6 January 1911: The Scanlan Family Obelisk at left honors Thomas Howe Scanlan (1832-1906), born in Limerick, Ireland in 1832 who came to Houston in 1853 as a merchant. A strong supporter of the Union, he joined the Republican Party in 1860 when such sentiments were generally unwelcome in the state. After the Civil War he was appointed mayor of town by the Reconstruction governor of Texas, but it is highly unlikely that he could have been elected by the former confederates. He invested in real estate and owned stakes in local companies, including rail transportation and utilities. As mayor he promoted public projects in paving, drainage, and spearheaded a new city hall project and market house in what would become Market Square. He advocated for parks and invested his personal funds in an early streetcar enterprise and in waterworks and gas utilities. Scanlan died in Chicago in 1906 and his seven surviving daughters hired world-renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham to design a grand memorial building named in their father’s honor on land he had purchased in 1865. The Scanlan plot contains the remains of the ex-mayor, his wife Sophie Hermoine Ebert Scanlan (d. 1898), and 9 “spinster” daughters: Sophia (d. 1879), Marguerite (d. 1904), Caroline (1867-1918), Katherine (1869-1936), Mary Ellen (1873-1915), Stella (1878-1950), Charlotte (1879-1926), Lillian (1881-1947), and Alberta (1883-1929). They all lived in a spacious mansion at 1917 Main in the very best residential section of town. Whether they were too independent-minded to marry, or bore the curse of their father’s political stance is more properly a matter for Scanlan Family historians.
13 November 2019: Virtually unchanged in more than a century, the Hermann Family monument, topped with an angel, greets visitors to the cemetery near its entrance. George H. Hermann (1843-1914) was the son of John Hermann (1791-1862) and Fanny Hermann (1805-1863) from Davos, Switzerland. John Hermann knocked around ports of the Gulf of Mexico for a few years; his son Louis was born in Louisiana and John M. Hermann in Veracruz, Mexico. They came to Houston in 1838 and operated a dairy and bakery. George was born in Houston and grew up in the thriving city. Volunteering as a young man, he served in the 26th Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (1861-1865). Returning to Houston after the war, he went into business with Julius J. Settegast and W. J. Settegast [LINK? to the Binz Building] in the cattle and land business. Over the last decades of the 19th century, he made a fortune and was a generous philanthropist. He donated 285 acres of the land where he was born to the city, which created Hermann Park, and later Hermann Hospital was founded on the southern boundary of the park. George made a significant donation to the Houston Art League which seeded the origin of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1924, the first in Texas. Hermann Drive and Hermann Square in front of the 1939 City Hall are among his namesakes.
Postmarked: 6 January 1911; Houston, Tex. “T”
Stamp: 1c Green Ben Franklin #374
To: Miss Edna Wynkoop
Vorheesville, Albany Co., N. Y.
AFD. No -3-
My Dear Edna, Lost but not forgotten, I can not write long letters for a time yet, writing so many Seemed to tell on my nerves! Bessie is here has stayed for two weeks she will stay four weeks So glad to have her here. We are well, trying to go out all we can in the sun shine. I do not sleep very well but have found that same moon & stars look down on us all. Oh write to me Long[ing?] Mrs Shelp
[Inverted at top]
Tell E_ Santa O_ may come next summer. Will is building his home, wish I could tell you about it. [Not inverted] 2115 [0?] Bagby St.
Mrs. Shelp was Elizabeth Miller Shelp, widow of Dr. James Shelp (1852-1910) of Amsterdam, Montgomery County, NY. Amsterdam was situated on the Mohawk River 20 miles northwest of Schenectady, an area settled in the 1660’s by Dutch settlers. The Erie Canal opened in 1825, passing through Amsterdam resulting in great economic growth in the region and nation. When “Bessie” wrote the postcard Amsterdam had 30,000 citizens, but Houston was much larger at 80,000 but growing fast and about to explode onto the national scene, while Amsterdam was near the peak of its growth.
