A largely attended meeting of the members of the shop crafts federation was held at Convention Hall in the morning of November 2, 1922. Following preliminary statements by chairman Sandy Watson on the conditions of the craft officials, the principal speaker then stepped to the front.


A largely attended meeting of the members of the shop crafts federation was held at Convention Hall in the morning of November 2, 1922. Following preliminary statements by chairman Sandy Watson on the conditions of the craft officials, the principal speaker then stepped to the front.

George W. Pring, of Des Moines, chairman of the boilermakers on the Rock Island lines, spoke for more than an hour. He summarized the labor movement history, legislation, and many other things leading up to the strike. The general session proved to be a sort of “pep rally” for the union, encouraging each member to stay the course.


The third explosion in the past week shook Shawnee in mid-November of 1922. Rattled windows and “shook up” homes in the northern and eastern parts of the city happened on the evening of November 18.

The charge was heavy and louder than either of the two preceding “bursts,” but the seat of the explosion was not located by the police at first. Reports tended to locate the explosion in the north part of town, but later that night, reports indicated that the shot came from near the viaduct over the Santa Fe in the southeast. No clue to the exploiters of the plot was obtained, but there were suspicions connected to several union men throughout the city.


Truman Shelton, of south Park Street, was seriously hurt on the night of November 27, 1922, when he was attacked by three men in his home. Mrs. Shelton was also wounded when she tried to go to assist her husband during the attack.

Shelton, who went out on strike July 1, with the Rock Island employees, returned to his work in the shops that morning. Shortly after 6 P.M., three men whom Shelton said were Tom Cavener, Lee Dunn, and Ed Dunn, broke in the front door of his house and started striking him on the head and hacking him with a knife. Mrs. Shelton ran to her husband’s assistance and was stabbed twice in the arm. She was not seriously injured. Shelton was taken to the hospital where his wounds were dressed, and his condition was considered as guarded.

Cavener and Ed Dunn were arrested that evening and placed in the city jail. Lee Dunn was not apprehended. It was said he was facing a charge in the county court at Tecumseh and did surrender himself to the officers later.


Shawnee was rocked for the fifth time in 20 days on the night of November 28, 1922, when some sort of high explosive partially wrecked the West Ridgewood home of Ralph Brown and Leo Gulleys. The police suspected that the explosive device was dynamite.

The charge of explosive was set off under the porch of the home. The porch was completely wrecked, window glass in the home powdered and heavy timbers sent smashing through the sleeping rooms occupied by the Brown and Gulleys families. No one was injured by the tear-up, although large timbers fell on the bed occupied by the Browns. Both men were Rock Island shopmen.

Shawnee was first rocked by dynamite explosions when a stick of the high explosive was thrown near the Dean Runnels home on south Louisa Street on the night of November 8. The second outbreak occurred on the night of November 17, when some sort of high explosive was “touched off” in the rear of the Central Fire Station.

On November 18, an explosion rocked all of north and west Shawnee. On the same night of the explosion of the Brown and Gulleys house, another explosion occurred at the home of R.L. Allen on north Pennsylvania Street.

No arrests were made by the next day and no evidence was pending as to the perpetrators. In all instances, the explosions were in relation to men working for the two railroad companies.


Two men were known to have been shot and a third was wounded in a gun battle between hijackers and five Rock Island shopmen near the Katy Wye on the night of December 15. Charley Jones was shot through the chin and A.L. Goodson received a bullet wound in the leg during the fight. One of the youthful bandits was injured by lead from Goodson’s gun.

J.B. Gouldin, his son, Lee, Arthus Myers, and Jones were walking down the Katy tracks to their homes in west Shawnee when two young men with handkerchiefs over their faces, stopped them with the command to “get’em up.” The men complied with the demand.

One of the hijackers called Jones back from the other three and endeavored to get him to hand over his money. This he refused to do, telling the hijacker to go into his pockets to get what they wanted. After some argument, Jones was made to lineup with the other three men and a search was started. A mere 23 dollars was taken from Lee Gouldin, while his dad got off with the loss of $1.25. Myers lost $24.50, but Jones was never searched.

While the bandits were taking the money from this quartet of Rock Island workers, A.L. Goodson, also a Rock Island employee, came walking down the tracks. “Get in behind this *******, you bunch of ********, one of the youths told his hold-up companion.

Forming the victims four in a row, the robbers dropped in behind. When Goodson was almost upon the group, one of the men stepped out and commanded Goodson to “get ‘em up quick.” Goodson paid no attention to the command and kept on walking. He was again commanded to get his hands up and tearing loose an oath, the youthful hijacker said he would kill him if he didn’t.

Goodson answered this command with a quick jerk from his pocket of a six-shooter and started “barking” at the group. In the melee that followed, Goodson fired six times and the holdup men 10. Two of the holdup men’s shots took effect and Goodson was successful in making one of his shots tell a story in the life of one of the young hijackers.

Neither Goodson nor Jones was seriously hurt, and both went to the police station after the shooting to tell of their experience. The holdup men were nervous and appeared to be amateurs at the game, according to the other men.

Little trace of the bandits could be found that night. After emptying their revolvers, one of the holdup men went across the cotton field toward the Rock Island viaduct and the other went down the tracks to the north.

By the next day, Glenn Hixson and Melvin Jones were arraigned in Judge Edwin Moore’s court on the charge of highway robbery. They entered a plea of not guilty and the court set their bond at $2,000. Being unable to meet the bond requirements, they were returned to the city jail. The suspects were arrested by the U.S. marshals. They were identified by the men in the holdup.

ATTENTION SHAWNEE CITIZENS AND BUSINESSES: If anyone is interested in placing a Tribute/Memorial page in the upcoming third volume of the history of Shawnee, please contact the Historical Society, and they will get word to me. I will then contact you for the details. You may want to purchase a tribute page for your family in some way. Our you might want to give attention to your business, or possibly your family’s business of the past. Civic Club may want to give a tribute to the history of their organization. You may also contact me directly at (981)470-3728, or by email at cewool@live.com.

 (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 more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989; volume five 1990-2009; and volume six 2010-to the present, 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.