Day Nine: Atchison to Kansas City, Kansas

October 21, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Tues. – Oct. 21.

Left Horton about 8:30 A. M.  Had dinner in Atchison.  Had to stay about 4 hours while we got our car fixed.  Left there about 4:30 P. M. and drove until 8 o’clock.  Had supper and stayed all nite in Kansas City, Kan. – Lena Bevers

When Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany got on the road on October 21, 1919, they started out from Horton, Kansas at 8:30 AM.  Horton is 12 miles south of Hiawatha and about five miles west of Everest.  The town cannot be found on the running directions below because Horton is west of the route described below.  Starting at mile 18.1 we can follow the route that the two cars probably took to get to Kansas City, Kansas.  Florence Bevers wrote in her travel log that they drove through Everest, Huron, Lancaster, Shannon, Leavenworth, Lansing, Wallula and Piper.1  The introduction to Route 101 in The Official Automobile Blue Book states that this route is a section of the King of Trails – confirmation that Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany were driving on the King of Trails.2

A section of a 1924 Rand-McNally map showing a route from Horton to Kansas City, Kansas.3

When the two cars arrived in Atchison, Herbert had to get their car fixed which took about four hours.  In Florence’s travel log, she states “they fixed the timer on our car.”4  In the above extract from the 1920 Blue Book, there is an advertisement for a garage.5  Maybe this is where the work was done on the Bevers’ car.  When Florence wrote “timer,” perhaps she was referring to the odometer, which would have been very important for keeping abreast of the distance traveled, if they were following running directions, such as those in the 1920 Blue Book

In the description of Atchison above, at the end of the article it mentions the “splendid” public buildings: a $125,000 Atchison County Court House and a $100,000 U. S. Post Office.6  When my mother and I left our motel, we drove around the city to see some of the sights.  We went to the courthouse, the post office, the river front and the pedestrian mall.  I needed to mail a letter so I went inside the post office to buy envelopes and stamps.  The lobby had beautiful woodwork.

Atchison County Court House (Photograph by MRW October 21, 2019)
In 1869, Abraham Lincoln gave an address near the corner of 5th Street and Parallel Street in Atchison, Kansas (Photograph by MRW October 21, 2019)
U. S. Post Office, Atchison, Kansas (Photograph by MRW October 21, 2019)
Interior of the U. S. Post Office, Atchison, Kansas (Photograph by MRW October 21, 2019)
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas. A bronze statue of her stands in the middle of the pedestrian mall of Commercial Street, Atchison, Kansas. Around the base of the statue are the words: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” (Photograph by MRW October 21, 2019)
Commercial Street, Atchison, Kansas, about 19107 (Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound)

After our tour of Atchison, we headed south on U. S. Highway 73 which closely follows the King of Trails route.  At mile 66.9 in the Route 101 running directions above, it tells the driver to pass a federal prison on the left.8  When we reached the point on U. S. Highway 73 where it seemed the prison should be, we searched the landscape for a building that looked like a prison.  Finally, as we came over a hill, there on the left was a huge building.  It was the U. S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, a very impressive building.  A sign in front of the grounds declared that photos were not to be taken, so I cannot post any pictures.  Construction of the building began in March 1897 and continued for about 25 years.9  To see a picture of the prison, go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website: https://www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/lvn/index.jsp.

Between Leavenworth and Kansas City, instead of the farm land we had been viewing for a week, we traveled through urban and suburban commercial districts and residential districts.  U. S. Highway 73 becomes a modern four-lane highway south of Lansing.  According to the introduction to Route 101 above, the Bevers family drove on dirt until they were within 17 miles of Kansas City, then they drove on macadam.10  Leaving Atchison at 4:30 PM, they drove about 55 miles and arrived in Kansas City about 8:00 PM.

My mother and I had difficulty finding our motel, because our printed instructions weren’t correct, and I couldn’t understand how to read the Triptik from AAA.  So, we entered the address of the motel in the Garman navigation device and trusted it to lead us to the motel.  It worked and we arrived at our motel around 3:00 PM. 

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 163-64, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  3. Rand McNally and Company, Commercial Atlas of America, “Auto Trails Map, District No. 12, Southern Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Northeastern New Mexico, Northern Oklahoma” (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1924): 372-373, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~201708~3000668:AutoTrails-Map,-Southern-Nebraska.
  4. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas: 2.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 71.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 71.
  7. Commercial Street, Atchison, Kansas, (ca. 1910), http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-postcards/kansas-postcards/KS-Atchison-Kansas-Commercial-Street-vintage-postcard.html#
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 163-4.
  9. United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Penitentiary,_Leavenworth.
  10. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 163-4.

Day Eight: Percival, Iowa to Atchison, Kansas

October 20, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Mon. – Oct. 20.

Stayed in Auburn till 12 A. M. while they fixed on the cars.  Ate dinner and then we pulled out.  Got into Horton about 6 P. M.  Had supper and stayed all night. – Lena Bevers

Lena writes in her travel log that the traveling party spent the morning of October 20 in Auburn, Nebraska because the men needed to fix their cars.  Florence adds that “they fixed the fan on our car and the frame on McElhaney’s car.”1  My mother and I didn’t head down the road right away either.  In the 2018 AAA TourBook Guide for Nebraska, my mother found the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.  This farm is operated by the Arbor Day Foundation, whose mission statement is: “We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”2  We spent the morning viewing some of their informative exhibits, walking one of their trails and experiencing a very unique attraction: Treetop Village.  If you are looking for evidence that you still have a kid in you, then try this out.

(Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Lena stated that they headed down the road from Auburn at 12:00 PM after they ate dinner.  Today we started down the road from Nebraska City about 12:30 PM after sharing a caramel apple at the Arbor Day Farm.  U. S. Highway 75 roughly follows the King of Trails Highway until north of Dawson, Nebraska, then U. S. Highway 73 follows the King of Trails.  Florence recorded that they traveled through Howe, Stella, and Verdon in Nebraska, then Reserve and Hiawatha in Kansas.3  The two-car caravan ended their day in Horton, Kansas at about 6:00 PM.  In six hours, they had traveled about 63 miles, at not much more than 10 miles per hour.

Extract of Route 1041 from The Official Automobile Blue Book 19174

When my mother and I traveled down U. S. Highway 75, we went past and through several very small towns, for example Verdon has a population of 172.  We could not find a business district in Verdon nor did we find one in Reserve.  Auburn, the town where the Bevers family spent the previous night is small also, as well as Horton where they stopped on this day.  Hiawatha was the largest town we drove through.  It was very interesting to see the well-maintained historical buildings there.

Hetzel’s Block in Auburn, Nebraska, dated 1890 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
This building in Horton is dated 1915. The stone above the window says “Motor Inn.” (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Originally called the Hiawatha Memorial Auditorium, this 1920 building houses the Brown County Historical Society. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Brick paved streets encircle the Courthouse Square of Hiawatha. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Lawrence Building, Hiawatha, Kansas, dated 1896 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

In 1919, the speed laws in Kansas were: “‘Reasonable and proper.’ ‘A rate of speed in excess of 25 miles an hour shall be presumptive evidence of driving at a rate which is not careful and prudent in case of injury to the person or property of another.’  Twelve miles per hour in city limits; eight miles an hour at crossings, intersections, bridges, curves, descents, etc.  Six miles an hour at city intersections.”5  The 1920 edition of The Official Automobile Blue Book informed its readers that: “There is now a great interest in Kansas in the matter of good roads, and many miles of macadam, brick and concrete are being constructed under the supervision of the state highway commission.”6

When the Bevers family passed through Hiawatha, they crossed over another transcontinental highway. Below is a section of a Rand McNally map dated 1924, designating the King of Trails Highway with the number 27.7  (As I’ve mentioned before, this number corresponds to the map legend, it is not a highway number assigned by a governmental agency.)  At Hiawatha the King of Trails intersects with the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway (number 47 on the map.)  The Ocean-to-Ocean Highway connected New York City with Los Angeles.8

Section of Rand McNally Map of Nebraska & Kansas, 1924
Ocean to Ocean Highway, 1913 (Public Domain; Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration)

We didn’t stay in Horton as Lena’s family did because we weren’t able to locate online a motel in Horton, so instead we made a reservation in Atchison, Kansas.  Before leaving Horton for our motel, we stopped at Werner Wagon Works.  The proprietors restore and manufacture wagons in the style that were used in the eighteen hundreds.  They kindly gave us a tour of their workshop.  It was fascinating to see and imagine how our ancestors traveled before automobiles were invented.

An army escort wagon that will be restored by Werner Wagon Works. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
A restored wagon completed about 1991 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Some of the restoration work is completed with this band saw built in the early nineteen hundreds. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. Arbor Day Foundation, https://www.arborday.org/generalinfo/about.cfm.
  3. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas: 2.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1099-1100, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1234.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 859, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  7. Rand McNally and Company, Commercial Atlas of America, “Auto Trails Map, District No. 12, Southern Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Northeastern New Mexico, Northern Oklahoma” (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1924): 372-373, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~201708~3000668:AutoTrails-Map,-Southern-Nebraska.
  8. Rick Martin, “The Highway,” Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway, http://www.ppoo.org/.

Day Seven: Council Bluffs to Percival, Iowa

October 19, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sun. – Oct. 19.

Left Council Bluffs about 8:00 A. M.  Had fine roads.  Ate dinner on the roadside.  Got into Auburn, Nebr. about 5 P. M. and stayed all night.  Had supper here. – Lena Bevers

On this day, Lena only recorded their starting and ending points.  This isn’t much information to determine the route that they took on this day.  Council Bluffs is on the east side of the Missouri River and Auburn is on the west side of the river, so one question is: Where did they cross the Missouri River?  They could have crossed from Council Bluffs into Omaha, or they could have traveled south and crossed at Nebraska City.  To make the choice, initially I referred to the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes, dated 1919, which I obtained from the Iowa Department of Transportation website.  A portion of the King of Trails Highway is highlighted on this map, indicating that the highway crossed the Missouri River at Omaha and traveled south through Plattsmouth, Nebraska City and Auburn.1  So that is the route that I chose.  Just a couple weeks ago, when my mother obtained from her cousin a copy of Florence Bevers’ travel log, we found confirmation that Herbert and Mr. McElhany did follow the King of Trails Highway into Omaha and then traveled south.  Florence wrote: “Drove thru Omaha, Albright, Ft. Crook, Plattsmouth, Murry, Union, Wyoming and Nebraska City. … Got into Auburn ….”2

Section of the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes

The bridge they would have used was one that between 1913 and 1930 was called the Lincoln Highway Bridge, which was a toll bridge.  At the end of Lena’s journal, she notes that they crossed four toll bridges.  The King of Trails and the Lincoln Highways both crossed the Missouri River on the Lincoln Highway Bridge.  Originally this bridge was called Douglas Street Bridge.  It was a truss bridge built by Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company in 1888, designed to handle streetcars. On the photograph below, note the signs on each side of the bridge with the capital letter L.  These were the signs posted to indicate to the motorists that they were on the Lincoln Highway. 

