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The Family of William Charles Stephenson, Jr.: 1876-1957

Updated February 22, 2006

About Our Family Research

Update ! A photo of The William Charles Stephenson Display, located at 800 North St. Mary's, Beeville, Texas, in the Illusions Beauty Shop has been added to the website. Be patient as you view it, as I have left the resolution and size large for greatest detail. The text of descriptions of items in the display are in a separate text document that you can view and print to identify the various items included in the display. Illusions was selected as a temporary home for a number reasons: the original home was designed by him, it is well maintained, has not been modified, and allows the people of Beeville to view some of their local history. Also, the owner, Saragosa, is very excited to have the display at his salon. As the salon is semi-public, it offers those that are interested easy access to learn a few things about my Grandfather. The invitation for the GRAND OPENING has also been added to the site.

My special thanks for "Gerdes" and "Meyer" information go to my cousin, Gilbert (Gibbo) Gerdes, his sister Judy. Some very interesting information was sent from another distant cousin, Barbara Holly and her brother Carl Powers. Mary Margaret Meyer, of Houston has contributed a lot of data on the "Meyer's" too. Also, Jim Goodwin, my first cousin who lives in San Antonio now, has provided a lot of "details" and corrections to some of the information. Diana Butland, now from Idaho furnished a lot of pictures and other data on the Lenahans and the Forresters.

Of course, the basis for the beginnings of my interest and information was given to me by the most wonderful woman who ever lived, my mother, Frances Delores Stephenson Gerdes. We lost her on March 24, 2000, and life without her cheer, optimism, and charisma - I will never get used to.

Scan down to the bottom of the page to view some pictures. I will be adding more until they tell me I'm out of space for this website. Any of the images can be downloaded to your computer by "right clicking" on the picture and then save it. All pictures were compressed and resized to keep them small, and still look reasonably good. E-mail me if you'd like a high resolution copy of anything in the photo's section.

I have LOADS of pictures, newpaper articles, and memorabilia related to my Grandfather William Charles Stephenson, Jr. that I hope will fit on this site. It's going to take a while to get it all uploaded. I also still have about 200 of the 300 large format negatives to scan and upload also; all taken in the 1920 to 1935 timeframe in and around Beeville, Texas.

Mom's very best friend, Bessie Mae May, wrote a Christmas poem for her after she died, and it captures the essence of her better than I ever could.. it goes like this:


I'm coming up Lord - I got your call
But just today - I had a bad fall
I was out in the yard - digging some weeds
Mowing the grass - and planting some seeds
I heard the phone - so I made a dash
Tripped on a rock - Boy, what a crash
I had a few bruises - nothing too bad
I was going out - so i was glad
Margie had called - and wanted to shop
I had to go if I had to hop
The antique shop would open soon
I had to hurry - to make it by noon
The plumber was due - oh mercy me
He'd been here often - I'll leave him be
So -
I'll be in my car so I may be late
So, Please dear Lord - open the gate.

by Bessie Mae May (Karnes City/Austin, Texas)

A little about my family: My Mother was Frances Delores Stephenson, my father was Hilary Paul Gerdes. My brother Stephen Charles Gerdes and I grew up in Sinton, Texas, moved to Austin in 1961; We both graduated from The University of Texas in Austin.

My Grandfather on my Mother's side was William Charles Stephenson, Jr. Shakespearian Actor, Violinist, Sculptor, and Architect in Beeville, Bee County Texas (a man of incredible talent). He married Bridget Anastasia Joyce in Winnipeg in 1904, settled in Sa

Family Photos
  • Hilary Paul Gerdes - My Dad (6 KB)
    Hilary Paul Gerdes, Son of Casper Lawrence Gerdes Sr. and Antonia Frances Meyer. Dad's life was cut short; he was remarkably talented in "figuring things out"; he could build anything, and was very kind.
  • Frances Delores Stephenson Gerdes-My Mom (26 KB)
    Frances Delores Stephenson, Daughter of William Charles Stephenson, Jr. and Bridgett Anastasia Joyce - picture taken when she was 21 years of age.
  • Bessie Mae May's Letter to Frances (page 1 of 3) (334 KB)
    This is the first page of the last letter to Mom, written by her Very Best Friend, Bessie Mae May, after Mom had a stroke, and was in the hospital, just before she died on March 24, 2000
  • Marion and Bridgett Joyce with Frances Stephenson (45 KB)
    Left to right; Marion Laurentana (Loretta) Joyce, Bridgett Anastasia Joyce, Sisters, and Bridgett's daughter Frances Stephenson, My Mom. The picture was taken before 1935 at an unknown location. It could have been taken in California but may have been taken in San Antonio. Note the large building in the background and the stone. The picture was probably taken by Frances' sister, Marion Agnes Stephenson, as there are other pictures in this series where she appears. Please e-mail me if you recognize the location.
  • Bessie Mae May's Letter to Frances (page 2 of 3) (318 KB)
    Page 2
  • Frances Delores Stephenson-High School Graduation (60 KB)
    This was probably taken in 1932 in the side yard of her home in Beeville. Mom's best friend, Bessie Mae May believes she remembers that the dress she was wearing was her high school graduation dress.
  • Bessie Mae May's Letter to Frances (page 3 of 3) (151 KB)
    Page 3 (a high resolution version is available from Paul Gerdes)
  • William Charles Stephenson with Old Blue (36 KB)
    William Charles Stephenson was my grandfather. The picture was taken on the front porch of his home in Beeville in about 1930 or 1932. Is he posing?
  • Joseph E. Stephenson, Father of William Charles Sr (67 KB)
    Joseph E. Stephenson, Sr. was the father of William Charles Stephenson Sr., Grandfather of William Charles Stephenson Jr. He married Catherine O'Brien. We have no other information on him at this time.
  • John and Bessie Mae May - Dancing (218 KB)
    Bessie Mae and Judge John May were Mom's best friends. John has written thousands of pages of memoirs and history of the goings-on in Karnes County, Texas while he was a Judge there. Some day soon, maybe he will post those stories on the Internet.
  • Winifred Cecelia Stephenson and Daughte (32 KB)
    The lady holding Winifred Cecelia Goodwin is Marion Joyce Alexander, her great aunt. The picture was taken on the front porch of the Beeville home in about 1930, as Winifred Cecelia was born in 1929.
  • William Charles and his Daughters-T'giving 1952 (58 KB)
    Left to Right; Marion Agnes, William Charles, Winifred Cecilia, and Frances Delores Stephenson. The picture was taken at Thanksgiving dinner at his home at 1708 Madison, Beeville, Bee County, Texas.
  • Mom and Bessie Mae (92 KB)
    Frances Gerdes with her Very BEST friend Bessie May May - probably the last picture taken of them together.
  • Marion Agnes , Joe McBride and sis Frances (18 KB)
    This was taken on the front porch of the Beeville home in about 1931.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner - 1952 (65 KB)
    Left to Right, Back Row: Joan Frances McBride (Fusselman), Joyce Ann McBride (Yeary), James Francis Goodwin III, Dennis Patrick McBride Sr., Bridgett Ann Goodwin (Moffatt): Second Row; Clarence Joseph McBride, Marion Agnes Stephenson (McBride), William Charles Stephenson Jr., Winifred Cecelia Stephenson (Goodwin), Frances Delores Stephenson (Gerdes), Hilary Paul "Dilly" Gerdes, Antonia Frances Meyer (Gerdes-Hilary's Mother), John Harold Kelly: Front Row; Marion Patricia "Patty" (McCoy), Kathleen Rachel Goodwin, William Charles Goodwin, Katherine McBride (Netzer), Margaret Janice McBride, Stephen Charles Gerdes, Francis Paul Gerdes, Mary Joyce Goodwin (Kelly) holding James Patrick Kelly.
  • Frances Delores Stephenson at 2 years old (179 KB)
    Is she cute or WHAT? Picture taken in about 1916.
  • Frances Stephenson at North Beach, Corpus Christi (34 KB)
    The child on the right is Frances Stephenson. She and a friend are enjoying a swim in the gulf at Corpus Christi's North Beach in about 1925. Note the slide in the background; also note that there's something pretty interesting going on at the end of the pier behind the girls. hmmmm. Please let me know if anyone identifies the young friend with Frances.
  • Frank Stephenson, Uncle of William Charles Jr. (103 KB)
    I have no information on Frank Stephenson except that he married Mary Agnes "Mame" Davy.
  • Mom and me at her last Birthday Party (292 KB)
    This was taken during her last Birthday Party at her home on Texas Avenue in Austin in June, 1999. Gee, do I always look that goofy?.. Maybe it was the champagne.
  • William Charles Stephenson with Stephen Gerdes (33 KB)