Elizabeth was 50 years old at the time she wrote the postcard, clearly grieving her loss and perhaps still a bit morbidly thinking of cemeteries. Dr. James Shelp was a long-time veterinary surgeon in Amsterdam with an office in his home at 317 W. Main, a large home he had built in 1894 overlooking the Mohawk River [and still standing]. Leaving all this behind, she relocated to Houston to be with her older son, William Biggam Shelp, who had come to Houston in 1908 to join its thriving business life.
He incorporated a company, W. B. Shelp Rubber Company, vendors of mechanical rubber goods and asbestos materials. HIs headquarters were at 715 Washington in the Brazos Block adjacent to the Brazos Hotel, a prime location near rail lines and just across Buffalo Bayou from downtown. As a bachelor newcomer, he first boarded at the Brazos Hotel (1908), then later the YMCA [LINK](1910) and the Bender Hotel [LINK] (1913). His mother and 8 year-old brother James joined him shortly before she wrote the postcard in 1912, finding lodging in one of the town’s many boarding houses at 2115 Bagby operated by Mrs. Amy Hussey Kelso (1866-1952). With the help of the family breadwinner, William Shelp, they later moved into the house he had built on Forest Hill Street in Magnolia Park, then an independent community east of Harrisburg (incorporated into Houston in 1926).
Edna Bell Wynkoop (1878-1967) was 20 years younger than Elizabeth Shelp, and the manner of their family relationship or acquaintance is uncertain. Vorheesville in Albany County where she lived was 35 miles southeast of Amsterdam in Montgomery County, a small community of 500 souls. Edna’s sister was Elizabeth Shelp Wynkoop (1894-1983), and it is surely no accident she and the postcard author bear the same name. No family connection can be found, however in online records. Edna and Elizabeth were the children of John Van Allen Wynkoop (1855-1939) and Harriet Allbright (1857-1937), other siblings being an older brother Newton (1876-1900), and Margaret Van O’Linda Wynkoop Hallenbeck (1883-1958). The identity of “Bessie” and “H” who were visiting as Mrs. Shelp wrote the postcard is not clear, and it would be sheer speculation to posit that “Bessie” is Elizabeth Shelp Wynkoop and “H” was her mother Harriet. “E” who might expect a summer Christmas is even more of a mystery, and no speculation is offered here.
Elizabeth Miller Shelp remained in Houston the rest of her life, leaving behind the Forest Hill Street home for 4512 Walker (1930) east of downtown, then 3518 Garrott (1940), a large three story Montrose house in the Westmoreland District, which is still standing. William B. remained with her through her death at the age of 95. James Henry Shelp married in Chicago, IL at the age of 34 to Ernestine Ada Lee (b. 1902), a 1924 UT Austin graduate and a Houston Public School teacher. James was a long-time Houston Chronicle employee, beginning as a route carrier as a teenager, advancing to the Circulation Department, then manager of the Classified Section. He died at the age of 46 of coronary occlusion, never having had children. His widow remarried a Mr. Hutchinson and she died in 1992. William Biggam Shelp married at 74 to Ora Diserens in Ellis County. He died 10 years later and was buried in Forest Park Cemetery near his mother; his widow joined him there in 1978.
Edna Wynkoop (1878-1967) married Myndert Crounse (1886-1971), a farmer in New Salem, a small community near Vorheesville, Albany County, NY. They had one son, Myndert, Jr. in 1918, and made a living as farmers. Edna died in 1967, her husband in 1971, and they are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in New Salem, Albany County, NY. Her parents are buried in Jerusalem Cemetery in Fuerza Bush a few miles away. Elizabeth Shelp Wynkoop (1894-1983) married Edward Weidman (1899-1966) in 1918 and lived in close association with her parents until their deaths, Harriet in 1937 and John 1939. They continued the family farm until the death of Edward in 1966 and Elizabeth herself in 1983. They are buried in Mount Pleasant cemetery in New Salem near her sister.