A committee was appointed to bring the perpetrators of the recent outrages in Shawnee to justice. The financial and physical support of the citizens was pledged to this end at a meeting of 250 active businessmen held in the superior courtroom on the night of January 18.


A committee was appointed to bring the perpetrators of the recent outrages in Shawnee to justice. The financial and physical support of the citizens was pledged to this end at a meeting of 250 active businessmen held in the superior courtroom on the night of January 18.

The meeting was held after a full investigation by the federal officers in co-operation with the city and county officers. The result was a proclamation issued and signed by the city, county, and federal law officers, declaring that all meeting of striking shopmen and their congregation upon the streets of the city must cease.

The resolution appointing the committee to act in this matter laid out the problem and solution.

“Whereas, the chair has appointed a committee to devise ways and means to meet the present situation and bring to justice the perpetrators of the recent crimes in this city.

“And, whereas, it will take courage, time, money, and work, to make this effort successful. Now, therefore:

“Be it resolved, that every man in this meeting pledge to this committee and this community his time, his moral support and his influence, wholeheartedly, and in an undivided and fearless effort to put a stop to the things that have brought us into disrepute and disgrace.”


Shawnee appeared to be marking time in the railroad strike situation by mid-January. There was an issuance of a ban on all gatherings where threats, disorders and intimidations were talked. No outward signs of trouble were manifested, but a strong undercurrent of tense feelings did exist.


Seven men were arrested on the night of February 27, 1923, by U.S. Marshal Alva McDonald on charges of depredations growing out of the strike of railroad shopmen in Shawnee.

“We have positive evidence against every man who took the least part in the crimes,” McDonald said in a statement to the Shawnee Morning News. “This evidence is held in the form of confessions in writing made before notary publics and in the form of charges made by men who admit their implication in the matter. Many arrests will be coming and the cases will be prosecuted either in the federal or state courts.

“Every act of violence committed in the recent strike was committed by a member of the Shawnee striking shopmen’s craft,” McDonald said.

He further charged that the depredations were committed with the knowledge of men high in labor circles in Shawnee and that the leaders of the striking shopmen knew of the depredations and crimes from statements made to them by the men who had committed the crimes.

The seven men arrested were taken to Oklahoma City on a train. Originally there were only six announced: Jimmy Faust, Lee Dunn, Tom Cavenar, Henry Garrett, J.L. McClure, and Bebe Hines.

McDonald did not discuss the details of the arrest, he charged that Garrett was the man who made the most trouble in Shawnee during the strike. “It was in Garrett’s barn that the striking shopmen met on the night of August 17,” said the marshal, “and they then went in pairs to the Rock Island shops where they fired a volley of shots into the enclosure of the shops.”

McDonald further charged that Garrett was the man who furnished the dynamite for the six dynamite outrages in the city.

“My office, and the Department of Justice, have evidence in the form of confessions in writing, subscribed and sworn to before a notary public, and made in the presence of a number of witnesses, explaining and giving the names of the participants in every act of violence and depredations committed in Shawnee and the vicinity of that city since the beginning of the strike on July 1, 1922. In every instance, the crime was committed by one or more members of a Shawnee striking union, and that there is no evidence that any person not a member of the union took part in any of the crimes.

“A great many of the guilty men are already under arrest, and those still at large will be arrested in a few hours. The evidence in my hands shows conclusively the utter falsity of the statements made at various times and places by persons prominent in union circles that the crimes above referred to had been committed by officers of the law and railroad employees. Such statements were known to be false at the time they were made by the persons making them and were undoubtedly made for the deliberate purpose of misleading the public.”


Jimmy Faust and Ernest Covey, arrested at Shawnee, were brought to Oklahoma City on February 28, by U.S. Marshal Alva McDonald and one of his deputies, Henry A. Peltier. Others arrested up to that time were Tom Cavenar, J.T. McClure, Lee Dunn, Henry Garrett, and Jimmie Overstreet. Three others were being sought and were believed to be out of state.

Garrett, Faust and Covey were all in jail in Oklahoma City. Dunn and Cavenar were incarcerated at Guthrie. McClure was in Shawnee, and Overstreet was in Tupelo, MS. The 12th arrest was expected to be made in Shawnee but was not completed yet.

Those arrested were set to be arraigned in Oklahoma City as soon as they were all there. McDonald said they will not be allowed bond. Confessions by four of the men and pleas of guilty from at least three others, practically assured the conviction of all those wanted. One of the alleged confessions made public at Shawnee read in part:

“Four or five nights before the dynamiting of George Petty’s house at Shawnee on January 16, one of the fellows said to me, ‘I’ve got three sticks of dynamite. Let’s do some good. George Petty has just got a man into the notion of returning to work. Let’s blow up his house. We can throw it just after dark. You stand guard and I’ll throw it.’”

Petty, who was a boilermaker foreman, was said to be one of the most active Rock Island officials in the breaking of the strike.

Ray Hynes, arrested by McDonald with the others at Shawnee, was sentenced on February 28, to serve five years in the state reformatory at Granite when he pleaded guilty in state district court of Pottawatomie County. He confessed to robbing non-union workers of the pay checks during the strike. He was turned over to state authorities when he confessed that he was guilty of hi-jacking.

Judge I.M. Putnam passed the sentence. Hynes said he took money by force from the strike breakers as they returned from the pay station. He admitted he was a member of the shop workers’ union.

Within a couple of days, Faust and Covey pled guilty to the charges of rioting in connection with the railroad strike, when they were arraigned before Judge Leander.G. Pitman in the superior court on March 2. They were sentenced to serve five years. Faust to Granite, and Covey at the state pen in McAlester.

McDonald also stated that he had confessions saying that Roy Hendrickson, vice chairman of the shop crafts union at Shawnee, had information on two occasions of lawless activities of strikers. He also asserted that Hendrickson admitted to him some time earlier that he had this information but was disinterested in furnishing it to officers.

One of the alleged confessions charged that Hendrickson met with three of the strikers under arrest on the night of August 15, following the robbery of two shop workers, and obtained a detailed account of the holdup. At a later date he was informed of an assault on a shopmen.

“Hendrickson is the chief lieutenant of Sandy Watson, chairman of the Shawnee strikers,” said McDonald. “He knew all this and more too, I believe. I think all the officials had knowledge of these depredations and knew who were committing them, but so far as I have been able to ascertain, they did nothing to prevent them.”

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, or you might want to give attention to your business, or possibly your family’s business of the past. Civic Clubs may want to give a tribute to the history of their organization. The cost is $100 per page and it will appear in the final four volumes. 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.)