Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Mom & Dad's Honeymoon, September 1954

Fred Pape on the front porch of the Nokoni cabin, Grand Lake, Colorado, September 1954
Recently I scanned a number of color slides belonging to my parents.  These two are from 59 years ago - their honeymoon in Colorado.

After they married in Houston, Texas, on September 11, 1954, they drove to Austin, and spent the night there.  They ate at Jaime's Spanish Village.  They spent one night on the road in Pecos in west Texas, and got to Denver the day after that, where they spent a couple nights. Then they drove through Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, and stopped in Grand Lake on the west side of the park.  They stayed at a cabin on the lake there for a number of days.  The photo above is of my father, Frederick Henry Pape, on the front porch of the cabin.  More about this place in a future post.

My mom also remembers visiting Grand Junction, Aspen (a place she really wanted to see), a town in Colorado "with a prison" (probably Cañon City), and Colorado Springs.  Mom says the photo of her below was taken on a stream somewhere near Aspen.  They drove home along the eastern part of New Mexico, stopping to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  Their road trip honeymoon took about two weeks in all.
Gerrie Guokas Pape, somewhere near Aspen, Colorado, September 1954

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Sam Houston Coliseum

Charles Peter Guokas Jr. in front of the Sam Houston Coliseum, 1940s
My maternal grandfather, Charles Guokas Jr. (1903-1967, pictured at left in front of the Coliseum), operated parking lots for the City of Houston around the Coliseum and Music Hall, as well as nearby City Hall, and at Hobby Airport, from at least the 1940s until his death in 1967.  In the 1960s, he also operated a parking lot at Main and Clay in downtown Houston on property owned by the University of Texas system.

He originally got the concessions because of his political connections, but eventually, he had to bid for the rights to operate the parking lots.

I can remember when he came to visit, he would take all the change out of his pockets and give it to me and my four siblings, his only grandchildren, to divvy up.  He and my grandmother (they were divorced in 1944) also set aside money for our college educations.  My mother says he used to pay her to write letters to find the owners of cars left on the lots that did not pay the parking fees, a small amount of money, yet it helped with family expenses.

The Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall was originally built in 1937.  They replaced the Sam Houston Hall,  a wooden building erected on the site for the 1928 Democratic National Convention (which my grandfather attended) and torn down in 1936.

Until Jones Hall and the Albert Thomas Convention Center were built in the late 1960s, and the Houston Summit in the mid 1970s, the Coliseum and Music Hall were the venues for many concerts and sports events. The building was demolished in 1999, and is now the site of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

My mother is pictured in front of the Coliseum below.  She looks to be in high school (which was nearby) or perhaps college, which would date the picture to the 1940s.  I believe the photo of my grandfather above was taken at the same time.

Geraldine Margaret Guokas in front of the Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall, 1940s

Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall, located in Houston's Civic Center / Boston Public Library / CC BY 2.0

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Elizabeth Banevich Guokas and son Charles, ABT 1904

If my maternal grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas Jr., (1903-1967) was still alive, he would be 110 today.

At left is a photo of him, probably from 1904, with his mother, Elizabeth (Elžbieta Benevičiūtė) Banevich Guokas (1875-1929).

The photograph was taken by Anderson & Co., who had a studio at the time at 403 and 1/2 Main Street in Houston. You can't see it at the bottom of the scan of the photograph, but I cropped that area out and adjusted the color and contrast to make it visible.

Consulting Catching Shadows: A Directory of 19th-Century Texas Photographers by David Haynes (page 3), Samuel Anderson is listed as having a studio at this address in Houston city directories from 1892 through 1901.  The 1902-03 and 1903-04 Houston city directory in the Houston Area Digital Archives also has a listing for him at this address).

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Those Places Thursday: 1717 Shearn, Houston, Texas, circa 1908-09

This house, originally at 1717 Shearn in Houston, Texas, was the one where my mother, Geraldine Guokas Pape, spent her early years.

The house was originally owned by her grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas Sr. (1863-1939), starting in 1908-09.  That is the year the family is first listed in the Houston city directory at this address.  Previously, from 1899 through 1907, the family was listed as living at 1314 Railroad.

I believe this photograph was taken shortly after the family moved into the house.  In the enlargement below, you can clearly see 1717 above the door in two places.  My great-grandmother Elizabeth (Elžbieta) Banevich (Benevičiūtė) Guokas (1875-1929) is standing in the doorway.
The three children are my grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas Jr. (1903-1967), and his younger sisters Eva (1907-1979) and Agnes "Aggie" Verna (1905-1974).

There's a tree that's been planted just in front, visible between the two little girls.

