Monday, September 23, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Van Every's Restaurant and Boarding House - San Marcos, TX 1887-1888

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009.  Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

As I mentioned last week, I found several references to the Van Every family in the San Marcos Free Press at Chronicling America. Unfortunately, not every reference included a first name, and there were at least three "Mr. and Mrs. Van Everys" in town at the time. Samuel and Margaret (Watkins) Van Every, Melvin and Margaret (Denyer) Van Every, and George and Caroline (Allen) Van Every. Samuel was my second great grandfather, and Melvin and Margaret were my great grandparents. George was another son of Samuel's. It appears one of the couples briefly operated a restaurant and boarding house.

San Marcos Free Press – February 21, 1884

Mr. Vanevery is now running the boarding house adjoining Dailey & Bro’s.

San Marcos Free Press – Dec 22, 1887

Mrs. Roblee has sold out her restaurant and business to Mr. and Mrs. Van Every, who have had experience in that line, and will continue it on an enlarged scale, retaining their late residence for their boarders who may desire lodging.

San Marcos Free Press – Jan 12, 1888

Our worthy old friend, Mr. Van Every, of the Austin street restaurant, kindly remembered the FREE PRESS with a package of excellent oysters. By the way, Van keeps them regularly. His restaurant and boarding house are worthy of patronage.

San Marcos Free Press – Jan 19, 1888

Mr. and Mrs. Van Every are in regular receipt of fresh oysters of the best quality, which they are prepared to serve in any style. A few more boarders wanted, for whom they are prepared to furnish comfortable lodging also if desired. Call and see them.

San Marcos Free Press – March 15, 1888

Fresh Oyster at Van Every’s.

The San Marcos Free Press was a weekly newspaper, and Chronicling America appears to have every issue through July of 1890, but all references to the Van Every Restaurant and Boarding House appear to end in March of 1888. My great grandfather, Samuel, died in April of 1888. However, I hesitate to ever draw a conclusion based on the lack of evidence. This is sometimes referred to as The Black Swan Fallacy.

I conducted a search of just the San Marcos Free Press for the word, 'Oysters' and found the following advertisements.

San Marcos Free Press - Nov 1, 1888

Oysters served in any style at the Red Diamond
Fresh Oysters received every day at the Red Diamond

So I conducted a search for "Red Diamond." The very first appearance of the phrase in the paper were some advertisements on May 10, 1888. Three issues after Samuel Van Every's obituary.

Ice cream every day at the Red Diamond
For delicious, cooling beverages of all kinds go to the Red Diamond
For the best cigars in town go to the Red Diamond

Did the business go through a name change after Samuel's death? Did the family sell it to someone else, or continue operating it? It's not clear. While both establishments sold oysters, it appears the Red Diamond was primarily an ice cream parlor. This could be an entirely separate establishment despite the coincidence of dates. The unidentified owners of the Red Diamond put the establishment up for sale in December of 1888.

San Marcos Free Press - December 13, 1888

For Sale.

The "Red Diamond" candy factory, ice-cream and oyster parlor. A good bargain for the next ten days. Buy now! and get the benefit of Christmas trade. Parties must leave on account of family sickness. Call, or address,

"Red Diamond,"
San Marcos, Texas.

San Marcos Free Press - January 10, 1889

Red Diamond

There is a change of front at this popular "institution." B. A. Sanderson is now the "boss," with W. H. Naun as assistant. Its appearance is greatly improved, while the stock is also enlarged and improved. You will find there the choicest candies, fresh fruits, and other delicacies. Remember the Red Diamond.


1) Despite Mr. Van Every being referred to as "Van" in the January 1888 clipping, no one with the given name "Van" and the surname "Every appears in the 1880 or 1900 census. Anywhere in the US. (And the surname appears as one word in the 1884 entry about the boarding house.)

2) The newspaper does refer to Mr. Van Every as "our worthy old friend."  Neither Melvin, age 25, nor George, age 40, would likely have been referred to as 'old.' Though the editor may have meant 'long-time.' [Melvin is an unlikely option, since he would have only been 21 in 1884.]

3) I suspect my second great grandparents, Samuel and Margaret, were the owners, however, George and Caroline are possibilities. They were in the San Marcos area at least until 1891, when their son, Allen, was born. They had moved to Oklahoma by the 1900 census. Whoever owned the restaurant, likely operated another restaurant previously, as the 1887 article regarding the purchase of the restaurant mentions they have experience.

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