Durant Weekly News
September 4, 1936
Forty Years Ago
Forty years ago Thursday, a 19 year old gangling Jewish boy with a small grip got off the train at Atoka. It was a hot dry day and they were needing rain as we were needing it Thursday.
J. T. Cline, who now lives at 7th and Liveoak Streets in Durant, was running the Bates Hotel in Atoka and in those days it was the custom for hotel managers to meet all trains with horse drawn busses to pick up their guests. It ws Mr. Cline who picked up this boy and he stayed a while at Atoka as that particular train did not stop at Caddo, and later on caught another train for Caddo.
The next man he met was C. H. McPherren and then he met others and those hardy pioneers of the old days made him feel welcome at Caddo. That boy was Ben Siegel. That boy got together a goods box and a few articles of merchandise and began doing business. As time passed Ben Siegel acquired more merchandise and more customers and still more merchandise and still more customers until finally he had the best store in Caddo, Indian Territory and was doing a land office business. Ben really started on a shoe string. His mother had died in St. Louis and left a $500 life insurance policy and left Ben with five sisters and a father to support.
Just why he picked Caddo is not revealed since Ben came from St. Louis, Missouri, but any way he picked Caddo.
Ben spent part of this $500 insuring his life in favor of his sisters for $1,000, and with the rest of it started in business, for $500 really was a shoe string, even in those days, with which to open up a general store.
There are many people in Bryan County, particularly near Caddo, who have traded with Ben Siegel all these years. The News in former editions in previous years has carried lists of names of people who have been trading with Ben for forty years.
In the second decade of this century, Ben, with others, was able to see that the hard roads and the automobiles were going to make the big towns bigger and the small towns smaller, so in 1925 Ben moved to Durant and installed his present excellent store in his own building Main Street.
In 1901 Ben took time out to go back to St. Louis where he was married to Miss Fannie Lasos. To this couple were born two children, Allen and Pauline. Pauline is now the wife of Mr. Sidney Siegal, who came here from Dallas to marry his bride, and Ben and his son Allen, and his son-in-law, Sidney, are working together in what Ben is pleased to call Durant’s only 100% home grown, home owned institution.
Note: I am currently working on a book about Ben Siegel. If you have any information about any member of his family I would appreciate hearing from you.
Second photo is L.N. and Maurine Craighead.