Left Troy and had muddy roads, got stuck four
times. Drove through Temple, Little
River and got to Bartlett and stayed all night in our car. – Lena Bevers
The introduction to Route 778 in the The
OfficialAutomobile Blue Book 1920 describes the roads from Waco to
Austin, Texas: “Most of the road has been gravelled but heavy rains have
washed the lowlands leaving several dirt stretches which become mires in wet
weather.”1 Lena and
Herbert Bevers and their children became well-acquainted with the mires on this
route. They got stuck in the muddy roads
four times on November 1, 1919.
Due to the terrible condition of the roads
they were only able to travel about 32 miles.
After leaving Troy, they came to the large town of Temple. In this town, the headquarters of the Santa
Fe Railroad’s Southern Division was located, so the train depot was much larger
than other depots in smaller towns. The
Santa Fe Depot currently houses the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum. My mother and I toured the museum, which
elicited many questions in our minds about Willis and Arthur Bevers experience
as they traveled with the Bevers’ cattle and horses from Watertown, South
Dakota to Raymondville, Texas.
Upon exiting Temple, we took Texas State Highway 95 south to the small towns of Little River and Bartlett. This highway roughly follows the route that Herbert and Mr. McElhany were on one hundred years ago.
Evidently, there were no accommodations available in Bartlett, because Lena wrote that they stayed in their cars for the night. There currently are no motels in Bartlett either, so we drove further south to Taylor, Texas to check into a motel we had reserved online. We arrived in Taylor about 3:00 PM.
Finished fixing the car then left Hillsboro and had 3
miles of mud. Had to be pulled with a
team for 1/2 mile, cash $10.00. We drove
through Abbott and ate dinner in West.
Had paved road to Lorena, 15 miles.
We drove through Waco, Lorena, Bruseville, Eddy and stayed all night in
Troy. – Lena Bevers
To start out the day of October 31, 1919, the repairs to Mr.
McElhany’s car had to be completed.
Florence Bevers wrote in her travel log: “Left Hillsboro and went out
and finished Cornies car ….”1 Perhaps Mr. McElhany’s car had been left on
the road the evening before, so in the morning they had to go back to where it
was to finish working on it. Florence’s
notation using the name “Cornie” is a clue to what Mr. McElhany’s first name
was. Possibly it was a nickname for
Cornelius or for Clarence (In The First 100
Years in Codington County, it states that a Clarence McElhany moved
to Texas about the same time as the Bevers did.2)
When the car was fixed, Herbert and Mr. McElhany resumed
driving, but their progress was impeded because the road was muddy for three
miles. The Bevers’ car got stuck in the
mud, so a team of horses was hired to pull the car for half a mile. It cost $10.00 cash to hire the team. One of Lena and Herbert’s grandsons states
that he was told the following about this experience: “The car that got towed
into town … by horses was the Model A.
But it really wasn’t broke down after all. They thought it had a broken axle but it was
in the mud up to the hubs and the wheel was spinning in the air. A costly mistake, $10 in those days would be like
$150 now for the tow.”3
After they reached a better road, the two cars went through
Abbott and then stopped in West where they ate dinner. My mother and I got on the road about 10:00
AM today, using the frontage road that runs alongside Interstate 35. We passed through Abbott and West within the
In the running directions above, at mile 76.3 the town of West is listed, indicating that the train station is on the right. When we drove around West, we found the station.
When the Bevers family arrived in Waco, Texas they needed to cross the Brazos River. The 1920 Waco City Map below shows the location of the bridge they crossed at Washington Avenue. “Waco’s Historic Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi when it was completed in 1870. The bridge was built with cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Crucial to traders and travelers for well over a century, the bridge stands as an icon of Waco history….”5
Waco is a city with modern freeways, and we found a lot of construction going on. My mother and I tried to follow Business U. S. Highway 77 into Waco, but we soon had difficulty identifying the route and we ended up passing the street that we wanted to take. Eventually we found ourselves on a bridge crossing the Brazos River. Due to lanes merging and stopped traffic, it took about 15 minutes to cross the bridge. We had wanted to go to a park along the river before crossing the bridge where we could see the Suspension Bridge. While we were sitting on the bridge in traffic, we saw another bridge to the west and thought it was the Suspension Bridge, so when we finally got over the bridge, we headed for a park on that side of the river to take pictures. It wasn’t until we got to the motel that I realized that the bridge I took a picture of wasn’t the Suspension Bridge after all.
ALICO Building which was constructed from August 1910 to October 1911 claimed
to be “the highest and most beautiful building in the south”; having twenty-two stories, the building
was once the tallest in Texas and the tallest west of the Mississippi.10
We were happy to leave the traffic of Waco and head south
again on the frontage road of Interstate 35 to stop at each of the towns that
Lena mentioned in her travel log: Lorena, Bruceville, Eddy and Troy. Bruceville and Eddy became one community in
the mid-1970s and is now called Bruceville-Eddy.
The Bevers family ended their day in Troy. When we were in Troy, there was no motel, so
we decided to drive further south on Interstate 35 to Temple and stay in a
motel there, arriving about 3:15 PM.
B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 4.
“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.
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.
Left Lancaster and had fine road for about 40
miles, and then we had rough roads. Ate
dinner in Hillsboro. Got 4 miles from town and a spring broke on McElhany’s car
so we had to go back and stayed all night at Hillsboro. – Lena Bevers
My mother and I started our tour today in Lancaster, Texas, at the town’s lovely little town square. In the center is the town well which is surrounded on four sides by small historic buildings. A town clock and a walkway lined with trees invites shoppers to sit and rest awhile.
From Lancaster, we set out on U. S. Highway 77 which approximately follows the route the Bevers family would have taken. Florence recorded that they traveled through Red Oak, Waxahachie, Forreston, Italy and Milford on the way to Hillsboro.2 We stopped in Waxahachie, which is the county seat of Ellis county. According to our AAA TourBook for Texas: “it is a town where the gingerbread of Victorian-era buildings sates even the most jaded architectural palate. Twenty percent of the Texas buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are in Waxahachie. The 1895 Ellis County Courthouse, one of the most photographed structures in the state, is a red sandstone and granite edifice decorated with ornate capitals, carved by expert Italian artisans.”3
After leaving Waxahachie, we didn’t see anything notable in the small towns along U. S. Highway 77, except a few buildings in Forreston.
Our next stop was in Hillsboro, Texas, where we found another outstanding courthouse. It isn’t the same one that was standing when Lena and Herbert traveled through Hillsboro. “Just over a century after Hill County’s grand 1890 courthouse opened, it burned to the ground. A 1993 fire gutted the modified Second Empire-style edifice designed by noted architect W. C. Dodson. With help from native son and music legend Willie Nelson, the county rebuilt the three-story courthouse topped by a seven-story clock tower. Today it’s the heart of a vibrant downtown with an 1870s rock saloon, a Renaissance-Revival library and reportedly the oldest pharmacy in Texas. Nearby neighborhoods of Queen Anne homes testify to the 19th-century prosperity of this cotton and railroading town.”4
Once again Mr. McElhany’s car had trouble, Lena wrote that a spring broke when they were four miles south of Hillsboro. They turned around and found a place to stay in Hillsboro, so that is where we stayed also. We arrived at our motel at 1:30 PM, ate lunch near the motel, then went to the historic district to take pictures. The weather was unusually cold today, with rain and wind. It was unpleasant each time I got out of the car to take pictures, and to fill the car with gas – but the cold weather didn’t stop us from getting our favorite dessert this evening: ice cream.
Left Denton and had fairly good roads to Fort
Worth where we ate dinner. Had paved
road most all the way to Lancaster where we stayed over night. – Lena Bevers
On October 29, 1919 the Bevers family headed south from Denton to Fort Worth, Texas. Florence wrote that they went through Roanoke on their way.1 When my mother and I started out from Denton, we entered the address of Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District in a navigation devise. Soon we realized that the devise which directed us to take Interstate 35 was not taking us through Roanoke. We reverted to using our sheet map so that the route we took would be more like the route that Herbert and Mr. McElhany took. We found Roanoke’s Historic District to be very attractive. In addition, a new city hall was completed just last February, which is architecturally as impressive as the government buildings of the late eighteen hundreds.
Following our drive through Roanoke, we resumed our drive to Fort Worth. We decided to stop and look around the historic part of the city at the stockyards. Fort Worth was a very large city one hundred years ago, with a population of about 94,500.3 It is impossible to know which streets the Bevers family used, so it is unknown whether they would have driven past the stockyards. A highlight of our tour of that area was watching a genuine cattle drive. The cattle drive is not long, but it’s quite impressive to watch those huge longhorns pass by.
Lena mentions that they “had paved road most
all the way to Lancaster.” The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920provided
this information: “Good roads have been the hobby of the people of this
vicinity and as a result one of the finest systems of public highways known has
been extended all over northern Texas, with main roads leading to every other
important city of Texas and the southwest.”9 Route 751
above is the route the Bevers family would have traveled from Fort Worth toward
Dallas (although they didn’t go all the way into Dallas, they went to Lancaster,
south of Dallas). The highway running
between these two cities was called the Bankhead Highway.
“This historic route, established in 1919 and considered
the first paved transcontinental highway, connected Washington, D.C. with San
Diego as part of the National Auto Trail system. The Texas segment was pieced
together county by county, entering from the east at Texarkana swinging down to
Dallas and making its way across Texas to exit at El Paso. Counties and towns
competed heartily for the right to install the first paved automobile road and
the economic boost that would arrive across those bricks and cement.”10
In the introduction to this route, there is a
statement that they would be driving through “very pretty farming country.”11 Today when my
mother and I drove this route, we only saw a very small section of farm
land. Nearly all of this area is
suburban commercial businesses and shopping centers. We also passed a metropolitan sports arena.
Two days prior to this one a hundred years ago, the two-car caravan stayed overnight in the town of Van Alstyne, which is north of Lancaster, on the north side of Dallas. By traveling to Pilot Point, Denton and Fort Worth and then going to Lancaster, they added about 70 miles to their trip. They could have driven directly south through Dallas to reach Lancaster. It is not known why they didn’t choose to do that.
B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
Left Van Alstyne and had fairly good
roads. Ate dinner at Piolet Point. Stayed all night at a Private House in
Denton.– Lena Bevers
After breakfast at the motel, my mother and I headed south from Sherman, Texas, on U. S. Highway 75 which roughly follows the course of the King of Trails Highway, starting at Atoka, Oklahoma. When we got to Howe, we took a road that runs parallel to U. S. Highway 75 instead of driving on the freeway. Shortly we came to Van Alstyne, the town where the Bevers family had stayed overnight the prior night a century ago. The historic district is only a few streets and it is well-maintained. I had been seeing signs in Oklahoma and Texas for “fried pies.” There on an historic street was a shop selling fried pies, so I went inside to try out a couple pies. I ordered a Cherry one and one called Sawdust, which had a filling of chocolate chips, pecans, coconut and graham cracker crumbs. The crust on both was light and flaky, and the fillings were delicious.
From Van Alstyne, Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany started driving west instead of south. Florence Bevers states in her travel log: “Left Van Alstyne and had to leave our trail and go around bout way to Gunter, Tioga and ate dinner in Piolet Point.”1 No explanation is given by Lena nor Florence as to why they had to leave the King of Trails Highway. The region they were traveling through is now called North Texas Horse Country due to the large horse ranches in the area. It is promoted for its scenic drives. The scenery for us as we drove by the ranches and farms was muted because of the low clouds and mist.
Florence wrote: “There was a young fellow – his Mother and
Sister from Nebraska with us all day and were going to stay with us till San
Antonio but in the morning we lost them in Denton.”2 Possibly, they lost the young man’s car because
the city was large, having a population of 7,626 in 1920.3 When the Bevers family entered Denton, they
were driving on unpaved streets. The
first paved street in Denton was Hickory Street at the Courthouse Square, which
wasn’t completed until 1920.4
After eating a quick lunch in Pilot Point, we headed south on
U. S. Highway 377 towards Denton. The
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum has exhibits in the courthouse even
though the historic building still holds county offices. We meandered through
its halls and rooms, then took pictures around the square. Lena says that they spent the night at a
private home. We ended our drive at a
motel along Interstate 35 East at 3:00 PM.
B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
Left Caddo and had fine roads all the way. Ate dinner in Denison while Mr. McElhany got his car fixed. It would not run good. Left there and drove to Van Alstyne where we stayed all nite. – Lena Bevers
After two and a half days of rainy and
overcast skies, we started our journey today with sunshine and light breezes –
a beautiful day for searching for landmarks of Herbert and Lena’s trip to
Texas. Our first stop was in Caddo,
Oklahoma, where the Bevers family spent the previous night one hundred years
“Caddo’s druggist, William Frances Dodd was an ardent supporter of
the [Jefferson] highway and worked diligently throughout the process of
creating and building the road. He must have felt great pride and satisfaction
when he saw its completion and watched people use it. Hundreds passed through
Bryan County on ‘sociability runs’ and many stopped in Caddo to visit, give
speeches, and spend money. Mr. Dodd and his lovely wife participated in several
of the excursions, joining with friends here and continuing to New Orleans. He
and his wife were well-known figures at meetings and conventions. Sadly, Mr.
Dodd died suddenly in his pharmacy in 1924.”1
“As automobile ownership became more common, automobile
associations, such as the Jefferson Highway Association, formed to promote
automobile use and the needs of drivers for good roads.
“These associations organized and hosted sociability
runs/tours, which were primarily taken to bring distant communities closer
together. They also afforded auto owners an opportunity to drive to see what at
that time were considered ‘novel’ places.
“Two notable social runs traversed the approximately
2,300-mile distance of the Jefferson Highway. The first occurred in July 1919.
Participants traveled from New Orleans north to Winnipeg, Canada. The tour was
organized by J. D. Clarkson, the general manager of the Jefferson Highway
Association, and was called the “Palm to Pine Sociability Run” in honor of the
designated starting and finishing points of the run. …
“… Communities along the touring route were urged to host
celebrations in honor of the motorists. They were also encouraged to send
motorists to meet the touring party before entering a community. Newspapers
along the route featured stories about the tour and community events organized
in their honor.”2
In Florence Bevers’ travel log, she records that the two-car caravan went through Durant, Calera and Colbert on their way to Denison.3 When my mother and I left Caddo, we decided to follow the route that the locals take to Durant, Oklahoma. Writing about the Jefferson Highway, Caddo’s city website states: “The ‘old highway’ is still a popular way for locals to travel to Durant and avoid the busier [U. S. Highway] 69/75.”4 On Google Maps, the road to which the Caddo city website refers is Caddo Highway or Old Highway 69. (The original Oklahoma portion of U. S. Highway 69, which was given this numbered designation in 1925, was the Jefferson Highway.5)
The people of Durant are proud of their historical district. We found several streets with well-maintained historical buildings.
Below are the running directions of Route 721 in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, explaining the route to take from Durant, Oklahoma to Denison, Texas. A few miles after Colbert, the automobiles had to cross the Red River on a toll bridge.6 This was the third toll bridge that they crossed. The other bridges were at Omaha and La Platte, Nebraska. The toll for this bridge was 25 cents per car. The bridge is no longer in use. We traveled on a modern bridge to the north of Carpenters Bluff Bridge. Lena mentioned in her travel log that Mr. McElhany got his car fixed in Denison, Florence explained that the engine was not running right. At the bottom of the running directions there are two garages noted.
Upon entering Texas, the speed law was: “Reasonable and proper. Public highways 25 miles per hour; in or near built-up sections, 18 miles per hour; business districts, 15 miles per hour.”7 When the Bevers family arrived in Denison, they had their dinner, so that is where we ate as well. Many of the restaurants were closed because it is Sunday, but when we inquired about a restaurant at a gas station, a local resident directed us to a very nicely restored burger place.
At Denison, Jefferson Highway veered off to the south east, headed for New Orleans. The King of Trails Highway continued south from Denison to Van Alstyne. The Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany continued following the King of Trails Highway to Van Alstyne where they stayed the night. My mother and I didn’t find a motel in Van Alstyne when we were using an online travel website, so we chose to stay in Sherman, Texas instead.
Left McAlester and drove through Brewer,
Kiowa, Chockie, Flora, Stringtown, Atoka.
Stayed all night Caddo. – Lena Bevers
The drive for the Bevers family on October
26, 1919 was one of the shorter drives that they made up to that point. Florence Bevers explains the reason: “Left
McAlester and had terrible roads. Broke
a spring and had 2 blowouts, 2 [punctures] within one and one-half miles. Got to town and put 2 new casings on and had
no more trouble all the way. Ate our
dinner on the road side and had rough and muddy roads all the way. McElhaney got stuck twice. Stayed all night in Caddo and Pa got a new
spring for the car and put it on.”1
Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany again used
the King of Trails/Jefferson Highway.
They started in McAlester and traveled through several small towns. Some of the towns are no longer in existence. My mother and I could not find Brewer nor
Chockie, and when we looked for Flora, we only saw a correctional
facility. At Kiowa and Stringtown we
didn’t find any historical buildings.
The running directions of Route 916 of The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920 mentions passing the court house in Atoka.3 Below is a picture of the Atoka County Court House, which was constructed in 1913.4 It was six years old when Lena and Herbert passed it. This court house was used until 1962, so we did not see it when we drove down Court Street.5
My mother and I could not locate a motel in
Caddo, Oklahoma when we were using an online travel website, so we made our
reservation in Atoka instead. We left
McAlester at 11:00 AM and arrived in Atoka at 1:00 PM, so we decided to take a
scenic drive on the Indian Nation Turnpike and returned to Atoka at 4:00 PM.
B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 3.
Left Muskogee, had fairly good road to
Chekotah, ate dinner there and started out after dinner and had terrible
road. Stayed all nite in McAlester. – Lena Bevers
During the century since the Bevers family drove through Muskogee, Oklahoma, many of the buildings seen in the postcard below have been replaced. But in the background on the left side of Broadway, there are two buildings that are still standing and can be seen in the photograph that I took today. The most interesting building we saw was Grace Episcopal Church. It was built in 1905 at 6th and Broadway, then in 1923 it was moved and enlarged at a site a couple blocks away. The siding made of wood shingles was very attractive.
On October 25, 1919 the Bevers family started out following the King of Trails and Jefferson Highways. Referring to Route 916 in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, the road is described as mostly graded dirt, with a stretch of sandy road near the Canadian River and “some stretches of gravel where old RR grade has been utilized as highway.”2 Lena states that they “had fairly good road to Chekotah, ate dinner there.” To follow Herbert and Lena’s route today, we again headed south on U. S. Highway 69, a divided four-lane highway. At Checotah, we stopped for lunch and filled the car with gas. If the original King of Trails/Jefferson Highway was still in existence today, the following photograph shows what a driver would encounter when he reached about eight miles south of Checotah.
The Eufaula Dam was completed in 1964, creating a reservoir fed by the Canadian River and other rivers. “The [Eufaula Dam] project was authorized by the 1946 River and Harbor Act. It was designed by the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and built under the Corps supervision at a cost of $121,735,000. Construction was started in December 1956 and was completed for flood control operation in February 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the project on September 25, 1964.”3
When arriving in Eufaula, a note in the running directions for Route 916 in the 1920 Blue Book state: “Make local inquiry regarding bridge over Canadian river and, if same is completed, use new highway going over same.”5 Lena and Herbert arrived at this point only a few months before this guide book was published, so they may have had to make this inquiry to determine how to cross the Canadian River. If the bridge was not completed yet, a motorist following the 1920 Blue Book directions would find that about six miles further down the route he would need to cross the Canadian River on a ferry. In fact, this is what Herbert and Lena did, for at the end of Lena’s journal, she makes a final comment, stating that they were “ferried across the Canadian river.”6 The charge for using the ferry was $1.00.7 Below is a picture of a ferry at Boonville, Missouri. Herbert and Lena didn’t utilize this ferry, but this photo gives us an idea of what type of ferry they would have used.
“When the Jefferson Highway was first located through Eufaula the only way of crossing the South Canadian River, about four miles below the town, was by means of a rather uncertain ferry, and the citizens of Eufaula, feeling the great need of a good bridge across the river, incorporated The Jefferson Highway Bridge Company, and at a cost of almost a quarter of a million dollars, built the present splendid structure of steel and concrete, forty feet above low water, affording a 365 day crossing throughout the year. Already the traffic over this bridge, which was opened for use April 21, 1920, bids fair to justify the large expenditure upon it and it is rapidly becoming one of the notable landmarks of the neighborhood.”10
Left Miami, had muddy road in the forenoon
but good in the afternoon. Ate dinner at
Big Cabin. Stayed all nite in Muskogee. – Lena Bevers
The town of Miami, Oklahoma, which was named after the Miami Indians and is pronounced “My-Am-Uh,”1
is only about 10 miles south of the border between Kansas and
Main Street is the longest main street on Historic Route 66.2 When the Bevers family arrived in
Miami, they may have entered the town through the “Gateway.”
“In the early 1900s a steel arch greeted visitors entering Miami (by
train), as it spanned East Central Avenue (between C and D Streets) next to the
railway station. … The arch was removed in the 1930s.”3
“As part of the city’s project to reinforce its Route
66 roots, a replica of the classic steel structure was planned in 2007. It was
built and finally erected by Heck and Wicker Inc. in July 2012, but now on Main
“The new steel structure with a triangular top, proclaims to all
visitors ‘The Gateway, Miami, Okla.’”5
One of the architectural gems on Historical Route 66 is the Coleman Theater Beautiful, an historic vaudeville theatre with a Spanish Colonial Mission-style exterior and Louis XV interior, costing $600,000 to build.7 Tickets sold at $1.00 each when it opened April 18, 1929, ten years after Lena and Herbert had passed through the town. Current “programming ranges from ballets and operas to country and western acts to jazz and dance bands. Plus, … silent movies with the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ providing the music and sound effects.”8 During a tour of the theater given by a woman who had begun performing on the stage when she was about five years old (which was probably in the late 1940s), my mother and I were very impressed with the interior design, the carvings and paintings, and the care that devoted volunteers have given to restore the theater to its former glamour.
Two other beautiful sights on Main Street in Miami are murals painted on the side walls of buildings.
