Herbert James Bevers’ life begins in the county of York, in central northern England, an area where it is likely that his ancestors had lived for hundreds of years. Some information can be gleaned about his childhood from the Bible of his parents, Alfred Cockin Bevers and Mary Naomi Bridges. Herbert was born on March 8, 1869 in Sheepridge, which is in Huddersfield Parish. Three children had been born to his parents before Herbert’s birth, but one sister had died when she was 16 days old. So, when Herbert was born, his brother George, who had been born in Hull, York County, was four years-old, and his sister Ada, who was born in Bridlington, York County, was one and a half years-old. Two months after his birth, Herbert was baptized on May 16, 1869.1
Child’s Name Parents’ Names Mother’s Parents’ Names Profession
From the lists of births and deaths in the Bevers’ Bible we can follow where Herbert’s family was living during his childhood. While living in Sheepridge, a sister and a set of twin boys were born, but none of them survived their first year of life. The baby girl and one of the twins died while the family was in Sheepridge, but the second twin died in Barnsley. It appears that the Bevers family had lived in Sheepridge for about four years. The 1871 Census of England was taken while Herbert’s family was living in Sheepridge. At that time, Herbert’s father was a “Collector and Canvasser for Prudential Insurance Company.”2
After moving to Barnsley, a town about 20 miles southeast of Sheepridge, another sister, Gertrude, was born when Herbert was three and a half years old. Then about two and a half years later they would be in Sheepridge again for the birth of another sister, Agnes (but called by her middle name Maud). At that time (April 1875) Herbert’s brother George was nearly 10 years-old, his sister Ada was 7 ½ years-old, Herbert was six years-old and Gertrude was about 2 ½ years-old.
The family made a longer move sometime before May 1877, for another son was born in Liverpool, on the west coast of England. This son lived for about 14 months, dying in Bootle, a town three miles north of Liverpool. In 1881, when the Census of England was taken, the Bevers family was located in Kirkdale, a ward of Liverpool.3 Herbert’s father was a “tailors cutter” and his brother George at the age of fifteen was a “pupil teacher.” Herbert and his sisters were “scholars.” At the end of 1881, another brother was born and the family was living in Bootle. They were still living there nine months later when the baby died. At that point (August 1882), George was 17 years-old, Ada nearly 15 years-old, Herbert was 13 ½ years-old, Gertrude 10 years-old and Maud was seven and a half years-old.
During the next several years, all the members of Herbert’s family would immigrate to the United States. Resources give varying years for their arrivals in the USA, but I will report the years as they were recorded in the U. S. censuses. Herbert’s father immigrated to the United States first, in 1883,4 leaving his family presumably in Bootle (Alfred’s daughter Maud wrote a letter to her father dated September 29, 1883 which identified her address as 13 Orlando Street. An Internet search for this address locates it in Bootle, not Kirkdale nor Liverpool). Then in 1884 Herbert’s mother and sisters immigrated5, joining Alfred in South Dakota. Herbert would have been 15 years-old at that time. It is not known why he stayed in England. According to the 1940 U. S. Census, the highest grade that Herbert had completed was 6th grade,6 so he probably was no longer attending school. His brother George immigrated in 1885,7 but Herbert didn’t immigrate until about 1888.8
When George Bevers immigrated to the USA, he settled in Philadelphia. The first time there is an entry for him in the Philadelphia City directory is in 1886.9 He lived there nearly all of the rest of his life. One of Herbert’s grandsons believes that Herbert spent some time in Philadelphia,10 but Herbert’s name cannot be found in the city directory. Another source states that Herbert went to Virginia for a time.11 I have found no documentation to corroborate this either. After Herbert traveled to the USA, the first thing that is known for certain is that Herbert was a resident of Phipps Township in Codington County, South Dakota when he married Lena Huppler in 1892.12 But the story of their life together will have to wait for another time.
“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch, South Dakota > Kingsbury > De Smet Ward 2.
