About Pawnee


A Chronological Retelling of The Events That Shaped Our Town

May, 1817: Rev. Luther Howell of Terre Haute plants first flag in Wamapoke soil, claiming it as white, Christian territory. Consecrates First Lutheran Church.

June, 1817: The Native American Wamapoke Tribe expresses confusion over Rev. Howell’s actions, pointing out that they had lived here for hundreds of years. Rev. Howell listens intently.

June, 1817: The Wamapoke Indians are politely asked to leave Pawnee.

July, 1817: Wamapoke Indians forcibly removed.

1817: Pawnee incorporated as a town; second and third Lutheran churches founded.

1818: First mayor, Charlton Sharpspeed, takes the oath of office.

1818: Mayor Sharpspeed resigns due to corruption/sex scandal.

1849: Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth Lutheran Churches founded.

1860: Pawnee’s first schoolhouse built. This one-room school boasted two teachers, and taught children aged 3 to 35.

1883: Mayor Everett Falwell resigns due to corruption/sex scandal. Replaced by Pawnee’s first non-Lutheran mayor, Charles Calloway.

1883: Mayor Calloway resigns due to corruption scandal.

1906 – 1923: Pawnee’s Fire Period

1906: Boone Bread Factory Fire

1910: Great Pawnee Fire of 1910

1911: Pawnee Downs, used for horse races and cock fights, burns to the ground.

1914 – 17: The Terrible Three Year Fire Of Pawnee

1919: First firehouse, ironically, burned to the ground.

1922: June 8: In what became the most famous of Pawnee’s fires, the Pawnee Bread Factory burns to the ground. Thanks to the heroic actions of then-mayor Walter Percy, the secret recipe for Pawnee Pumpernickel is saved, and that delicious treat is still made today! (Also, 33 people perish in the fire. We honor their memories.)

1922: Suspected arsonist Arthur Dansbury-Witt convicted of forty counts of arson, sentenced to immolation in a public square. Thousands cheer at his burning, which is held in the center of Ramsett Park. Fire used to execute Dansbury-Witt spreads to newly-rebuilt Pawnee Downs, burns it to the ground.

1923: Pawnee schoolhouse burns to the ground, spreads rapidly to newly-rebuilt Pawnee Downs and most of the west side of the city. This is Pawnee’s largest fire to date, and clears Dansbury-Witt’s good name.

1924: Re-sodding of entire city; end of Fire Period.

1926: Local lady anaesthesiologist and recluse, Agnes Porter accidentally invents trans fats while mixing chemicals in her basement laboratory. Aggie becomes the “toast” of the town – and her products are spreadable on “toast!”

1945: End of World War II

1990: Pawnee makes national Top 100 Cities lists, selected as “#76 Best Place To Own A Horse,” and “#4 Most Obese City.”

1998: Local actress Vivica B. Fox, star of a Wendy’s commercial, returns triumphantly to Pawnee to take the lead in Pawnee’s Summerstage production of “Our Town,” which plays to mixed reviews.

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