    This photo was taken in about 1942 in the front yard/driveway of "our" Sinton home looking northeast. The Chevy is a 1940 Coupe. The truck in the background was one driven by my father back and forth to the gin. The house in the background is still there. Stephen Charles Gerdes is my brother, and William Charles is our grandfather, who lived in Beeville.
  • James Lenahan, Father of Winifred and Cecelia (30 KB)
    James Lenahan married Margaret Brennan. Winifred E., one of the daughters, married William Charles Stephenson, Sr., my Great Grandfather. I have no other information on either James (John?) or Margaret.
  • Frances, Winifred, and Marion Stephenson (49 KB)
    The girls are having a real good time playing with the kittys. The picture was taken in the back yard of the Beeville home in about 1922. The girls are the three sisters, Frances Delores, Winifred Cecelia, and Marion Agnes Stephenson. Notice the wood pile and out-house.
  • Catherine O'Brien, married Joseph E. Stephenson (73 KB)
    Notice that the picture was taken in Buffalo, N.Y. We have no dates or other information on either Joseph E. Stephenson or Catherine O'Brien.
  • Frances and Marion with their mother Bridgett (76 KB)
    The picture was taken on the front steps of the Beeville home on North Madison in about 1932. Does Bridgett have a bit of a smirk on her face?
  • William Charles Stephenson and brother ? (35 KB)
    This was taken in Beeville - I'm surmising that the other gentleman (on the right) may be a brother of William's - John, Edward or Clayton. He could even be the infamous Harold Lockwood, who lost his ticket between San Antonio and Beeville, forcing the two friends to be removed from the train in Beeville, where they both stayed and worked together for the rest of their lives. The Lockwoods lived next door to the Stephensons in 1910, as indicated by the census of Bee County in that year. If anyone recognizes him, please let me know who he is.
  • Frances Delores and Stephen Charles Gerdes (110 KB)
    Steve was born in 1940 - nobody had even thought about me yet.
  • Mom's Kitty, who she loved dearly (61 KB)
    This is the most incredibly ideal cat that anybody could ever imagine. Mom asked to see her "Kitty" a number of times after her stroke. The hospital would not let us bring Kitty in to be with her. She now lives with me, and is just unbelievably sweet - this is the pose she strikes nearly everytime I walk into the room.
  • William Charles Stephenson, Jr. (39 KB)
    My grandfather William Charles "Bill" Stephenson, Jr. was a noted Architect in Beeville, Texas. In addition to designing the Beeville Courthouse, he designed and, in the early part of his career, built most of the grand homes in Beeville and surrounding counties and communities. He also designed nearly all the surrounding area's schools, including Charco, Pettus, Skidmore, and many others. He shaped the "look" of Beeville when Beeville was growing rapidly in the 1920's and 1930's. He continued to work until he had a stroke while visiting one of his daughters, Frances, in the summer of 1952. He died at his home in May of 1957.
  • Me and Jen Evelyn Guthridge - Cutest in '57 (79 KB)
    We were elected Cutest Couple in Sinton High School when we were Sophomores - very small class.
  • Bridgett Anastasia Joyce (19 KB)
    Bridgett was born in Saginaw, Michigan, moved to Chicago when she was a teenager, and graduated from St. Boniface Hospital Nursing School in Winnipeg in June 1904. She and William Charles Stephenson, Jr. married immediately after she graduated and moved to San Francisco.
  • Me and Jen Evelyn - 40 years later (61 KB)
    This is Jen Evelyn and I at a really nice little restaurant after we went to the Tina Turner Concert. We broke up in '61 and got back together in May 2000.
  • The beginnings of an extended family (46 KB)
    This was taken in about 1930. Standing, left to right is James Francis Goodwin, wife Winifred Cecelia Stephenson, Frances Stephenson, Marion Agnes Stephenson, her husband Clarence Joseph McBride. William Charles is seated holding Winifred Cecelia Goodwin. The picture was taken by Bridgett Anastasia, William's wife, my grandmother
  • Bridgett Anastasia Joyce with her Father James (34 KB)
    This picture was probably taken between 1902 and 1904 either in Chicago or Winnipeg.
  • Jen Evelyn and her daughter, Debra Fraser, and me (77 KB)
    Here we are at a KUHF/FM (88.7 on your dial) at a KUHF open house. Debra is the News Director, and also is the President of the Houston Press Club. Tune in between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m when you are near Houston. Incredible voice, too.
  • Steve, my brother, and me, Paul in Beeville (23 KB)
    Steve is the older guy. This was taken on the front porch of our grandfather's (William Charles Stephenson) home in Beeville in 1944. Ain't we cute?
  • Justin Alford and Bria Guthridge, Second Cousins (26 KB)
