The Redbud City: Many changes in Shawnee at the end of 1938

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
By the end of 1938, the Shawnee Police Department had proven themselves worthy of the task of keeping the citizens of the city protected from the criminal element. FRONT ROW (from left): Earnest Coleman, motorcycle officer; Chief of Police F.A. Budd; Sam Martin, assistant chief; Jack Cook, captain; Leo Timmons and King Faucette, plainclothesmen; Leonard Mayberry, radio technician; and C.D. Yates, motorcycle officer. SECOND ROW: Jason Varnell and C.L. Crittenden, desk sergeants; Bill Sullivan, Bill Holt, and Harve Tolson, patrolmen. THIRD ROW: A.I. Brown, merchant police; L.M. Lamb, C.D. Farrall, and Bill Jones, patrolmen. BACK ROW: C.W. Wheaton, C. Roberts, Walter Burger, and Paul Fruit, patrolmen. This photo was taken January 8, 1939.


By a vote of 351-2, members of the Citizen Band of the Potawatomi Indians approved the adoption of a constitution under the provision of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act on Monday, Dec. 12, 1938.

The vote of the Potawatomi in approving organization under the welfare act made adoption unanimous for the five tribes under the jurisdiction of the Shawnee Indian agency. A week earlier, the constitution adoption was approved by a vote of the members of the Absentee Shawnee tribe.

The welfare act was sponsored through Congress more than two years earlier by Senator Elmer Thomas and Congressman Will Rogers and provided for organization of all Oklahoma Indian tribes into a business corporation for handling all tribal affairs.

A year earlier, the first election held under the Thomas-Rogers bill was by members of the Sac & Fox tribe, followed by a heated campaign against the organization. Shortly afterward, the constitution was adopted by the Kickapoo and Iowa tribes. The three tribes were now operating under the constitution.

A meeting was held in less than a month of the Potawatomi tribe to perfect its business committee for operation under the new constitution.


Formal dedication of the NYA girls training center building in Boy Scout Park, which was completed several months earlier, was perfected on Wednesday afternoon of Dec. 14, 1938. Civic leaders and federal officials took part in the ceremony.

Principal speech at the dedication was delivered by Congressman Lyle Boren, while H.T. Riddle, president of the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, acted as master of ceremonies. The program consisted of talks from Mayor E.C. Stanard and T.E. Thompson, city manager. Charles E. Bowlby, district Rotary governor, and former president of the Shawnee Rotary Club, also was on the speaking program.


Solution of a 30-year-old civic project, the opening of 10th Street across the Santa Fe Railroad, was near on Thursday, Dec. 15, 1938. Officials of the railroad granted the city a strip of land 80 feet wide and 1,200 feet long to be used for the street crossing. Gift of the land from the railroad followed closely action taken by the city commission in a resolution instructing the city attorney to start condemnation proceedings to obtain the right-of-way for opening 10th Street.

Announcement of the gift of land to the city was made following a conference between T.E. Thompson, city manager, and P. O’Sullivan, Santa Fe division superintendent at Arkansas City, Kansas. The railway company, in addition to granting the land, would plane between the rails, and change any switches necessary to maintain the grade crossing.

It was estimated that about $12,000 would be necessary for the city to bridge the creek and construct approaches for the grade crossing. The 10th Street crossing provided a third traffic outlet from the Shawnee business district to the east side of the city. In the past, only crossings were at Main and Highland streets.

Land for the right-of-way was given to the Santa Fe when the line was built through Shawnee in 1902. In a few years, the rapid growth of the city caused leaders to consider a 10th Street crossing. Many administrations attempted to obtain the crossing, with an overpass or an underpass being considered. The grade crossing, which was installed shortly afterward, was a temporary solution of the problem. It was expected that an overpass was needed.

H.D. Troop, fifth ward commissioner, took an active part in promoting the opening of the 10th Street since he took office the previous spring.


Resignation of R.J. Kingsley as managing editor of the News and Star and the appointment of Tom Steed, former managing editor, to head the editorial department was announced on Saturday, Dec. 17, 1938. The move was to be perfected on Jan. 1. Kingsley, who came to Shawnee in May of 1930, as telegraph editor of the Star, was leaving the organization with the intention of purchasing a newspaper in the immediate future.

The retiring editor of the News-Star was a graduate of the Missouri University school of journalism and prior to coming to Shawnee to help launch the Star in 1930, was employed in editorial departments of dailies at Muskogee, Ponca City, Pawhuska, Blackwell, and Arkansas City. He was with the publishers of the News-Star for 13 years.

Steed, one of the best-known newspaper men in Oklahoma, was returning to the editorial desk he left in 1932, to take over editorship of the Shawnee Times Record. He first went to Washington on Jan. 1, 1935, as secretary to Congressman P.L. Gassaway. He returned to the capital for the next term of congress as secretary to Congressman R.P. Hill of Oklahoma City in January of 1937. Following the death of Mr. Hill in October of 1937, he became secretary to Gomer Smith, who was elected to fill Hill’s unexpired term.

For a year prior to going to Washington, Steed served as assistant Pottawatomie County administrator of the Civil Works Administration and of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. His newspaper career dated back to 1920, when he was employed by the Ada Evening News after having spent two years as apprentice in print shops in Konawa and Ada. Later, he worked on editorial staffs of the Daily Oklahoman, the Bartlesville Examiner, the McAlester News-Capital, and the Shawnee News. He first joined the Shawnee News in 1927, rising to the managing editorship before he resigned in 1932. Ten years later, beginning in 1949, he would begin his tenure in the U.S. Congress for the area that would last until 1981.

These stories all appear, along with hundreds of others, in the six-volume history of the City of Shawnee. The first four volumes, through 1989, are now available for purchase at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. You may order them online at their website, or by calling (405) 275-8412. Each volume is $35, but a purchase of two or more volumes can be obtained at $30 each. We are offering a special deal. If you purchase any other volume, you may obtain Volume One (1830-1929) for just $20. Volume five, (1990-2009) is coming in the late spring. Volume six, (2010-2021) should follow quickly in the fall.