1929: On the right, Union Station was the center of activity on the west side if Texas Avenue,with many trains arriving and departing every day. Just past is the Ben Milam Hotel 10 stories tall and most convenient to the rail center. The Rice Hotel, perhaps the best hotel in Houston of the time, seems quite distant, but is only six blocks away.
On the left, Annunciation Church, constructed in 1869 and added to by Nicholas Clayton, renounced Galveston architect,a few years later. It is Houston's oldest existing church building. Farther down Texas Avenue is The Petroleum Building, constructed in 1926 by Joseph S. Cullinan for the headquarters of the Texas Oil Company, later to become Texaco, one of the largest petroleum companies in the world. Farthest down Texas Avenue is The Post-Dispatch building also built in 1926, a 22 story skyscraper developed by Ross Sterling, founder of Humble Oil and soon-to-be Governor of Texas, to hold the offices of radio station KPRC and The Houston Post-Dispatch newspaper.
21 October 2010: Union Station on the right foreground has been transformed into the baseball stadium for the Houston Astros opened in 2000 as Enron Field, now Minute Maid Park. A little farther down is the 10 story Ben Milam Hotel, extant in this photograph, but demolished 9 December 2012. All the way back is the Rice Hotel, followed by the Calpine Center at 33 floors. On the left Annuncition Church remains where it has stood since 1871, then The Westin Houston Downtown Hotel, The Great Southwest Building seems to sit between 56 story Bank of America Center and 75 story JP Morgan Chase Tower. The Post Dispatch Building, barely discernible amid more recent skyscrapers, became the Houston headquarters for Shell Oil Company after an all-too-brief stint as a media conglomerate center, is now The Magnolia Hotel.
To: Miss Billie Buswell
Postmarked: Mar 14, 1929
Stamp: 1c Deep Green Ben Franklin #552
Message: This view is at the Union Depot where we take the train to go to Bay City & Corpus Christi looking up the centre of the city.
“Billie” is Wilberta Buswell, the 16 year old daughter of John James Buswell, an insurance agent based in Lumberton, Burlington County, New Jersey. He was described on his Word War I draft registration on September 11, 1918 as short in stature, with a medium build, blue eyes and dark brown hair. His signature on this document is a match for that on the postcard.
The author of the postcard speaks of the depot “where we take the train to go to Bay City and Corpus Christi.” The syntax suggests that he was in the habit of repeated trips south from Houston, which seems to suggest that he was staying in Houston for significant periods of time. These trips south were apparently in connection with his activities as a marine insurance agent. Though he may have made work trips to Houston, and probably other communities, he apparently continued to live in Lumberton, a rural community of less than 1,000 inhabitants east of Philadelphia and south of Trenton.
John James Buswell (born 1876 in Philadelphia) was the son of Herman S. And Mary Buswell. He married Lillian Clayberger (1874) daughter of Benjamin and Nellie Clayberger of Schuylkill County, PA. They had three children: Robert Langsdale Buswell (1904), Jean (1908), and Wilberta (1913). Wilberta married Gared C. L. Barnes and they had two children: Harold (1940) and Joyce Ann (1944).
Lillian Buswell died in 1962 and John James Buswell died in 1964; they are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Lumberton, Burlington County, NJ, as was Lillian’s father Benjamin Clayberger, who died in 1933. Gared Barnes died in 1993 in Wilmington, Delaware and Wilberta “Billie” Buswell Barnes died in 2013 in Lakewood, New Jersey.