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.

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