Today the Bama Cos. owns the entire block between South Columbia and Delaware avenues on East 11th Street.
Bama Pies employees in 1943 outside the company’s original pie plant at East 11th Street and South Delaware Avenue, where Paul and Lilah Marshall also lived. Today the Bama Cos. owns the entire block between South Columbia and Delaware avenues on East 11th Street. Bama operates three Tulsa locations.
Courtesy Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society
Sweet potato pies and hard work were the key ingredients to a bakery product empire born out of the Great Depression.
When Henry Marshall lost his job, he and his wife, Cornelia Alabama Marshall, sold their Winnsboro, Texas, farm and moved to Dallas. To help support their seven children, she baked her famous pies at a local drugstore. Realizing their potential for a greater profit, Henry began selling the pies door to door.
The couple’s son Paul and his wife, Lilah, took over their own branch of Bama Pie Co. when they moved to Tulsa in 1935. Paul propelled the company’s growth by developing small fried pies to sell to McDonalds Corp. beginning in the 1960s.
Since 1984, the founders’ granddaughter Paula Marshall has led the Bama Cos., which is now headquartered in Tulsa and has more than 1,000 employees on three continents.