On the 1930 Census, my great-grandfather was still living in this house, along with his youngest son Roy Lee Guokas (1917-1959), my grandfather, my grandmother Sara Melzina Wolfe Guokas Archibald (1907-1997), and my one-year-old mother and her older brother, Charles Guokas III (1927-1999).

My mother's family lived in this house until June 1933, when they moved to Austin when my grandfather was appointed secretary to Governor Miriam Amanda Ferguson.  My great-grandfather continued to live in the house until his death in April, 1939.  The house was left to Roy who lived there until at least 1948. 

I drove by this address in April 2012, only to discover the house had been torn down, apparently (according to Google Maps) by July 2011.  The property (Lot 12, Block 299, Baker Addition) and the adjacent lot have recently been subdivided into single-family townhome lots for construction of three-story (plus rooftop terrace), three-bedroom, 3.5 bath homes selling for about $395,000.

ETA 23 April 2018 - My great-grandfather apparently built the house in late 1906.  Here is an ad I found in The Houston Post of January 22, 1907, indicating the new house at 1717 Shearn was for rent:

The Houston Post. (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 22, Ed. 1 Tuesday, January 22, 1907, newspaper, January 22, 1907; Houston, Texas. ( accessed May 5, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; .

ETA 20 October 2019 - Some research in the deed records shows that 1717 Shearn (aka 1814 Sabine, as the length of the house faced that street and had a door, and one apartment in the building likely had that address) was declared substandard in July 1997, and repair or removal was ordered.  By August 2009, it had decayed to the point of being dangerous, and demolition was ordered within 30 days.  In late June 2011, the city issued an emergency order to demolish within 90 days.  However, Google Maps street view photos from April 2011 show a big pile of rubble on the site and at the curb.  So the demolition likely occurred sometime between August 2009 and April 2011.

I also found Sanborn maps of the area.  In 1907 (see below), there was a dwelling at the corner of Shearn and Sabine with the address 1719 Shearn, and there was a two-story bakery next door to 1717, at 1715 Shearn, with a tile oven in the corner of the lot:

By 1924 (see above), the structure at 1719 is gone, and 1715 is defined as a two-story flat, with no oven on the lot.  By December 1950 (still under copyright, so I can't use an image), both 1715 and 1717 Shearn have the same footprints, but are shown as apartment buildings.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Charles Guokas Jr. & Members of the Interurban Buffet Baseball Team, Houston, Texas, about 1920*

The young man not in a baseball uniform kneeling at left in the photo at left is my maternal grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas Jr. (1903-1967).  His older cousin Adam Lawrence Guokas (1901-1966), played baseball for a local team, but I'm not sure if he is in this photo.  Not until I scanned and enlarged it did I notice the young man on the ground, peering between the legs of the other team members!

My grandfather looks to be around 20 at most in this photo, so I believe it was taken in the early 1920s.

Based on the letters on the jerseys, I think the team is sponsored by Interurban Buffet.  Sure enough, there was such an institution in Houston, at least from 1921 through 1931, according to these ads and news stories I found.

The Interurban Buffet was located at 1001 Texas Avenue at Main Street in downtown Houston.

Above and below: Ads from the Rice University Thresher - April 8, 1921, page 6 (above) and April 22, 1921, page 3 (below), both via the Portal to Texas History.

from Galveston [TX] Daily News, December 23, 1931,
page 6, via

This was the location of the Binz & Settegast Building, Houston's first "skyscraper," a six-story building across the street from the Rice Hotel.  It was constructed in 1898.  Today, it doesn't look anything like the picture below and in the ad linked to above, as it was completely rebuilt in 1982.

(ca. 1900). Texas Avenue corner view from Fannin Street.
Historic Houston Photographs. Special Collections,
University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from

copyright © Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

[*ETA on March 19, 2015:  I found a reference to an article in the March 23, 1920, Houston Post, on page 13, about a game the team played:  "BUFFET BEATS SUNSET. The Interurban Buffet team defeated the Sunset Heights team on the Sunset diamond Sunday by the score of 17 to 0. The batting of the Buffet team was the feature of the game....The Buffet team is open for games with any team in Texas. For games, address B. Anderson, 2005 Hickory."]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday's Faces From the Past: Happy Birthday, Sister Jean Marie! (yesterday)

My aunt, Sister Jean Marie (born Jo Ann) Guokas, turned 83 yesterday, September 12.  This "bathing beauties" photo is one of my favorite pictures of her and her older sister, my mother, Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape, taken sometime in the early 1930s, probably in Houston, Texas.

