Dry and clean up the town in 1926

Clyde Wooldridge
Shawnee Hall on the OBU campus was a “beacon of learning” in Shawnee in 1926.


Eighteen men and women, white and black, were under arrest because of enforcement of the U.S. prohibition laws in early January. Agents of the Secret Service, operatives of the Indian Department, and the marshal’s office were involved in the arrests. They stated that the bombardment would not be abandoned until Pottawatomie County had been dried up. Several rooming house operators, bell boys, taxicab drivers, and individuals were included in the list of those taken into custody.

Six women, five white and one black, were listed among the number, while the ministry was not overlooked. Rev. James Rodgers, pastor on east Bluff Street, was among the captives who were taken to Oklahoma City on January 6, for arraignment on liquor law violations.

Four porters from the Walcott Hotel, the largest in the city, also faced charges. One black woman about 60 years of age was arrested. Bobby Young, pretty wife of Chief Young, who recently was sentenced to a 25-year term in the state pen for hijacking, was brought to police headquarters after she was found in a drunken condition.

The wholesale arrests followed weeks of investigations by federal officers. Although it was stated positively that no news of the agents’ plans would be revealed, it was understood that several warrants remained to be served. A secret investigation was said to have worked in the vicinity for several weeks gathering up evidence.

Grace Danfort was the only arrest made at the City Rooms when the police received a report that a young man had been hijacked. According to the story, he told police he had gone into a room with a woman for immoral purposes when she represented to him that the police were coming up the front stairs. She rushed him out the back way. As soon as the youth reached the rear stairs, he was confronted by a masked man who he said robbed him of about 85 dollars.

Police stated that the place had been raided several times and the owners required to pay fines. It was understood that the county attorney was contemplating a padlock injunction against future operation of the house.


Four Shawnee rooming houses and a cab station were closed by padlock injunctions issued by Judge John H. Cotteral in federal court at Guthrie on January 16. The action came as the result of recent raids of prohibition agents.

The places closed were the City Rooms, Star Rooms, Golden State Rooms, East Main Rooms, and the Yellow Cab Company stand. Personal injunctions were also issued against the proprietors of those places.

Temporary restraining orders were also granted against C.C. Willard and Wade Willard, managers of the Walcott Hotel, and several bell boys were also cited for violating the prohibition law. A padlock injunction was asked when the court determined that permanency of the restraining orders.


Efforts were made to rush construction of the east highway out of Shawnee to the county line by early February. Dick Richards, county commissioner from district No. 1, told members of the Rotary Club at a luncheon on February 9, of their intentions. Richards further stated that the commissioners expected to complete that portion of the county system leading from Highland to Earlsboro at the earliest possible moment, “in order that our oil fields may be placed at our back door.”

Richards pointed out that state engineers were busy working on the state system of highways for several weeks and that bids for the first projects would probably be let early in March. He announced that the first contract to be let on the county system would be for five and one-half miles of gravel and a half mile of concrete on the road leading from St. Louis to Maud. Further contracts would probably be held up pending this bid in order that the commissioners and citizens committee might have an accurate estimate on costs.

In handling of other parts of the county system of 90 miles, Richards stated that two trial contracts might be employed. One would cover a small section of road and the other a large. There was a question, he explained, as to whether a big contractor could take a large stretch of road and construct it more economically than local citizens, working on a community basis, and handling small sections. He said he hoped to have the county system of roads completed by January 1, 1927.

The commissioner said one of the big problems facing the commissioners was how to make the available funds take care of the 90 miles of road outlined. He said he believed this could be done by using gravel freely on roads subjected to heavy traffic and by lessening the amount of gravel on the ones that are not traveled so much.

Mayor Charlie C. Hawk spoke on the tourist camp problem, expressing the belief that the day of the “free” camp had passed. He said the tourist camp problem was a new one, declaring that it had only become a problem since the advent of the automobile.

The mayor told of successful camps operated at various places in the country. He called attention to the “tin can” organization that had sprung up in Florida, being among the tourists themselves who assisted in keeping undesirables out of camps and co-operated in maintaining proper sanitation regulations. He contended that a good tourist camp, where a welcoming hand was extended by citizens to tourist, was one of the greatest assets the town could have and would be a form of advertising that would be very beneficial to Shawnee.

(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. The cost of purchase is $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is now available, at a cost of $35. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. A combination of two or three can be purchased at $30 each. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989, is scheduled for the fall of 2020; volume five 1990-2009, should be available in the fall of 2021; and volume six 2010-to the present, is scheduled for the fall of 2022. They are also available on thumb drive at the PCHS Museum.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.