The Redbud City: The Redbud City of Oklahoma

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
Redbud trees adorned many areas in the city in the 1940s. The state legislature designated Shawnee as the “Redbud City of Oklahoma” in 1941.

“RED BUD” BILL FOR SHAWNEE GIVEN STATE SENATE APPROVAL

The House willing, Shawnee hereafter would be known as the “Red Bud City” of Oklahoma. For after flowery oratory, trimmed with a few slightly aromatic quips, the Senate passed a resolution by Senator Mead Norton of Shawnee, so designating the Pottawatomie County seat on Jan. 14, 1941. Sponsor Norton offered as one argument for passage of the resolution this statement: “My district doesn’t have much in the way of a senator, and you ought to do a little something for it.”

Senator Joe Thompson of Ardmore objected to the resolution on the grounds that in the heart of the Arbuckles, there was more red bud “than in all of Pottawatomie County.” Senator Virgil Stokes of Marietta wanted consideration postponed because “I’ve been besieged by groups who want to share in the designation.”

Throwing up his hands in resignation, it became apparent that the resolution was about to pass, and Thompson invited Norton to “get your garden club and bring them to Sulphur and we’ll be glad to show you some red bud.”

A.J. CAMMACK MEETS HIS MAKER

A.J. Cammack, 74, prominent pioneer resident of Shawnee, died at 10:25 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, 1941, in his home at 1022 N. Broadway. Cammack had lived in Shawnee since 1906, coming from Pensacola, Florida, and was the last surviving member of one of the most distinguished French Creole families of New Orleans.

Cammack grew up in New Orleans, where his father was a cotton commission merchant. He attended Tulane University when that school had only three professors. He left school to begin work and afterwards was a conductor on the L&N Railroad. He and his wife became residents of Shawnee partially because of a yellow fever scare in the south, and partially because of a glowing pamphlet setting forth the advantages of living in the Indian Territory.

The Cammacks were forced to leave their home at Pensacola, temporarily because of a raging yellow fever epidemic. He happened to be on a Tennessee train one day when a friend gave him a pamphlet setting forth the advantages of Indian Territory. It led him to settle in Shawnee with his wife in 1906.

He engaged for a time in the insurance business, then was owner of the old Cozy Theater, and later was in the loan business. He retired from active business in 1920. Since that time, the Cammacks traveled in all parts of the United States, Canada, and Cuba.

He was a member of the Episcopal Church, the Rotary Club, a life member of the Shawnee Lodge No. 107, and S.M. commandery No. 36 of the Knights of Templar, a life member of the Elks, a life member of India Temple of the Shrine in Oklahoma City, and a member of the Indian Consistory No. 2 at McAlester.

Funeral services were held in the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, with Rev. A.H. Beardsley officiating. Burial was at Fairview Cemetery. Later, a street in the northeast part of the city was named in his honor.

MAIN STREET CHEERS AS 42 LEAVE FOR ARMY

Spontaneous cheers from downtown shoppers greeted 42 men from Pottawatomie County draft district No. 1 as they marched down Main Street late Wednesday morning, Jan. 29, 1941. They were leaving by train for examination and induction into the army at Oklahoma City.

All of the 42 men originally called for the quota, except one from Asher, was expected to go with a later quota, and left on the noon train for Oklahoma City. The Asher boy was replaced by Otis Bachuss of Shawnee, who was the first alternate on the list. Herschall Kenneth Wolfe was called late Tuesday by the draft board as an additional alternate. However, all the alternates were dismissed after the men reported at the courthouse.

Harold Cagle, OBU graduate and former Olympic runner, was placed in charge of the men for their trip to Oklahoma City. Melvin Bryan Igleheart, No. 1 draftee, was named as his assistant. The men had lunch, paid for by Uncle Sam, at the City Café before catching the train.

At Oklahoma City, they were given the rigid army physical examination. All who passed would be sent immediately to camp for their one year of service.

LECRONE APPLIES FOR OU POST

Word was circulated in Shawnee in early February that high school football coach Ray LeCrone had applied for the vacant head coaching post at Oklahoma University. LeCrone had become a legendary coach in Oklahoma high school football because of his amazing record since his hiring in 1928.

He insinuated that he didn’t expect to get the head job, but by putting his name out there, he hoped to maybe land an assistant’s position. Within a few days, however, OU trustees named Dewey “Snorter” Luster as the new head coach to replace Tom Stidham. Lawrence “Jap” Haskell was named as the new athletic director at OU.

GARDEN AND CIVIC CLUBS STAGE FIRST “REDBUD DAY”

Shawnee was flooded with the color of red on Thursday, April 10, 1941. The women of the Garden Club and all other growers of redbud trees in the city cooperated with the Chamber of Commerce and civic clubs in observing the inaugural “Gala Redbud Day.” Red tags and red placards were distributed throughout the city, starting at 9 a.m. Every person who had planted a redbud tree was requested to tie a tag to it.

The larger spots of redbud plantings were marked with large red placards and pointed out in other ways. The tags were distributed by the city’s Camp Fire girls from 9 until noon. The celebration of “Gala Redbud Day was climaxed that afternoon at two o’clock with a tour of the city’s redbud areas. Free transportation for everyone wishing to make the tour was available at the Chamber of Commerce office.

The tour started at the Aldridge Hotel, and included a visit to the city parks and the plantings along Highway 270. The redbud boosters proposed to make it into a “redbud lane.”

The observance of the day in honor of the redbud was another step in the Garden Club’s efforts to make Shawnee noted for its redbud trees. Shawnee was already designated as the “Redbud City of Oklahoma” by the state legislature. However, Murray County was designated by a similar act of the legislature as the state redbud center.

An annual observance of “Gala Redbud Day” was slated to come on the second Thursday of April each year.

These stories all appear 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. They are now open, and you may visit them, or 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 May or June. Volume six, (2010-2021) should follow quickly in the fall.