Why go to Texas? — Why leave Texas?

In my series of blogposts from October 13 to November 8, the focus was on how Herbert and Lena Bevers and their family traveled from Watertown, South Dakota to Raymondville, Texas.  But I didn’t address why they chose to move to a farm in Texas.  As recorded in the U. S. censuses and state censuses, from the beginning of their marriage in 1892 until 1919, Herbert and Lena farmed in four locations in South Dakota:

  1. Agency Township, Roberts County (1900)
  2. Rau Township, Codington County (1905)
  3. Oxford Township, Hamlin County (1910)
  4. Elmira Township, Codington County (1915)

The first property that I have evidence of Herbert owning was a homestead in Agency Township, Roberts County.  In the Register of Deeds Office in Sisseton, Roberts County, there is a record of Herbert paying $400.00 on October 24, 1902 for 160 acres from the United States.  A deed record in the same office shows that on the following day, Herbert and Lena sold that property for $2,300.00.  It is not known whether he purchased property following the sale of that homestead, but according to the 1910 U. S. census and the 1915 South Dakota State census, Herbert was renting farms, instead of owning them.

Somehow Herbert heard that land in southern Texas was available.  The New Handbook of Texas provides a description of land development that we can use to speculate:

“The real surge of Anglo settlement came after the building of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway into the lower [Rio Grande] Valley in 1904.  Close behind the tracks came the land promoters, who worked enthusiastically to convert pastures to plowed fields. … The railroad companies, more aggressive than land promoters, bought large tracts of land, subdivided them, and sold them to customers they recruited elsewhere.  Magazines, pamphlets and brochures with photographs of the happy and easy life that awaited the new settler in the area were scattered throughout the Mississippi valley.  Between 1905 and 1910, on the first and third Tuesday of the month, prospective farmers could purchase thirty-day round-trip tickets from St. Louis and Kansas for twenty dollars and from Chicago for twenty-five.  The excursions would take them to investigate the possibilities of the ‘Magic Valley.’  They bought land, settled in communities planned by ranchers or land developers, chose the most profitable cash crop that could be cultivated, and began to recruit Mexican day laborers.”1

Two men who saw the lucrative advantages of being real estate agents in southern Texas were Alva A. Lindahl and William A. Harding, who in 1910 lived in Minnesota.2,3  (On November 6, 1919, Lena stated in her travel log, “we waited for a telegram from Harding.”4  It is quite likely that she was referring to William A. Harding.)  By the mid-1910s Lindahl and Harding were purchasing and selling property in the newly established Raymondville area of Cameron County.  One example of their sales is the transfer of 6000 acres (known as Rancho Tresquilas, San Juan de Carricitos Grant) for $205,000 from Harding to Lindahl.5,6  The grant in this description refers to “the earliest Spanish land grant [which] was El Agostadero de San Juan Carricitos, made to José Narciso Cabazos on February 22, 1792.”7

A review of deed records in Cameron County deed registers reveals that Lindahl and Harding sold properties as individual agents and also in a group.  In 1916 Frederick Kammrath, who was from Minnesota and the future father-in-law of Herbert and Lena’s daughter Florence, purchased 160 acres from a group which included Alva A. Lindahl, his wife Ethel G. Lindahl, his father Ole Lindahl, his sister L. V. Harding and his brother-in-law W. A. Harding.8  Alva A. Lindahl served as the trustee for this group.  In the 1920 U. S. Census, Alva A. Lindahl’s occupation is listed as farm dealer and W. A. Harding’s occupation is real estate salesman.

In 1919 Herbert and Lena joined the stream of people traveling to Texas to begin a new farming endeavor.  One of their grandsons relates what he was told about their experience:

“Grandpa had … a farm near Raymondville but it was all cactus and mesquite trees so they had to clear the land.  The South Dakota horses were not familiar with the cactus so they didn’t know enough to walk around them.  Their legs got full of thorns and swelled up.  Grandpa had to buy some Texas horses to clear the land.”9

Mesquite trees and cactus near Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by EJJ November 9, 2019)
Cactus along U. S. Highway 181 (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)

Obviously, the climate and terrain of southern Texas was drastically different from South Dakota, but also the social atmosphere was very different.  In the late 1790s, Spaniards had settled in that area and in the early 1800s immigrants from Mexico began arriving.  Over time the Tejano culture developed, an intermingling of European, primarily Spanish, culture and Mexican culture.  In the 1880s and 1890s, Anglos moved into the region and gradually took control of ranches through marriage and defraud.10  An ethnic divide began to develop, with Anglos assuming superiority over Hispanics.  The division escalated following the arrival of the railway:

