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Business Firms of Wynnewood
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Please remember dates, names and locations could be in error but are correct to the best of our knowledge.
Since the history of Wynnewood, Indian Territory, seems to stem from the time the Gulf & Colorado Railway Company ran a line through here from Gainsville, Texas, to Purcell, Oklahoma, the first dates will show up at that time.
In 1887 there was a small settlement at a crossing on the Washita River about four miles North of the present town of Wynnewood. That settlement was where the stage coach line crossed the river and was known as Cherokee Crossing or Cherokee Town. Living in Cherokee Town was a family by the name of Walner. when the railroad came through Mr. John Walner and his wife decided it was time to move their family and belongings to a location on the railroad. As a result of their decision, John Walner was the first man to set up in business at Wynnewood station. By ox team, Mr. and Mrs. Walner moved a house and furniture, along with a small amount of merchandise to Wynnewood. Mr. Walner set up his store in a tent and opened the first grocery store in Wynnewood. Later Mr. Walner became a Deputy U.S. Marshall of the is area.
About the same time, others began to drift into this area and set up homes and places of business. In 1887 Andy Porter set up a grocery store at a location on Commercial Avenue. In that same year a lumber yard, known as the Abernathy Lumber Company, was established. Also, in that year another grocery store was started in a building on the south side of Main Street. This store was opened by J.C. Wilder. He later moved his store to various other locations in town.
In order to cater to the desire of the Frontier men to spruce up a bit, Billy Buster opened a barber shop. His location is not clear in the memory of those who remember him. They do remember that Billy was a small, energetic man who was always after business and to get it he was not above cutting his prices. He usually charges 10 cents for a shave and 15 cents for a hair cut. It was in this type of shop that men kept their private and personal shaving mugs.
As more people settled here more business ventures sprang up. Later in 1887, W.S. Swinford established a dry goods store on Commercial Avenue. The demand for entertainment was responsible for the opening of three saloons. In 1887, Bob Knox and Lem Rowe had a saloon and gambling house on Main Street near the railroad station. The establishment was housed in a two story building with the saloon and pool hall on the ground floor. The upstairs was given over to gambling and other forms of entertainment. Similar enterprises were operated by Charley Long and by Baldy White and Luke Thompson. The White Thompson Saloon was located two blocks south of the intersection of Main and Commercial.
In 1888, T.A. Taylor put in a dry goods store at the northeast corner of Main and Commercial. He had three sons and a daughter to help with the business. At this early date all the stores were housed in tents or plank buildings. In 1888, Ben Reagan put in a drug store where the State National Bank would later be located. In 1896, he replaced his wood building with he brick buildings that now stand there. The drug stores of that time were far different from those of today. The druggist was a combination pharmacist, doctor, and bootlegger. There were no cold drinks or ice cream. Just east of the old water tower location, Mr. Starr started a steam laundry in 1888. He operated the laundry till 1907 and then sold to his brother-in-law, Bill Arnold.
In 1890, Mr. George T. Prim came up from Sulphur Springs, Texas and put in a furniture store. A few years later, his brother, R.C. Prim joined him. That same year, J.W. Kemp and his father from Hot Springs, Arkansas, leased a lot from Mrs. R.W. Jennings and established one of the largest businesses of that time. They had a wagon yard, a feed store, a grocery, and a wood and coal yard. Also in 1890, two lumber yards were opened. Brock and Trudgeon set up in business and E.A. Butt from Texas put in his lumber yard. In 1891, Mr. Butt went to work for Jones and Richardson. Since the dry goods stores of that time did not carry ready made clothing for women in styles other than the most plain, Mrs. Sarah Rader started a dressmaking and millinery shop in 1890. She catered to the fond mothers of young ladies who wanted to be in style, both as to dress and hat. Each hat or dress was made and fit for each individual by hand. Much of the work was done at night under the light of a kerosene lamp. Several other firms were established that year. taylor & McMilliam started a hardware store. Mr. Taylor later moved to Madill. Two other businesses were the drug store opened by Dr. Dempsey and the Moore Hotel which upstairs over some shops on Commercial Avenue. Mr. Dempsey was not an M.D. but a pharmacist.
