Day Eight: Percival, Iowa to Atchison, Kansas

October 20, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Mon. – Oct. 20.

Stayed in Auburn till 12 A. M. while they fixed on the cars.  Ate dinner and then we pulled out.  Got into Horton about 6 P. M.  Had supper and stayed all night. – Lena Bevers

Lena writes in her travel log that the traveling party spent the morning of October 20 in Auburn, Nebraska because the men needed to fix their cars.  Florence adds that “they fixed the fan on our car and the frame on McElhaney’s car.”1  My mother and I didn’t head down the road right away either.  In the 2018 AAA TourBook Guide for Nebraska, my mother found the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.  This farm is operated by the Arbor Day Foundation, whose mission statement is: “We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”2  We spent the morning viewing some of their informative exhibits, walking one of their trails and experiencing a very unique attraction: Treetop Village.  If you are looking for evidence that you still have a kid in you, then try this out.

(Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Lena stated that they headed down the road from Auburn at 12:00 PM after they ate dinner.  Today we started down the road from Nebraska City about 12:30 PM after sharing a caramel apple at the Arbor Day Farm.  U. S. Highway 75 roughly follows the King of Trails Highway until north of Dawson, Nebraska, then U. S. Highway 73 follows the King of Trails.  Florence recorded that they traveled through Howe, Stella, and Verdon in Nebraska, then Reserve and Hiawatha in Kansas.3  The two-car caravan ended their day in Horton, Kansas at about 6:00 PM.  In six hours, they had traveled about 63 miles, at not much more than 10 miles per hour.

Extract of Route 1041 from The Official Automobile Blue Book 19174

When my mother and I traveled down U. S. Highway 75, we went past and through several very small towns, for example Verdon has a population of 172.  We could not find a business district in Verdon nor did we find one in Reserve.  Auburn, the town where the Bevers family spent the previous night is small also, as well as Horton where they stopped on this day.  Hiawatha was the largest town we drove through.  It was very interesting to see the well-maintained historical buildings there.

Hetzel’s Block in Auburn, Nebraska, dated 1890 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
This building in Horton is dated 1915. The stone above the window says “Motor Inn.” (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Originally called the Hiawatha Memorial Auditorium, this 1920 building houses the Brown County Historical Society. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Brick paved streets encircle the Courthouse Square of Hiawatha. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Lawrence Building, Hiawatha, Kansas, dated 1896 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

In 1919, the speed laws in Kansas were: “‘Reasonable and proper.’ ‘A rate of speed in excess of 25 miles an hour shall be presumptive evidence of driving at a rate which is not careful and prudent in case of injury to the person or property of another.’  Twelve miles per hour in city limits; eight miles an hour at crossings, intersections, bridges, curves, descents, etc.  Six miles an hour at city intersections.”5  The 1920 edition of The Official Automobile Blue Book informed its readers that: “There is now a great interest in Kansas in the matter of good roads, and many miles of macadam, brick and concrete are being constructed under the supervision of the state highway commission.”6

When the Bevers family passed through Hiawatha, they crossed over another transcontinental highway. Below is a section of a Rand McNally map dated 1924, designating the King of Trails Highway with the number 27.7  (As I’ve mentioned before, this number corresponds to the map legend, it is not a highway number assigned by a governmental agency.)  At Hiawatha the King of Trails intersects with the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway (number 47 on the map.)  The Ocean-to-Ocean Highway connected New York City with Los Angeles.8

Section of Rand McNally Map of Nebraska & Kansas, 1924
Ocean to Ocean Highway, 1913 (Public Domain; Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration)

We didn’t stay in Horton as Lena’s family did because we weren’t able to locate online a motel in Horton, so instead we made a reservation in Atchison, Kansas.  Before leaving Horton for our motel, we stopped at Werner Wagon Works.  The proprietors restore and manufacture wagons in the style that were used in the eighteen hundreds.  They kindly gave us a tour of their workshop.  It was fascinating to see and imagine how our ancestors traveled before automobiles were invented.