Photograph of the Douglas Street Bridge by Omaha Daily Bee in July 1914. (Public Domain.)3

In 1938 a group of businessmen called the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben (by the way, read this word backwards), bought the bridge with the intentions of making it a free bridge, which they accomplished in 1947.4  The bridge which was then named the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge served the two cities until November 1966 when the Interstate Highway 480 Bridge was opened.  All that is left of the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge is an east pier near the east bank of the river, south of the I-480 Bridge.

The first thing my mother and I did this morning was drive to River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs.  It was a lovely morning and very pleasant for walking partway across the pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri River and viewing the motivating statue that stands in the park.

(Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
The Interstate 480 Bridge entering Omaha (Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
The Interstate 480 Bridge is the bridge we used to cross the Missouri River (Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)

Herbert and Lena’s daughter-in-law Gladys Daily Bevers was born in Omaha.  Gladys’ mother Maggie Bonewitz Daily moved to Omaha from Fairfield, Iowa in 1880 and her father Charles Daily, who worked his way west from Indiana, arrived in Omaha about 1888.  Charles and Maggie married in 1891 and except for a short stint of farming near Topeka, Kansas they stayed in Omaha until 1915.  On Easter Sunday in 1913, there was a devastating tornado that destroyed hundreds of homes.  Today, my mother and I did some research in the Omaha Public Library and found an article in the Omaha World-Herald that confirmed that Gladys’ grandmother’s home was destroyed.5  Gladys’ home was two blocks away and it is believed that her home was destroyed as well.  A year after the tornado hit Omaha, the Daily home was photographed at the same address as the home they lived in before the tornado hit, so it may be concluded that this is a re-built home.  In 1915 the Daily family moved to a farm north of Watertown, South Dakota.

Charles and Maggie Daily’s Home in March, 1914
Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound6

In 1919 upon entering Nebraska, the speed law was: “Reasonable and proper; not to exceed 25 miles per hour in any case, 12 miles in the city limits, 8 miles at an intersection, bridge, etc.; at intersection of streets in city, 6 miles.”7  In Omaha the Lincoln Highway broke away from the King of Trails Highway, traveling west toward Cheyenne, Wyoming, while the King of Trails Highway turned south to travel along the eastern border of Nebraska.  Today when we left Omaha, we traveled alongside U. S. 75 for about 10 miles.  Then we had to get on U. S. 75, which at that point was a modern four-lane highway.  Then from Murray to Nebraska City it became a two-lane highway.

Route 1041 from The Official Automobile Blue Book takes one from Omaha to Hiawatha, Kansas.  Lena’s family stopped for the night at Auburn which is at mile 68.7 on this route.  In the introductory explanation, I would interpret the “natural roads” to be dirt roads.8  Also, the “Blue Book car” could be equated with the current day Google Maps car.

The above directions (from the 1917 Blue Book) say that there was a toll of 50 cents to go over the Platte River9, but the 1920 Blue Book states that the cost to cross the toll bridge was 25 cents for the car and driver and 5 cents for each additional passenger.10  At the end of Lena’s travel log, she adds a postscript, saying that they had driven over four toll bridges.  It appears that on this day, they traveled over two of the four toll bridges: the Lincoln Highway Bridge and the Platte River Bridge.

When my mother and I were looking online for a motel, we could not locate one in Auburn.  The most economical one we found near Auburn was in Percival, Iowa.  So, today we ended our day in Percival, instead of traveling as far as Auburn.  Before going over the Missouri River to Percival, we decided to stop in Nebraska City for dinner (our end of the day meal).  While we were looking for a restaurant, we passed the courthouse, which was erected in 1864.  Nebraska City is one of the towns in Florence’s list of towns that the Bevers family passed through.  She also notes that they: “Stopped early so they could fix the car.”11

Notes:

  1. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/pdf/historic.pdf.
  2. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  3. Omaha Daily Bee, Douglas Street Bridge (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Daily Bee, 1914 July 12), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Douglas_Street_Bridge_-_July_1914.jpg.
  4. Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ak-Sar-Ben_Bridge.
  5. Morning World Herald, Homes Destroyed, Not Previously Reported (Omaha, Nebraska: Morning World-Herald, 1913 March 29): 6.
  6. 16th Street, North from Harney, Omaha, Neb., http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-postcards/nebraska-postcards/NE-Omaha-Nebraska-Sixteenth-Street-looking-North-from-Harney-Street-vintage-postcard-photo.html
  7. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1235, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1098-99.
  9. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1098.
  10. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 162, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  11. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.

Day Six: Sioux City to Council Bluffs, Iowa

October 18, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

The Bevers family had a late start on Friday, October 18.  Lena’s daughter Florence explains in her travel log that they “were waiting for an answer to our telegram from Edgar.”1  Herbert and Lena’s son Edgar had enlisted in the military on July 21, 1918 and would be discharged on Oct. 25, 1919.2

The drive for this day was one of the longest they made during their 27-day trip.  Lena says they had fine roads all the way from Sioux City to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Route 1021 of The Official Automobile Blue Book describes the condition of the road as: “Dirt practically all of the way.”3  By following this route the distance between the cities was calculated at 106 miles.4  The 1917 Blue Book included instructions on how to use the book most effectively5:

Our motel happened to be on Lakeport Avenue, so when we set out at 10:00 AM we just needed to make a couple turns to get on Old Lakeport Avenue (at mile 4.1 in Route 1021 above), which became Old Highway 75 (K45).  Fifteen minutes later we were in Salix, the first town that Lena mentions in her travel log and 15 minutes after that we were at the second town, Sloan.  Both of these towns are still small, as well as all of the towns we went through until we got to Missouri Valley.  