In 1891, J.W.W. Mitchell joined Mr. Mackey and established a general merchandise store. In a year or two Mr. Mackey left the firm and Ira Mitchell joined his father in the business known as Mitchell & Son. Within a few years they closed. Also in 1891, two new hotels were established. One known as the McMillian Hotel and another known as the Cook Hotel was located on the site of the Robberson Shirley Hospital. It was later known as the Burton Hotel. A third hotel known as the Burch, was located on the west side of the railroad about where Highway 77 is. This hotel was built by Mr. Avery. Mr. Avery was later killed by a train as he walked down the tracks in search of a calf. Jones and Richardson Lumber Company, for whom E.A. Butt worked, sold out to T.M. Richardson Lumber Company and at that time Mr. Butt moved to the Cherokee Strip. One of the first established meat markets was run by Mr. Gilpen in 1891. Mr. W.W. Deal, father of Frank and Mack Deal, worked for Mr. Gilpen. In 1900, Mr. Gilpen sold his meat market to Newt and John Lawrence.
By 1892, W.B. Crump and Company had moved from Tennessee and set up a general merchandise store. Mr. Crump, father of Earl and W.B. Jr., started his business about a block west of the corner of Main and Commercial but later moved to various other locations. Many young men of the town started their business activities with this store. Another Texas firm came to Wynnewood in 1892. A.L. and W.B. Cochran came in and started a dry goods store which was in operation for many years. The first real cafe in Wynnewood was operated by Ab Knighten at the back of a store on the southwest corner of Main and Commercial. The menu was not elaborate. Most of the food was fried. Several young boys worked as waiters and dishwashers for Mr. Knighten. E.J. Mitchell recalled washing dishes here on Saturdays for 50 cents a day. George T. Prim added an undertaking parlor to his list of business in 1892. It was located one block south of the corner of Main and Commercial.
In 1893, Stevens, Kennedy and Spragins built a brick building and put in a hardware business. Also in 1893, Mr. Morris opened a confectionery shop and M artin and Wimbray had a general merchandise store carrying dry goods, groceries and hardware. Mr. Martin died as a result of blood poisoning he contracted from a scratch on his hand while opening a keg of nails.
In 1894, two other businesses were established. T.E. Cate put in a drug store in various locations. He stayed in business for many years. His first store was known as the Post Office Drug Store. L.W.T.Robinson set up a barber shop. Mr. Robinson was considered a nice dresser and became quite prominent in Wynnewood.
A year later, in 1895, W.B. Crump moved his general merchandise store to its permanent location at the southeast corner of Main and Commercial. Two more business were established in 1895; M.L. Sells Grocery and A.J. Goff Grocery and Dry Goods. Mr. Goff had had his store about the middle of the block on Commercial Avenue south of Main. He and Mrs. Goff became permanent residents of Wynnewood and lived in town until their deaths. The year 1895 was a memorable one for Wynnewood as that year they got their first licensed undertaker and embalmer. Due to changes in the Territorial Laws under which Wynnewood was governed, an undertaker could not remain in business unless he had a licensed embalmer in attendance. Consequently, Mr. George T. Prim made the trop to Guthrie and learned embalming. 1895 also saw the formation of the formal cemetery for Wynnewood. Led by a committee composed of the Prim Brothers, the Cochran Brothers, J.W.W. Mitchell, Noah Lael and Perry Froman, lots were purchased and a cemetery was laid out. The committee arranged for those who did not have money to buy lots to borrow from the committee to do so.