“The county’s new residents, however, mostly Protestant and white, were more reluctant to assimilate, and as a result ethnic divisions began to widen.  After 1910 social relations came to be increasingly dominated by ethnic separatism. … Segregated facilities – including churches, schools, and restaurants – were established for Hispanics and Anglos, and many of the former felt the sharp sting of discrimination.”11

“As more settlers came in from northern states and transformed ranches to farms, ranchers (early white settlers) sided against farmers (newcomers); the division led to the reorganization of [Willacy County in 1921]. … Relations between Anglos and Mexicans became even more antagonistic during the late 1920s, as evidenced by the Raymondville peonage cases of 1927, which showed that Mexicans were controlled by the Anglo minority ….”12

One family event is known to have occurred while the Bevers family was in Texas.  Eight and a half months after arriving in Texas, seventeen-year-old Florence married Theodore (Ted) Kamrath, the son of Frederick Kammrath, on July 20, 1920 in Brownsville, which is located about 50 miles south of Raymondville on the Mexican border.  It is believed that Herbert and Lena farmed near Raymondville for only one year.  One of their grandsons was told that they gave up and returned to Watertown, but their son Willis stayed in Texas for another year, working on a road crew before returning to Watertown.13  Florence and her new husband didn’t stay in Texas either.  They moved to Ted Kamrath’s home state, Minnesota.

Notes:

  1. A. A. Garza, “Willacy County,” The New Handbook of Texas vol. 6 (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996): 975.
  2. Year: 1910; Census Place: Center Creek, Martin, Minnesota; Roll: T624_710; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1374723.
  3. Year: 1910; Census Place: Winnebago, Faribault, Minnesota; Roll: T624_696; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0090; FHL microfilm: 1374709.
  4. L. Bevers, Our Trip to Texas (unpublished, 1919): 11.
  5. “Harding, W. A.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantors (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 51.
  6. “Lindahl, Alba A. Trustee,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 51.
  7. A. A. Garza, “Willacy County,” The New Handbook of Texas, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcw10.
  8. D. Kroeker, “Alva Andrew Lindahl,” Kroeker Family Tree, https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/71024103/person/36240481145/facts.
  9. 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.
  10. A. A. Garza & C. Long, “Cameron County,” The New Handbook of Texas vol. 1 (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996): 919.
  11. A. A. Garza & C. Long, “Cameron County,” The New Handbook of Texas vol. 1 (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996): 921.
  12. A. A. Garza, “Willacy County,” The New Handbook of Texas vol. 6 (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996): 975.
  13. 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.

The Search for Herbert and Lena Bevers’ Texas Farm

On Thursday, November 7, 2019 my mother and I accomplished the main goal of our trip to Texas.  We retraced Lena Huppler Bevers’ travel log to the best of my understanding of the roads that were in existence in 1919.  Once we got to Raymondville, we had another hope to fulfill.  We wanted to see the farm where Herbert and Lena and their family lived.  On Thursday and Friday of last week, we did some research at the Willacy County Records Office and the Cameron County Archives Office.  The only information we had to start our research was the statement in Lena’s travel log saying that they had arrived in Raymondville and a record in the 1920 U. S. Census of Herbert Bevers which said that he was renting a farm in Justice Precinct #8 of Cameron County.1  I had learned that Raymondville and its surrounding area wasn’t a part of Willacy County until 1921, so I was unsure where we should look to find property records for the Raymondville area.

The first thing we wanted to determine was whether Herbert had purchased property in the Raymondville area.  Our search in the Willacy County and Cameron County offices didn’t reveal any transaction by Herbert.  So, our conclusion is that he was renting a farm for the entire time that he and his family were in Texas.  We also looked for purchases of property by Mr. McElhany, but we didn’t find any transactions by him.  In addition, because we knew that Herbert and Lena’s daughter Florence got married in Texas, we looked for a purchase by someone with her married name: Kamrath, and we did find a purchase near Raymondville by a man named Frederick Kammrath.  This was Florence’s father-in-law.  We then obtained a copy of the deed which gave us the legal description of the Kammrath property.  At the Willacy County Deeds office, we were able to take a picture of an historic plat map of the Raymondville area.  The roads were not yet named on that map, so it took some comparison of landmarks on a current map in order to identify where the Kammrath property was.

The following photograph is an edited portion of The Kleberg Town & Improvement Co. Map of Raymondville and Other Districts, Cameron Co., Texas, dated April 18, 1906.  In the upper right corner is the town of Raymondville.  Along the right side, the railroad tracks of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway are drawn.  In the town on each side of the railroad tracks are 6th and 7th Streets, and 1st to 5th streets can be counted to the left of 6th Street.  Presently, the main road that enters Raymondville from the west is Highway 186 (Hidalgo Avenue).

In December 1916, Frederick Kammrath purchased Lot 1-2, 7-8 Section 6, Raymondville Tract No. 1, containing 160 acres (highlighted above).2

Another thing we did to locate where the Bevers lived in 1920 was look for the property transactions of five property owners listed on the 1920 census sheets close to Herbert’s name.  We found three owners, Eddie A. Jones, Curtis S. Stockwell and E. H. Whitney.  On the plat map above, Eddie A. Jones owned Lots 11-14 in Section 63, Curtis S. Stockwell owned Lots 9-11 in Section 74 and E. H. Whitney owned Lot J in Raymondville5.  This gives us evidence of the location of the farm where the Bevers family lived.  All three of the owners were in close proximity to Frederick Kammrath’s property.  Curiously, the Kammrath name does not appear on the 1920 census of the area where the Kammrath property is located.

Based on the information we had learned, we started out Saturday morning, November 9, with a drive to the property that Frederick Kammrath purchased.  We believe there is a strong possibility that Herbert Bevers was renting the Kammrath farm.

Kammrath farm, lot 1 (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
Kammrath farm, lot 8 (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
Stockwell farm, lot 9 (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
Jones farm, lot 11 (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)

Notes:

  1. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHYY-RT1 : accessed 20 November 2019), Herbert J Bevers, Justice Precinct 8, Cameron, Texas, United States; citing ED 38, sheet 2A, line 50, family 28, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1784; FHL microfilm 1,821,784.
  2. “Kammrath, Frederick,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 31.
  3. “Jones, Eddie A.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 3.
  4. “Stockwell, Curtis S.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 101.
  5. “Whitney, E. H.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 18.

Day Twenty-Seven: Raymondville, Texas

November 8, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sat. – Nov. 8.

Started out and got in Raymondville about 10 o’clock A. M. and went into our new home.

We crossed 4 toll bridges and was ferried across the Canadian river. – Lena Bevers

On the twenty-seventh day after leaving Watertown, South Dakota, Lena Bevers recorded that her family arrived in Raymondville, Texas about 10:00 AM. Her daughter Florence wrote in her travel log that they had driven 50 miles that morning.1 They were still traveling about 15 miles per hour.

Raymondville was only 15 years old when Herbert and Lena arrived there.  It was a small town.  By 1914 the population was only 350, but there were “four general stores, a bank, a newspaper, a hotel, a cotton gin, and a lumber company. Agriculture, primarily the raising of sorghum, cotton, citrus fruits, vegetables, and corn, drove the town’s growth in its early years.”2  Today, my mother and I didn’t find any dated historical buildings of the early 1900s.

Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
Courtyard in downtown Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
A mural in the courtyard in downtown Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)
A mural in downtown Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)

On January 5th, 1920 a U. S. census taker visited the Bevers family.  At that time, Raymondville was in Cameron County, then in 1921 Willacy and Cameron Counties were reorganized.  Raymondville became the county seat for Willacy County.  According to the census record, Herbert was a farmer and he and his family were living on a rented farm.3  Herbert was 50 years old and Lena was 48.  The six children that rode with them in the car are listed on the census record, as well as their son Willis who had accompanied the livestock on the train.  Today, my mother and I spent a couple hours at the Cameron County Archives Office in Brownsville, Texas.  We uncovered enough information that we believe will lead us to the area where Herbert Bevers was farming and we will go there tomorrow.

Willacy County Courthouse completed in 1923, Raymondville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 8, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 5.
  2. Handbook of Texas Online, Stanley Addington, “RAYMONDVILLE, TX,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfr02.
  3. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RX1-KXK?cc=1488411&wc=QZJT-MQX%3A1037034201%2C1036604401%2C1037078301%2C1589332571 : 14 September 2019), Texas > Cameron > Justice Precinct 8 > ED 38 > image 3 of 25; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Day Twenty-Six: Alice to Raymondville, Texas

November 7, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Fri. Nov. 7.

