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Phenomenal growth in the fall of 1926

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star
Optimism was brought to the city in 1926 by the phenomenal  growth due to the oil field activity in the area. This ad appeared in he Shawnee Morning News on October 19.


Students of Shawnee High School, who had hopes for a winning football team for the upcoming season, were thrilled with the announcement of Clark Craig, University of Pennsylvania star, who was named the new coach. He put a call for all prospects for the team to report to the high school for a preliminary survey of material on the night of August 20, 1926. He followed that announcement with another, informing everyone involved that training would start on August 23.

The naming of Craig as coach brought one of the greatest football men of the east to direct the activities of the team. Craig played four years for Pennsylvania, having filled the positions of end, quarterback, and halfback. In 1924, he was selected for the mythical All-Eastern squad.

Craig said he was doubtful of the material that was available. Efforts were being made to gain the eligibility of several men and it was hoped the moving into the community by new families might alleviate the situation. The recent oil flurry caused many new groups to move to the city.

As usual, the club was short on equipment. A roll of bandages and some old uniforms was the sum total of supplies available for the team.

Craig would devote his time only to football and would be assisted by Buddy Wilcoxson, former OBU star. Wilcoxon would also be in charge of the basketball and track teams.


Shawnee’s population had increased by close to 1,000 within the last 30 days. This was the estimate reported by Major E.R. Waite, secretary of the Shawnee Board of Commerce, on September 18. The estimate was made by evidence of postal, telephone, and electrical records.

“The rapid increase in the numbers of telephones, electrical and gas meters installed in Shawnee during the last month are the best indication of the growth of the city,” said Waite.

“Basing my deductions on these increases, as well as on the crowded condition of the hotels, rooming houses, and the rent houses, I feel justified in estimating the population increase for the 30-day period at 1,000.”

“The number of new telephones installed during the last two months continued to show a steady increase,” said W.E. Daugherty, manager of the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.

There were 35 new telephones installed during August of 1926, as compared to only 17 the year before.

“The greatest increase had come in September, however,” he said. “During the first 18 days, we have placed 52 new telephones, a net gain of 27 over the same period last year.”

The Shawnee postoffice resources were taxed to handling the increased business enjoyed by Uncle Sam’s establishment, according to E.J. Thomas, assistance postmaster.

“The postoffice is doing more business now than ever before in its history,” Thomas declared. “I believe that the increased business justifies the estimate that Shawnee’s population has increased 1,000 persons.”


Shawnee stood at the threshold of its greatest era of development and prosperity, according to reports from merchants in the city. Records of the businesses in the city bore out their predictions.

Even when recent rains were falling hardest, cotton prices were dropping and crop prospects looked darkest, optimism fairly oozed from the merchants as they told of increasing business.

“Our business gained so fast during September that our bookkeepers were hard put to keep track of it,” said B.S. Pace of the Pace Furniture Company. “We did three times as much business this September as we did in September of 1925, and our business was good a year ago.

“The bulk of our business had been right here in Shawnee,” he declared. “We have sold to many people who have come here to establish homes and to old residents who are refurnishing their homes and apartment houses for rental purposes, in preparation for the boom.”


Burglars, who stole $3,300 from the Mammoth Department Store on the morning of Sunday, October 17, 1926, were on the lam. Chief of Police L.A. Brown and his assistants were at work on one or two slight clues which might lead to the arrest of suspects.

The burglars gained entrance to the store through an elevator shaft on the second floor. They dug their way through a brick wall to get inside the vault. About $2,000 of the loot was in currency, and $1,200 in checks. George Kerfoot, manager of the store, said he asked that all persons who gave checks at the store recently call and give duplicates. He said they would be presented at the banks and would help when the thieves attempted to cash the originals.

It was believed the burglars were frightened away before they completed their work. Piles of furs and women’s silk clothing were found on the floor, where they had evidently been placed by the robbers preparatory to taking them away.

(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.