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The Redbud City: Football, courthouse and Depression

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
The 1930 edition of the Shawnee football team established themselves as one of the top teams in the state, finishing at (8-1) on the season. It also garnered Shawnee High School’s 100th victory in its history, raising its all-time mark to (100-86-19). Head Coach Ray LeCrone raised his three-year mark to (24-3-2). He was assisted by S.M. “Buddy” Wilcoxson.

WOLVES NOTCH 100TH VICTORY DURING SEASON

Faced with one of the hardest schedules in the state during the 1930 season, the Wolves took eight straight victories after an opening loss to finish (8-1) on the season. By the end of the campaign, they were considered as arguably the best team in the state.

The season opened with a trip to Chickasha, where the Wolves stumbled out of the blocks and could not get its offense going. This led to a 14-0 defeat. However, this proved to be the only setback on the campaign. Week Two saw Shawnee on the road again, this time traveling to Oklahoma City to take on the state-powerhouse Comets of Classen. In another tough defensive battle, the Wolves proved the best, winning a nail-biter, 13-7.

Week Three saw the locals playing their first home game of the season against another tough Oklahoma City team. This time it was Central. In a surprising early season dominant performance, the Wolves clearly outplayed the visitors in a 21-0 whitewash. Game four was at home also against the El Reno Indians. The Shawnee club clearly had momentum on the season with another impressive victory over the arch-rivals, by a score of 20-6.

The Wolves were quickly being noticed statewide in game five, after a 48-0 shellacking of the Capitol Hill Redskins of Oklahoma City at Hurt Field. The shutout football continued in game six against Guthrie in a “three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust” contest. The Wolves scored early and hung on for a 7-0 win.

In game seven, one of the Shawnee nemesis’ came to town. The Norman Tigers were always one of the state’s top teams. However, they were no match for the Wolves, being on the short end of a 34-7 stomping. Game eight sent the locals on the road to Tulsa. They would encounter what many believed the top team in the state with the Central Braves. It proved a defensive classic, with the Wolves stopping their opponent multiple times close to the goal and squeezing out a close victory over the Braves, 7-6.

Coach Ray LeCrone’s squad could claim a conference title with a win at home against what was always considered as a tough opponent in the Bristow Red Pirates. This time, that did not prove so, as the Wolves ran past their opponents with ease, on the way to their eighth straight victory by a score of 48-0. This victory was the 100th in Wolves football history.

This gave Shawnee a claim as one of the top teams in the state. There were no official state playoffs until after World War II. Most teams just worked out arrangements for a possible title game. For this season, the coach decided that the team would not continue with any post-season play. The team finished (8-1) and raised its all-time mark to (100-86-19). Coach Ray LeCrone raised his impressive three-year record to an impressive (24-3-2).

Edgar Skelton, the husky tackle on the Wolves’ line, led the charge, opening holes all season for the backs. Although only a junior, he was proclaimed by the Daily Oklahoman as the “Player of the Year” in Oklahoma. Halfback Frank Whaley was named to the second-team All-State.

RALLY STAGED BY COMMITTEE ON COURTHOUSE

A rally of enthusiastic workers in support of the county seat being moved to Shawnee met in the civic club room of the Aldridge Hotel on the night of December 2, 1930. The rally was to organize volunteer workers to go into every community in the county, gathering support for the coming plebiscite on the matter. The room was crowded with enthusiastic workers who volunteered their services.

Peyton Jennings, president of the Chamber of Commerce, oversaw the meeting. W.L. Chapman made the first talk, in which he stressed the need of work to be done in Shawnee. He said the rural communities were in good shape, except in isolated parts of the south end of the county. He said it would be necessary for every qualified voter in Shawnee to vote if the county seat was to be moved. Over the county, Chapman said, enthusiasm was growing in favor of Shawnee and was getting stronger. He suggested that Shawnee could easily win the election on December 17, if the residents of the city would only work.

Chapman pointed out that Shawnee was entitled to the county seat because of its size and population, along with its taxable valuation. He said if the residents of the city had the same desire to move the county seat as Tecumseh had to keep it, that the county seat would be moved by noon on election day. Civic loyalty was necessary for Shawnee to win the election. He explained that between 10,000 and 11,000 voters lived in Shawnee and it was their duty to get out and vote.

He said with the positive vote, the Superior Court could be abolished. If additional courts were needed to handle the court cases, an additional judge could be assigned to the county for the district judge. He noted that many counties in the state operated that way.

Charlie C. Hawk called for volunteer workers to canvass each precinct in the city and to call on persons who were known to be opposed to moving the county seat to Shawnee. He said the committee had a list of about 800 persons who were thought to be against Shawnee, and an attempt would be made to have them change their attitude.

FEDERAL NATIONAL BANK TO FEED FAMILIES IN NEED

Food for needy families in Shawnee was provided by the Federal National Bank. The announcement was made public by president J. Frank Buck on December 8, 1930, following the prediction that the city’s unemployment problem could be solved “in less than 48 hours.” This idea was expressed by Ford C. Harper, manager of the Chamber of Commerce, and T.E. Thompson, city manager.

Buck’s announcement followed visits to several destitute homes during the day. He stated that the bank would provide all the goods necessary for these families until Christmas on the report and recommendation of the charitable institutions of the city, aided in their investigation by a group of volunteer women.

The solution voiced by Harper was for the unemployed men, particularly heads of families, to be handled by Shawnee folk as individuals, bringing about immediate results and relief to the city’s 450 unemployed.

“If each of the men in Shawnee, who is able, would take over one unemployed man and provide work for him for the next several weeks,” said Harper, “it would restore confidence to these men out of work and bring to an immediate end the situation which has come out of the present business depression.”

(These stories appear in volume two (1930-49) of the six-volume history of Shawnee, entitled “REDBUD CITY.” The first three volumes, through 1969, are now available for purchase. They can be purchased for $30 each. Normally, they are available at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society, but it is temporarily closed for moving to the new facility. If you wish to purchase copies, call me at (918) 470-3728, and I will arrange to get you copies. Volume four, (1970-89) is back on course and should be available late in the year.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.