Meet Chester Abrams
If you’ve read “A Cowboy’s Destiny,” you’ve met Chester Abrams. He helps Charlie and Susan create a line of department stores aimed at the middle or working class. I’m a proud native Oklahoman who considers Cushing my hometown. I am aware that Mr. C. R. Anthony, founder of Anthony’s, opened his first store in a very successful chain of dry goods department stores in Cushing in 1922. It seemed perfect to use Mr. Anthony as a model to create Chester. Let’s learn a little about C. R. Anthony.
Charles Ross Anthony was born on a tenant farm outside of Trenton, Tennessee, and orphaned at an early age. He left school to work and save enough money to come west to Indian Territory around 1895.
C. R. settled in Holdenville and worked in the local general store of E.J. Scales. He later attended Indianola Business College, graduated as valedictorian of his class, and then went to work for the Wewoka Trading Company.
Wewoka is where he met and married his wife, Lutie, in 1910. Following a move to Muskogee forced by the closing of the Wewoka Trading Company and a few false starts, C.R. knew his future would be returning to his first love – dry goods – and worked for the J.P. Martin Co. in Cleveland. During this time, C. R. met and eventually worked for J. C. Penney.
He and Lutie moved to Idaho with Penney but returned to Cleveland, Oklahoma, and the Martin Company. This led to him wanting to become a store owner. He opened his first C.R. Anthony department store in 1922 in Cushing, and hundreds of locations across the country followed.
Anthony focused his stores on supporting rural and small-town markets. In the Kelly Can Saga Series, Chester Abrams does the same. I write that Chester located the first Abrams store in Cushing, but the Abrams expansion will follow a different path than what C. R. did with his stores. Using real people as models is enjoyable, and it also guides me to be accurate as to what could have happened in the historical period the story is set. Chester and the Abrams Stores will be part of future stories/scenes as we follow Charlie and Susan through the years.