In 1965, two young women from Caddo drove to the once-flourishing town of Cade. One went to see the birthplace of her grandfather, Robert Lee Simmons. The other went along because she’d never heard of the little town located in the far northeastern corner of Bryan County.
What they found was still a community, but hardly the same one that in the late 1940s earned praise and prizes in the Rural Neighborhood Progress Contest sponsored by Farmer-Stockman and the Oklahoma A&M College extension services. Years later, they were not surprised when a Durant reporter explored the area and found nothing left except some cement foundations, a few steps and an overgrown cemetery.
Cade was an old community, named after territorial politician, Cassius M. Cade. Wilson N. Jones, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation (1890-94), lived on a large ranch three miles west of Cade, which had a post office from April 1903 to October 1915. It had the same potential as any other new town in the county.
There are lots of news items about Cade in the early newspapers. Each community in the county had a regular column in the paper announcing births, deaths, Sunday services, visits of friends and relatives.
You can read about John Wren, store owner, who accidentally killed himself in 1919. He was carrying the day’s receipts and a gun when he stumbled and fell, causing the pistol to fire. Or you can envision the huge Thanksgiving dinner shared at the Cade School house in 1928. That was also the day that Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Green welcomed an 8-pound baby girl to their home.
Miss Emogene Cole left Cade in 1932, when she married Johnny James and moved to Whitesand. In 1939, Mrs. E. E. Wilbanks and Mrs. H. St John were planning a presentation on "pattern alteration" for the Cade Home Demonstration Club. Cade School began the 1943 term with Mrs. Ocie Baker and Mrs. C. B. Ladd as teachers. Ladd was also chairman of the War Fund Committee in 1945.
All of the news items indicated an active community of hardworking residents. But it’s the contest reports of the ’40s that really emphasize Cade’s strengths:
After services, Mrs. B. F. Caldwell announced the contest to the members of her Sunday School class and they organized a committee to get started. She later reported "100% cooperation in this contest."
The goal for Cade’s improvement project was to "help farm girls and boys find happiness and contentment on the farm".
Cade formed a band with more than 30 members. Nine people learned to play the piano … in a year. Others played the guitar, mandolin and violin. The band performed for community events, church services, Oklahoma and Texas radio stations, and won recognition at the state fair. There were also vocal groups with members ranging in age from 7 to 70.
A fall harvest dinner fed over 200 people.
The First Baptist Church, which served as a multi-denominational church, was painted, papered and shingled.
The 4-H Club, Home Demonstration Club and Farmer’s Union participated in the contest.
Charles Robinson, principal, and Mrs. W. C. Grey, teacher, offered the full cooperation of the school. Cade had 33 grade-school students. High school students went to Matoy or Bennington.
Small projects - yard improvements, new mailboxes, guide posts – were completed by individuals and groups.
Perhaps the most impressive example of the "spirit" of this award-winning town can be found in the actions of Mrs. J. W. Hiser.
When she learned that her children were expected to perform in the band for a church program, she traveled three miles over the worst roads, in the rain, to make sure they attended. Conditions became so bad that she couldn’t go home, so she and her children slept in the church building. Rather than be upset, she told Mrs. Caldwell, "This contest has been worth more than money could buy me and my children."
Bryan County History is a weekly feature contributed by members of the Bryan County Genealogy Library and Archives in Calera. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group. Is there a historic event or topic you want to read about? Contact the library at P.O. Box 153, Calera, OK 74730.