My aunt has been a nun with the Congregation of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament since 1949. She's had a very interesting life and has traveled more than I have, including multiple trips to Europe with the Foreign Study League, a summer study-abroad program in the 1970s and 1980s.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wedding Wednesday: Anniversaries That Are Happy Ones

My parents, Geraldine Margaret Guokas and Frederick Henry Pape were married September 11, 1954, at Annunciation Catholic Church, Houston, Texas.  The reception, where this photo was taken, was at the Milford House in Houston.  The photo is by Kaye Marvins.

Also married on this date:  Dad's sister, my Aunt Betty, and Uncle Bud, in 1948 (left); and my cousin Jim and his wife Karen, in 1976 (below).

Happy 59th, 65nd, and 37th anniversaries respectively!

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mystery Monday, Part 6: What Happened to H. Jay Hanchette? - continued

This is part 6 of my series on the mysterious disappearance of H. Jay Hanchette in 1891.  Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 addressed the tragedies befalling Hanchette's  father, wife, brother-in-law, and son respectively.  Now it's time to revisit H. Jay's story.

News about his disappearance in May 1891 pretty much dried up by October of that year.  A Los Angeles newspaperman, Robert J. Farrell, claimed to have seen Hanchette in 1894 and 1897, but nothing came of those reports.  (Farrell committed suicide just a few weeks later in 1897.)

from the Omaha [NE} Morning World-Herald, August 25, 1897, page 2, via

Charles Dwight Willard, a longtime associate of Hanchette and friend of his family, who took over as secretary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce after Hanchette's disappearance, wrote A History of the Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, California: From Its Foundation, September, 1888, to the Year 1900 in 1899.  In it, Willard stated  (pages 187-188):

From that day [of his disappearance] to this, there has never been a clue to his whereabouts, nor has any adequate explanation ever been offered as to the cause of his disappearance.  Not the slightest suspicion of anything discreditable was ever attached to him, for he was a man of sterling character and correct habits.  His domestic relations were of the happiest.  Various individuals have since claimed to see Mr. Hanchette, but their testimony when sifted down has been found to be frivolous.  The theory now most generally accepted is that he was killed by thugs and his body destroyed.

However, privately Willard thought differently.  According to Suffering in the Land of Sunshine: A Los Angeles Illness Narrative by Emily Abel (Rutgers University Press, 2006), in a July 12, 1891, letter to his father, Willard said (page 49):

Hanchette had been "in secret a spend thrift and a fool about money matters."  Although not "exactly dishonest," he conducted his affairs in a "dishonorable" way.  "When he went away things were in a hopeless snarl with him and he had not the courage to come back and face them."

According to Donald Ray Culton's dissertation Charles Dwight Willard: Los Angeles City Booster and Professional Reformer, 1888-1914 (University of Southern California, via ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 1971, pages 46-47), when Willard took over as Chamber of Commerce secretary after Hanchette's disappearance,

Minutes of the [chamber of commerce] directors' meetings taken by Hanchette were brief and careless; financial records were snarled; the bank account was overdrawn by $500; membership dues had not been collected; and ... two chamber employees ... had been spoiled hopelessly by the carefree attitude of the inefficient administrator.  Capping the problems was a debt amounting to approximately $2300.

In a June 15, 1899 article about Hanchette's son Earl murdering his wife, the Los Angeles Herald discussed the elder's disappearance on page 5:

Two theories concernlng the fate of Hanchette have had, and still have, adherents. The first is that he was murdered in Chicago for the purpose of robbery and his body sunk in the lake; the second, that the missing man carefully disguised himself, and, having dropped his identity and destroyed all traces by which he might be followed up, went to South America, foot loose and free, to recommence existence again under an assumed name. This theory is not an improbable one, as Hanchette's day dreams invariably took that form, and he would harp upon that sole subject with his intimates at any time.

I thought it interesting that an unnamed source - maybe Willard? - speculated the same thing in an article on page 6 in the same newspaper on June 12, 1891 (via Chronicling America):

copyright © Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Pape Log Cabin, Fredericksburg, Texas

On our latest visit to Fredericksburg, Texas, to visit my parents for Labor Day weekend, we stayed at a different place than where we usually stay.  It was located on the south side of Main Street, so on my morning walk, I had an opportunity to explore some of the old neighborhoods there.

One historic site I've wanted to see for some time is the Pape Log Cabin (no relation that I know of), pictured above.  Here's what the historical marker (pictured at left) says:

"One of the oldest structures in Fredericksburg, built by communal effort for the family of Friedrich Pape (1813-94). Pape, his wife Katherine, and a daughter arrived in Galveston in Nov. 1845 from Germany. Three Pape children died on the trip. The family was among the first forty to settle in Fredericksburg, and soon after arriving in May 1846, this cabin was erected to shelter the ailing Mrs. Pape. The post oak logs were cut nearby, and the first roof was probably thatched grass."

