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A Busy Saturday in Durant

The caption of this photo, found at the Gateway to Oklahoma History, reads "This photograph of early-days Durant was taken soon after the turn of the century when farming in the area had become well defined, and a trip by wagon in to town on Saturdays for provisions was a major event for the farm families."

What does one do on a rainy Saturday? I find that living vicariously through one hundred year old photographs can while away the day very nicely.

This undated photograph, found at the Gateway to Oklahoma History, was featured in an article published by a newspaper in 1978. The caption explained that the image depicted a busy Saturday in Durant, Bryan County, Oklahoma, but no date or accurate location were given.

I thought I'd solve this undated location mystery, because what else was there to do!

Being the nosy person that I am, I first used clues found in the photo to estimate the date --- probably sometime in the late 1910s or during the 1920s, as a few automobiles can be seen. Then, I turned to the Sanborn Maps at the Library of Congress, where with the youngest map for Durant dates to 1918. I looked for a livery yard that would be close to the compresses that can be seen seen northeast of the wagons and found one between on the south side of West Evergreen Street.

The 1918 Sanborn Map of Durant, Bryan County, Oklahoma showed a livery yard on Evergreen Street but not a grocery store (LOC).

However, the 1918 Sanborn map did not feature McMaster's Grocery store, another prominent clue in the photo. So, I searched for "McMaster's Groceries" in the newspapers, and discovered that the store opened in June of 1921 at the corner of North First and Evergreen. Lastly, the 1918 Sanborn Map identified the large Victorian structure to the grocery's west across First Avenue as the Cottage Hotel, and a newspaper article from 1921 indicated that its owner, John Kirk, died two months after the grocery store opened.

The Cottage Hotel, located at "Evergreen Street and First avenue" according to a listing provided by the Durant Weekly News, served travelers to Durant from the late 19th century onward. The house, however, had to be rebuilt after a 1902 fire, and according to further newspaper research, the hotel remained open until at least 1926.

And that's how I make a rained-out Saturday less dull!

In 1911, the Cottage Hotel was owned by Mrs. Thomas, who charged $5 per week for room and board... that's about $166 in today's money.

McMasters Groceries opened in June, 1921.

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