Day Nineteen: Hillsboro to Temple, Texas

October 31, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Fri. Oct. 31.

Finished fixing the car then left Hillsboro and had 3 miles of mud.  Had to be pulled with a team for 1/2 mile, cash $10.00.  We drove through Abbott and ate dinner in West.  Had paved road to Lorena, 15 miles.  We drove through Waco, Lorena, Bruseville, Eddy and stayed all night in Troy. – Lena Bevers

To start out the day of October 31, 1919, the repairs to Mr. McElhany’s car had to be completed.  Florence Bevers wrote in her travel log: “Left Hillsboro and went out and finished Cornies car ….”1  Perhaps Mr. McElhany’s car had been left on the road the evening before, so in the morning they had to go back to where it was to finish working on it.  Florence’s notation using the name “Cornie” is a clue to what Mr. McElhany’s first name was.  Possibly it was a nickname for Cornelius or for Clarence (In The First 100 Years in Codington County, it states that a Clarence McElhany moved to Texas about the same time as the Bevers did.2)

When the car was fixed, Herbert and Mr. McElhany resumed driving, but their progress was impeded because the road was muddy for three miles.  The Bevers’ car got stuck in the mud, so a team of horses was hired to pull the car for half a mile.  It cost $10.00 cash to hire the team.  One of Lena and Herbert’s grandsons states that he was told the following about this experience: “The car that got towed into town … by horses was the Model A.  But it really wasn’t broke down after all.  They thought it had a broken axle but it was in the mud up to the hubs and the wheel was spinning in the air.  A costly mistake, $10 in those days would be like $150 now for the tow.”3

After they reached a better road, the two cars went through Abbott and then stopped in West where they ate dinner.  My mother and I got on the road about 10:00 AM today, using the frontage road that runs alongside Interstate 35.  We passed through Abbott and West within the hour.

Abbott Methodist Church, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The very small historical district of Abbott, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

In the running directions above, at mile 76.3 the town of West is listed, indicating that the train station is on the right.  When we drove around West, we found the station.

West Station, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
West, Texas historical buildings (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

When the Bevers family arrived in Waco, Texas they needed to cross the Brazos River.  The 1920 Waco City Map below shows the location of the bridge they crossed at Washington Avenue.  “Waco’s Historic Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi when it was completed in 1870. The bridge was built with cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.  Crucial to traders and travelers for well over a century, the bridge stands as an icon of Waco history….”5

From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19206

A postcard of the Suspension Bridge in Waco, Texas, dated 1912 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project7)
From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19208

Waco is a city with modern freeways, and we found a lot of construction going on.  My mother and I tried to follow Business U. S. Highway 77 into Waco, but we soon had difficulty identifying the route and we ended up passing the street that we wanted to take.  Eventually we found ourselves on a bridge crossing the Brazos River.  Due to lanes merging and stopped traffic, it took about 15 minutes to cross the bridge.  We had wanted to go to a park along the river before crossing the bridge where we could see the Suspension Bridge.  While we were sitting on the bridge in traffic, we saw another bridge to the west and thought it was the Suspension Bridge, so when we finally got over the bridge, we headed for a park on that side of the river to take pictures.  It wasn’t until we got to the motel that I realized that the bridge I took a picture of wasn’t the Suspension Bridge after all.

The bridge we used to cross the Brazos River; note the traffic is standing still. (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The bridge we thought was the Suspension Bridge, but is not. (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

A postcard of the Amicable Life Insurance Building dated 1913 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project9)
Amicable Life Insurance Building, Waco, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

The ALICO Building which was constructed from August 1910 to October 1911 claimed to be “the highest and most beautiful building in the south”; having twenty-two stories, the building was once the tallest in Texas and the tallest west of the Mississippi.10

We were happy to leave the traffic of Waco and head south again on the frontage road of Interstate 35 to stop at each of the towns that Lena mentioned in her travel log: Lorena, Bruceville, Eddy and Troy.  Bruceville and Eddy became one community in the mid-1970s and is now called Bruceville-Eddy.

