ever-increasing intensity, the annual Labor Day parade opened the day of festivities and although the weatherman continued his “capers” throughout the day, the entire program was pronounced as marked success by labor leaders.

It was about 10:30 A.M., when Grand Marshal Clayboll gave the “march” order and Labor Day Queen Helen Scott started the march of the toilers as they demonstrated their loyalty to the United States, Shawnee and the union labor movement. Rain chased many organizations from the line of march and in some instances, one or two represented larger bodies, but the general line up as announced was carried out almost in detail.

(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.