Whenever local historians and genealogists begin looking into the history of Baldwyn and its people, they typically choose as a starting point a book written in 1987 by the late Simon Spight called “The Way We Were – A History of the Town of Baldwyn.” Simon’s information referencing the buildings and locations that existed at the time of his writing is somewhat dated now, with so many significant changes having occurred in Baldwyn over the almost 40 years since the work was originally published. It seems a worthy task to now attempt an update in this space, over the next couple weeks, to what was “current” in Baldwyn back when Simon put pen to paper in ’87.
This week, we’ll see what Simon said about Baldwyn’s founding, its first people and buildings.
Presented below are excerpts (with slight revisions for context) from “The Way We Were,” pages 14 through 17.
Original Town Layout. The first information I came across in reference to the new town of Baldwyn is from June 17, 1857, two entries from the diary of Carroll E. W. Milton. They read as follows:
“June 17, 1857. A town in prospective, existing only in the imagination just now. Just what it will be eventually, can’t say. Probably, yes, could be a considerable place, circumstances favoring, and [they] are favorable, I think. But time will show it.”
“August 1860. Our merchants and others have commenced building at our new town on the railroad to be in readiness for the arrival of the Iron Horse which is expected to be there about the first of November. The great day will come that I so earnestly prayed for in days gone by, but which I fear [I] shall not be as well prepared to meet as I should have liked.”
In The Beginning. The first store to be built in what is now Baldwyn was built be a man named Andy Mannin. He cleared away a small space on the wooded hill and built the first store at a location that would have been directly behind where Kirk Hardware and the Lu-Ru Flower Shop stand today, not up on the crest of the hill where stores exist today. The timbers used for erecting this building were cut from the south part of the hill where the old Home Hotel was eventually built. The logs were so huge that it only took six to eight of the timbers split to form one wall of the store building.
The second building was a log blacksmith shop built by Isom Wallace near or practically on the spot where Houston Drug Store now stands. The first real frame house or building was a two-story building that was hauled in sections from Marietta by wagon. It was disassembled in Marietta and hauled in and erected where the old Cox Building now stands (Raymond Hill Furniture and Appliance). This building was erected in 1859 and occupied by Squire Oliver. Col. Robert Lowrey and Zebedee Williams also built store buildings there before the Civil War. The population in 1890 was 500.
Carrollville migrated to the rsailroad when it came through in its present location. It was the year 1860 (November) that the first train came to Baldwyn. Many people from Carrollville and the surrounding area came into town to see the big Iron Monster.
The first train turned around here (the engine). A turntable was located where the old Davis Saw Mill used to be, back behind the old oil mill building or what most of us would remember as the old Outlaw Gin building.
Later on, the business section started building up in the hollow where the Home Hotel and other buildings were eventually built overlooking the railroad.
The old Phillips Supply building (Buster McElroy and Company) was built in 1904. One or two people that remember stated that more brick layers worked on this particular building than any other one of the store buildings in town. Mr. Steed also laid brick on this building.
The first brick store building erected in Baldwyn was the old Baldwyn Dry Goods building (for some of you youngsters, this is the corner building now operated by Randy DeVaughn and known as DeVaughn’s on Main on top of the hill.
Of all the businesses Simon Spight mentioned in his comparison of the founding buildings to the 1987-current buildings, only Houston Drug Store (Houston Discount Pharmacy) remains in business. Just the one.
Next week, we’ll re-locate for our readers, in present-day Baldwyn, Kirk Hardware, Lu-Ru Flower Shop, Davis Saw Mill, Home Hotel, Outlaw Gin, Phillips Supply, The Cox Building., Baldwyn Dry Goods, and the rest of the old spots Simon pointed out in his 1987 survey of historic Baldwyn … for some of you youngsters.
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