During the next year, 1896, Wynnewood experienced its greatest growth in the business district. Charles Smith put in a grocery store in the middle of the block on the west side of the street, just south of the junction of Main and Commercial. Dr. A.J. Hoover and his brother, Dr. Henry Hoover, got into the drug business and remained in Wynnewood as druggists and doctors for many years. M.L. Mulkey entered the furniture business. His wife managed a boarding house on the same block as G.I. Whitaker's Blacksmith shop north of the Robberson Shirley Hosptial.. It was a two story house and was known as "The Mulkey House". That year J.W.W. Mitchell re-entered the grocery business. John Norman, George Norman and Ora Gullier established another barber shop were the present Eskridge Hotel is. In 1910, they closed up and John went to Oregon. George moved to Purcell and Ora went to Chickasha. At that time, R.C. and George Prim split up their business, with R.C. taking the furniture store and George keeping the undertaking and embalming business. John T. Pickins established a jewelry store. An opera house and ball room were built upstairs over the building on the southwest corner of Main and Commercial. Tom Cassidy started a cafe and later sold to Mr. C.C. Hibbert. Mr. Hibbert spend the rest of his life in Wynnewood.
In the year 1896, Richardson and Sorrel and South Texas Lumber Company set up Lumber Yards. W.F. Moore and T.P. Rollow opened a dry goods store in a brick building on the east side of Commercial. The first exclusive dry goods store was started by J.E. Garrett in a new brick building on the northwest corner of Main and Commercial. W.C. Bowling put in another cafe.
There was no regular bakery in Wynnewood in 1897, so Mrs. Wolfe decided to make a little extra money. On special order she would bake bread, cakes and pies for the discriminating people who were willing to pay. In 1897 Mr. C.C. Buchanon started his jewelry business in a small plank building at the northeast corner of Main and Commercial. He later changed locations several times.
In 1898 Mr. H.F. Hartley and Mr. J.T. Perry started a furniture store. Mr. Perry later bought out Mr. Hartley. Keswater & Franks opened a meat market in 1898. That winter was so cold for so long that Mr. Keswater and Mr. Franks went to the Washita River and cut ice off the river. They took the ice to their store where they dug a pit in the ground and lined it with sawdust. By putting a layer of ice and a layer of sawdust, then more ice and more sawdust, they managed to collect and keep enough ice to use the next summer. By this time businesses had begun to change hands more often and H.D. Knight and C.E. Cochran bought out the business of A.L. & W.B. Cochran. Later Jep and Robin Knight joined the firm and Mr. Kennedy left to manage a hardware store. Also in 18989 Mr. bill Collins built a Blacksmith Shop which he operated until his death in 1910. Mr. E.A. Butt returned from the Cherokee Strip Country and established the E.A. Butt Lumber Company again. The first real hotel was built. It was the Commercial Hotel built by Smith, Crump and Newcomb. The first operator was A.L. Moore. The hotel was later purchased by Mr. Jennie Dickson and finally burned to the ground in 1931.
In 1899, Mr. H.D. Knight and Mr. C.E. Kennedy started a hardware store. Mr. Knight retained his interest in another store while Mr. Kennedy managed this hardware store. That same year, Mr. Kincaid started a grocery store and Mr. George Black opened a jewelry store. G.I. Whitaker moved his blacksmith shop down the hill. Mr. McDaniel opened a blacksmith shop on the east edge of town.
By 1900 things were really humming. Mr. C.C. Hibbert installed a bakery in connection with a cafe he had bought from Tom Cassidy. The opera house moved to the upstairs in the half block brick buildings on the west side of Commercial, south of the intersection with Main. At that time arrangements were completed to provide a stage for an orchestra. Mr. E.L. Spencer established the first machine shop and later a garage for repairing the new gasoline buggies that were beginning to replace horses. Bell and Walker the building and hardware from Stevens, Kennedy and Spraggins. S.J. Kendall and his sons, Alf and Jack, had a grocery store. They featured canned goods, candy and glassware, mostly lamp and lantern globes.
In 1901 Shorty Buchanon and N.T. Walden put in a new barber shop with the latest equipment.
In 1902 Dr. Elly Cook and J.B. Jackson bought the cafe and bakery from Mr. C.C. Hibbert.