Lorena, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Bruceville-Eddy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Bedichek Academy Bell was presented to the First Baptist Church of Eddy, Texas in 1912 (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Troy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The red building is dated about 1909; Troy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

The Bevers family ended their day in Troy.  When we were in Troy, there was no motel, so we decided to drive further south on Interstate 35 to Temple and stay in a motel there, arriving about 3:15 PM.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 4.
  2. “Robert Mc Elhany Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979, by Codington County History Book Committee (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Public Opinion Print, 1979): 261.
  3. D. L. Bevers, Herbert and Lena Bevers trip to Raymondville Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Lena Bevers, 1919] (Unpublished, n.d.): 4.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 649, 651, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  5. Texas Historical Commission, Waco: Waco Suspension Bridge, https://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/waco-suspension-bridge.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 650.
  7. Suspension Bridge, Waco, Texas (1912), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Waco/WacoSuspensionBridge1912.jpg.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 651.
  9. Amicable Life Insurance Building (1913), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Waco/WacoAmicableLifeInsBldg1913.jpg.
  10. John Troesser, Ten things you should know about the Alico Building of Waco, http://www.texasescapes.com/CentralTexasTownsNorth/WacoTexas/ALICO-Building-Texas-Skyscraper-Construction.htm.

Day Eighteen: Lancaster to Hillsboro, Texas

October 30, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Thurs. – Oct. 30.

Left Lancaster and had fine road for about 40 miles, and then we had rough roads.  Ate dinner in Hillsboro. Got 4 miles from town and a spring broke on McElhany’s car so we had to go back and stayed all night at Hillsboro. – Lena Bevers

My mother and I started our tour today in Lancaster, Texas, at the town’s lovely little town square.  In the center is the town well which is surrounded on four sides by small historic buildings.  A town clock and a walkway lined with trees invites shoppers to sit and rest awhile.

Town Well, Lancaster, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Lancaster, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
A plaque on the wall in the historic town square of Lancaster, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19201

From Lancaster, we set out on U. S. Highway 77 which approximately follows the route the Bevers family would have taken.  Florence recorded that they traveled through Red Oak, Waxahachie, Forreston, Italy and Milford on the way to Hillsboro.2  We stopped in Waxahachie, which is the county seat of Ellis county.  According to our AAA TourBook for Texas: “it is a town where the gingerbread of Victorian-era buildings sates even the most jaded architectural palate.  Twenty percent of the Texas buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are in Waxahachie.  The 1895 Ellis County Courthouse, one of the most photographed structures in the state, is a red sandstone and granite edifice decorated with ornate capitals, carved by expert Italian artisans.”3

Ellis County Courthouse, Waxahachie, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Memorial to honor those “who wore the gray” in the Civil War, Waxahachie, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Penn Building, Waxahachie, Texas, dated 1894 (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
A well-maintained building on a corner across from the Ellis County Courthouse, dated 1889 (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)

After leaving Waxahachie, we didn’t see anything notable in the small towns along U. S. Highway 77, except a few buildings in Forreston.

Forreston, Texas is nearly a ghost town, but the shop on the left still operates a few days a week. (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
One of the businesses still in operation in Forreston, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
“Downtown” Forreston, Texas; take note of the green sign to the right of the wood building (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)

Our next stop was in Hillsboro, Texas, where we found another outstanding courthouse.  It isn’t the same one that was standing when Lena and Herbert traveled through Hillsboro.  “Just over a century after Hill County’s grand 1890 courthouse opened, it burned to the ground. A 1993 fire gutted the modified Second Empire-style edifice designed by noted architect W. C. Dodson. With help from native son and music legend Willie Nelson, the county rebuilt the three-story courthouse topped by a seven-story clock tower. Today it’s the heart of a vibrant downtown with an 1870s rock saloon, a Renaissance-Revival library and reportedly the oldest pharmacy in Texas. Nearby neighborhoods of Queen Anne homes testify to the 19th-century prosperity of this cotton and railroading town.”4

Hillsboro, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Hillsboro, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Hill County Courthouse, Hillsboro, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
The bell damaged in the Hill County Courthouse fire (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)
Constitutional Bicentennial Monument, Hillsboro, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 30, 2019)

Once again Mr. McElhany’s car had trouble, Lena wrote that a spring broke when they were four miles south of Hillsboro.  They turned around and found a place to stay in Hillsboro, so that is where we stayed also.  We arrived at our motel at 1:30 PM, ate lunch near the motel, then went to the historic district to take pictures.  The weather was unusually cold today, with rain and wind.  It was unpleasant each time I got out of the car to take pictures, and to fill the car with gas – but the cold weather didn’t stop us from getting our favorite dessert this evening: ice cream.

