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

Day Twenty-Two: Taylor to New Braunfels, Texas

November 3, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Mon. Nov. 3.

Started out early and drove to Taylor and had breakfast.  We drove through Hutto and Round Rock.  We stopped to have Mr. McElhany’s car fixed, the wheels were out of line, so the rest of us went out to the River and washed out some clothes, and ate dinner out there.  Left about 1 o’clock and drove through Austin, Buda, Kyle, San Marcos, Gruene, and stayed all nite in New Braunfels.  Had fine roads. – Lena Bevers

The traveling party had stayed the night in their cars, so on November 3, 1919 they departed early and had breakfast in Taylor, then headed to Hutto and Round Rock.  Mr. McElhany’s wheels needed to be aligned.  While that was being done, the rest of the party went to the river and washed their clothes, and they ate their dinner.  North of the town of Round Rock is a stream called Brushy Creek.  Presently, there is a lovely park along Brushy Creek, named Round Rock Memorial Park.  After seeing the two short blocks of historical buildings in Hutto, my mother and I had a late picnic lunch in the Round Rock park along with many families who were enjoying a warm (but not hot), clear and dry fall day.

Hutto, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
Hutto, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
Round Rock, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
The Bevers family washed their clothes in the waters of Brushy Creek, Round Rock, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
This is how we washed and dried our clothes while we were visiting at my daughter’s house on the previous day. (Photograph by EAW November 3, 2019)
Interstate 35 crosses over Brushy Creek, Round Rock, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19201)

Based on the map of Austin above, which shows the route entering Austin from Taylor on Guadalupe Street, and the location of the bridge that crossed the Colorado River, it is very likely that Herbert Bevers and Mr. McElhany drove past the Texas State Capital.  This is the route my mother and I took to pass through Austin.  We crossed the Colorado River at the same point that is shown on the map above, but I haven’t researched enough to say whether the bridge is the same one that spanned the river one hundred years ago.

Congress Avenue, looking North from 8th Street, Austin, Texas (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project2)
Congress Avenue, looking North from 8th Street, Austin, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
Texas State Capital, Austin, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
Bridge over Colorado River, Austin, Texas, 1921 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project3)

By the time we were out of the suburbs of Austin, the sun was low in the sky.  Traveling on the city streets was slow.  Also, daylight savings time had ended the night before, and we had not taken into account that it would get dark an hour earlier.  We took a few pictures in Buda, south of Austin, and then decided that we needed to head to the motel, instead of going to the historical districts of Kyle, San Marcos and Gruene.  For much of the way to New Braunfels we drove on the frontage road of Interstate 35.  Some of the time it was faster driving on the frontage road, because there was too much traffic on Interstate 35 and the vehicles were driving slowly.  When we arrived at our motel at 6:30 PM, it had been dark for at least half an hour.

The building on the left is marked 1898 and the one on the right is marked 1901, Buda, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)
Buda, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 3, 2019)

Even though the caravan had a delay in Round Rock until 1:00 PM, they covered a lot of miles on this day.  From Taylor to New Braunfels, it was about 75 miles. Lena notes that they “had fine roads.”  The introduction to Route 779 in the 1920 Blue Book explains why the roads were so “fine” in this area.  There was Tarvia on the roads from Austin to Buda (15 miles).4  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tarvia as “a viscid surfacing and binding material for roads that is made from coal tar – formerly a U.S. registered trademark.”5

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 654, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  2. Congress Avenue, looking north from 8th Street, Austin, Texas, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Austin/AustinCongressAve8.jpg.
  3. Bridge over Colorado River, Austin, Texas (1921), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Austin/AustinColoradoRiverBridge1921.jpg
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 655.
  5. Tarvia, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Tarvia.

Day Twenty-One: Taylor, Texas

November 2, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sun. – Nov. 2.

Left Bartlett and went a round-about way to Granger and from there a round-about way to Taylor.  Ate a lunch on the road for dinner.  Got stuck twice quite bad.  Had supper at a farm house and stayed all night in our car. – Lena Bevers

On November 2, 1919 the roads were in no better condition than they were the day before.  Again Herbert Bevers’ car got stuck in the mud, very severely.  Lena recorded that they took round-about ways to Granger and to Taylor, Texas.  According to The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, the distance between Bartlett and Taylor using Route 778 was about 18 miles.1  This was the shortest number of miles that they traveled in one day.  When they drove through Granger, they had brick paved streets to drive on.  It was unusual for a small town to have paved roads at that time.

Since we arrived in Taylor yesterday, my mother and I took a long side trip to visit two of my daughters in Houston, Texas.  We’ll stay overnight and return to the route at Taylor tomorrow.

The 1912 brick paved street in front of Granger National Bank (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
Saturday Afternoon, Second and Main Streets, Taylor, Texas (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project2)
An 1893 building in Taylor, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
Taylor, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
On a sidewalk in Taylor, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
The original City National Bank is on the right, the modern City National Bank is on the left, Taylor, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 653, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  2. Saturday afternoon, Second and Main Streets, Taylor, Texas (1916), https://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Taylor/TaylorMainSt1916.jpg.

Day Twenty: Temple to Taylor, Texas

November 1, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sat. – Nov. 1.

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 Official Automobile 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.

The Santa Fe Depot in Temple, Texas was built in 1910. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
The Santa Fe Railway established the Santa Fe Hospital in Temple. The center building above was built in 1907 and the wing on the left was built before 1919 when the Bevers passed through Temple. The wing on the right was finished in the late 1920s. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
A postcard of the corner of Avenue A and Main Street, Temple, Texas, about 1915 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project2)
The First Methodist Church in Temple was completed in 1914. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
A unique way to preserve the architecture of historical buildings – the front of a 1912 building and the one beside it are supported by steel buttresses, but the roofs have been removed and the interiors of the buildings have been turned into a courtyard; Temple, Texas. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
A mural on the side of a building in Temple, Texas (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)

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.

(Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
The only building we could find in Little River, Texas, that looked old enough to have been in existence when the two-car caravan went through the very small town. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
When we turned the corner onto Main Street, Bartlett, Texas, we were delighted to see such a well-restored historic street. (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)
This is probably one of the banks that is noted in the 1920 Blue Book at the four corners in Bartlett.3 (Photograph by MRW November 1, 2019)

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.

Notes:

  1. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 652, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  2. Corner Avenue A and Main, Temple, Texas (ca. 1915), https://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Temple/TempleMain_AveACa1915.jpg.
  3. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 653.

Day Nineteen: Hillsboro to Temple, Texas

October 31, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Fri. Oct. 31.

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 hour.

Abbott Methodist Church, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The very small historical district of Abbott, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

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.

West Station, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
West, Texas historical buildings (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

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

From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19206

A postcard of the Suspension Bridge in Waco, Texas, dated 1912 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project7)
From The Official Automobile Blue Book 19208

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.

The bridge we used to cross the Brazos River; note the traffic is standing still. (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The bridge we thought was the Suspension Bridge, but is not. (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

A postcard of the Amicable Life Insurance Building dated 1913 (Courtesy of TXGenWeb Project9)
Amicable Life Insurance Building, Waco, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

The 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.

Lorena, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Bruceville-Eddy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Bedichek Academy Bell was presented to the First Baptist Church of Eddy, Texas in 1912 (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
Troy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)
The red building is dated about 1909; Troy, Texas (Photograph by MRW October 31, 2019)

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.

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 4.
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 649, 651, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  5. Texas Historical Commission, Waco: Waco Suspension Bridge, https://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/waco-suspension-bridge.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 650.
  7. Suspension Bridge, Waco, Texas (1912), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Waco/WacoSuspensionBridge1912.jpg.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, The Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7: 651.
  9. Amicable Life Insurance Building (1913), http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txpstcrd/Towns/Waco/WacoAmicableLifeInsBldg1913.jpg.
  10. John Troesser, Ten things you should know about the Alico Building of Waco, http://www.texasescapes.com/CentralTexasTownsNorth/WacoTexas/ALICO-Building-Texas-Skyscraper-Construction.htm.