This summer I’m working on my new book, “Brick by Brick- The Building of Caddo, Oklahoma”. I know at first it sounds a bit strange for a genealogist to concern herself with things made of wood and brick, but the structures that housed our ancestors and enabled them to make a living didn’t spring up by themselves. Caddo was built with blood, sweat, and a lot of tears by people who would not give up their dreams, despite countless setbacks. And in the process of determining the location and history of as many buildings as possible I have already learned some fascinating facts about Caddo that escaped my notice over the past few years of researching families. (Please note: I am also working on the third in the “first families” series and plan to be finished by Heritage Day.)
Yesterday I went into town to get my mail and watched as an older couple from California took several photos of the downtown buildings. Tourists are astonished by the age of our old brick buildings. Returning residents are often surprised by which ones are gone and which are still standing. Some current residents like them, while others wish the town was more modern. What is truly amazing is that Caddo still exists at all!
In the course of my research I’ve discovered that much of Caddo’s downtown has actually burned to the ground at least three times! I knew about the major fire of 1900, but not some of the other fires. One of them destroyed eighteen buildings! Not only did businessmen quickly rebuild, but they learned some lessons from each fire and implemented changes that improved their chances of surviving the next one. The only thing that makes no sense at all to me is that they continued to build many structures with “common walls”.
And fires were not limited to the downtown block. Many old homes, gins, and other structures throughout Caddo are lost to history because of fires. At one time there were many more ornate homes along Buffalo Street than we see now. Even the old Choctaw Courthouse that graced Main Street was destroyed by fire in 1956. Which brings up another fascinating fact: most of the original businesses of Caddo were on Main Street, not Buffalo.
And did you know…
for years Caddo had a “negro church” and a “negro school”? They are actually listed that way on the old tax records.
Main Street was once part of the Jefferson Highway?
there was a skating rink in Caddo?
in 1900 many of the buildings on the north side of Buffalo were moved back so the street could be 100 feet wide?
at one time Caddo had a “tourist camp”.
I’m having a great time doing this research and I hope that everyone, especially the descendants of Caddo’s early businessmen and real estate tycoons, will enjoy the book when it is finished.