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 656-57, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  2. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 4.
  3. American Automobile Association, AAA TourBook guide, Texas, (Heathrow, Florida: AAA Publishing, 2018)
  4. Texas Historical Commission, Hillsboro (2019), https://texaslakestrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/cities/hillsboro.

Day Seventeen: Denton to Lancaster, Texas

October 29, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Wed. – Oct. 29.

Left Denton and had fairly good roads to Fort Worth where we ate dinner.  Had paved road most all the way to Lancaster where we stayed over night. – Lena Bevers

On October 29, 1919 the Bevers family headed south from Denton to Fort Worth, Texas.  Florence wrote that they went through Roanoke on their way.1  When my mother and I started out from Denton, we entered the address of Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District in a navigation devise.  Soon we realized that the devise which directed us to take Interstate 35 was not taking us through Roanoke.  We reverted to using our sheet map so that the route we took would be more like the route that Herbert and Mr. McElhany took.  We found Roanoke’s Historic District to be very attractive.  In addition, a new city hall was completed just last February, which is architecturally as impressive as the government buildings of the late eighteen hundreds.

Roanoke, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
The new Roanoke City Hall was dedicated on March 2, 2019; designed to resemble a late 1800s courthouse, its estimated cost was $17,000,000.2 (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)

Following our drive through Roanoke, we resumed our drive to Fort Worth.  We decided to stop and look around the historic part of the city at the stockyards.  Fort Worth was a very large city one hundred years ago, with a population of about 94,500.3  It is impossible to know which streets the Bevers family used, so it is unknown whether they would have driven past the stockyards.  A highlight of our tour of that area was watching a genuine cattle drive.  The cattle drive is not long, but it’s quite impressive to watch those huge longhorns pass by.

(From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19204)
Main Street, looking north from 10th, Fort Worth, Texas in 1918 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project5)
Stock Yards and Packing Plants, Fort Worth, Texas (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project7)
(Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
(From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19208)

Lena mentions that they “had paved road most all the way to Lancaster.”  The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920 provided this information: “Good roads have been the hobby of the people of this vicinity and as a result one of the finest systems of public highways known has been extended all over northern Texas, with main roads leading to every other important city of Texas and the southwest.”9  Route 751 above is the route the Bevers family would have traveled from Fort Worth toward Dallas (although they didn’t go all the way into Dallas, they went to Lancaster, south of Dallas).  The highway running between these two cities was called the Bankhead Highway.

“This historic route, established in 1919 and considered the first paved transcontinental highway, connected Washington, D.C. with San Diego as part of the National Auto Trail system. The Texas segment was pieced together county by county, entering from the east at Texarkana swinging down to Dallas and making its way across Texas to exit at El Paso. Counties and towns competed heartily for the right to install the first paved automobile road and the economic boost that would arrive across those bricks and cement.”10

In the introduction to this route, there is a statement that they would be driving through “very pretty farming country.”11  Today when my mother and I drove this route, we only saw a very small section of farm land.  Nearly all of this area is suburban commercial businesses and shopping centers.  We also passed a metropolitan sports arena.

Arlington, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
Arlington, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
Grand Prairie, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)
Grand Prairie, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 29, 2019)

Two days prior to this one a hundred years ago, the two-car caravan stayed overnight in the town of Van Alstyne, which is north of Lancaster, on the north side of Dallas.  By traveling to Pilot Point, Denton and Fort Worth and then going to Lancaster, they added about 70 miles to their trip.  They could have driven directly south through Dallas to reach Lancaster.  It is not known why they didn’t choose to do that.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
  2. City of Roanoke, Texas, Groundbreaking Ceremony Announced for New Roanoke City Hall, https://roanoketexas.com/DocumentCenter/View/1455/City-Hall-Groundbreaking-Press-Release-32717?bidId=.
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 627, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 627.
  5. Main St, looking north from 10th, Fort Worth, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/FtWorth/FtWorthMainSt.jpg.
  6. Live stock exchange, Fort Worth (1918), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/FtWorth/FtWorthLiveStockExchange1918.jpg.
  7. Stock yards and packing plants, Fort Worth, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/FtWorth/FtWorthStockYards.jpg.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 629-30.
  9. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 628.
  10. Texas Historical Commission, Bankhead Highway, https://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-bankhead-highway.
  11. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 629.