An army escort wagon that will be restored by Werner Wagon Works. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
A restored wagon completed about 1991 (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)
Some of the restoration work is completed with this band saw built in the early nineteen hundreds. (Photograph by MRW October 20, 2019)

Notes:

  1. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  2. Arbor Day Foundation, https://www.arborday.org/generalinfo/about.cfm.
  3. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas: 2.
  4. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1099-1100, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  5. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1234.
  6. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 859, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  7. Rand McNally and Company, Commercial Atlas of America, “Auto Trails Map, District No. 12, Southern Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Northeastern New Mexico, Northern Oklahoma” (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1924): 372-373, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~201708~3000668:AutoTrails-Map,-Southern-Nebraska.
  8. Rick Martin, “The Highway,” Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway, http://www.ppoo.org/.

Day Seven: Council Bluffs to Percival, Iowa

October 19, 2019

Retracing Lena Huppler Bevers’ Travel Log

Sun. – Oct. 19.

Left Council Bluffs about 8:00 A. M.  Had fine roads.  Ate dinner on the roadside.  Got into Auburn, Nebr. about 5 P. M. and stayed all night.  Had supper here. – Lena Bevers

On this day, Lena only recorded their starting and ending points.  This isn’t much information to determine the route that they took on this day.  Council Bluffs is on the east side of the Missouri River and Auburn is on the west side of the river, so one question is: Where did they cross the Missouri River?  They could have crossed from Council Bluffs into Omaha, or they could have traveled south and crossed at Nebraska City.  To make the choice, initially I referred to the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes, dated 1919, which I obtained from the Iowa Department of Transportation website.  A portion of the King of Trails Highway is highlighted on this map, indicating that the highway crossed the Missouri River at Omaha and traveled south through Plattsmouth, Nebraska City and Auburn.1  So that is the route that I chose.  Just a couple weeks ago, when my mother obtained from her cousin a copy of Florence Bevers’ travel log, we found confirmation that Herbert and Mr. McElhany did follow the King of Trails Highway into Omaha and then traveled south.  Florence wrote: “Drove thru Omaha, Albright, Ft. Crook, Plattsmouth, Murry, Union, Wyoming and Nebraska City. … Got into Auburn ….”2

Section of the Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes

The bridge they would have used was one that between 1913 and 1930 was called the Lincoln Highway Bridge, which was a toll bridge.  At the end of Lena’s journal, she notes that they crossed four toll bridges.  The King of Trails and the Lincoln Highways both crossed the Missouri River on the Lincoln Highway Bridge.  Originally this bridge was called Douglas Street Bridge.  It was a truss bridge built by Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company in 1888, designed to handle streetcars. On the photograph below, note the signs on each side of the bridge with the capital letter L.  These were the signs posted to indicate to the motorists that they were on the Lincoln Highway. 

Photograph of the Douglas Street Bridge by Omaha Daily Bee in July 1914. (Public Domain.)3

In 1938 a group of businessmen called the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben (by the way, read this word backwards), bought the bridge with the intentions of making it a free bridge, which they accomplished in 1947.4  The bridge which was then named the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge served the two cities until November 1966 when the Interstate Highway 480 Bridge was opened.  All that is left of the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge is an east pier near the east bank of the river, south of the I-480 Bridge.

The first thing my mother and I did this morning was drive to River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs.  It was a lovely morning and very pleasant for walking partway across the pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri River and viewing the motivating statue that stands in the park.

(Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
(Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
The Interstate 480 Bridge entering Omaha (Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)
The Interstate 480 Bridge is the bridge we used to cross the Missouri River (Photograph by MRW October 19, 2019)

Herbert and Lena’s daughter-in-law Gladys Daily Bevers was born in Omaha.  Gladys’ mother Maggie Bonewitz Daily moved to Omaha from Fairfield, Iowa in 1880 and her father Charles Daily, who worked his way west from Indiana, arrived in Omaha about 1888.  Charles and Maggie married in 1891 and except for a short stint of farming near Topeka, Kansas they stayed in Omaha until 1915.  On Easter Sunday in 1913, there was a devastating tornado that destroyed hundreds of homes.  Today, my mother and I did some research in the Omaha Public Library and found an article in the Omaha World-Herald that confirmed that Gladys’ grandmother’s home was destroyed.5  Gladys’ home was two blocks away and it is believed that her home was destroyed as well.  A year after the tornado hit Omaha, the Daily home was photographed at the same address as the home they lived in before the tornado hit, so it may be concluded that this is a re-built home.  In 1915 the Daily family moved to a farm north of Watertown, South Dakota.

