It happened in February

Clyde Wooldridge
The Becker Theatre, located on the northeast corner of Main and Market, opened for the first time on February 6, 1906. It was filled to capacity.

By Clyde Wooldridge

1851 – The “Appropriation Bill for Indian Affairs” was passed on February 27. The act allocated funds to move western tribes onto reservations. This act set the precedent for modern-day Native American reservations.

1889 – Illinois Representative William M. Springer added section 13 to the annual Indian Appropriation Bill, which authorized President Grover Cleveland to open the lands to settlement through issuance of a proclamation.

1898 – In a public announcement made by Mayor James T. Farrall in February, he made clear that the city was in debt, and the amount was $8,900. In speaking of a part of the indebtedness that was incurred on account of the shops, the mayor said that it was issued to finish paying the bonds required by the railroad for locating the shops in the city. He explained that is was needed to pay men for labor on the shops, and the railroad people refused to go ahead until the $1,500 was paid off.

1899 – The school board reported that the town voted $8,800 in a bond issue to build a large building on the leased property in the park. Surplus money was added and on what was to be Central School building contract was let for $9,340.

1906 – For several weeks the people of Shawnee and the vicinity were watching the progress of the new Becker Theatre on Main and Market streets. On the night of February 6, it was formally opened and tickets for the first performance were sold out. The new house was three stories in height and contained a parquet on the ground floor, large balcony, and a gallery. The stage was very large, and the place was built with a design to make it not only very beautiful, but strong as well.

1907 – The inaugural Chamber of Commerce banquet was held at the Norwood Hotel on the night of February 5. It was described as a magnificent affair.

1908- County Sheriff E.A. “Dink” Pierce and his deputies made good on the night of February 23, under most trying circumstances. Quietly and without the use of violence, they restrained a mob of 500 determined men who marched upon the county jail bent upon securing the assailant of Mrs. Faye Cuppy, or some other upon who to vent their wrath. Public sentiment was at fever heat of excitement all day because of the assault by Bill Johnson on Mrs. Cuppy.

1909 – Superintendent Scott Glen, Architect A.C. Davis, W.M. Longmire, and Kib Warren made up the committee selected at a meeting of the school board on February 18. They were to proceed through the various states on a tour of investigation to secure pointers on erecting a modern high school building in the city.

100 Years Ago – Because of so many children being ill with the flu or being kept out of school because of its prominence in the city, Dr. J.H. Scott, the city health officer, ordered the schools closed for 48 hours on February 10, 1920. Forty-four percent of the children were absent the day before. Not all were ill with the flu but were needed at home to assist where several mothers of families were down with the disease. Many were kept at home as a safety feature.

75 Years Ago – Ben F. Williams, age 71, living three miles north of the city on Highway 18, was accidently killed February 3, 1945. He walked into the side of a truck as he was going across the road to his mailbox. The truck was owned by M&C Transport Company.

50 Years Ago – The Gordon Cooper Vo-Tech school graduated its first class on Friday, February 27, 1970. It contained 11 members of a power sewing short course. The new school seemed a big success as at least three of the students already had jobs and had to choose between two job offers.

1986 - The first paid Curator, Laquita Hackett, was hired to keep the Santa Fe Museum open on a full-time basis, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday still had a volunteer. At this time a gift shop was added to the Museum to help defray the cost of a paid Curator.

25 Years Ago – Emphasizing that they had not bought it yet, representatives from a St. Paul, MN, company that renovates historical buildings, took a look at Shawnee’s Aldridge Hotel on Tuesday, February 21, 1995. They showed a community gathering before-and-after slides of buildings they had restored for senior citizens throughout the mid-section of America.

10 Years Ago – An overnight standoff between a local resident and the Shawnee police ended peacefully Saturday morning, February 6, 2010, at a home in the 600 block of north Oklahoma Street. The incident began about 10:30 p.m. Friday night when officers set up a perimeter and Cpl. John Goss started negotiations with the subject, who was armed with a shotgun and allegedly threatened family members.

Five Years Ago – A crash investigation team conducted a thorough review into the previous Saturday night’s accident east of Shawnee that killed a state trooper and seriously injured another. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch were outside of their patrol cars investigating an overturned semi on westbound Interstate 40 at mile marker 195 when they were struck by a passenger car. The area of the accident was about four miles west of the Prague/Seminole exit in Seminole County. Trooper Dees suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. Trooper Burch was critically injured and transported to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he remained hospitalized on Monday, February 2, 2015.

One Year Ago – Though it was a bitterly cold Friday morning, February 8, 2019, Gordon Cooper Technology Center (GCTC) had nothing but warm, fuzzy news to share with the community; the career tech officially marked the beginning of a huge project that would make a large impact on the community for years to come. GCTC Superintendent Marty Lewis offered details about a new training site that’s been in the school’s plans for some time. At the packed groundbreaking, community leaders, school officials, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and students from GCTC’s 1,600-mile district were in attendance. The training structure was to be named the Marty Lewis Public Safety Training Facility.

(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.