Day Sixteen: Sherman to Denton, Texas

October 28, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Tues. Oct. 28.

Left Van Alstyne and had fairly good roads.  Ate dinner at Piolet Point.  Stayed all night at a Private House in Denton. – Lena Bevers

You know you are in Texas when your waffle is in the shape of the state. (Photograph by EJJ October 28, 2019)

After breakfast at the motel, my mother and I headed south from Sherman, Texas, on U. S. Highway 75 which roughly follows the course of the King of Trails Highway, starting at Atoka, Oklahoma.  When we got to Howe, we took a road that runs parallel to U. S. Highway 75 instead of driving on the freeway.  Shortly we came to Van Alstyne, the town where the Bevers family had stayed overnight the prior night a century ago.  The historic district is only a few streets and it is well-maintained.  I had been seeing signs in Oklahoma and Texas for “fried pies.”  There on an historic street was a shop selling fried pies, so I went inside to try out a couple pies.  I ordered a Cherry one and one called Sawdust, which had a filling of chocolate chips, pecans, coconut and graham cracker crumbs.  The crust on both was light and flaky, and the fillings were delicious.

Sawdust and Cherry Fried Pies (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
Van Alstyne, Texas; note the trolley tracks that are still in the street (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
The bank on the right and the building next to it are both dated 1890. (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
A striking mural on an historic building in Van Alstyne, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)

From Van Alstyne, Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany started driving west instead of south.  Florence Bevers states in her travel log: “Left Van Alstyne and had to leave our trail and go around bout way to Gunter, Tioga and ate dinner in Piolet Point.”1  No explanation is given by Lena nor Florence as to why they had to leave the King of Trails Highway.  The region they were traveling through is now called North Texas Horse Country due to the large horse ranches in the area.  It is promoted for its scenic drives.  The scenery for us as we drove by the ranches and farms was muted because of the low clouds and mist.

(Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
Pilot Point, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
Pilot Point, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
Long Horn Bull, Pilot Point, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)

Florence wrote: “There was a young fellow – his Mother and Sister from Nebraska with us all day and were going to stay with us till San Antonio but in the morning we lost them in Denton.”2  Possibly, they lost the young man’s car because the city was large, having a population of 7,626 in 1920.3  When the Bevers family entered Denton, they were driving on unpaved streets.  The first paved street in Denton was Hickory Street at the Courthouse Square, which wasn’t completed until 1920.4 

After eating a quick lunch in Pilot Point, we headed south on U. S. Highway 377 towards Denton.  The Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum has exhibits in the courthouse even though the historic building still holds county offices. We meandered through its halls and rooms, then took pictures around the square.  Lena says that they spent the night at a private home.  We ended our drive at a motel along Interstate 35 East at 3:00 PM.

Denton County Court House, Denton, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
From the third floor of the court house, looking up at the spiral staircase the goes to the top of the clock tower. (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
This antique bank safe was in the basement of the Denton County Court House (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
Opera House, dated 1901, Denton, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)
This mural covers two sides of this building in Denton, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 28, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
  2. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas: 3.
  3. Texas Almanac, City Population History from 1850-2000, https://texasalmanac.com/sites/default/files/images/CityPopHist%20web.pdf.
  4. City of Denton, History of Denton, https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/about-denton/history-of-denton.

Day Fifteen: Atoka, Oklahoma to Sherman, Texas

October 27, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Mon. – Oct. 27.

Left Caddo and had fine roads all the way.  Ate dinner in Denison while Mr. McElhany got his car fixed.  It would not run good.  Left there and drove to Van Alstyne where we stayed all nite. – Lena Bevers

After two and a half days of rainy and overcast skies, we started our journey today with sunshine and light breezes – a beautiful day for searching for landmarks of Herbert and Lena’s trip to Texas.  Our first stop was in Caddo, Oklahoma, where the Bevers family spent the previous night one hundred years ago. 

