Union National Bank
5 August 1913: 1. The red building at left was the hardware store of Louis T. Fuller at 220 Travis at Congress; 2. At 901-903 Congress was the dry goods store, Mistrot-Munn, predecessor to W. C. Munn & Co., once the largest dry goods store in Houston; 3. The 12 story Union National Bank Building (218-220 Main) was completed in 1910. Note that M-O-N-T-R-O-S-E is spelled out in the windows of the 11th floor where the offices of the Houston Land Corporation were located. This real estate development corporation under the direction of John Wiley Link and partners including John H. Kirby and J S Rice, was developing the Montrose Subdivision along the esplanades of four new streets, Montrose, Lovett, Yoakum and Audubon.
Many of Houston’s builders, bankers and bureaucrats built mansions in the Montrose, including: J. W. Link (3800 Montrose) [When the 10,000 sq. ft house was sold to Thomas Peter Lee in 1916, it was the largest single-family residence in Houston], Howard Hughes (3921 Yoakum), Sid Westheimer (3700 Montrose), Walter W. Fondren (3410 Montrose) and Ross Sterling (4515 Yoakum); 4. J. N. Taub & Sons Cigars occupied the corner of Main and Congress at 221 Main (and other downtown locations) [The family home was at Polk and Main; 5. Beach-Litterst Photographic Studio was located at 1003 ½ Congress, with partners George Beach and Joseph D. Litterst. One of George Beach’s photographic images is found on another postcard in this series, Houston Viaduct.
21 November 2019: The Icon Hotel now occupies the Union National Bank Building at center. Farther to the left the hotel manages a surface-level parking lot for patrons of the hotel. At left the Franklin Lofts multi-level parking structure with entrance at 201 Main occupies the corner of Main and Congress.
Postmarked: 5 August 1913; Houston, TexasStamp: 1c Green George Washington #405 Perfin
To: Miss Berta Phillips
335 Magnolia Ave.
Why don't you write me a letter? I haven't had a letter from you since April. I got the card you sent saying you would be through here but never heard from you since. I was so disappointed in not seeing you. I didn't get a card from you before that one. When are you going home? We are getting awful anxious to see you. Hurry and come. We all have been up home and had a family reunion. All of us were there and we had a time. M. M.
It is hard to miss the sense of urgency the author M. M. communicates in this postcard to Miss Berta. It identity of M. M. is unclear, but her mention of a family reunion suggests Berta is a relative. Bertha Phillips was born 11 April 1894, daughter of Albert Polk Phillips and Lula Swearingen of Warren, Tyler County, TX. When Bertha was 8 years old, the Phillips family moved from Warren, Tyler County, TX to Beaumont, Jefferson County, TX where Albert, who had experience working in a livery stable in Warren, took work as a driver for Beaumont Ice Company. Some time between 1906 and 1909 “Polk” died, and to make ends meet his widow began to run a boarding house.
M.M. addressed the card to Miss Berta, who would have been 19 years old, and who was listed as a “trained nurse” in the most recent city directory, living separately (at least part-time) from her family at the boarding house at 1092 Milam. Nurse training would have been available in the area, but it may also be the case that Miss Phillips was already caring for a daughter from a very early relationship, but the evidence is indirect. When Bertie was a little over 13 years old, a child named Viola Frances Wing was born on 18 August 1907 in Louisiana. Many years later (26 June 1946) Viola’s death certificate lists Bertha (Woodring) as her mother and Larkin Wing as her father. Larkin Wing (born 31 October 1886) would have been just a few months past his 21st birthday when Viola was born. From Louisiana, He was the son of German Wing (1855-1937) and Susanna Landry (1856-1950), and might have gone to the Beaumont area looking for work in the oil boom after Spindletop. If he sought lodging at a boarding house, it might have been at Lula Phillip’s, but no evidence remains of transactions there. Larkin would later (18 May 1911) marry Lillian Margarette Tierney and remain as a worker in the area around the refineries of Orange County, TX.
Bertha had an older sister, Rachel (5 December 1892) and a younger sister, Allie May (12 November 1895), who no doubt helped around the boarding house. “Ray” became a dressmaker to supplement the family economics and Bertha may have married about this time to William Thomas Watkins, a carpenter by trade, who by 1917 in his WWI draft document indicated that he supported his wife and unnamed step-daughter at the Phillipps boarding house. Viola is named as his step-daughter in 1920, when he and Bertha lived 1575 Everett in the fifth ward neighborhood north of downtown. By 1930 Bertha had married Carl S. Woodring and moved back to Beaumont where she lived with her mother and husband at 1505 Lucas Street. Viola appears with the Woodring family (1931) working as a nurse, she had been in Beaumont as early as 1923 (when she would have been only 16) as a nurse at Hotel Dieu, a hospital and school for nurses under the direction of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Viola married Hubert John Schulgen in 1938.
Carl was born in Pennsylvania 9 January 1878, son of Samuel Barber Woodring (1840-1899) and Anna Elizabeth Rausch (1855-1933). Samuel was a Civil War veteran serving in the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry, initially enlisting in Luzerne County, PA, but then re-enlisting in early 1864 in Key West, FL. After the war Samuel returned to Pennsylvania where Carl and his older sister Annie were born, and in 1884 they came back to Florida, where Carl grew up in Sanibel Island near Fr. Myers in Lee County. FL.
As a young man Carl S. Woodring worked as a sportsman’s guide (1900, Sanibel Island, FL), “tinner” in a metal plating shop (1903, Tampa, FL), plumber (1910, Ft. Myers, FL). Carl married Ada (listed in 1910 census in FL), then Rosa (listed in 1920 in Beaumont, where he resumed work as a “tinner’ after moving there about 1914). Sometime after 1920 he married Bertie and became proprietor of Beaumont Sheet Metal Works. Carl and Bertie had no children of their own, but adopted a son Melvin B. Woodring (born 1926). Bertha’s sisters made their living in Beaumont as well. Older sister Rachel married Roy Ozere Melanson but was widowed by his death in 1926, they had no children. Allie May married Edwin J. Chevalier and they had two children, Ivy Lee (1915) and Edwin J., Jr. (1927). Bertha’s mother, Lula Phillips, apparently lived with her daughter and son-in-law until he died in 1937, then continued to stay with her daughter.
Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont holds the remains of most of the Phillips Family: Carl S. Woodring (1937); Viola Wing (1946), who married Hubert John Schulgen in 1938; Allie May Chevalier (1950); Lula Swearingen Phillips (1957); Edwin Chevalier (1960); Bertie Woodring (1971); Rachel Melanson (197