The Redbud City: It happened in March

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
Celebrants and onlookers crowded the downtown streets of Shawnee in March for the 1946 Redbud Day events and Band Festival. Jean Thomas of Seminole was selected as queen of the celebration.

1889 - Even though Shawnee was not part of the original land run in Oklahoma of 1889, it set the stage for the second, that would follow in just a couple of years. On February 27, 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.

Known as the Springer Amendment, this rider authorized settlement under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862, and it denied the original settlers their squatter’s rights. They were to be expelled and the lands were to be settled by a land run. The Act as amended was signed into law by President Cleveland on March 2, 1889. During his third week in office, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation on March 23, 1889 to settle the 1,887,796 acres.

1895 - On March 19, Tecumseh filed a bill of complaint, asking for a temporary injunction against the Choctaw, Oklahoma, & Gulf Railroad to stop building the railway through Shawnee, and it was granted almost immediately. The hearing was April 23, before District Judge Henry W. Scott. On May 1, the judge dissolved the injunction, and the case was appealed shortly after that.

The Choctaw workers continued to work on the line leading into Shawnee. Deputy marshals from Tecumseh swooped down on the railroad crews and arrested over 100 men.

By March of 1895, the people of Shawnee were feeling highly honored in the progress of their new town. Members of the school board were already making plans for the construction of a new school building. The plans were prepared by architect I.C. Rhoads and showed the building to be erected in Shawnee, known as District 98. It was expected to be “second to none” in the Territory.

100 Years Ago - Chairs were placed in aisles, stairways were used as seats, and the Sunday School rooms back of the pulpit were opened to accommodate the crowd, which thronged to hear the Rev. G.W. Truett on the evening of March 3, 1921, at the First Baptist Church. The famous preacher of the First Baptist Church of Dallas spoke in the interest of the follow-up campaign of the 75- million-dollar drive. The message brought by the speaker called the people to be world citizens and to launch a mammoth program for Christianity, which he said was the only physician able to heal the disaster of the nations.

Tecumseh and Shawnee were both ready and anxious to build a permanent road between the two cities. A meeting of the committees appointed by the commercial bodies of those communities was held at the rooms of the Shawnee Board of Commerce on the night of March 16, 1921.

Twelve men representing Tecumseh met with the Shawnee committee appointed to talk with them. M.M. Henderson of Tecumseh, who had been active in the matter, reported that he had interviewed the governor and he had informed him that the state and federal governments would match any amount raised by the two cities.

75 Years Ago - There were strings attached, but the city of Shawnee on Wednesday, March 20, 1946, was in full possession of a $4,500,000 Naval Airport, complete with $108,712,.77 worth of equipment and furnishings.

Acting for the city, Manager T.E. Thompson signed his name in full acceptance of the big port and the multitude of items stored there. Shortly thereafter, Lt. Col. C.O. McCraw, who had come to Shawnee as a representative of the commander of Naval Air Bases in the eighth Naval District, took off in his Beechcraft for New Orleans.

50 Years Ago - Meeting in a special session Monday night, March 8, 1971, the Shawnee Board of Education gave approval of preliminary architect plans for the new Shawnee High School. In a motion made by board member Wright Wiles, the board authorized Gene Cunningham, consulting architect, to finalize the building plans with the suggestions and adjustments made by administration officials. The revised, completed plans would be approved by the board later.

 25 Years Ago - The week was full of answered prayers for OBU’s men’s head basketball coach Bob Hoffman. The first answer came on Tuesday night, March 4, 1996, when 6’5” sophomore guard Clay Martin knocked down an off-balance jump shot at the buzzer, lifting the 15th-ranked Bison to an 82-80 victory over 6th-ranked Oklahoma City University Chiefs in the finals of the Sooner Athletic Conference post-season tournament at Oklahoma Christian University’s Eagles Nest. The win automatically qualified the Bison for the NAIA National Tournament in Tulsa the following Tuesday night.

10 Years Ago - City park employees removed the wading pool located north of the Shawnee Municipal swimming pool in March of 2011. The pool was donated to the children of Shawnee by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Reed in 1929.

Former Governor Brad Henry honored teachers while being honored by teachers at the Shawnee Educational Foundation banquet Tuesday night, March 8, 2011. Henry was inducted into the Shawnee Educational Foundation Hall of Fame on a night where grants were announced for local educators. Former First Lady Kim Henry gave the induction speech, where she boasted on the former governor’s accomplishments while in office.

Five Years Ago - On March 9, 2016, Bison 4 Equality, an on-campus movement, partnered with Soulforce for a national day of action which called on students, staff, faculty, and alumni at OBU to oppose OBU’s Title IX exemption.

Tristan Campbell, co-founder of Bison 4 Equality, said in a press release, “This exemption grants OBU the ‘right to discriminate’ against LGBTQ and transgender students in admission, retention, employment, housing, and other areas integral to a student’s health and education.”

One Year Ago - A massive comeback by the 13th-ranked El Reno Indians couldn’t shake the fourth-ranked Shawnee Wolves Saturday night, March 7, in the Class 5A area consolation finals at Norman North High School. But seven straight points, keyed by a pair of assists by Ka’Veon Sharp and one from Jaylon Orange, set the stage for a 61-56 victory as the (21-6) Wolves landed a berth in the Class 5A State Tournament.

The Sports World came to an abrupt halt. Postponements and cancellations due to the coronavirus threat forced the postponement of the State Basketball Tournaments, which were set to begin Thursday, March 12, and featured three area teams – the Shawnee Wolves in the Class 5A boys’ bracket, Dale Pirates in 2A boys and Dale Lady Pirates in 2A girls.

Oklahoma Baptist University’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Central Regional in Maryville, Missouri was cancelled Thursday afternoon after the Bison made it all the way to Wichita, Kansas before being informed of the announcement that all NCAA basketball tournaments for both men and women, at all levels were cancelled.

 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.