“Caddo’s druggist, William Frances Dodd was an ardent supporter of the [Jefferson] highway and worked diligently throughout the process of creating and building the road. He must have felt great pride and satisfaction when he saw its completion and watched people use it. Hundreds passed through Bryan County on ‘sociability runs’ and many stopped in Caddo to visit, give speeches, and spend money. Mr. Dodd and his lovely wife participated in several of the excursions, joining with friends here and continuing to New Orleans. He and his wife were well-known figures at meetings and conventions. Sadly, Mr. Dodd died suddenly in his pharmacy in 1924.”1

“As automobile ownership became more common, automobile associations, such as the Jefferson Highway Association, formed to promote automobile use and the needs of drivers for good roads.

“These associations organized and hosted sociability runs/tours, which were primarily taken to bring distant communities closer together. They also afforded auto owners an opportunity to drive to see what at that time were considered ‘novel’ places.

“Two notable social runs traversed the approximately 2,300-mile distance of the Jefferson Highway. The first occurred in July 1919. Participants traveled from New Orleans north to Winnipeg, Canada. The tour was organized by J. D. Clarkson, the general manager of the Jefferson Highway Association, and was called the “Palm to Pine Sociability Run” in honor of the designated starting and finishing points of the run. …

“… Communities along the touring route were urged to host celebrations in honor of the motorists. They were also encouraged to send motorists to meet the touring party before entering a community. Newspapers along the route featured stories about the tour and community events organized in their honor.”2

(Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Caddo, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
The Caddo National Bank building, second from the right in the photograph above, is dated 1913. (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Sunday morning in Caddo, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
The plaque on the tan building above.

In Florence Bevers’ travel log, she records that the two-car caravan went through Durant, Calera and Colbert on their way to Denison.3  When my mother and I left Caddo, we decided to follow the route that the locals take to Durant, Oklahoma.  Writing about the Jefferson Highway, Caddo’s city website states: “The ‘old highway’ is still a popular way for locals to travel to Durant and avoid the busier [U. S. Highway] 69/75.”4  On Google Maps, the road to which the Caddo city website refers is Caddo Highway or Old Highway 69.  (The original Oklahoma portion of U. S. Highway 69, which was given this numbered designation in 1925, was the Jefferson Highway.5)

Caddo Highway, formerly U. S. Highway 69 and formerly the Jefferson Highway (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)

The people of Durant are proud of their historical district.  We found several streets with well-maintained historical buildings.

This monument was “erected in honor of our gallant Confederate soldiers” in 1917. (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
The current Bryan County Court House was previously: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Oklahoma of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; building dated 1917. (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Original brick pavement in one of the historical streets of Durant (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Durant National Bank on the left is dated 1900-1916; on the side of the building on the right the painting reads, “We Love Downtown Durant.” (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Durant, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)

Below are the running directions of Route 721 in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, explaining the route to take from Durant, Oklahoma to Denison, Texas.  A few miles after Colbert, the automobiles had to cross the Red River on a toll bridge.6  This was the third toll bridge that they crossed.  The other bridges were at Omaha and La Platte, Nebraska.  The toll for this bridge was 25 cents per car.  The bridge is no longer in use.  We traveled on a modern bridge to the north of Carpenters Bluff Bridge.  Lena mentioned in her travel log that Mr. McElhany got his car fixed in Denison, Florence explained that the engine was not running right.  At the bottom of the running directions there are two garages noted.

Carpenters Bluff Bridge (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Looking down one lane of Carpenters Bluff Bridge, a horse and pedestrian lane is on the right, (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
Sgt. Anthony Simmons Veterans Memorial Bridge (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)

Upon entering Texas, the speed law was: “Reasonable and proper.  Public highways 25 miles per hour; in or near built-up sections, 18 miles per hour; business districts, 15 miles per hour.”7  When the Bevers family arrived in Denison, they had their dinner, so that is where we ate as well.  Many of the restaurants were closed because it is Sunday, but when we inquired about a restaurant at a gas station, a local resident directed us to a very nicely restored burger place.

State National Bank, Denison, Texas, 1919 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project10)
Main Street, looking west from Rusk, Denison, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
The National Bank of Denison, dated 1912 (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
A mural on the side of a building in Denison (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
A highly-recommended burger place where we ate lunch, Denison, Texas; note the original brick pavement. (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)
At the corner of Main Street and Houston Avenue, Denison, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 27, 2019)

At Denison, Jefferson Highway veered off to the south east, headed for New Orleans.  The King of Trails Highway continued south from Denison to Van Alstyne.  The Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany continued following the King of Trails Highway to Van Alstyne where they stayed the night.  My mother and I didn’t find a motel in Van Alstyne when we were using an online travel website, so we chose to stay in Sherman, Texas instead.