In Salix, this appeared to be an old building, but the brick face had been re-done and looked quite modern.
The center building is the Sloan Museum, which was closed when we passed by.
This building was in Whiting, another small town we traveled through.
At mile 37.1 in Route 1021 above, a “fair grounds” is mentioned. We found the Monona County Fairgrounds at the edge of Onawa.

As we were driving south on Highway K45, to our left we could see wooded hills a few miles away and to the right, Interstate 29 was nearly always in sight.  In Lena’s travel log, this was the first day that she mentioned the landscape they were traveling through: “Followed the Bluffs around for a long way.”6  At Mondamin we turned east for about five miles, then turned south and skirted the bluffs for the next thirty miles or so. 

The town of Missouri Valley was the largest town we went through today until we came to Council Bluffs.  In this town we began driving on the historic Lincoln Highway, which is another transcontinental highway.

Lincoln Highway sign in Missouri Valley, Iowa (Photograph by MRW October 18, 2019)
On this section of the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes, the highway marked red with the number 105 is the King of Trails Highway. The highway marked green with the number 10 is Lincoln Highway.7

The first transcontinental highway across the United States was the Lincoln Highway, named after Abraham Lincoln.  The idea of creating this transcontinental was Carl Fisher’s, who had also built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.8  In 1912 Carl Fisher enlisted communities to build connecting roads from San Francisco to New York City.  The project would cost $10,000,000 and Fisher raised funds for the project by asking for donations from auto manufacturers and accessory companies.  In 1913 the Lincoln Highway Association was established; the public could be members of the organization by paying a $5.00 membership fee.  The Lincoln Highway was marked by painted signs, mainly on telephone posts: red, white and blue bands with a blue capital L.  For about 25 miles between Missouri Valley and Council Bluffs, the King of Trails Highway and the Lincoln Highway traveled the same roads.

(From The Official Automobile Blue Book9)

Today was a very breezy day, so after we checked into our motel at 1:30 PM, we stayed indoors, rather than go to the River Front.  We decided it was a good day to do our laundry at the laundromat across the street from the motel.  This evening, making sure our devices were all charged was a priority.  The Bluetooth was plugged into a bathroom socket, the camera battery charger was plugged into the entryway socket, a phone was plugged into the outlet near the bureau, and the I-pad and laptop were plugged into the wall outlet by the desk.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. C. M. Bevers, personal communication with E. J. Jones (October 17, 2019).
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1077-78, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1013-14 & 1077-78.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 11.
  6. Lena Bevers, Our Trip to Texas (unpublished, 1919): 2A.
  7. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa showing principal automobile routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Iowa_Showing_Principal_Automobile_Routes.jpg.
  8. James Lin, A Brief History of the Lincoln Highway, https://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/history/.
  9. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1012.

Day Five: Beresford, S. D. to Sioux City, Iowa

October 17, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Fri. – Oct. 17.

Pa and Mr. McElhany went to Beresford to get Rob.  Got the car fixed and left there at 4 P. M.  Had dry roads all the way to Sioux City.  Got there at 7 P. M.  Stayed over night at the Hotel.  It was a fine day. – Lena Bevers

Yesterday I related that Rob (most likely a member of the traveling party) had gone to Beresford on Thursday to have an axle made.  On Friday, Pa (Herbert) and Mr. McElhany went to the town to pick up Rob and the axle that had been made in one day.  They were able to complete the repairs to Mr. McElhany’s car on that day also.  So, after a two-day delay, Herbert and Lena’s family get on the road in the late afternoon.  Upon leaving the Fleege farm, they drove about 40 miles to get to their destination, Sioux City.

From Beresford, my mother and I had about 50 miles to drive today, so we didn’t leave the motel until 10:30 AM and we made several stops along the way.  We headed down Highway 1C and came across a sign for a cemetery in Emmet.  This confirmed for us that we were passing the area where the Fleege farm was located.  Several miles down the road we took a short side trip in order to locate Spink, a town that is mentioned in the 1917 Blue Book on the route from Sioux Falls to Sioux City.  When we got to Elk Point, we decided to eat a picnic lunch at the city park and campground where there was an historical exhibit explaining an event that occurred when Lewis and Clark’s party camped at “Elk Sign” campsite.  And we also stopped at a place where the 1917 Blue Book states there was a racetrack along the route.

Route 919 from The Official Automobile Blue Book 19171
Emmet Township is the location of the Fleege farm, where the Bevers family stayed two nights. (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
Spink is a town on Route 919 of The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
Elk Point is the location of the first democratic election to the west of the Mississippi River.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
One of the landmarks identified in the 1917 Blue Book Route 919 was a racetrack.  This is what we found at that point along our drive.  A local resident told us that there was a racetrack beyond this gate, and across the railroad tracks and the highway (to the right), there was another racetrack for cars, which at one time had been a racetrack for horses.  (Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
 

According to the description of Sioux City in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, one hundred years ago, there was only one bridge crossing the Big Sioux River from South Dakota to Iowa.2  When we arrived at the river between South Dakota and Iowa, we found a bridge that looked brand new.  And not far from it was a bridge for the train tracks that we had been traveling beside since we left Elk Point.

(Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 17, 2019)

In 1917, upon entering Iowa, the speed law was “In a careful and prudent manner, not to exceed 25 miles an hour.”3  According to 1917 Blue Book, the city had a population of 47,000 to 48,000.4  Two years later, a map of Iowa highways reported the population at 61,774.5  It took them 3 hours to drive to Sioux City and when they got there they checked into a hotel.  This is the only day that Lena writes that they stayed in a hotel.  At the bottom of Route 919 in the 1917 Blue Book, there is the name and location of a hotel, Martin Hotel.  There is also an advertisement for the hotel under the description of Sioux City.6  It is unknown whether this hotel is where the Bevers family stayed, but it was in existence when they stayed in Sioux City.

“Originally six stories in height, the main body of the building rested on a two-story base, capped by an elaborate cornice featuring heavy dental molding and classically-inspired scrolled brackets. … When the Martin Hotel opened in November 1912, it was proclaimed as Sioux City’s largest, finest and most modern hotel.  A 7th floor was added in 1918, requiring the removal of the original cornice, which was replaced by a simpler design featuring dental molding. … It was eventually converted into apartments and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.”7

Martin Hotel, c. 1913 (Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum)
Former Martin Hotel (photographed by MRW October 17, 2019)
Looking east along 4th Street toward Pierce Street, c. 1913 (Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum)
Looking east along 4th Street toward Pierce Street (photographed by MRW October 17, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 971-72, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  2. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1234.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  5. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa showing principal automobile routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:1919_maps_of_Iowa#/media/File:Map_of_Iowa_Showing_Principal_Automobile_Routes_back.jpg.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1068.
  7. Sioux City Public Museum, Walking Tour of Fourth Street (Sioux City, Iowa: Sioux City Public Museum, 2014).

Day Four: Beresford, S. D.

October 16, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Thursday – Oct. 16.

Were still at Fleeges while they were fixing the car.  Stayed all day Thursday and over night. – Lena Bevers

Since Herbert and Mr. McElhany could not get the right axle in Sioux City, Florence reported that on Thursday morning, “Rob and Roy Fleege had to go to Beresford and have one made, did not get back until Friday morning.”1  The man named Rob that she mentions apparently is not a member of the Fleege family, because on the 1920 U. S. Census for Emmet Township, Union County, South Dakota there is no Rob (or any variation of Rob) listed in the family.2  Also, Rob is not Mr. McElhany because in the travel logs for the next day, both Lena and Florence state that “Pa and Mr. McElhany went to Beresford to get Rob.”3  This is strong evidence that there is an additional member of the traveling party.

1920 U. S. Census record of the John Fleege family

In order to fill our time today, my mother and I decided to visit the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion.  We spent an enjoyable hour wandering through the historical and cultural exhibits.  One of the exhibits brought back memories to my mother of her days at a one-room rural school in Grover, South Dakota.  There was also an antique automobile.  It isn’t the model that Herbert Bevers nor Mr. McElhany were driving.  According to one of Herbert’s grandsons, Herbert was driving a Model A Ford and Mr. McElhany was driving an Overland.4

(Photos by MRW October 16, 2019)
(Photos by MRW October 16, 2019)

After eating lunch in Vermillion, we drove to Union Grove State Park and took a short walk in the forest.  Today the temperature is about 50 degrees and the wind isn’t blowing, it’s much better than yesterday which was in the 30s with a strong wind.  According to Lena’s travel log, the farm house where they were staying was about 11 miles south of Beresford, which places it in the vicinity of Union Grove State Park.  The 1920 U. S. Census sheet that shows the record for the Fleege family gives us additional information about the road the Bevers family and Mr. McElhaney were traveling on.  In the space for the street name, “King of Trails” is written.  This is the transcontinental highway, shown on the 1925 Custer Battlefield Hiway map, that runs through Sioux Falls and Sioux City.  Another thing the census sheet notes is the name of the township: Emmet.  Unfortunately, the directions in the 1917 Blue Book don’t give enough information to positively identify which farm road was once the King of Trails Highway.  Therefore, we were only able to get in the vicinity of the farm house.

From The Official Automobile Blue Book 1917.5
Farm land in Emmet Township, 11 miles south of Beresford (photos by MRW October 16, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 1.
  2. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RNT-KMB?cc=1488411&wc=QZJY-84H%3A1036874501%2C1037297201%2C1036914701%2C1589334045 : 13 September 2019), South Dakota > Union > Emmet > ED 250 > image 11 of 16; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  3. Lena Bevers, Our Trip to Texas (unpublished, 1919): 2A.
  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. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 971, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.

Day Three: Sioux Falls to Beresford, S. D.

October 15, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Wed. – Oct. 15.

Had breakfast in Sioux Falls and started out about 9:30 A. M.  Drove through Worthing.  Had mud and rain all the way to Beresford, where we ate dinner.  Left Beresford about 2:30 P. M. for Sioux City, but only got 11 miles from Beresford and Mr. McElhany broke the back axle on the car and we had to stay all nite at a farm house while [they] went to Sioux City to get repairs.  John Fleege was their name. – Lena Bevers

Lena begins this day’s log entry by saying they had breakfast in Sioux Falls.  My mother and I stayed the night at a motel in Sioux Falls that provided a large selection of breakfast items.  On the counter, I saw a machine that I had never seen before.  It was a self-serve pancake machine, so I decided to see how the machine works.  After dropping pancake batter on a conveyor belt, the uncooked pancake slides through two heated panels, one above and one underneath.  In one minute, the pancake is cooked on both sides and slips out of the side of the machine.  It’s fun to watch and the pancakes were delicious.

A few days ago, I received an email from my bank, saying that they needed me to submit a document.  While in Watertown, because I didn’t want to access my online bank account using a public Wi-Fi connection, I had downloaded the document from my online bank account using our cousin’s computer, saving it to a USB drive.  Our motel has a computer and printer available to its guests, so I printed the document yesterday afternoon.  This morning I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with the bank (most of the time on hold), discussing exactly how they wanted me to fill out the form.  Having accomplished that, we located a shipping company where I could fax the document to the bank.  I relate all of this to record some of the ways I am handling communication and banking while traveling – ways that are different from Lena and Herbert’s experience.

