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Shawnee gets new city charter

Clyde Wooldridge
THE LONG & SHORT OF IT AT HORACE MANN SCHOOL: Two students at Horace Mann in the seventh grade, in 1930, and also good friends were the “Mutt of Jeff” of  Shawnee. Owen Ashford stood 6'3” and Robert Moore was 3'11” in height. Ashford was 16 and Moore 15.

CITY OFFICERS INSTALLED

With a plea for harmony among the political factions of Shawnee, Mayor Neal Wimmer surrendered his chair to Cliff L. Martin on the night of April 8, 1930. When the votes of the city election were canvassed, Martin came forward, took the oath of office, and was then seated in the chair of the mayor to preside over the council meeting. After shaking hands with the new mayor, Wimmer made a short talk to the crowded council chamber in which he declared a city cannot be built on strife.

Other new officers installed were Kib Warren, councilman from the First Ward, replacing Ed Clary; and J.C. Cooper, councilman from the Fourth Ward; replacing K. Pat Murphy.

Mayor Martin made a short talk in which he thanked the people for his election and proceeded with naming of new city officials. He announced that all officials would retain their positions, unless a successor was named. No change was made in the city fire department or health department at the meeting. A special meeting of the Council was set later to make changes that might need to be made.

After initial opposition by the Council, all but one appointment made by Mayor Martin was approved. When the name of Park Wyatt was submitted for city attorney, objection was made by Councilman Max Rippy, and the appointment was voted down, 4-2. Councilmen Warren and Cooper voted yes. Ray Evans was later named, and his appointment was approved by unanimous vote.

The appointment of E.L. Moon as superintendent of the city water department was also rejected by the same vote as cast against Wyatt. Fred Hutchins was then approved as the new superintendent. Moon was dismissed from the department by the Council several months earlier, and the old members refused to vote for his return to the position. Moon was head of the water department for more than 20 years before his dismissal.

F.A. Budd was named Chief of Police and was the most popular appointment made. Budd was recognized throughout the state as an efficient officer, having served in all capacities on the local force since he returned from the World War, 11 years earlier.

FAUBLE GETS FIVE YEARS

Sentence of five years in the state penitentiary for Arthur L. Fauble was returned by a jury in district court after an hour of deliberation on April 10, 1930. It was the maximum penalty provided under the law of Oklahoma for extortion.

Arguments in the case were swirled by Roy Lewis, assistant county attorney, shortly before noon, and ended at 2 P.M. by Randall Pitman, county attorney. The jury was sent immediately into the jury room for deliberation.

With the verdict of the jury, one of the most sensational cases in the history of the county had ended. While Fauble was tried on the specific act of sending a threatening letter to J. Frank Buck, president of the Federal National Bank, demanding $17,000, evidence was brought out to show nine other wealthy Pottawatomie County men had received similar letters, with demands for money ranging from $7,000 to $30,000.

Men in Shawnee began receiving the letters during the past summer, but the climax came when six received a letter on October 6, telling them where to leave large sums of money. Detectives were hired and worked on the case for several days without obtaining any clues.

A week later, Fauble appeared in Wichita, KS, telling officers he had been kidnapped by gangsters to whom he had previously paid $5,000. He was returned to Shawnee and questioned by those who had received the letters. When his story sounded impossible, he was placed under arrest. He was first given a sanity hearing, but the county board held him sane. Six charges of extortion were filed against him.

In the trial that opened April 7, Fauble stuck to his same story about the alleged kidnapping, saying the men took him out of his store on east Main Street the night of October 12, and drove to Wichita with him. They made him jump off a bridge west of Wichita, but when the water proved shallow, called him back out and gave him a chance to run for his life. They fired two shots at him as he ran, according to his story.

Through a grilling cross examination, Fauble never altered his original story. He was evasive when questioned on other details about the kidnapping, which were not included in his first story. He could not tell which of the men demanded the money from him or when he had paid it to them, except the first and last of the six transactions.

John Levergood, attorney for Fauble, indicated he would appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

NEW CHARTER APPROVED BY GOVERNOR

Governor William J. Holloway signed the amendments to the city charter providing for a city manager form of government on April 18, 1930, after they had been approved by J. Berry King, attorney general. The amendments were voted on March 18 and submitted to the governor the next day. He delayed signing the charter until after the annual city election, and newly elected officers were installed.

A call for a primary election to be held May 20, was expected to be issued by Mayor Cliff L. Martin within a short time. Seven commissioners would be nominated. The people would then vote on commissioners, June 3.

Ray Evans, city attorney conferred with officials in the state attorney’s office on April 18, and Randall Cobb, assistant to the attorney general made an examination of all phases of the charter before it was submitted to the governor.

At the primary election, as many candidates as desired could enter the races, and the two receiving the highest number of votes would oppose each other in the general election. No candidate could have his name placed on the ballot as a candidate of a political party, as the voting would be held on a strictly non-partisan basis.

Seven commissioners would be elected. One from each ward in the city would be nominated and elected in his ward. One commissioner from the city at large would be elected from the city at large. Voters in one ward would not be permitted to vote on the commissioners from another ward.

As soon as the city commissioners took office, they would elect one of their members as mayor. The mayor would be an honorary position, having no executive duties, other than presiding over the meetings of the commissioners.

After the commissioners were installed in office, they would select a city manager, who would have complete charge of the administration of city affairs. The manager could select his own employees, subject to the approval of the commissioners.

As city commissioners would be elected June 3, they were expected to be installed in office and have the city manager form of government in operation by the latter part of June.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in the six-volume history of Shawnee, entitled “REDBUD CITY.” They could normally be purchased at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. However, due to the current health crisis in the United States, they are closed. If you cannot obtain a copy, you may call me at (918) 470-3728, and I will mail you a copy. The first three volumes are currently available, and hopefully, the fourth is coming out this fall. The price is $30 per volume. Because of the current closing of research centers, I am stuck at 1981 in volume four, (1970-89). However, I am currently working on Volume six, (2010-to the present) that I have access to online.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.