Charles and Maggie Daily’s Home in March, 1914
Courtesy of My Genealogy Hound6

In 1919 upon entering Nebraska, the speed law was: “Reasonable and proper; not to exceed 25 miles per hour in any case, 12 miles in the city limits, 8 miles at an intersection, bridge, etc.; at intersection of streets in city, 6 miles.”7  In Omaha the Lincoln Highway broke away from the King of Trails Highway, traveling west toward Cheyenne, Wyoming, while the King of Trails Highway turned south to travel along the eastern border of Nebraska.  Today when we left Omaha, we traveled alongside U. S. 75 for about 10 miles.  Then we had to get on U. S. 75, which at that point was a modern four-lane highway.  Then from Murray to Nebraska City it became a two-lane highway.

Route 1041 from The Official Automobile Blue Book takes one from Omaha to Hiawatha, Kansas.  Lena’s family stopped for the night at Auburn which is at mile 68.7 on this route.  In the introductory explanation, I would interpret the “natural roads” to be dirt roads.8  Also, the “Blue Book car” could be equated with the current day Google Maps car.

The above directions (from the 1917 Blue Book) say that there was a toll of 50 cents to go over the Platte River9, but the 1920 Blue Book states that the cost to cross the toll bridge was 25 cents for the car and driver and 5 cents for each additional passenger.10  At the end of Lena’s travel log, she adds a postscript, saying that they had driven over four toll bridges.  It appears that on this day, they traveled over two of the four toll bridges: the Lincoln Highway Bridge and the Platte River Bridge.

When my mother and I were looking online for a motel, we could not locate one in Auburn.  The most economical one we found near Auburn was in Percival, Iowa.  So, today we ended our day in Percival, instead of traveling as far as Auburn.  Before going over the Missouri River to Percival, we decided to stop in Nebraska City for dinner (our end of the day meal).  While we were looking for a restaurant, we passed the courthouse, which was erected in 1864.  Nebraska City is one of the towns in Florence’s list of towns that the Bevers family passed through.  She also notes that they: “Stopped early so they could fix the car.”11

Notes:

  1. The Kenyon Company, Map of Iowa Showing Principal Automobile Routes (Des Moines, Iowa: The Kenyon Company, 1919), https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/pdf/historic.pdf.
  2. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.
  3. Omaha Daily Bee, Douglas Street Bridge (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Daily Bee, 1914 July 12), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Douglas_Street_Bridge_-_July_1914.jpg.
  4. Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ak-Sar-Ben_Bridge.
  5. Morning World Herald, Homes Destroyed, Not Previously Reported (Omaha, Nebraska: Morning World-Herald, 1913 March 29): 6.
  6. 16th Street, North from Harney, Omaha, Neb., http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/vintage-postcards/nebraska-postcards/NE-Omaha-Nebraska-Sixteenth-Street-looking-North-from-Harney-Street-vintage-postcard-photo.html
  7. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1917): 1235, https://ia800405.us.archive.org/15/items/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5/case_gv1024_a92_1917_vol_5.pdf.
  8. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1098-99.
  9. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1917, vol. 5: 1098.
  10. Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, Official Automobile Blue Book 1920, vol. 7 (New York: Automobile Blue Book Publishing Company, 1920): 162, https://ia601208.us.archive.org/26/items/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7.pdf.
  11. B. Winkelmann, Our Trip to Texas [Transcription of Our Trip to Texas by Florence Bevers, 1919] (unpublished, n. d.): 2.