Before departing our motel this morning, we had a visit in the motel lobby with a cousin who lives in Sioux Falls.  Then we prepared to leave.  Herbert and Lena only traveled about 40 miles on their third day, so we waited at the motel until nearly check-out time at 11:00 AM.

Referring again to the 1925 Touring Map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway, there is a highway with the number 20 that heads directly south out of Sioux Falls.1  This number does not indicate a highway number, it is a reference to the numbering system in the map legend.  On a 1919 automobile route map of Iowa, this same route is given the number 105 to coincide with that map’s legend.2  This route is the King of Trails highway, which is another transcontinental highway.  Its northern terminal point is Winnipeg, Manitoba (the same as the Meridian Highway), which in the early nineteen hundreds was the third largest city in Canada and a major agricultural and railway center.3 The southern terminals are Galveston, Texas (also the same as the Meridian Highway) and Brownsville, Texas.  So, running through the central plains of the United States, these two highways were parallel.

When Lena and Herbert were traveling to Texas, the roads were not yet numbered by the federal, state or county governments.  Routes were established initially by local automobile organizations, then later as automobile tourists began taking longer excursions, the routes were established by coalitions of associations or individuals of many localities.

In 1917 the King of Trails Association was organized.  An article in The Parsons Daily Sun describes the association as follows:

“It is a nation wide civic organization with a membership embracing big public spirited men from every walk of life — bankers, merchants, automobile dealers, etc.

“The primary object of this institution has been the promotion of good roads and the general welfare of the communities through which the Highway passes.”4

One of the responsibilities of the King of Trails Association was the marking of the route.  The organization proudly announced its accomplishment:

“The King of Trails is one of the best and most consistently marked highways in existence, there being on the entire route upwards of 14,000 painted poles that guide the stranger in a strange land.  This year’s program calls for the remarking of the trail wherever necessary and the erection of danger signs at every grade crossing and other dangerous points on the entire highway.  Particular attention will be paid to the marking of the highway through towns and cities.”5

King of Trails Pole Marker as re-created on the website of Bike Allen County (Kansas)

My mother and I have several resources to help us decide our route each day: sheet maps, electronic maps, navigational devices.  How did Herbert determine where to drive? 

“With the increasing popularity of automobile touring came a pressing need for navigational aids, because during the early 1900s, geographic route-finding knowledge was primarily local. People knew how to navigate on foot or by horse and buggy within their local town or county using the mental map that they had acquired through experience. Because people relied on mental maps, road signs were not needed; thus signage was rarely a feature in the landscape. If someone wanted to travel farther than a day’s carriage ride, he or she usually did so by railroad. There was no need, for instance, to know how to navigate from Chicago to St. Louis because the train did all the navigating and ‘driving.’ However, a locally based mental map was insufficient for navigating by automobile. There were no road maps and few road signs, so how would someone know which roads to take? In which direction would one travel? Where would one turn?

“This problem of navigation, or finding one’s way, by automobile during the early years of the last century prompted entrepreneurial automobilists to create route guides. These guides helped early automobile tourists navigate through unfamiliar territory by collecting localized directional information and presenting it in a form usable to outsiders. Automobile clubs, highway associations, and other related organizations published or sponsored route guides during these years….”6

The Official Automobile Blue Book which used the tag line ‘Standard Road Guide of America,’ was the most popular set of touring books in the early 1900s.  It provided drivers with written directions to travel between cities and towns at a time when roads were not yet designated with highway numbers and road signs.  Sets of these touring books began to be published in 1901 with the purpose “to promote touring by establishing routes that connected automobile ‘supply stations.’”7

By 1917 there were 10 volumes in the set of The Official Automobile Blue Book.  I was able to locate volume 5 of the 1917 edition on the Internet Archive website.  It is not known whether Herbert and Lena had a tour book to follow, but as we attempt to retrace their route to Texas, we will be referring to this tour book.  Route 919 in volume 5 has route directions from Sioux Falls to Sioux City.  The book describes the route as: “Good dirt practically all the way, will be bad in wet weather.  This is an option to Route 918.  It is approximately 10 miles shorter and will probably be the best road in dry weather.”8 Unfortunately, Lena and Herbert did not have dry weather the day they left Sioux Falls.  Lena recounts that they drove through “mud and rain all the way to Beresford,” driving through Worthing along the way.

The Blue Book directions above say to exit Sioux Falls on Minnesota Avenue (Highway 115), which is the road my mother and I started out on today.  Just a few miles down the road Highway 115 had a detour, taking us to I-29.  We did not want to take an Interstate highway, so we took Louise Avenue (Highway 117) instead.  It took us directly south to Worthing and also took us to Beresford.

The Beresford City Hall used to be Security State Bank of Beresford, which was very likely under construction when Lena and Herbert’s family ate their mid-day dinner in Beresford. The cost of building the bank was $75,000, which made it one of the more expensive bank buildings at the time.9
At the rear of the Beresford Public Library you can see the old brickwork. This building was in existence when the Bevers family was in Beresford. It was a farm implement store.10  The front and inside were remodeled by the city about 1992 to hold the current library.