“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-58J8?cc=2000219&wc=QZFM-WH1%3A791611401%2C793270701%2C793367301%2C951353501 : accessed 14 May 2020), South Dakota > Codington > Watertown City, Watertown, Ward 3 > 15-24A Watertown City Ward 3 bounded by (N) Kemp Av; (E) Maple; (S) 4th Av S; ward line; also Barton Hospital, Codington County Jail, Watertown City Jail > image 17 of 42; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012.
James Gopsill’s Sons, Publishers, Gopsill’s Philadelphia Directory (Philadelphia: James Gopsill’s Sons, Publishers, 1886): 182.
M. E. Bevers, Willis Bevers Family History Slideshow (Unpublished, n. d.): 6.
“Herbert James Bevers 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): 116.
“Application for Marriage License of Herbert J. Beavers” (Circuit Court, Codington County, South Dakota, November 23, 1982).
Immigrants John and Anna Huppeler1, with their six children, arrived at the Port of New York in April 1874.2 Two months later, at the Circuit Court of Monroe County, Wisconsin, a declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States was signed by John Huppler.3 Then nearly a year later, the name John Huppler appears on the Wisconsin state census. As of June 1, 1875, he and his household were residing in Burns Township, La Crosse County.4 The census record indicates that there were four males and four females in the household, presumably these are John and his sons Christian, John and Friedrich and his wife Anna and daughters Rosetta, Anna Elizabeth5 and Lena. This census of Burns Township also includes the household of John’s brother Jacob Hueppler, which had two males and three females.6 There is also a David Hueppler, which is probably another brother of John, having two males and two females in the household.7
Tragically, both John and Anna Huppler lose their lives within several months of being recorded on the 1875 Wisconsin census. A century after their deaths, in a tribute to their daughter Anna Elizabeth’s 105th birthday, a statement is made: “When she was 6 her mother died and 6 mo. later, her father died. The 6 kids were placed with different families.”8 (According to other documentation of her age, Anna Elizabeth was actually eight years old when her parents died.) The ages of the other children were: Christian, about 12; Rosetta, age 10; John, age 6 or 7; Friedrich, age 5 and Lena, age 3.
So, what became of these six children? There is some family lore and a few documents that lead us to some possibilities of where the children were placed. One family historian, a descendant of Lena, obtained from a descendant of Christian a copy of a document dated March 4, 1876, signed by two Supervisors of the town of Burns in La Crosse County, Wisconsin. The document bound Christian as an indentured servant to William Sawyer of Burns until Christian reached the age of 21 years-old. A portion of the document reads as follows:
“… Whereas Christian Huppler now 13 years of age, a minor son of John Huppler and his wife Anna, late of said Burns, both deceased, is a resident of said town of Burns and destitute of means of support and has become a charge whom said town for support …. The Supervisors of the town of Burns have and by these presents do put and bind this said Christian Huppler unto the said William Sawyer as a servant for and until he shall have attained the full age of 21 years which will be on 22 Aug 1884 during which time the said servant shall serve his master faithfully, honestly and industriously…. The said William Sawyer hereby covenants, promises and agrees to and with said Board of Supervisors that he will furnish and provide said Christian Huppler with suitable and sufficient clothing, board and food and proper care, medical attendance in case of sickness and cause him within the said term to be instructed to read and write and in the general rules of mathematics and use him with proper care and extend to him suitable treatment and at the end of said terms he will give to said Christian Huppler the sum of $100. And for the time performance of all and singular this covenants and agreements aforesaid, the said parties bind themselves each unto the other firmly by these presents. In witness whereof the parties have set their hands and seals 4 Mar 1876.”9
William Sawyer was a farmer who had been living in La Crosse County since at least 1860 (his name is on the 1860 U. S. Census of the town of Bangor).10 According to the 1870 U. S. Census for Burns, William Sawyer’s household included his wife and three children, as well as another child, two farm laborers and a domestic servant.11 Christian himself can be found on the 1880 U. S. Census as part of the William Sawyer household, which was still residing in Burns.12 This census record identifies 16 year-old Christian’s relationship to the head of the household as “servant” and his occupation as “farm hand.” Christian also attended school within the census year and he could read and write. The birth place listed for Christian and his parents is “Switland” (this is assumed to be Switzerland).
According to the widow of one of Christian Huppler’s sons, the Huppler girls were raised by families with the name of McIntyre, Campbell and Christians, and she said that young John Huppler was raised by his uncle Jacob Huppler.13 She also said that “one boy died young of malaria after moving south.” As yet I have not been able to locate the placements of Rosetta nor Friedrich Huppler, but I have collected some information about Anna Elizabeth, John and Lena.
Sorting out who Anna Elizabeth was raised by and when she left Wisconsin has been difficult to determine. According to the above-mentioned article written when Anna Elizabeth turned 105-years-old, as an orphaned child “she lived and worked with the Alex McIntyre family” and the article also states that “two of her … brothers came to South Dakota and when she was 16 she joined them.”14 Alternatively, the text of the funeral folder of Anna Elizabeth seems to contradict the article, stating, “In 1880 she came to South Dakota with the William MacIntyre family.”15 William McIntyre was an early settler and businessman in Codington County, South Dakota (one source states that his arrival in Dakota Territory was in 1877, not 1880).16
“William and Adelaide [his wife] came to the tree claim he had staked two miles west of what is now Watertown. They were accompanied by a large contingent of settlers including two of his brothers. …They were very active in the early years of the city. He served as mayor and was appointed to the group authorized to organize Codington County.”17
Anna Elizabeth might not have actually moved to South Dakota at the same time as William McIntyre. In the 1880 U. S. Census of Sparta, Wisconsin, there is a record of a 13 year-old girl by the name of Annie in the household of Ester McIntyre who was married (not widowed), but her husband wasn’t in the household at the time the census was taken.18 The relationship of Annie to the head of the household (Ester) is recorded as “adopted.” According to a posting about Esther McIntyre on the Find-a-Grave website, Esther’s husband was Alexander McIntyre and they had adopted Annie.19 Perhaps this is Anna Elizabeth Huppler. Another posting on this website indicates that Alexander McIntyre moved to Watertown, South Dakota in 1886.20 If Anna Elizabeth did go to South Dakota when she was sixteen (which was 1883), then she may have left from the Alex McIntyre home, three years before he moved to South Dakota.
Possible confirmation of the statement that young John Huppler was raised by his uncle Jacob comes from a census record that actually leaves us with some uncertainty due to spelling inconsistencies. There is an 1880 U. S. Census record of a man named Jacob Hipler, living in Burns, Wisconsin21, the same town where Jacob Huppler was living when the Wisconsin state census was taken in 1875. The Jacob of this 1880 census record is from Switzerland, as well as the two children in the household. One of the children is named John, but the other is listed as Laura. Yet both of the children are in the age range of John and Lena Huppler. In the census record, their relationships to the head of the household are: son and daughter.
After eight and a half years, the indenture of Christian Huppler was completed on August 23, 1884 when he turned 21 years-old. Two years later he made his way to Codington County, South Dakota and began farming.22 Apparently, Christian’s relationship with his master William Sawyer was a good one, and after settling in South Dakota, Christian wrote to William. This fact is known due to the existence of a letter written by William’s daughter Lena Sawyer to Christian. Lena Sawyer’s letter states that she was writing a week after William Sawyer received a letter from Christian. In her letter dated September 15, 1889, she calls herself his friend, she tells him of her impressions of South Dakota and informs him of the doings of the members of her family. According to the wife of a family historian who is a descendant of Lena, the text of the letter reads:
“Father received your letter last week. We are glad to know that you keep well and like Dakota. I think it is just the place for young men and women too if they have plenty of courage. I have often thought that I would like to own a piece of land in Dakota but could not well take a homestead. What kind did you get and are there any claims near yours. I want land for speculation, not for a home for I could not stand Dakota winters. I think some of taking a trip to Huron this fall to visit the cousins there. Susie and Johnnie have moved to Mankato, MN. Mother went East the middle of July. She returned last week and brought a niece with her from NY. Frank went to CA the first of July. He thinks of spending a year in a law school at San Francisco then will settle in Stockton. Said he would not be back for 10 years. Allie has been home a month. She is going to teach in the Graded School at Long Prairie next year. Helen is at home. She is very anxious to learn short-hand and type-writing. Edgar has moved to LaCrosse and working at carpentry. Your friend, Lena”23
The 1915 South Dakota state census record of Lena Bevers indicates that she had been living in South Dakota for 29 years, which would mean that she moved to South Dakota in 1886, when she was 14-years-old.24 This is the same year that Lena’s cousin Kate Huppler Dellman moved to South Dakota with her husband J. H. Dellman.25 Kate was the second daughter of Jacob Huppler. If it is true that three-year-old orphaned Lena was taken in by Jacob Huppler, then Kate would have been sixteen-years-old at the time. Around five years later, in December 1880, Kate married Julius Dellman.26 Then, in the same year that Christian Huppler moved to Codington County, the Dellmans moved to Watertown, South Dakota. Perhaps young Lena Huppler had joined the Dellmans during their move to South Dakota.
According to family lore learned by one of Christian Huppler’s descendants, Christian was instrumental in bringing all of his siblings to South Dakota.27 Briefly, the following information is known about the residences of Christian and his siblings as young adults.
“Christian’s name is one of 22 settlers who signed a petition filed April 16, 1889 asking that the area be organized into a civil township known as Phipps Township.”28
It is not yet known which family took in Rosetta Huppler when her parents died, nor when and how she made her way to South Dakota. But she was living in Phipps Township, Codington County, South Dakota when she married Gottlieb Christian in 1900.29
Anna Elizabeth “had her own homestead near the McIntyre home which was north of Watertown and just west of Rauville.”30 Also, she and her husband Dougal Campbell were living in Phipps Township in 1900.31
As a young man John Huppler must have lived in South Dakota for a short time. He was there in 1892 when his sister Lena married Herbert Bevers. John and his sister Anna Elizabeth were witnesses who signed Lena and Herbert’s marriage certificate.32 John must have returned to Wisconsin about 1893 because he was married there about 1894.
Little is known about Friedrich. As yet, no record has been found of his living in South Dakota. Some family historians give him a death date of about the year 1900. Perhaps he died in the south of malaria, as one story reports about one of the Huppler boys.33
According to Lena’s marriage license dated November 1892, she was a resident of Watertown, Codington County, South Dakota at that time.34
The Huppler name is spelled in a variety of ways on different documents. When a document is referenced, the name is spelled as it is written in the document.
“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK97-V815 : 11 March 2018), John Huppeler, 1874; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 175,744.
“Declaration of John Huppler,” (Circuit Court, Monroe County, Wisconsin: June 12, 1874).
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4R-LFZ : 17 September 2017), William P Sowyer, Burns, La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 44, sheet 335A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,432.
M. A. Bevers, notes of an interview with Geraldine Huppler, widow of Jim Huppler, July 1991 (posted to Johannes Hüpperle in “Bevers-Daily-McFerran-Nelson Families” family tree on Ancestry.com, n.d.).
Jenkins Methodist Home News, “105th Birthday.”
Shaw-Messer Funeral Home, “Anna E. Campbell, 1867-1972” (Watertown, South Dakota: Shaw-Messer Funeral Home, January 3, 1973).
“William McIntyre 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): 264.
“William McIntyre Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 264.
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNHW-FTG : 23 August 2017), Ester Mcintyre, Sparta, Monroe, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 29, sheet 93A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,439.
Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 March 2020), memorial page for Esther E Husted McIntyre (27 May 1837–8 Jul 1912), Find a Grave Memorial no. 88550806, citing Leon Cemetery, Sparta, Monroe County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Susan Hunt Williams (contributor 47664730).
Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 March 2020), memorial page for Alexander “Alex” McIntyre (18 Jun 1838–18 Nov 1907), Find a Grave Memorial no. 88523698, citing Leon Cemetery, Sparta, Monroe County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Susan Hunt Williams (contributor 47664730).
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4R-RN5 : 17 September 2017), Jacob Kipher, Burns, La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 44, sheet 341B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,432.
“Christian Huppler 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): 208.
M. A. Bevers, email communication to M. Wilson, April 20, 2020.
“J. H. Dellman 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): 156.
“J. H. Dellman Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 156.
M. L. Winzenburg, email communication with K. Bevers, Apr. 19, 2017.
“Christian Huppler Family,” In The First 100 Years of Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 208.
M. A. Bevers, notes of the marriage record of Rosa Huppler and Gotlip (sp?) Christian (posted to Rosetta Huppler in “Bevers-Daily-McFerran-Nelson Families” family tree on Ancestry.com, n.d.).
Jenkins Methodist Home News, “105th Birthday.”
“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMRS-CZZ : accessed 15 April 2020), Anna E Campbell in household of Degald Campbell, Fuller, Richland & Phipps Townships, Codington, South Dakota, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 102, sheet 7B, family 131, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,548.
“Marriage License of Herbert J. Beavers and Lena Huppler” (Circuit Court, Codington County, South Dakota: November 23, 1892).
M. A. Bevers, notes of an interview with Geraldine Huppler.
“Marriage License of Herbert J. Beavers and Lena Huppler.”
On an early spring day in 1874, the R. M. S. City of Paris arrived at the Port of New York. This ship had been serving as a passenger liner since 18661 and its record as a fast ship along with the records of the other four or five ships in its fleet contributed to its owners being granted a contract to transport mail by the British Post Office Government.2 Thus it holds the prefix “R. M. S.” which means Royal Mail Steamship.3 It was an iron-hulled, screw-propelled steamship, but it was fitted with sails also in order to navigate in unpredictable weather. (Initially, steamships were propelled by paddlewheel. The first screw-propelled steamship was built in 1840.4 Screw-propellers became the standard mode of propelling steamships until they were replaced by steam turbines in the early 1900s. The transition from wood hulls to iron hulls began about 1850.5) “After four years of service, City of Paris was lengthened to 397 feet (121 meters) and re-engined with compounds …. This raised her tonnage to 3100 and her capacity to 150 cabin and 400 steerage.”6
On April 9, 1874, Henry Tibbits, the Master of the R. M. S. City of Paris, submitted a ship manifest to the Collector of the Customs of the Collection District of New York. Listed on this ship manifest as one of the families who traveled in steerage is the Huppeler family, which included:
#185 Joh Huppeler, age 42, male, laborer
#186 Anna Huppeler, age 40, female, wife
#187 Christ Huppeler, age 9, male, child
#188 Rosetta (sp) Huppeler, age 7, female, child
#189 Anna Huppeler, age 6, female, child
#190 Joh Huppeler, age 4, male, child
#191 Friedr Huppeler, age 3, male, child
#192 Lena Huppeler, age 2, female, child
On this manifest, the country recorded to which the Huppelers belonged was Germany, but the naturalization documents of Christian, Anna, John and Lena Huppler indicate that they had been subjects of Switzerland.9 The R. M. S. City of Paris picked up passengers in Liverpool, England and Queenstown, Ireland. At this point, it is not known exactly how long this specific voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was, but it is recorded that “In a famous February 1868 race, City of Paris and Russia sailed from New York within an hour of each other. The Inman liner [City of Paris] claimed 8 days, 19 hours, 23 minutes to Queenstown, while the Cunarder [Russia] required 42 minutes longer using a slightly different course.”10
The ship manifest also records that the Huppeler family intended to become inhabitants of the United States of America. When they disembarked from the ship they would have been processed as immigrants at Castle Gardens, New York City.
“Prior to 1890, individual states (rather than the federal government) regulated immigration into the United States. These regulation efforts were varied and inconsistent. …
“On August 1, 1855, the [state of] New York opened the first official immigrant receiving station in New York City. It functioned as an immigrant processing center and was the first of its kind in the United States. Castle Gardens operated as an Emigrant Landing Depot until April 18, 1890, when the United States government assumed control of immigrant processing. In total, the center processed approximately 8 million immigrants (mostly from northern and western Europe).
“When immigrants disembarked at Castle Garden, they had to register with their name, birth place, and destination. A clerk at the Railway Agency would then purchase a railway ticket for the immigrant to travel to that destination. The immigrant’s baggage would be weighed and checked to his destination. Exchange brokers for immigrants to exchange foreign currency and a restaurant were also located at the center. A station for [letter] writing was also available, in which an immigrant could send a letter free of charge to inform family or friends of their arrival. The Ward’s Island and medicinal department was an important bureau at Castle Garden. There, immigrants without the means to support themselves would be cared for until assistance came from friends or the immigrants would be disposed of as laborers. A large blackboard with the names of ships who were or would shortly be at port was kept for friends of the immigrants to know when they arrived and locate them. The Labor Exchange was where immigrants, and others, could apply for and generally find employment. Immigrants could also find boarding houses to rest for one or two days before heading out to their destinations.
“Castle Gardens was a very busy and important immigrant receiving station. To illustrate, in 1869, 2884 letters written from immigrants to their friends were forwarded, over $41,000 was sent from these friends in return. Also in 1869, 4393 telegraph messages were forwarded and 1351 answers were received. Also, 504 steamers and 209 sailing vessels arrived carrying passengers.”11
Five years earlier than when John Huppeler’s family arrived at New York City, another Huppeler family had immigrated to the United States – the family of John’s brother. The ship manifest of the S. S. William Penn (“S. S.” means single-screw steamship12) lists the following members:
#259 Jacob Huppeler, age 42, male
#260 Catherine Huppeler, age 52, female
#261 Anna Lise Huppeler, age 11, female
#262 Catharine Huppeler, age 9, female
This steamship had picked up passengers in London, England and in Havre, France. This Huppeler family had traveled in steerage, the country to which they belonged was recorded as Switzerland and they intended to become inhabitants of the United States. Of the 613 passengers listed on the ship manifest, 158 of them were from Switzerland.
“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK97-V815 : 11 March 2018), John Huppeler, 1874; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 175,744.
Microfilm images of naturalization papers of Christian Huppler, Anna E. Huppler, John Huppler and Lena Huppler, South Dakota State Historical Society, Pierre, South Dakota.
“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV3Q-S25K : 11 March 2018), Jacob Huppelar, 1869; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 175,664.
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:
Agency Township, Roberts County (1900)
Rau Township, Codington County (1905)
Oxford Township, Hamlin County (1910)
Elmira Township, Codington County (1915)
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 Handbookof 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
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
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
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.
A. A. Garza, “Willacy County,” The New Handbook of Texas vol. 6 (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996): 975.
Year: 1910; Census Place: Center Creek, Martin, Minnesota; Roll: T624_710; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1374723.
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).
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.
“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.
“Kammrath, Frederick,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 31.
“Jones, Eddie A.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 3.
“Stockwell, Curtis S.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 101.
“Whitney, E. H.,” General Index to Deeds – Grantees (Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County Clerk): 18.
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
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.
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.
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.
B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription
of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 5.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Between San Antonio and Floresville, there were three small towns. None of them had historic areas that we could identify.