The Redbud City: It happened in Shawnee in late 1943

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
By 1943, the Shawnee Fire Department was a highly effective and impressive organization, saving lives and property in the city.


Clark Craig, owner of the City Ice Plant Company, was nominated by Rep. Lyle H. Boren for the office of Shawnee postmaster. This culminated a lengthy contest in which several local men sought the position. Boren revealed his nomination of Craig in a letter to the News-Star on Thursday, Sept. 16, 1943.

Craig led a field of applicants in a civil service test for the position several months earlier. He would succeed Kib Warren, longtime holder of the office. Boren’s recommendation of Craig was sent to the senate for confirmation and subsequently to the White House for President Roosevelt’s signature, if the senate approved. In most cases, it was simply a formality.


Looking older, but still “hale and hearty,” Jim Thorpe, Pottawatomie County’s famed Native American athlete, made a brief visit to Shawnee on Saturday, Sept. 18, 1943, to see relatives and friends. The big Sac & Fox Tribe member, who was known as the greatest all-around athlete of all time, declared he was extremely happy to be back in Oklahoma and in the area.

Thorpe stopped at the Shawnee Indian Agency to make arrangements for the schooling of his four sons. Phillip, 16, would be entering the 11th grade at the Chilocco Indian Training School. The three younger boys would start on Monday at the Pawnee Indian School, with William, 14, in the eighth grade, Jim Jr., 11, in the fifth grade, and Carl, 7, ready for the first grade.

Thorpe accompanied his sons to Pawnee, and went on with Phillip to Chilocco, where he planned to spend Saturday night. On Sunday he returned to Tulsa, where he entered defense work. He was formerly employed in Detroit, Michigan.


The body of an unidentified man, about 70 years old, was found hanging from a tree west of town, near the Rock Island tracks about noon on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 1943. Sheriff Terry Owens and Deputy Jim Hibbard went to the scene. They found the man had apparently hanged himself with a new piece of cotton rope. He was believed to have been dead since early that morning.

The body was seen by a fireman on the Rock Island train No. 111, going to Oklahoma City, from where he telephoned the sheriff. The only clue to the man’s identity was two ration books found in his pocket, bearing the first and middle names Frank Benjamin. The last name was marked out.

The No. 1 book was issued in Texas and the No. 2 book in Walden, Colorado. An attempt was made to erase the names. He was surmised to be a transient. The body was held at the Roesch Brothers Funeral Home, pending identification.


Six Army B-20s from the Enid Army Flying School, accompanied by an AT-19 Army plane, highlighted dedication ceremonies for Shawnee’s No. 2 municipal airport on Sunday, Oct. 3, 1943. A crowd of more than 4,000 viewed the acrobatics and took part in the celebration.

Major Moss Patterson, commanding officer of the state civil air patrol, talked on activities of the CAP and Park Wyatt, local attorney, delivered the dedication address. State patrol cars, city police, Sheriff Terry Owens, and members of his staff, along with shore patrolmen and military police, patrolled the grounds. Registration of visiting CAP members from all over the state was handled by the Business and Professional Women’s Club. Major W.C. Lindsay, of the air cadet examining board at Oklahoma City, explained the work of his office and the aviation cadet recruiting program.

Local and visiting CAP planes took part in spot-landing, searching mission and fake bombing flights. During flag raising ceremonies, the Shawnee High School band, under the direction of Paul Boone, offered musical selections.


Area families, brought closer than ever to Christmas and what it stood for in 1943, were celebrating on Christmas Day with a deeper knowledge and appreciation than before. It was reported that 1,801 white men and 68 Black men were inducted from the local draft board and were serving their country.

The white men inducted from the area to date totaled 1,241, and 560 others enlisted in the armed forces. Sixty-one Black men were inducted and seven enlisted with total registrants 18 to 38 years of age currently listed with the board of 4,606. Men 38 to 45 years old registered locally totaled 1,589.

Ninety-nine men were accepted for service in the past two months, or since induction of pre-war fathers began. About 80 of the number were fathers of one or more children before war was declared. However, the local draft board did not meet the October draft quota that called for 62 men to be sent for examinations and induction.

According to the latest selective service regulations enacted by Congress, non-fathers in all instances were to be inducted by the armed forces before fathers. However, local draft officials explained that would not affect January calls already issued by county draft board No. 1, located in Shawnee.

Local draft board members were Leonard Carey, chairman, H.F. Potts, and Vernon Hawk. Glen Leslie served as appeal agent for local registrants. Charles Hickok was chief clerk for the board. Other clerks included Mrs. Daisy Lane, Mrs. Grace Edwards, and Virgie Whitely.

Letters from local men now in the service all over the world were read and answered by the clerks of the board who became friends of the servicemen through selective service work. Often a serviceman might receive a box of homemade cookies, cake, candy, or other homelike gifts prepared after working hours by a sympathetic woman draft board clerk.

These stories appear in Volume Two (1930-49) of the history of the City of Shawnee. All six volumes, from 1830 to June of 2021, 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. The six volumes contain approximately three million words and more than 1,000 pictures. Each volume is indexed with people and businesses, making it easy to find a person or entity in that volume.