“Curley” Motsenbacker was found guilty of the charge of receiving stolen property on October 12, 1921, by a jury in Judge L.G. Pitman’s superior court. He was sentenced to serve five years in the Oklahoma penitentiary at hard labor.


“Curley” Motsenbacker was found guilty of the charge of receiving stolen property on October 12, 1921, by a jury in Judge L.G. Pitman’s superior court. He was sentenced to serve five years in the Oklahoma penitentiary at hard labor.

This in a terse way summed up one of the most hotly contested trials in the county’s history. One in which a man who faced more serious charges in the past, fought for liberty against the word of a lad from whom he was alleged to have received a stolen automobile.

The state had a rather strong web of evidence around Motsenbacker, starting with Edward Elkins, who swore that he had arrangements with “Curley” to steal the car and he gave him stencils with which to change the numbers. The car was stolen, Elkins stated, and brought to Shawnee where the deal was made. A fake bill of sale was given to the purchase of the car, “for his protection.” Elkins claimed he agreed to deliver the car for $150 cash, but stated when he failed to change the numbers, Motsenbacker tried to “knock off” $50 of the agreed price. After an argument, the car was turned over for $110. Motsenbacker claimed he purchased the car not knowing that it was a stolen car and he paid $425 for it.

Officers were called to the stand and testified Motsenbacker was arrested June 26, when the stolen car was in the Norton Garage, where the defendant was allegedly to changing the numbers on the engine. It was also stated that wheels and other distinguishing marks on the car were changed.

After many witnesses and the defendant testified, the case went to the jury. County Attorney Claude Hendon strongly hinted he would file perjury charges against many of the defense witnesses. The 12 men of the jury were out on the case two hours before the verdict was rendered.


More than half a million American railroad men were ordered to strike on October 30, 1921. Other unions, whose membership brought the total to about two million, announced unofficially that they were preparing to follow suit and make the walkout general on the same date.

Under the program, the tie-up would be complete by November 2. The railroads announced that 42 of the 48 states, with a trackage of 73,000 miles of the 290,000 in the United States, would be affected. Most of the New England area would not be touched.

The strike orders were listed with the Big Five Brotherhoods, oldest and most powerful of the railway unions, and they included mail trains in the walkout. They instructed workers to keep away from railroad property with a warning that “violence of any nature would not be tolerated by the organizations.”


In a rousing meeting at Estes Hall of about 400 railroad men, by the local members of the five train organizations involved in the contemplated walkout of the Five Big Brotherhoods, set for Sunday morning, October 30, 1921.

The meeting was for instructing each individual member how to act when the strike hour arrived. Other meetings were scheduled before the strike date.


Disarmament was the keynote of the Armistice Day parade in Shawnee on November 11, 1921. The groups of marching boys in khaki and blue seemed to arouse a spirit of retrospection. The throng which filled the street along the line of the march, greeting their appearance with quiet reverence, rather than with noisy or boisterous demonstration.

Visions of the boys who marched down the selfsame streets before leaving for camp and port, only to return, dimmed the eye and when the thousands of school children each carrying a miniature “Old Glory” passed by, the citizenry of the future, the throat strings tightened and the heart cried out, “Not these, not these.”

Soon after the parade started, the siren whistle sounded and every soldier, sailor, and marine came to attention. Every civilian head was bowed for a moment in memory of the lads who went to France and Belgium and did not come back.

Groups of khaki clad men and those in the blue of the Navy, were led by representatives from among the city officials, and interspersed with representatives from the Trades and Labor Assembly, carrying banners bearing captions pertinent to disarmament. These were followed by citizens of various orders and organizations, in automobiles decorated with the national colors, followed by the faculty and students of the grade and high schools of the city, and OBU.

Following the parade, a memorial service was conducted at Convention Hall with the Rev. Chris Matheson making the address in which he urged that every one do his duty, that the sacrifice made by those for whom they were gathered to honor, might not be in vain. The entire assemblage joined in the singing of “America” and Lucille Quinn sang with great tenderness and depth of feeling, the first verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


Playing their last home game of the season on the night of Friday, November 11, 1921, the Shawnee High School lads got a precedent for all future teams when they dedicated their new athletic field with a 27-13 victory over the El Reno gridsters. The game was a fast and snappy one, and the large crowd which turned out was amply repaid for their time.

Shawnee scored first when Captain Billy Campbell went over on an end around play. El Reno came back quickly with a touchdown, and the score stood at 7-7. Shawnee added seven more points and the visitors pulled down six with the half ending with a 14-13 score in favor of Shawnee. Shawnee added 13 more points in the second half and the new field was properly dedicated with a convincing victory.

Campbell, captain and end, playing in his last home game, was one of the stellar lights of the fray. His snagging of passes and his long end runs being features. Leon Vinson, fullback, was perhaps the biggest individual star, with his passing, punting, and line plunging being the feature of the “Purple and White,” the school colors at that time.

Tom Stevens, at quarterback, and George Graff at center, played well for Shawnee. Graff showed exceptionally well on the defense.

  (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.