Soon after I moved to Decatur County in December 1958 I learned that there was a bakery in Westport, “just down the road,” that was the best that could be found anywhere.
A friend, Nancy Stevenson Young, took me to Westport to prove how good it was. The baked goods we got that day proved that it was, indeed, a mighty good bakery.
I hadn’t thought of that for years and then a young friend, David Alexander, brought me a memory book about Bewley’s Bakery that had been put together and memories written by one of the daughters. It was Anna Shireman, one of the three daughters of Lester and Stella, who put the memory book together. So now, years later, we are lucky to learn about this much loved Westport business.
It would be really fine if every family who owned a store in a small town would have one family member who would write about it.
The scrapbook shows and tells about the bakery’s history. It has some photos of the building and of some of the people in Westport. It states that Lester Bewley had a building built for the bakery in 1927. It was a combination building with the bakery on one side and the post office on the other.
The memory book has the following paragraph: “Carl Davis (contractor), Mathews (had the lumber yard), and Herbert Black (represented the Postal Dept. of the Government) came to Greensburg to see about building a building on the lot for the bakery and the Post Office to be on one side. Charlie Bishop made all the blocks for the building out of gravel from Sand Creek. Friend Knarr and father layered them. Carl Davis and others did the carpentry work. Jasper McCullough did the wiring and Wilmot Ricketts did the plumbing.” The shop is pictured in George Cann’s book and the memory book.
Now allow me to share something strange with you that I found in an old 1927 Greensburg Daily News. The headline read: “Rare ‘Ground Puppy’ found in Westport. Aug. 2, 1927. While excavating the site for the new Bewley’s Bakery, one of the workmen discovered a small ‘ground puppy.’ A Ground Puppy is a specie of the lizard which is very rare. The animal has been placed on exhibition in the window at the Reidenback Jewelry Store.” Maybe you know what a Ground Puppy is, but I sure didn’t and had to look it up. “...a soft skinned species that live under damp logs. Slimy, blue/white color, resembling lizards in shape, reputed to be poisonous.” I read where a man dried and powered a ground puppy and gave it to the horse of his enemy.
Back to the bakery, the first bread was baked in October 1927. Mr. Bewley got some equipment from a small shop in Milroy. The bread dough was cut, weighed and molded by hand and then put in the pan and baked in the oven. The bread was wrapped in wax paper, but it wasn’t sliced until later. The buns were kept in the pans after they were baked and then put in the show case.
As time went on and the bakery got more customers the building was enlarged and Owen Wiggens made cookies. The writer of the memory book wrote that while other kids loved the cookies, she would pick a bun and eat it without anything on it. She wrote, “In 1961, the last week the bakery ran, I ate a dozen buns every night before I went to bed with butter on them because I knew I would never taste any others like them again.”
During the depression Mr. Bewley got the bid to supply bread to the men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (C C Camps.) That kept the bakery open when people had so little money. The C C Camp program allowed single men between the ages of 18 and 25 to enlist in work programs to help improve public lands.