BRYAN COUNTY HISTORY: Baking bread…and so much more

Bryan County Genealogy Library

“Fresh Bread, crackers, and candies” Fresh Oysters at all hours of the day. Pigs feet, cider. Wedding cakes made to order. Tables supplied from the Denison markets. Meals 25 cents or five tickets for one dollar”. Caddo Bakery and Restaurant, Caddo Star, 1876

When we think of our ancestors sitting down to the dinner table, we usually envision a chicken killed that morning, some vegetables harvested from the garden, and a slice of homemade bread covered in fresh-churned butter. However, many Indian Territory settlers were from eastern cities where they were accustomed to letting someone else do their cooking and baking.

It’s evident from the early newspaper ads that there were plenty of capable bakers in I.T. George Gallie, Joseph Heydler, and M. A. Tisdell were some of Caddo’s earliest bakers. They baked bread and sold food, confections, and oysters. Oysters were very popular.

Caddo’s City Bakery was purchased in 1901 by A. C. Markham and J. F. Stephens. Also baking and delivering bread and cakes before statehood were G. W. Philips & Co., G. F. Hacker, and J. A. Page. In 1902 the Bon Ton Bakery asked customers: “Why cook your own fruit cake when you can get them already cooked at about the same price, without any trouble or work?”

Durant also had a “City Bakery”. In 1910 it was owned Puryear & Jones. One of their competitors was A. L. Lewis. Durant Bakery opened in 1912.

In addition to baked goods, Art Wright’s bakery in Caddo offered flour sacks for sale. These large cloth bags were used to make clothing, quilts, pillowcases, kitchen towels, etc.

In 1914 a “City Bakery” provided bread for Bennington and Hohn’s Bakery served the needs of Kenefic. Bread in Caddo was delivered to customers and grocers each day by the Steam Bakery. In 1919 Art Wright reminded those attending the annual Corn Carnival that he opened on Sunday from 6-9am and 5-7 pm.

By 1920 the City Bakery in Caddo advertised mail order delivery in “sanitary sealed containers”. Willhoite’s Bakery in Durant took out an ad explaining why bread was 10 cents a loaf: “95% of the bread is now delivered to a grocer or customer. That requires the extra expense of a “truck, wagon and team, and two deliverymen”.

Most early bakeries relied on bread as their main product, but they also baked cakes, pies, and pastries. In 1929 Vehle’s Bakery in Durant held an open house so “international food expert” Arthur A. Winters could demonstrate his latest cake creations. Otto Vehle assured customers he would keep the recipes and follow them precisely.

In 1936 the Sno-White Bakery at 118 W. Main in Durant advertised “light crust bread; baked in sight by men in white”. Willhoite’s Bakery became Denton Baking Co. and L. W. Cook, from New Orleans, became their expert baker.

Fire destroyed the Denton Bakery in January of 1943, but owners L. B. Abbott and Howard Holmes went back to work in their “new and remodeled” building by February 28. In August 1944 T. W. James, Durant grocer, purchased Denton’s Bakery.

Turner Baking- W. B. Turner, W. F. Turner, and Paul D. Turner- introduced Durant to “Toastmaster Bread”. In December of 1950 they served dinner to 100 people at their 2nd annual

Christmas party for Turner employees. It was held in the company garage where tables and chairs were set up and the celebration was lively.

Our ancestors would celebrate the variety of breads and other products still available to us in local bakeries. However, Mr. Willhoite might have difficulty explaining why a loaf of “artisan” bread costs $5-9.

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.