After dinner, the traveling party headed south, planning to make it to Sioux City, but about 11 miles south of Beresford, an axle broke on Mr. McElhany’s car. Lena and her children “had to stay all night at a farm house while the men went to Sioux City to get repairs.” Lena’s daughter reports in her travel log that the men “could not get the right axle.”11 My mother and I started down Highway 117, but only a couple miles down the road, it turned to a gravel road and we decided not to continue on that route. The Bevers Family stayed at the farm house of John Fleege. Instead of finding a farmer to take us in, we are staying at a motel in Beresford. We checked-in at 2:00 PM.

Notes:

  1. John C. Mulford and C. C. Faunce, Touring map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway: the scenic route to the west. [S.l, 1925] Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/99466708/.
  2. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa showing principal automobile routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Iowa_Showing_Principal_Automobile_Routes.jpg.
  3. David Moore, et al., The Meridian Highway in Texas (Austin, Texas: Texas Historical Commission, May 27, 2016): 1.
  4. “Parsons National Headquarters, King of Trails Highway Ass’n,” The Parsons Daily Sun, February 18, 1922: 4, http://bikeallencounty.org/news/king-trails-highway/.
  5. “Parsons National Headquarters, King of Trails Highway Ass’n”: 5.
  6. John T. Bauer, “The Official Automobile Blue Book, 1901-1929: Precursor to the American Road Map, Cartographic Perspectives No. 62, Winter 2009: 5, http://www.scottbicknell.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Route_Book_Article_182-1158-1-PB.pdf.
  7. Bauer, “The Official Automobile Blue Book, 1901-1929: Precursor to the American Road Map”: 11.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 971, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  9. David Erpestad and David Wood, Building South Dakota (Pierre, South Dakota: South Dakota State Historical Society Press): 148.
  10. Jane Norling, “Library looking for history,” Beresford Republic, date unknown.
  11. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 1.

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 be 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 worked.

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)

Notes:

  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, http://www.heffrons.com/retro/gaspumps/visiblegaspumps.htm.
  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), (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS1Q-2SM5-2?i=6594&cc=2968245&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQP8D-QWCG).
  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. https://www.hartfordsd.us/vertical/sites/%7B0786574D-ED03-4822-A2DF-5DE2E3C986DE%7D/uploads/%7BABEA1962-9306-4185-9A8D-3A5551F68515%7D.JPG.
  9. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRNT-5HW?cc=1488411&wc=QZJY-ZXJ%3A1036874501%2C1038620001%2C1038639001%2C1589333177 : 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, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.

Day One: Watertown to Madison, S. D.

October 13, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Our Trip to Texas.

Monday morning – Oct.13, 1919.

Left Watertown Monday about 10 A. M.  Ate dinner at Arlington, drove through rain all the way to Colton and stayed there all night. – Lena Bevers

Today is Sunday, but 100 years ago October 13 was on a Monday, and about 10:00 AM that day Herbert and Lena Bevers, along with six of their children, began a trip from Watertown, in northeastern South Dakota to the southern Texas town of Raymondville, near the U. S. border with Mexico.

Lena kept a log of their travels and according to her entry, their first destination that day was Arlington, where they ate their mid-day meal (dinner).  Arlington was about 40 miles south of Watertown, and their final destination for the day was Colton which was approximately 50 miles south of Arlington.  At that time the law regarding driving speed in South Dakota was: “Careful and prudent, having regard to traffic conditions.”1  If we assume that they drove about 6 hours that day, then they were driving about 15 miles per hour.

For the next 27 days, my mother and I will attempt to retrace Herbert and Lena’s route.  For the first few days, we are going to base our route on a map obtained from the Library of Congress website (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4126p.mf000065/).  It is called the Touring Map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway, dated 1925, and it was published by the National Highways Association, which was incorporated in 1912 in Washington, D. C.  Printed on the map is the following statement, explaining the purpose of the association:

“A membership corporation which exists to favor, foster and further the development of NATIONAL HIGHWAYS and GOOD ROADS EVERYWHERE in the length and breadth of these United States of America, and to secure the benefits — social, moral, commercial, industrial, material, educational and personal — in the progress and uplift of the American people which follow in the train of easy intercommunication and transit between the great centers of population and distribution and the great rural productive areas of the Nation, and so ‘bind the States together in a common brotherhood, and thus perpetuate and preserve the Union.'”2

On this map there is a highway with the number 25 (this is not a highway number; it is simply the number associated with the numbering system of the map legend).  In the legend this highway is named Meridian Highway.  Meridian Highway was a transcontinental highway with starting and ending points of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and Galveston, Texas and Mexico City.  Traveling along the eastern border of North Dakota, this highway entered South Dakota, veered west a short ways, then headed south.  Thirty miles north of Watertown, it crossed over the Yellowstone Trail, an east-west transcontinental highway which ran from Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts to Puget Sound, Washington.3  Meridian Highway continued south and passed through Watertown.  Currently, from the northern border of North Dakota to Watertown, Interstate Highway 29 and U. S. Highway 81 roughly follow the route that was once called the Meridian Highway.  At Watertown, U. S. Highway 81 breaks off from Interstate Highway 29, continuing to follow more closely the original Meridian Highway.

Section of Touring Map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway (Retrieved from Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.)

Having had a blustery snow storm on Friday and Saturday, and fearing that we might have to delay our departure for a few hours, my mother checked the weather report on her phone at 6:30 AM this morning.  The forecast said there’d be cloudy skies but no snow. The roads did not look icy as well, so my mother and I set out on schedule at 8:00 AM from Watertown on a macadam road.  Our journey began on U. S. Highway 81, which presently runs straight south from Watertown to Madison, traveling between Lake Albert and Lake Poinsett, but on the 1925 map after starting south the Meridian Highway took several zigzag turns southwest toward Hayti and then resumed its southernly direction, circumventing Lake Albert on the west side.  So, we needed to leave U. S. Highway 81, but we could not determine exactly which roads Herbert drove toward Hayti.  We decided to take Highway 21 which took us through Hayti and Lake Norden.  We ran into difficulty when we exited Lake Norden because the roads were not marked.  A few miles further the road was snow-covered, so we decided to turn back and take a well-traveled route.

