Bass Family Remembers Early Days in Caddo, by Maida Williams
(reprinted from the Bryan County Star, Thursday, November 30, 1972)
Henry Bass was in business in Caddo longer than any other man- from 1900 to 1966.
Mr. and Mrs. H. K. Bass, Henry’s parents, lived here in the 1880’s. Then they moved to California where they operated a dairy. Californians were curious about the cotton seed brought from Oklahoma to feed their cows, Henry Bass recalled in an interview.
In 1900 the Bass family returned to Caddo. Henry rode in a boxcar with the furniture on the return trip.
The three Bass brothers- Amos K., Ernest, and Henry, opened a grocery store.
Henry was then sixteen and it was his job to ride horseback up and down the streets every morning taking orders. An employee would deliver the groceries in a hack during the afternoon.
In 1916 Henry Bass and Miss Ruby Potts of Colbert were married.
Mrs. Bass recalled that when she came to live in Caddo ladies in hats and gloves made formal calls and left calling cards. Generally they walked because there was no great distance between homes.
After Amos K. and Ernest moved away from Caddo, Henry operated the grocery store. He also dealt in cotton and grain.
“There was a cotton gin at Wapanucka and ten to twelve thousand bales came from there,” Bass said.
Mud in the streets of Caddo made them almost impassable at times, and Henry took it upon himself to raise money to gravel the business section. The street had to be graded, and to provide for runoff for rain, the north side of the street was made higher than the south. Each merchant was asked to contribute $50. Gravel cost $7 a wagon load. The gravel was laid on four inches deep and Henry personally raked it over the street.
Henry always worked for the good of Caddo, though people seldom knew what he did, Mrs. Bass recalled. At one time the town was about to lose its bank, and Bass helped keep it open. He assisted a number of young men to get a start here, and during hard times could be counted on to help people by extending credit for food.
Henry Bass is the sole living charter member of the Lion’s Club. He has served as chairman of the school board, chairman of the Methodist Board of Stewards, and was vice precinct and director of the First State Bank of Caddo, predecessor of the Bryan County Bank. During the times when Bass was dealing in wholesale products, he advertised he would “buy anything, sell anything”. Some wag brought in a wagon load of bois d’arc apples. Henry bought them and dumped them out.
“Caddo was a center of culture when I went there,” Mrs. Bass related. “The Music Club and Literary Club were organized early in the century. They were very active. We also had lots of parties—lovely parties, comparable to those anywhere.
Once Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Manning had a house party for girls who came up for a big dance in the New Royal Hotel. The Mannings were chaperones for the dance and we all wore formal evening dress. Out-of-town orchestras were engaged for dances- from Sherman, Denison, or Dallas.
Part of the old Royal Hotel was an opera house. We had musical comedies, home talent plays, touring players and minstrels. Mrs. Bilbo directed our home talent productions.
Carrol Franks, son of a Caddo barber, had a wonderful tenor voice. He was very popular and sang at parties, minstrels, funerals- wherever he was asked. Later he joined the “Lasses White Minstrels” and traveled all over”, Mrs. Bass reported.
When Mr. and Mrs. H. K. Bass gave up their big house on Buffalo Street, the Henry Bass family remodeled it and moved in. Mrs. Bass was an ardent gardener and created such a beautiful garden that it was listed in the State Garden Club magazine as one of the outstanding small gardens in the state. The president of the State Garden Clubs came to see it, and there were other visitors from all over.
Mr. and Mrs. Bass were fond of entertaining and their garden was the setting for lovely parties. At night they often used Japanese lanterns or floodlight to enhance the scene.
For many years Mrs. Bass was organist at the Caddo Methodist church. She directed the first candlelight Christmas cantata presented by the combined Methodist and Baptist church choirs. “The Caddo Methodist church has a rich heritage,” the organist remarked. “Way back it was the biggest church in town.”
“Our most outstanding family Christmas was when our son Joe was seven and Frances, our daughter, was eleven” Mrs. Bass said as she showed old photographs. “Joe had been praying for a pony and Frances wanted a bicycle. One Christmas morning Joe’s Shetland pony was tied to a leg of my grand piano. Joe jumped into the saddle and rode right out of the house and down the front steps.”
“Many of our young people went on to finish college- a much larger percentage than in most small towns,” Mrs. Bass said.
There was practically no crime in Caddo in the early days. There weren’t any street lights either. Later on the Bass store was robbed a time or two.
Because there was no physician in Caddo and Henry Bass was in poor health, he and his wife moved to Sherman about five years ago.
In the Bass home are many paintings, a number of them pained by Mrs. Bass. While living in Caddo, she studied with Miss Laura Buchanan, who had moved to Durant from Dallas, to be near her nieces Misses Sally and Lucy Leonard. Miss Buchanan had won a number of medals for her paintings.
Mrs. Bass is now helping to establish the “Old Settler’s Village” at Loy Lake on the edge of Denison. The home of Mr. Bass’s grandmother, who came to Sherman soon after the Civil War, has been moved to the Village to be used as a museum. Some of the family heirlooms will one day be placed in the museum at Loy Lake, Mrs. Bass remarked. Among the many treasured heirlooms and antiques in the Bass home are a table brought over on the Mayflower and 20 apothecary bottles with the W.P. Wood label. Mr. Wood, Henry Bass’s uncle, had the first drug store in Caddo. Later it became the McIntosh Drug Store.