The Caddo Herald
September 17, 1926
Devastating Fire Did Not Daunt Durant
By G. A. Crossett
The night of June 16th, 1901 more than 25 years ago, saw Durant’s business portion was almost wiped out by fire.
In those days Durant was not so large as now. There were not as many people- not as many houses. In fact only 2,500 people lived there, but the boosters then, as now, laid claim to many more.
Just a year previous to this another fire had wiped out another portion of town, so that there was not much left but hope and ruins and ashes.
But look at Durant today. Been so long since the city had a fire the children think the fire bell is a school bell.
The big fired stared in the building occupied by B. Schlosssburg, dry goods. It cleaned up everything between first and second avenues on the north side of Main Street. Only second street and the valiant work of the volunteer fire department saved the reminder of town as the wind was from the south, blowing steadily, though not a gale.
Some may be interested in the losers: Ritchey & Childers, a two story brick; V. L. Downing, grocery, grocery stock; W. P. Cole, groceries; Ross Bros., furniture; Horton & Collins, general merchandise; L. D. Horton, law library; J. W. Gallagher, drugs: B. Schlossberg, dry goods; Miss Staples, millinery; Crak Bros.; New York Racket Store; Fryar Bros., groceries; Miss Annie Blackburn, millinery; Nickel Store; O. L. Shannon, drugs; A. O. Norwood building; A. C. Risner, brick store; A. L. Douglas, house; Branchard Bros., fixtures, Gumm Bros. jewelry; Kimbriel’s drug store; B. C. Birchfield; R. C. Apple; Saul’s Livery Barn; Potts Wagon Yard; Blanton’s Blacksmith Shop; Dr. W. A. Horton, two brick buildings; H. L. Johnson, two brick stores; F. A. Walts, brick house; J. F. Thompson, office fixtures; R. E. Newell; Central Telephone office; Hatchett & Stone; T. B. Wilkins, B. S. Johnson, E. Schlegel; Sprowls & Bonner; Ed Morrison; Bon Ton Restaurant. The total loss was $150,000.
The announcement was that “before the smoke hardly cleared away, preparations to rebuild most of the burned district were made.”
An old fraud was perpetrated on the negroes at McAlester. A solution was old them at a dollar a bottle that was guaranteed to take the kinks out of their hare. Today some people are paying for permanent wave.
25 Years Ago
Other items taken from The Caddo Herald of that date are of interest:
Claremore was to get a cotton gin.
The Sterritt Institute had just closed a successful term.
Vinita had two daily newspapers. Both starved out.
A negro at Houston, at his own request, was given fifty years in the pen for theft to which he pleaded guilty.
The republicans were casting about for a candidate to succeed McKinley, who at that time had not been assassinated; Roosevelt was apparently their choice.
There were no state Normal Schools in those days, but at Jones Academy a summer Normal was conducted for each year under the direction of the supervisor of Schools. Calvin Ballard held that place then and in this school the neighborhood teachers got further instruction. Sam L. Morley was Superintendent of Armstrong Academy and Gabe Parker was teacher. An account of the closing exercises of this school for Indian orphans appears and is quite interesting. Schools were not so plentiful those days and if a fellow got an education he had to seek it.
The Atoka Baptist Academy had a successful year. Up to this time the main school dependence was the Missionary schools and these were too few.
An annual W. O. W. picnic was held at Bokchito June 13, 1901.
The little son of Mr. and Mrs. D. O. Baird was drowned while bathing in the Durant Oil Mill tank in Caddo. Several boys had been swimming and Walter got beyond his depth.
Amos K. Bass was advertising these prices: High patent flour, $1.00 per 100; 8 lbs. Arbuckle Coffee for $1.00; 6 plugs West Tennessee Tobacco for $1.00; 8 lbs. soda, 25c; 12 bars soap, 25c; Too bad he is not in the grocery business now.
Levine’s store in Durant was advertising good thread 2 1/2c per spool; men’s and boy’s straw hats 10c; best grade cotton checks 4c; good calico 3c; men’s summer underwear 20c; men’s summer underwear 20c suit. People did not get as good wages those days as now. But their money went farther. Ladies hose sold for 5c pair; lawns were 3c yard; good shirtings at 3c; brown domestic 4c; oil cloth 12c; good work shirts 25c; men’s good dress shoes $1; dress gingham 5c. Dress goods were cheaper than now, but it required more cloth to make a dress. Ladies then for an average dress had to get ten yards of goods. Now some of these dresses don’t look to contain more than one yard.
D. C. McCurtain was appointed delegate to Washington by Gov. Duke of the Choctaws, vice J. S. Standley of Atoka, who resigned because of ill health.
A Beaumont man named his daughters Kerosene and Napthaline. When they reached the proper ages it was unsafe for the flames of love to be kindled. No young sparks needed to come around.
The Dallas Commercial Club representatives came through Durant going north. On this train was a thing peculiarly attractive to Indian Territory people. It was a saloon bar in the baggage coach. The remainder of the train did not draw so much interest. Some citizens were so taken with it that they joined the Dallas Commercial Club and continued the trip.
Proclamation was made July 12, 1901 opening the Kiowa-Comanche country to settlement. It will be recalled that the claims were given by lot.
Hamer was advertising to sell new ___(?) farm wagons at $70.
The Herald at that time was admonishing the town to fix the roads in places. There was no provision whereby roads would be worked except by voluntary labor. No such thing as warning road hands. No county commissioner, no county taxes, no roads to speak of. Just voluntary work.
There has been a great change since then. We have good roads, good schools, good churches, good government. Statehood brought us a united effort. Previously only the public-spirited aided in public work. Now everyone must bear their share in public work. The railroads, gins, telephone lines, power companies, and such were excerpt from taxation. Now these aggregations of capital pay their just portion of the burdens of public good.
It is good for us to reflect on the past. Many are the lessons we learned and forgot. We owe much to those brave spirits who wrought an empire from a wilderness.