Notes:

  1. Town Restoration Association of Caddo, Jefferson Highway, http://www.caddo-ok-today.org/JeffersonHighway.
  2. Iowa Department of Transportation, History of the Interstate Trail, Jefferson Highway and Jefferson Association: 4, https://iowadot.gov/autotrails/history-of-the-jefferson-highway-4.
  3. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
  4. Town Restoration Association of Caddo, Jefferson Highway.
  5. Jonita Mullins, The drive is fine on Route 69, https://www.jeffersonhighwayinoklahoma.com/the-drive-is-fine-on-route-69.html.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 607, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  7. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 864.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 607.
  9. Main Street West from Rusk Avenue, Denison, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Dennison/denisonmainst80.jpg.
  10. State National Bank, Denison, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Dennison/DenisonStateNationalBank1919.jpg.

Day Fourteen: McAlester to Atoka, Oklahoma

October 26, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sun. – Oct. 26.

Left McAlester and drove through Brewer, Kiowa, Chockie, Flora, Stringtown, Atoka.  Stayed all night Caddo. – Lena Bevers

The drive for the Bevers family on October 26, 1919 was one of the shorter drives that they made up to that point.  Florence Bevers explains the reason: “Left McAlester and had terrible roads.  Broke a spring and had 2 blowouts, 2 [punctures] within one and one-half miles.  Got to town and put 2 new casings on and had no more trouble all the way.  Ate our dinner on the road side and had rough and muddy roads all the way.  McElhaney got stuck twice.  Stayed all night in Caddo and Pa got a new spring for the car and put it on.”1

Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany again used the King of Trails/Jefferson Highway.  They started in McAlester and traveled through several small towns.  Some of the towns are no longer in existence.  My mother and I could not find Brewer nor Chockie, and when we looked for Flora, we only saw a correctional facility.  At Kiowa and Stringtown we didn’t find any historical buildings.

Postcard of Choctaw Avenue, looking East, McAlester, Oklahoma, postmarked 19092 (Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound)
The McMurray Building in McAlester, Oklahoma is dated 1897. (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)
The McAlester Building is dated 1902. (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)
A mural in downtown McAlester (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)
Another mural on a street-side wall of a building in downtown McAlester has a 3-dimensional effect (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)

The running directions of Route 916 of The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920 mentions passing the court house in Atoka.3  Below is a picture of the Atoka County Court House, which was constructed in 1913.4  It was six years old when Lena and Herbert passed it.  This court house was used until 1962, so we did not see it when we drove down Court Street.5

Atoka County Courthouse, constructed 1913 (Courtesy of Atoka County Historical Society)
Court Street (Courtesy of Atoka County Historical Society)6
The Oklahoma Building in Atoka is dated 1909. (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)
Diagonally across the street from the Oklahoma Building is the Bank in Atoka, Oklahoma. (Photograph by MRW October 26, 2019)

My mother and I could not locate a motel in Caddo, Oklahoma when we were using an online travel website, so we made our reservation in Atoka instead.  We left McAlester at 11:00 AM and arrived in Atoka at 1:00 PM, so we decided to take a scenic drive on the Indian Nation Turnpike and returned to Atoka at 4:00 PM.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
  2. Choctaw Ave., looking East, McAlester, Okla. (1909), http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-postcards/oklahoma-postcards/OK-McAlester-Oklahoma-Choctaw-Avenue-Looking-East-vintage-postcard.html.
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 798, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  4. Atoka County Courthouse, https://www.atokaok.org/gallery.aspx?PID=141.
  5. The USGenWeb Project, Oklahoma Archives, Atoka County, http://www.usgwarchives.net/ok/atoka/atoka.html.
  6. Court Street, https://www.atokaok.org/gallery.aspx?PID=139.

Day Thirteen: Muskogee to McAlester, Oklahoma

October 25, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sat. – Oct. 25.

Left Muskogee, had fairly good road to Chekotah, ate dinner there and started out after dinner and had terrible road.  Stayed all nite in McAlester. – Lena Bevers

During the century since the Bevers family drove through Muskogee, Oklahoma, many of the buildings seen in the postcard below have been replaced.  But in the background on the left side of Broadway, there are two buildings that are still standing and can be seen in the photograph that I took today.  The most interesting building we saw was Grace Episcopal Church.  It was built in 1905 at 6th and Broadway, then in 1923 it was moved and enlarged at a site a couple blocks away.  The siding made of wood shingles was very attractive.