Left San Diego and drove for miles through timber.  Stayed all night on the praire in the car. – Lena Bevers

November 7, 1919 was a very similar day for the Bevers family as the day before.  They continued their drive south through timber.  For my mother and I, the landscape today was also similar to yesterday’s: fields and pastures with patches of woods, especially at the edges of the fields and along the highway.

A grove at a roadside park could be similar to the type of timber that the Bevers family traveled through. (Photograph by MRW November 7, 2019)

From Alice, Texas there are two routes that we could take to get to Raymondville.  U. S. Highway 281 runs south from Alice to Linn, then Highway 186 goes east to Raymondville. An alternative route would be driving to Kingsville, then take U. S. Highway 77 south to Raymondville.  On a 1924 Rand McNally map there are roads at the location of U. S. Hwy 281 and Highway 186.1  There is also a road to Kingsville, but about 15 miles south of Kingsville the road doesn’t extend to Raymondville.  Therefore, the highways we drove today were U. S. Highway 281 and Highway 186.

At Falfurrias, we decided to visit the Heritage Museum.  One picture on the display wall seems to represent what Herbert was doing in Texas.

A photograph of a real estate office in Falfurrias, Texas in 1920, hanging in the Falfurrias Heritage Museum. (Photograph by MRW November 7, 2019)

In Florence Bevers’ travel log, in the entry for November 8, 1919, she states that they had 50 miles to drive to get to Raymondville.2  Based on this statement, I propose that the Bevers and McElhanys spent the night in the vicinity of Encino or Rachal, Texas.  The place where my mother and I stopped for a picnic lunch at a roadside park is close to the point where Lena wrote that they spent the night on the prairie in their cars.

A beautiful roadside park in the center median of U. S. Highway 291, south of Falfurrias, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 7, 2019)

Instead of staying on the prairie, my mother and I continued south to Raymondville.  After 26 days of traveling, I drove into Raymondville at 1:50 PM.  Our first stop was at the Register of Deeds for Willacy County, where we searched the deed indexes to locate a transaction by Herbert purchasing property in the Raymondville area.  We were not successful in finding Herbert’s deed, nor did we find one for McElhany.  But we did find the deed of Frederick Kammrath, who in 1919 was Florence’s future father-in-law.  After our research at the Register of Deeds, we checked into our motel about 4:00 PM.

Notes:

Day Twenty-Five: Sinton to Alice, Texas

November 6, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Thurs. Nov. 6.

Left Skidmore and drove through Tynan, Mathis, George West, Cleggs P.O. and stayed all night in San Diego.  Drove through timber all the way. – Lena Bevers

Having had to return to Skidmore on the previous day, on November 6, 1919 Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany had to find a way to cross the Nueces River.  First, they head southwest toward Mathis, traveling through Tynan on the way.  Apparently, there was no way to cross there either, so they drove northwest to the town of George West, where they were able to cross the river and begin driving in a southerly direction again.

Since my mother and I stayed in Sinton for the night instead of Skidmore, we needed to return to Skidmore on U. S. Highway 181.  When we turned out of the driveway of our motel, we assumed the highway we were getting on was the highway that would take us to Skidmore.  It wasn’t until 10 miles later that we realized we were not on U. S. Highway 181, so we turned around and found the intersection where we could head in the right direction.  At Skidmore we took Route 359 to Tynan and Mathis, then followed a service road beside Interstate 37, which at one point was closed, so we drove on the interstate for part of the way.

Tynan was a very small town in the midst of crop fields and windmills.  We didn’t find any historical buildings.  Mathis is also a small town and we found a few old buildings, but it didn’t appear that they were in use.  George West became the county seat of Live Oak County in 1919.  It is also a small town but it was the largest one we visited today.

Tynan was surrounded by windmills (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
Mathis only had a few old buildings; the date of these buildings is unknown. (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
Live Oak County Courthouse, George West, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
Geronimo, a favorite longhorn of its owner George West, preserved and encased in glass in 1927, Town of George West, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)

To get to Clegg, we took U. S. Highway 59 southwest to a farm road that the navigation program on my mother’s phone directed us to take.  Then we traveled east among shrubs and short trees.  At the point were the navigator said that we had arrived at Clegg, there were only a couple ranch houses and some farm buildings.

The landscape was not what we envisioned it would be like based on Lena Bever’s statement that they “drove through timber all the way.”  Much of the land that we drove through today had been cleared of trees for crop fields and pastures.  There were sections of trees, but the trees were not as tall or as old as we expected them to be.

