Monday, June 1, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: On Beekeeping in Goliad County, and the Importance of the Source

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 and share their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

This week I transcribe a newspaper article from 1916 mentioning my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, and his apiary business.

Galveston Daily News
Sept 10, 1916

W.C. Collier has 800 and Others in Various Sections
Increase Total Hives to 2,635 – Business is Remunerative, Though Need for State Association And Selling Agency is Recognized.

Goliad, Tex. Sept. 9 – The bee-keeping industry in Goliad County has been recognized for a good many years as one of the best money crops of this section. Blessed by natural vegetation readily adaptable to the culture of bees and the production of an excellent quality of honey, substantial farmers long since recognized the values to be derived from the industry. The growth of the industry has been substantial and at present there are within the borders of Goliad County 2,635 colonies of bees yielding on an average 125,000 pounds of honey. Though the price fluctuates from year to year and there is a pressing need for a state organization to foster the industry and promote selling agencies, several thousands of dollars annually are brought into the county from the sale of honey.


Mr. Collier has prepared for The News a list of the names of persons who follow the business of bee-keeping as a principal vocation or as side line. The list follows:

Geo. M. Farwell, Berclair……100
ME Van Every, Berclair……..550
Jno. W. Pharr, Berclair………100
EN Pharr, Berclair…………...100
Horace Nutt, Berclair………..200
AV Nutt, Berclair…................50
Mr. Hardin, Berclair…............150
CM Collier, Goliad…..............200
JM Collier, Goliad…...............200
WC Collier, Goliad…..............800
JR Stoedtler, Goliad….............60
Richard Gibb, Goliad…...........25
All others about…....................100
Total colonies, Goliad County.2,635

Few queens Are Sold.

Mr. Collier has prepared also a paper regarding the industry in this county, which follows:

“The business of rearing queens and selling them is not carried on extensively. John W. Pharr of Berclair is the only one in the county who carries an advertisement in the bee journals of the United States. M.E. Van Every sells a good many queen bees, but gives more attention to the production of honey than to rearing queens.”


“I should say, making a rough guess, that at least 125,000 pounds has been taken from the bees in this county, this year. It is hard to set the value on it, as a large bulk of it has not been sold.  The highest price paid for honey here this year in wholesale lots was (?)c per pound for comb honey, which means 7c for the extracted or strained. Just now I am only getting (?)c for the comb honey and (?)c for the extracted. This is using the two 60-pound case for a base. Smaller cans, of course, have a small differential in their favor.”



1) I include images where I had difficulty reading.  CM Collier might actually have had 300 colonies, but if that's the case, I'm off a 100 in the other direction on one of the others, since they have to total 2,635.

2) I am reminded of one of Elizabeth Shown Mills' presentation on dealing with families with common names at the NGS Conference. One of her case studies included a list of names from a newspaper article, and she drew attention to the order the names were presented. They weren't alphabetical, or any other logical format. It turned out they were likely in the order the author of the article thought of them.

Similarly, the listed apiarists appear to be in the order WC Collier placed them, not the newspaper, and while he does organize them by city, within the cities they aren't in alphabetical or number order.

I'm more interested in whether the numbers are accurate. A 1910 article stated my great grandfather had 609 colonies, up from the 11 colonies he started with in 1903, and twice the 300 he had in 1907. If the number of colonies he had grew from year to year, how come he only had 550 in 1916?

3) WC Collier may have been accurate - for the Van Every apiary in Berclair. The 1910 article states he was moving 609 colonies by rail. The signature stated he was writing from Maxwell, Texas in Caldwell County. Where was he moving them too? Berclair? Did he keep some in Maxwell? I believe he may have maintained more than one farm, and thus possibly more than one apiary.

3) Melvin's sister, Lettie, married a Robert Collier. Looking for Robert in the 1910 census, he is a lodger in another Vanevery home, Pearl Vanevery Mooney. There are lots of Robert Colliers, but this almost has to be the correct one. Using the birth year from the 1910 census, In the 1900 census, we find likely siblings, but no William or any of the other initials of the Colliers in Goliad. So while they could be related, it's likely not closely.

I believe I have found the parents of WC Collier - It seems he is Willis Cathey Collier (1877-). Carleton M, might actually be Charles Marmaduke Collier, who appears to be a brother of Willis. Their parents are possibly John Willis Collier and Sarah Cathey, from Kentucky. (I'm relying partially on an online discussion post in addition to the census results, and I'm not positive of its accuracy. Since I don't think they are related to Lettie's husband, I'm not going to spend a lot of time verifying the information right now.)

No comments: