Day Two: Madison to Sioux Falls, S. D.

October 14, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Tuesday – Oct. 14.

Left Colton about 9 A. M.  Drove through Lyons.  Got about 10 miles and Mr. McElhany broke the crank shaft on his car and Pa pulled him into Hartford, 1 1/2 mi. while the rest of us walked in, with Mud all the way, Ate dinner at Hartford at 1. P. M. and we took in the town while the men fixed the car.  Left Hartford at 4 P. M.  Had 5 miles of mud and the rest was gravel road.  Had supper in Sioux Falls and stayed all nite.  Visited Carl Dellman. – Lena Bevers

On the 1925 Custer Battlefield map which we began following yesterday, the Meridian Highway turns west at Madison and then south towards Yankton, South Dakota and Lincoln, Nebraska.  Herbert and Lena did not follow that route, instead they headed for Sioux Falls using roads that are not marked on the Custer Battlefield map.  Just two weeks ago, my mother learned that Herbert and Lena’s daughter Florence wrote a travel log also.  It is very similar to Lena’s log, but it does give additional details.  Florence recorded that they went through Wentworth on their way to Colton.1  When we left Madison today at 10:00 AM, we took county roads to Wentworth, Colton, Lyons and Hartford.  All were macadam roads and the snow had melted so the driving was fine.

Wentworth is about half the size of Arlington and didn’t take much time to drive around in it.  Colton was larger and seemed to be a center of business for farmers.  Lyons was smaller than Wentworth and just seemed to be a stop for a railroad.  All three of these towns were beside the same railroad track.

The Wentworth City Office (Photograph by MRW October 14, 2019)
A bell from the Wentworth Public School that was built in 1908 (Photograph by MRW October 14, 2019)
Although this service station may not be 100 years old and therefore may not have been standing in Colton when Herbert and Lena passed through …
… if these gas pumps are authentic, they are probably between 90 and 110 years old.2

In Lena’s travel log, this is the first of many days on which she mentions Mr. McElhany.  She always uses the name, Mr. McElhany.  So, who is Mr. McElhany?  I have uncovered a couple possibilities.  In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879 – 1979 there is a biographical article entitled, “Robert Mc Elhany Family”.  The article says the following about two of Robert McElhany’s sons:

“Robert never married and homesteaded southwest of Florence.  He lived in Watertown some of the time and moved to Texas in 1918.

“Clarence married Myrtle St. Clair.  They had no children.  They lived on a farm near his brothers until he moved to Texas in 1918.”3

Perhaps one of these men is the driver Lena calls Mr. McElhany.  If so, the date of his move to Texas would actually have been 1919 instead of 1918 as recorded in the article.

About 10 miles after passing through Lyons, Mr. McElhany broke the crankshaft of his car and had to be pulled one and a half miles into Hartford by “Pa” (Herbert).  Lena wrote that “the rest of us walked in, with mud all the way” — that would have been herself and six of her ten children: five-year-old Margaret, seven-year-old Harold, 10-year-old Estella, 12-year-old Hazel, 14-year-old Helen and 16-year-old Florence.  According to one of Lena’s grandsons, it did not include Willis who was 18 years-old, because he was traveling to Texas on a train with the family’s cattle and horses.4  And according to another grandson of Lena, it also did not include Arthur because he was also on the train with the livestock.5  (Arthur had married Gladys Daily just four months before his parents’ departure to Texas.)  It also didn’t include Edgar because he was in the military and was not discharged until October 20th, a week after his parents left Watertown.6   Nor did it include Clarence, he had married in 1917 and was listed in the Watertown City Directory for 1919-1920, working as a repairman at Auto Radiator Service Co.7 (It is not known if Mr. McElhany had any passengers with him.)

My mother and I traveled to Hartford on asphalt county roads.  Upon arriving there, we found that over the last several decades the residential district has expanded about a mile from the center of town.  The population is now about 2,500.  After driving through the old business district, we found a city park where we ate our picnic lunch.  Then we took Highway 38 toward Sioux Falls.   

West Side Main Street, Hartford, South Dakota (Courtesy of the City of Hartford)8
The date on this building is 1902, so it was standing here when Herbert and Lena were here.

After Mr. McElhany’s car was fixed in Hartford, they headed down muddy roads and gravel roads until they reached the city of Sioux Falls.  The last thing Lena notes for this day is that they visited Carl Dellman.  Carl was the son of Lena’s cousin Kate (Katherine Huppler Dellman).  When the 1920 U. S. Census was taken on January 5th (2 1/2 months after Lena’s family visited him), Carl was living at 1428 Main Avenue in Sioux Falls, he was married to Amber L. Best and had three daughters, ages 6, 4 and 2 1/2, and he was the proprietor of a radiator shop.9  He apparently had not been living in Sioux Falls very long, because the 1919 Watertown City Directory has a listing for him, living in Watertown and he was one of three owners of Auto Radiator Service Co.10  This is the same auto repair shop where Lena’s son Clarence was working.

The census taker who visited Carl also visited a neighborhood “N. E. of the penitentiary.”  Referring to a map of Sioux Falls published in 1917 in the Official Automobile Blue Book, I have concluded that his home was on North Main Avenue rather than South Main Avenue.11

We arrived at the Dellman house about 1:00 PM, so we had all afternoon to take in some sights in Sioux Falls.  Not far from the Dellman home is Falls Park, where we rode in an elevator to the top of a lookout tower to view the falls of the Big Sioux River.  We also went downtown and walked along three blocks between 9th and 12th Streets, viewing numerous sculptures that are displayed on the sidewalks.  After going through a car wash, we arrived at the motel at 3:30 PM.

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Photographed by MRW October 14, 2019)
My mother’s favorite sculpture, titled “Under Construction”: beavers and heron made of knives, forks and spoons. (Photographed by EJJ October 14, 2019)
My favorite sculpture, titled Silver Belle (Photographed by MRW October 14, 2019)


  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 1.
  2. Visible gas pumps,
  3. “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.
  4. 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.
  5. C. M. Bevers, personal communication with M. R. Wilson (October 9, 2019).
  6. U. S. Veterans Bureau, Military Record of Edgar Alfred Bevers (1918-1919), (
  7. Hill, Harry L., ed. 1919, Watertown City and Codington County Directory 1919-1920 (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Printing and Binding Co.): 39.
  8. West Side Main Street, Hartford, S. D., date unknown. Owned by the City of Hartford, South Dakota.  Accessed April 30, 2020.
  9. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 September 2019), South Dakota > Minnehaha > Sioux Falls Ward 6 > ED 189 > image 4 of 9; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  10. Hill, Harry L., ed. 1919, Watertown City and Codington County Directory 1919-1920 (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Printing and Binding Co.): 33 & 64.
  11. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 953,

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