    Ok, now follow me on this. Justin Wayne Alford is Debra Fraser's son and Jen Evelyn Guthridge Fraser's Grandson. His father is Steve Alford, Debra's first husband. Debra is Jen Evelyn and Bob Fraser's daughter. Jen Evelyn's brother, Gragg, married my Second Cousin, Nadalene Gerdes, daughter of Roger Francis and Mildred Irene Gerdes, First Cousin of my father, Hilary Paul Gerdes. Nadalene and Gragg had two children, Jenifer Lynn and Craig Alan. The little girl in the picture is Bria Blair Guthridge, daughter of Craig Alan Guthridge, and Justin and Bria are Second Cousins. Both of these youngsters are very exceptional individuals-and great friends. The picture was taken at Jenny's (Jenifer) home in Arlington at Christmas, 2001.
  • William Charles Stephenson Sr. at the Coast (26 KB)
    This picture may have been taken on the Tee-Heads in Corpus Christi probably in about 1922. The sun angle is not correct for it to have been taken at North Beach
  • Friends for 70 years-Mom and Bessie Mae May (34 KB)
    You can probably tell that these ladies are not only having a very good time, but are hamming it up just a bit. Not many people have the had a dearest friend for 70 years. This was taken in about 1986.
  • Frances Stephenson, Miss Indian Princess (35 KB)
    If I had to guess, I'd say Frances, my mom, built her own little throne from the bricks she found to preside over the back yard of her Beeville home in about 1921.
  • Hilary Paul Gerdes, My Dad, The Aggie (69 KB)
    Dad attended Texas A&M in about 1937. In this photo, he looks remarkably like my nephew, John Michael Gerdes.
  • Bridgett Stephenson with two grandchildren (57 KB)
    I believe the two little girls are Cecelia (left) and Mary Joyce Goodwin (right), the daughters of Winifred Cecelia Stephenson Goodwin.
  • The William Charles Stephenson Display (839 KB)
    The Display is located at 800 North St. Mary's, Beeville, Texas, and is open to the public to view. Don't forget to sign the guest register. Please view, download, and print the related document in the FILES section below to follow the tour of the Display.
  • A Christmas Card / Picture of a Project - 1913 (43 KB)
    This postcard was sent as a Christmas Card to W.C. Stephenson by J.E. Click. Mr. Click is listed in the 1920 Bee County Census as a Plumber from Pennsylvania. His wife, Mary May, is listed as being born in Illinois, and she is listed as the County Home Demonstration Agent. I suspect that he was the plumber on the subject project. My Grandmother, Bridgett wrote on the card "This is one of Will's jobs half finished - how do you like him?". Notice the grand home has 4 side colums, and it appears there are 4 front colums (a common one on the corner) there doesn't seem to be a "front step" row of columns, and it also appears that there is to be a balcony on the front and side porch. This home is similar to the Pettus Home in Goliad, but the picture of the Pettus Home, completed, has no balcony and has another row of columns on the front porch. I have to conclude that this home is not the Pettus Home, and is an unknown project. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know where the home is located.
  • Invitation - front and back (50 KB)
    The invitations fold in the center, so the small picture that is upside down at the top would appear on the back of the card. It is a drawing of a man pulling a donkey that he sketched at the bottom of a letter that he wrote on June 23, 1935, to Frances, my mother, when she was on a trip to California to visit her Aunties (the Alexanders) and to attend the World's Fair. He wrote "Life is like this sketch-uphill all the way - Love to all-Your loving Father"
  • The Pettus Home in Goliad, Texas (41 KB)
    This photo is of the Pettus Home in Goliad, and is one of the grand homes that my grandfather, W.C. Stephenson designed. I do not know if it is still standing. If the viewer has any additional information on this home, please let me know. Take a look at the photo of "A Christmas Card" in this photo section.
  • Invitation-inside (116 KB)
    This is the text of the invitation for the GRAND OPENING of The William Charles Stephenson Display, which originally was at The Beeville Museum of Art on September 16, 2001.
  • Article-1953 Caller-Times about W.C. Stephenson (183 KB)
    This is a copy of an article written by Travis Moorman and published in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about W.C. Stephenson and some discussion of the "Enlightened Justice" statue that he sculpted to adorn the dome of the Beeville Courthouse. Please click on the link at the bottom of the page that will take you to the website, where there is more information on the Courhouse, the Enlightened Justice, the W.C. Stephenson Display, and the man and his family.
  • Frances Delores Stephenson at about 9 years old (33 KB)
    The picture was taken in about 1923 or 1924 probably in the backyard at her home in Beeville.
Related Files
  • Guided Tour of the W.C. Stephenson Display (31 KB)
    This document is to be used to follow along with the items in the W.C. Stephenson Display, which is located at 800 N. St. Mary's in Beeville, Texas. You may print this document or download it.
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