In 1903, H. S. Shackleford bought the drug store from Mr. Cate and named it the Crescent. Also in 1903, Mr. E. C. Lael bought the stock of Bell and Walker and moved to a building on Commercial. In 1910, Mr. Lael sold out to E. J. Mitchell and E. L Keys.
In 1904, Mr. E. L. Courtney came up from Denton, Texas and bought a barber shop with his brother, Will. He also bought the cafe and bakery that Dr. Elly Cook and J.B. Jackson had bought just two years earlier from C.C. Hibbert. H. S. Chard worked for Mr. Courtney and later bought the bakery. Mr. C. W. Henry established a tin shop in 1904 also.
In 1905, Mr. J. G. Perry bought the interest of Mr. H.F. Hartley in the business which had by that time extended into the plumbing as well as furniture business and took Mr. C. W. Henry as partner in the tin shop. Some time later they moved to a new location. Mr. Henry continued in this business until 1952. Also in 1905 Mr. White joined Mr. Prim the furniture and undertaking business.
In 1906, Mr. J. W. Kemp closed out his other business of wagon yard, feed store, etc., and started a grist mill. He operated that business until 1939. It was customary for every one to have corn ground into meal at a local grist mill, and as a usual thing instead of paying the miller in cash, the customers paid a toll or a certain part of his meal. Then customers who had no corn to grind could come and buy for cash from the miller.
In 1907, Statehood year, Mr. E. J. Wheeler bought the blacksmith business where he had been working, from Mr. G. I. Whitaker. He still operates that shop.
In 1908, E. J. Mitchell and Mack Deal bought the furniture and undertaking business from Prim and White.
In 1909, W.J. Courtney and Joseph Plaster bought the cafe from E. L. Courtney and H. A. Halford started a shoe repair shop.
In 1910, the Eskridge Hotel, a three story brick and concrete building, was erected by P. R. Eskridge. After fire destroyed the Commercial Hotel, Mrs. Jennie Dickson managed the Eskridge. she featured home cooked meals that attracted "Drummers", traveling men for years. Even after highways and motor cars surpassed the railroad as a means of transportation, the dining room at the Eskridge was widely known. Don Cochran operated a motion picture theater just west of the Eskridge Hotel that same year. It was later operated by Mr. Renfro from Marietta and Henry George of Wynnewood. The same year, Gip Secrest and H. D. Knight bought the furniture and undertaking business from E. J. Mitchell and Mack Deal.
In 1911, Frank Deal built and operated an air dome theater. An air dome was an open air movie house. Later Frank Deal built an indoor theater. Quite modern, the picture show was operated by having the picture projected onto the screen from back of the screen. Also in 1911 W. S. Strickland joined H. C. Chard in the operation of the bakery and W. M. Bolander opened his tin shop in the hardware store with E. C. Kennedy.
H. S. Shackleford set up a gasoline pump in front of the Crescent Drug Store and started selling gasoline in 1914. In the past gasoline had been sold in cans and barrels.
In 1918, Frank deal built another theater and put in the latest projection machinery and Arthur Cammack and L. L. Shirley rigged up an electric drive on a projecting machine. The older machines were turned by hand.
In 1922, W. M. Bolander opened the first regular filling and service station in Wynnewood and Ira Mitchell had the first tank truck for bulk delivery of gasoline.
The Wynnewood Pecan Company started in the home of J. A. Rollow in 1930, with one homemade cracker which was fed by hand. The company cracked about 200 pounds of pecans per day and five women picked the meats. The company increased in size and had four crackers which had automatic feeders on them. The machines were all made by the owners of the company. Finally it the company had 28 automatic crackers with shellers, blowers, suction fans, pickers, dryers and grading tables. Most of the plant was designed and made by Carl Rollow. Originally the meats were packaged in barrels containing approximately 175 pounds and shipped to Northern markets, later they were sealed in cellophane bags and distributed directly to grocery stores.
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