View of Broadway West from Second, Muskogee, Oklahoma, ca. 1915-1920 (Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound)1
Broadway West from Second Muskogee, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)
Grace Episcopal Church, Muskogee, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)
Throughout the city, there are painted guitars as reminders of the musical roots of Muskogee.(Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)

On October 25, 1919 the Bevers family started out following the King of Trails and Jefferson Highways. Referring to Route 916 in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, the road is described as mostly graded dirt, with a stretch of sandy road near the Canadian River and “some stretches of gravel where old RR grade has been utilized as highway.”2 Lena states that they “had fairly good road to Chekotah, ate dinner there.” To follow Herbert and Lena’s route today, we again headed south on U. S. Highway 69, a divided four-lane highway. At Checotah, we stopped for lunch and filled the car with gas. If the original King of Trails/Jefferson Highway was still in existence today, the following photograph shows what a driver would encounter when he reached about eight miles south of Checotah.

Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma (Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)

The Eufaula Dam was completed in 1964, creating a reservoir fed by the Canadian River and other rivers.  “The [Eufaula Dam] project was authorized by the 1946 River and Harbor Act. It was designed by the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and built under the Corps supervision at a cost of $121,735,000. Construction was started in December 1956 and was completed for flood control operation in February 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the project on September 25, 1964.”3

Eufaula Dam (Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)

(From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19204)

When arriving in Eufaula, a note in the running directions for Route 916 in the 1920 Blue Book state: “Make local inquiry regarding bridge over Canadian river and, if same is completed, use new highway going over same.”5  Lena and Herbert arrived at this point only a few months before this guide book was published, so they may have had to make this inquiry to determine how to cross the Canadian River.  If the bridge was not completed yet, a motorist following the 1920 Blue Book directions would find that about six miles further down the route he would need to cross the Canadian River on a ferry.  In fact, this is what Herbert and Lena did, for at the end of Lena’s journal, she makes a final comment, stating that they were “ferried across the Canadian river.”6  The charge for using the ferry was $1.00.7  Below is a picture of a ferry at Boonville, Missouri.  Herbert and Lena didn’t utilize this ferry, but this photo gives us an idea of what type of ferry they would have used.


Ferry across Missouri River at Boonville, Missouri, 1913 (Public Domain; Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration)8
The location of the ferry was at Wirth between Eufaula and Canadian. (Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound)9 

“When the Jefferson Highway was first located through Eufaula the only way of crossing the South Canadian River, about four miles below the town, was by means of a rather uncertain ferry, and the citizens of Eufaula, feeling the great need of a good bridge across the river, incorporated The Jefferson Highway Bridge Company, and at a cost of almost a quarter of a million dollars, built the present splendid structure of steel and concrete, forty feet above low water, affording a 365 day crossing throughout the year. Already the traffic over this bridge, which was opened for use April 21, 1920, bids fair to justify the large expenditure upon it and it is rapidly becoming one of the notable landmarks of the neighborhood.”10

The approximate site of the ferry crossing where Herbert and Lena’s family crossed the Canadian River, about 5.5 miles south of Eufaula near U. S. Highway 69. (Photograph by MRW October 25, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Broadway West from Second, Muskogee, Okla., ca. 1915-1920, http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-postcards/oklahoma-postcards/OK-Muskogee-Oklahoma-Broadway-West-From-Second-vintage-postcard.html.
  2. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 797, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  3. U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, History of Eufaula History, https://www.swt.usace.army.mil/Locations/Tulsa-District-Lakes/Oklahoma/Eufaula-Lake/History/.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 797-798.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 798.
  6. Lena Bevers, Our Trip to Texas (unpublished, 1919): 12.
  7. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 798.
  8. Ferry across Missouri River at Boonville, MO, 1913, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/trgal35.cfm.
  9. McIntosh County, Oklahoma 1922 Map, http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/maps/oklahoma-maps/ok-mcintosh-county-oklahoma-1922-map.html#.
  10. John D. Benedict, Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, vol. 1 (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922): 500, http://genealogytrails.com/oka/mcintosh/countyhistory.html.