An unimproved road near Clegg, Texas, is more similar to the road Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany drove in 1919 than most of the roads that we have driven in 2019. (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
An example of the “timber” we saw in Live Oak County, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)

From Clegg, the navigation program directed us to U. S. Highway 281 and Highway 44 in order to get to San Diego, which is the county seat of Duval County.  The courthouse in San Diego was only three years old when the two-car caravan drove through the town.  “Duval County’s first courthouse was built shortly after county organization in the late 1870s.  It burned down on August 11, 1914. It was replaced by the current Classical Revival style red brick courthouse which was built in 1916.”1

The Bevers family stayed overnight in San Diego, Texas.  We didn’t find a motel there so we drove to Alice for the night, arriving there about 2:45 PM.

Duval County Courthouse, San Diego, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
This 1909 Building is now the Duval County Public Library. (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)
San Diego, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 6, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Terry Jeanson, “Photographer’s note,” Duval County Courthouse, http://www.texasescapes.com/SouthTexasTowns/SanDiegoTexas/Duval-County-Courthouse-San-Diego-Texas.htm

Day Twenty-Four: Floresville to Sinton, Texas

November 5, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Wed. Nov. 5.

Left Floresville and drove through Poth, Falls City, Karnes City, Peltus, Normanna, Beeville, Skidmore, Papalote, and Sinton.  We had to go back to Skidmore as we could not get across the river at Sinton.  Stayed all night in Skidmore. – Lena Bevers

On November 5, 1919 Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany drove the most miles on that day than on any other day of the 27-day trip.  They drove about 112 miles, driving through four counties: Wilson, Karnes, Bee and San Patricio.  They also drove through four county seats: Floresville, Karnes City, Beeville and Sinton.  Between these county seats were very small communities, some of which are no longer in existence.  According to an article written in 1922 in The Parsons Daily Sun, the towns that Lena listed in her travel log were on a branch of the King of Trails Highway.1

My mother and I started our tour at 11:00 AM in Floresville, Texas.  We had ten stops on our itinerary for the day.  All of the towns were along U. S. Highway 181.  Of the ten places, we were able to find something to photograph in seven of them.  Pettus, Skidmore and Papalote did not have anything historical.

Wilson County Courthouse, Floresville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
This tree beside the historic jail in Floresville looks like it could have been standing there when Herbert Bevers drove through the town with his family. Note that the left trunk/branch is supported by a white concrete post near the shed. (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
The red corner building is dated 1915, Poth, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
Falls City National Bank has added wings to the original bank building. (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
Karnes County Courthouse was completed in 1895, Karnes City, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
This building is dated 1909, Karnes City, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
We could not find any historic buildings in Normanna, but the above are the government buildings of the town: the post office on the left, the fire station in the middle with fire trucks on the right. (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)

Medio Creek Bridge, a through truss bridge, is about one mile west of Normanna.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places.  “The bridge arrived in kit form and was assembled by the Austin Brothers Bridge Company.”2 It was “built in 1897 by the New Jersey Iron and Steel Company, this bridge has served as one of the major crossings on the road from Beeville to San Antonio. … The bridge remained in service for vehicular traffic until 1987.’”3

Medio Creek Bridge is probably a bridge the Bevers family used, near Normanna, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
The roadside park where we had our picnic lunch, along U. S. Highway 181 north of Beeville. (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)

When the Bevers family arrived in Beeville, the streets were not paved.  They were paved in 1921.4  “Beeville’s 1912 Courthouse has most of the accessories you look for in a courthouse – A clock, dome, statue of the Goddess of Justice and large Corinthian columns.”5

Bee County Courthouse, Beeville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
The center building is dated 1892, Beeville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
On the corner of courthouse square, Beeville, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
A 1912 postcard: Looking East, Sinton Street, Sinton, Texas (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project6)
The 1928 San Patricio County Courthouse, Sinton, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)
This corner building is dated 1909, Sinton, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 5, 2019)

When the two automobiles arrived in Sinton, Lena wrote in her travel log that they could not get across the river, and her daughter Florence wrote that “it was in the Gulf storm territory so every thing was torn up.”7  On September 14, 1919 there had been a devastating hurricane.

