This is one of those years when I am not going to get Christmas cards written or sent. The fact that I haven’t yet done anything about cards is a clue. There are many who would be surprised to hear that I ever send cards. There are some who won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not getting it done this year. I am not a very faithful correspondent by the written word – and often not by phone or any other means, although email has made some difference in this.

In coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t happening this year, I found myself thinking as I sometimes do, of the people in the past who sent cards. My mother was, as far as I know, very good about sending Christmas cards to a wide number of people in her life, from childhood friends to next-door neighbors. Her address book certainly supports my picture of her as a correspondent.

Among my older family treasures are a selections of cards from even earlier than my mother’s collection. These come primarily from Auntie, my great great aunt Jessie M. (Coffin) Dalton. Auntie’s collection of cards that came down to me was from her daughters and household, and included one from her Grandma Justice. Most of them were not sent through the Post Office but hand-delivered.

This is the earliest one I can date. It was from Grandma Justice (Susan Wilcox Justice) at Christmas 1877. Jessie was her first grandchild, and the only one for 6 years, so likely petted and spoiled some. In 1877 Jessie was 37 years old, married with two daughters. She and Grandma Justice probably lived either next door to each other, or almost that close, in Newport Kentucky.

This one either lost its envelope or was an extra in the household. It is copyright 1890.
I love the little one in the middle with the glasses.

This one is sort of mysterious. It is signed Louise, A.D. 1907, and has an envelope addressed to Mrs. Jessie M. Dalton. I originally thought that it was from her granddaughter, my Cousin Jessie who was

Louise to Jessie M. Dalton

also known in her younger days in the family as Louise. The problem is that the handwriting looks adult, and Cousin Jessie was only 10 years old in 1907. So my assumption seems to be wrong.

This one is also a little mysterious. The note on the back makes me think it was given to Auntie, by the names and relationships noted, but it is signed “your loving sister Lou” and this doesn’t fit with anyone I know. The card was from the early 1900s,

from "your loving sister Lou"

and produced by the Whitney Made Worcester Mass company. Worcester is a fair distance from the Cincinnati/Newport KY area, but this company was a noted one and probably sold to stores in Cincinnati.

The one possibility I have come up with so far is Jessie’s uncle Harrison’s wife, Louise, who was actually 9 years younger than Auntie. I know that Harrison and Auntie’s brother Henry were friends and given the similarity in age perhaps the 3 Coffin children and Harrison thought of each other more as siblings. Harrison Justice was born about 6 months before Jessie M. Coffin. Louise Riley and Harrison Justice were married in 1893. Possibly it was this Louise who sent the card above as well.

And this one, the last in my series here, was from her daughter Alice in 1930.

"for my Mamma"

By 1930 Alice was living in Florida and Auntie may have been with her for the Christmas season or may have been at home in Newport Kentucky. Any envelope is long gone so I can’t tell.

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