Herbert and Mr. McElhany drove about 100
miles on October 24, 1919. Lena wrote
that they had a muddy road on their way to Big Cabin, which is 40 miles from
Miami. Due to the muddy road they probably
were driving about 10 miles per hour. Then
in the afternoon the road was good, so they accomplished the 60-mile drive to Muskogee
at about 15 miles per hour. According
to The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, the speed laws in Oklahoma were regulated by the towns and cities.9
Before heading toward Big Cabin, we tried
to locate a stretch of the original Historic Route 66. It took about 45 minutes to find it because
the directions I obtained from a website were not specific enough and there either
wasn’t a road marker or we missed seeing a road marker. When we felt we had gone too far, we asked my
mother’s phone to navigate us to the location of The Ribbon Road and after
passing it once, we finally located the road.
The Ribbon Road is only one lane. “Legend
has it that the funds were insufficient and that the engineers chose to build
only one lane, nine-feet wide and pave the whole length between Miami and Afton
rather than pave half the distance with a regular width road.”10
On the map below printed in the International Tourist Guide, the route on the left is the branch of the Jefferson Highway that the Bevers’ family traveled on this day.11 Route 36 in The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920 lists many of the towns that Lena and Florence record in their travel logs. In the introduction to this route, it states: “This is a section of the King of Trails, the Jefferson highway and the Ozark trail. Good supply stations and stopping places all along the route.”12 According to a 1924 Rand McNally map, the King of Trails Highway merged with the Jefferson Highway at Vinita.13 As my mother and I traveled down this route, we found that the towns are still small except Muskogee. In Big Cabin, where the Bevers had their dinner, there were only truck stops, so we decided to continue down the road to Pryor. We ate lunch across the street from a building dated 1900. Then continuing on, we arrived at our motel in Muskogee at 3:00 PM.
Left Fort Scott, drove through the coal
mines, ate dinner in Pittsburg. Left
there and drove through the rock salt mines and oil wells and had supper and
stayed over night in Miami. – Lena Bevers
This morning when my mother and I were eating our breakfast at a fast food place in Fort Scott, Kansas, on the wall behind us there was a panoramic photograph of downtown Fort Scott in 1917. Here is a picture I took of that photograph:
The town of Fort Scott had its beginnings as a small settlement beside the frontier fort of the same name. The fort was established in 1842 and was “charged with keeping the peace between American Indians and white settlers.”1 The fort was abandoned in 1853, but the town continued to grow.
Before departing Fort Scott today, we briefly visited one of the historic downtown streets and the site of the military fort. The grounds of the fort are maintained by the National Park Service. We briefly visited two of the exhibit halls.
When Herbert and Lena headed south with their family on October 23, 1919, they continued driving on the Jefferson Highway. Lena recorded that they drove through coal mines. Southeastern Kansas was filled with mining camps at that time. Mining companies were mining for coal using underground mine shafts. This technique of coal mining declined during the 1920s and 1930s and the last mineshaft was closed in 1960.2 The region looks different now than it did when Lena and Herbert were here. As we traveled down U. S. Highway 69, there was an intermingling of woodlands, pastures and crop fields.
Lena wrote in her travel log that the Bevers family ate their dinner in Pittsburg, Kansas. As my mother and I headed to Pittsburg to have lunch, we stopped in the town of Franklin and visited the Miners Hall Museum.
A map from the Jefferson Highway International Guide shows two branches of the highway.6 The Bevers family was traveling on the branch on the left. Lena’s daughter Florence recorded that they drove near Arma, Edward and Garland, had dinner in Pittsburg, then drove through Crestline, Riverton, Lowell, Baxter Springs, Picher, Cardin and Commerce.7
One of the buildings that Lena and Herbert probably drove past in Pittsburg was the Stilwell Hotel. The Jefferson Highway International Guide had an advertisement for the hotel.9 (See below in the upper left corner.) On the opposite page there are advertisements of services for tourists.
Lena only occasionally mentions the type of facility they stayed at each night. The Jefferson Highway Association published a Tourist Camp Manual in 1923 which gives us a clue of what they may have done. The manual identifies towns where tourists can camp along the highway. One of the places noted in the manual is in Miami, Oklahoma.10 We ended our day by checking into a motel at 4:00 PM.