Friederich, of Gnadenstadt, Hanover, Germany, his wife Catherine (nee Vogel), daughters Doretta and Caroline, and sons Johanne and young Friederich, sailed from Bremen, Germany, on August 25, 1845, on the Barq Herkules.  Doretta (Dorethea, born in 1840) was the only child to survive the trip.

Catherine (Catharina, 1810-1884) recovered, and Friedrich was one of the settlers who signed the petition to form Gillespie County in December 1847.  The family can be found in Gillespie County on the next four censuses.  In 1850, Friedrich is listed as a farmer in the Zodiac Mills and Live Oak Creek settlement, and the family has grown to include son Louis (born 1848) and daughter Matilda (born 1850). 

By 1860, Friedrich (now called Fritz), is a miller and farmer, and twin daughters, Augusta and Sophia, were born in 1855.  Also in 1855, Dorethea married Carl Hilmar Guenther (1826–1902), founder of San Antonio’s Pioneer Flour Mills.

By 1870, Fred and Catherine have moved into town and he is a merchant.  Only the twins are left at home.  In 1880, Fritz is listed on San Saba Street (today's Main Street) in a furniture store, and he and Catherine are empty-nesters.

Sometime between 1880 and 1884, the family (including the childrens' spouses) left Fredericksburg and wound up in San Antonio, where they are all buried (mostly in City Cemetery #1).

The Pape Log Cabin is located in the back yard of this house on W. Creek Street, which also has a historical marker:

The marker reads:

"Built in 1851 by the Rev. Gottlieb Burchard Dangers (1811-69), soon after his purchase of this town lot from Friedrich Pape. Dangers, who had emigrated from Germany in 1849, was the second Protestant minister in Fredericksburg. The two rooms in the rear and the cellar were added by Dangers about 1857. The house was constructed in the pioneer German style, with some walls of fachwerk (half-timbered) construction."

This might be my last post about Fredericksburg for a while.  This last visit was to help my parents prepare for an upcoming move to Austin, where three of my siblings live.  They will be leaving their custom-built home in Fredericksburg after almost exactly 20 years there.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mystery Monday / Tombstone Tuesday, part 5: H. Jay Hanchette's son Earl

This is part 5 of my series on the  mysterious disappearance of H. Jay Hanchette in 1891.  Tragedy continues to dog this family.  Besides his father, wife, and brother-in-law, Hanchette's youngest son Earl E. (1879-1899) was not immune from the seeming family curse.

Many newspapers in the western half of the county had stories similar to this one on page 1 of the Sacramento [CA] Daily Union on June 15, 1899 (via the California Digital Newspaper Collection):

Earl E. Hanchette was born in 1879 in California, the second son of Henry Jay Hanchette and his wife Emma Griffith.   According to a longer article on page 5 of the Los Angeles Herald that same date, he met  the former Georgia Elliott the previous summer in Los Angeles.  They eloped to San Francisco and married there in late August, 1898.  The 18-year-old Georgia had given birth just four weeks before she was murdered.  Hanchette said he did it because Georgia's mother wanted her daughter and grandchild to move back to Denver with her, and Hanchette did not want them to go.

Earl Hanchette apparently used chloroform on his wife before shooting her - I have to wonder if he got that from his uncle, Dr. Edgar M. Griffith, who was practicing medicine in Los Angeles at that time.  Hanchette shot himself in the stomach in a suicide attempt.  He was described as a "dudish masher," and

"The young man was always wayward, and grief over his ways of living may have hastened the death of his mother, Mrs. Emma J. Hanchette, for many years a highly respected public school principal in this city, whose demise occurred only a few months ago. He sought no employment. Remittances from his grandmother in San Francisco to himself and from his mother-in-law to his wife were wasted upon himself."

He'd apparently also resorted to forgery.

While Hanchette lingered in the hospital, the Los Angeles coroner and an undertaker squabbled over poor Georgia's body prior to the inquest.  Her body was shipped to Denver, and her child either sent there to live with its grandmother, or to Des Moines, Iowa, to live with its aunt, Georgia's sister, a Mrs. Meredith.  I don't know (yet) where Georgia is buried or what ultimately happened to her child.

Earl Hanchette died on June 17, 1899He is apparently buried at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, and shares a marker with his uncle Edgar Milton Griffith and his enabling grandmother, Aurelia Conant Griffith:

photo courtesy Don Lynch via

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.