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.  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).

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 6, Curtis S. Stockwell owned Lots 9-11 in Section 7 and E. H. Whitney owned Lot J in Raymondville.  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)

An Introduction to Herbert James Bevers

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

Our Trip to Texas

A Travel Log by Lena Huppler Bevers

October 13, 1919 to November 8, 1919

In the fall of 1919 Herbert and Lena Bevers moved their family from Watertown, South Dakota to Raymondville, Texas. It took 27 days to make the trip and each day Lena wrote a few sentences about their travels, such as the road conditions, the towns they traveled through, where they had dinner and where they stayed for the night.

Two years ago I realized that the one hundredth anniversary of Herbert and Lena’s trip was approaching. I began researching for the routes that they would have taken, and as I researched I gradually became aware that 1919 was in the midst of a very significant period of road development in the United States. Long distance travel by automobile was just becoming practical and advantageous for the general population.

Beginning on October 13, 2019, according to my best research efforts, my mother and I will drive the route Lena recorded in her log and each day I will post what I have learned about traveling in 1919 as well as what I learn about a few of the changes that have occurred in the century that has passed since Herbert and Lena made their trip to Texas. I hope that you will find the time period as interesting as I do.

To see Lena’s original travel log, click here: 1919 Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log.

An Introduction to Lena Huppler

  • Born on January 15, 1872 in Switzerland
  • Immigrated with her parents to the USA in 1874
  • Parents: John and Anna Huppeler who died in 1875 in Wisconsin
  • Believed to be raised by a relative or local family near Sparta, Wisconsin
  • Either moved with her brother Christian Huppler in 1886 to Codington County, South Dakota or joined him there within a few years
  • Married Herbert James Bevers on November 24, 1892 in Watertown, South Dakota
  • Children: Edgar, Clarence, Arthur, Willis, Florence, Helen, Hazel, Estella, Harold, Margaret
  • Resided in Roberts, Codington, Hamlin and Deuel Counties in South Dakota and in Cameron County, Texas
  • Wrote a travel log in 1919 when Herbert and Lena moved their family from Codington County, South Dakota to Raymondville, Texas
  • Died on December 9, 1943 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Watertown, South Dakota