“San Patricio County as a whole sustained considerable damage during the 1919 storm.  Practically all windmills in the county were either blown to the ground or dismantled.  Power and communication lines were severely damaged.  Many buildings were either damaged or destroyed.  The county received 14 inches of rain in 12 hours and flooding was extensive.  The greatest damage sustained in the county was that of the complete destruction of all of the cotton crop that had not yet been picked.”8

Possibly Herbert and Mr. McElhany were planning to travel alongside the railways which ran along the Gulf Coast through Kingsville and south to Brownsville and the Mexican border.  This route would have taken them through the town of Odem.  The hurricane of 1919 washed out the S. A. U. and G. railroad west of Odem.9  Due to the inability to continue south from Sinton, the travelers returned to Skidmore and Florence wrote that they stayed all night in their cars.10

When my mother and I were looking online for a motel in Skidmore, we weren’t able to find one.  Therefore, we decided to make our reservation in Sinton instead.  We arrived in Sinton about 2:45 PM and went to a public library to look for information about the hurricane of 1919.  Then we made it to the motel about 4:00 PM.

Notes:

  1. “Parsons National Headquarters, King of Trails Highway Ass’n,” The Parsons Daily Sun, February 18, 1922: 4, http://bikeallencounty.org/news/king-trails-highway/.
  2. Texas Escapes, Medio Creek Bridge, http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasBridges/Bee-County-Normanna-Texas-Medio-Creek-Bridge.htm.
  3. Texas Historic Landmark, Medio Creek Bridge (1987), http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasBridges/Bee-County-Normanna-Texas-Medio-Creek-Bridge.htm.
  4. Grace Bauer, “Beeville, Texas”, Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/heb04.
  5. Texas Escapes, Bee County Courthouse, http://www.texasescapes.com/SouthTexasTowns/BeevilleTx/Bee-County-Courthouse-Beeville-Texas.htm.
  6. Looking east, Sinton Street, Sinton, Texas (1912), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Sinton/SintonStScene1912.jpg.
  7. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 5.
  8. Keith Guthrie, The History of San Patricio County (Austin, Texas: Nortex Press, 1986): 276.
  9. David Roth, Texas Hurricane History, https://www.weather.gov/media/lch/events/txhurricanehistory.pdf.
  10. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas, 5.

Day Twenty-Three: New Braunfels to Floresville, Texas

November 4, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Tues. Nov. [4].

Left New Braunfels and drove through Solons, Comal, Selma, Fratt and San Antonio.  Ate dinner there and stayed about 3 hours, while Mr. McElhany fixed the car and we waited for a telegram from Harding.  Left there and drove through Elmendorf, Saspanaco, Calaveras, and stayed all night in Floresville.  Had fairly good roads. – Lena Bevers

This morning my mother and I began the day by driving to Gruene, which is not far from New Braunfels.  We had not gone there yesterday because we passed by too late in the evening.  Gruene is a small community, but has a very attractive historic area.

Gruene, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
Gruene, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
Gruene, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
Comal County Courthouse, New Braunfels, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
New Braunfels, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
A mural on an historic building in New Braunfels, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)

Through Solms and Comal we drove on a road that was at one time the Camino Real or King’s Highway, and we located an historical marker that was placed on the highway in 1918.  A plaque at Comal gave additional information about the road, calling it the Post Road.  Perhaps Lena and Herbert and their family were driving on this road.  Shortly after leaving Comal, we had to get on Interstate 35 to continue our drive.  Selma and Fratt are suburbs of San Antonio. 

“Kings Highway, Camino Real, Old San Antonio Road, Marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the State of Texas, A. D. 1918” (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
Comal, Texas is nearly a ghost town. (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)

Lena wrote in her travel log that Mr. McElhany had to have his car fixed in San Antonio and they also had to wait for a telegram.  Although it is not known whether the two automobiles drove into the center of San Antonio when they were passing through, my mother and I decided to visit The Alamo before proceeding south.  In the article below about San Antonio, The Alamo is cited as the heart of the city in 1920.1 

(From The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920)
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)

Between San Antonio and Floresville, there were three small towns.  None of them had historic areas that we could identify.

This 1923 church was the oldest building we saw in Saspamco, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)
This building was the only one in Calaveras, Texas that looked like it could be a hundred years old. (Photograph by MRW November 4, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 690, 692-3, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  2. Bird’s-eye view showing the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas (ca. 1920), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/SanAntonio/Alamo.jpg.
  3. The Alamo, built 1718, San Antonio, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/SanAntonio/SanAntonioAlamo50.jpg