At mid-day Herbert and Lena would have reached a road numbered 7 on the Custer Battlefield Hiway map and named the Black and Yellow Trail.  This route ran from Chicago to Yellowstone National Park.  Here they turned east and drove to Arlington.  If they had turned to the west, they would have driven toward De Smet, the town in which Herbert’s father and two sisters lived.  Since we can travel more miles in a day than they could, we took a side trip to De Smet and attended the worship service of De Smet United Methodist Church, arriving 10 minutes late because we had to change our route.

De Smet United Methodist Church (photographed by MRW Oct. 13, 2019)
De Smet Methodist Episcopal Church (photographed about the 1920s)

De Smet is the town made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book Little Town on the Prairie.  Wilder’s parents homesteaded north of De Smet and came to the town for supplies.  The Ingalls family lived in De Smet from 1889 until at least 19244, which overlaps with the time that Herbert’s father, mother and sisters lived in De Smet.

After the church service, the pastor allowed my mother and I to examine four of the church’s early record books.  This research confirmed some facts already known and gave us new information about the lives of these ancestors.  Alfred C. Bevers and his wife Mary lived their final years in De Smet, beginning in 1898, bringing their daughters Gertrude and Maude with them.  An historical article states that Alfred was a retired minister and his family “brought a lot of encouragement to the church.”5 Mary and Gertrude were involved in the Ladies Aid Society. Gertrude and Maude were members of a young adult group called the Epworth League. Maude led the choir for many years. In 1904 Maude married Alfred N. Waters, a real estate agent in De Smet.  Mary passed away in 1910.  In 1920, a few months after Herbert and Lena traveled down Meridian Highway, Alfred at age 82, was renting a house on 2nd Street and his unmarried daughter Gertrude was living with him.6 Maude and her husband also lived on 2nd Street.

When we left the church, we started searching for the houses of the Bevers and Waters families.  The 1920 census records of De Smet list the street name as 2nd street, but there are no street numbers.  Although a couple homes seemed familiar to my mother (she had visited her great-aunts Maude and Gertrude as a child), we could not be positive that any of the homes were the ones in which the Bevers and Waters lived.

Then we headed for the De Smet Cemetery.  When we were about a mile from the cemetery, the road became slushy so we did not travel any further.  At that point we got on Highway 14, heading toward Arlington, the town where Lena and her family had dinner (their mid-day meal.)

Arlington is a town with a population of 915.  Finding a place to eat lunch was a challenge.  We drove down the two blocks of the main street and found only a bar/grill/bowling alley which was not open on Sundays.  Driving about half a mile outside of town, we came to a restaurant that didn’t open until 4:30 PM on Sundays.  Nearby was a gas station that advertised subs and pizza in the window, but it also was closed.  Then we saw a motel that had a diner, which closed at 1:00 PM and we were there at 1:15 PM.  Finally, we were directed to another gas station/convenience store which had a nice selection of sandwiches, burgers, chicken and wieners.

After lunch we took one more side trip to visit my mother’s brother-in-law in Brookings.  When we returned to U. S. Highway 81 to resume following Herbert and Lena’s route, we found that the highway was closed and we would have to follow a detour which took us fifty miles out of our way.

Herbert and Lena ended their day in Colton. My mother and I wanted to stay the night in Colton, but when we searched online for a motel there, we couldn’t find one.  So, we ended our day in Madison, arriving at the motel at 5:30 PM.

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1235, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  2. John C. Mulford and C. C Faunce, Touring map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway: the scenic route to the west, [S.l, 1925] Map, https://www.loc.gov/item/99466708/.
  3. Yellowstone Trail Association, “Introduction to the Yellowstone Trail,” Yellowstone Trail (2019), http://www.yellowstonetrail.org/page141.html.
  4. My Genealogy Hound, www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-photographs/south-dakota-photographs/SD-De-Smet-South-Dakota-Charles-and-Caroline-Ingalls-House-210-Third-Street-photo.html.
  5. First Methodist Church, “A History of the Church,” Consecration Service of the Remodeled First Methodist Church (De Smet, South Dakota: First Methodist Church, September 26, 1965)
  6. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RND-PYY?cc=1488411&wc=QZJT-TLH%3A1036874501%2C1038378501%2C1038387101%2C1589334506 : 13 September 2019), South Dakota > Kingsbury > De Smet > ED 203 > image 8 of 22; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

An Introduction to Herbert James Bevers

  • Born March 8, 1869 in Sheepridge, Yorkshire, England
  • Parents: Alfred and Mary Bevers who immigrated to the USA about 1883 and 1884, respectively
  • Immigrated to the USA in August 1888
  • Married Lena Huppler on November 24, 1892 in Watertown, South Dakota
  • Children: Edgar, Clarence, Arthur, Willis, Florence, Helen, Hazel, Estella, Harold, Margaret
  • Rented or owned farms in Roberts, Codington, Hamlin and Deuel Counties in South Dakota and in Cameron County, Texas
  • Drove with his wife Lena and six of his children from Watertown, South Dakota to Raymondville, Texas in the fall of 1919 (to read about the trip, see Lena’s travel log)
  • Died November 26, 1944 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Watertown, South Dakota
Photograph taken in 1942