Postcard Advent Calendar, December 19: Here, Kitty, Kitty!

 

A Merry Xmas to all of my readers, on this the sixth day of the Minor Postcard Advent Calendar. Today’s card is a REAL PHOTOGRAPH, on bromide paper by the Rotographic Company, New York City, copyright 1906.  On the back, thirteen year old Helen Stephenson Minor wrote her four year old brother, Donald Corbley:

How are you and Billy getting along by this time?  Are you coming with Papa when he comes up after me?  Have you been sliding down the hill any this winter? I expect it runs pretty nice doesn’t it?  Bye Bye. ~Helen

Helen attended a boarding school, near the town of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, I believe.  In this note she asks Donald about his pony, Billy, and inquires into the farm’s sledding.  It must have been a white Christmas season for her to anticipate a nice run down the hill.

Like Helen, I LOVE this photocard! The tiny tree looks as if someone topped a cedar or hemlock and decorated it with hand-made paper chains and stars. The candles appear to have been painted on after the photograph was developed!  And I adore the kitten, all snug in its crocheted sweater.  “What ARE you,” she asks the toy horse.  This wheeled toy is represented in many of my cards and must have been a favorite gift of the era.  The basket hung on the tree holds another popular gift:  a trumpet-like instrument.  But take a look at that doll!  What a face! At first glance I thought this was a skeleton wrapped up in fancy attire.  I don’t know what to make of it.  Do you?

Surname Saturday: The Minor Postcard Advent Calendar, December 18: Sneaking Up On Santa!

Night Before Christmas Series No.15

This fifth day of my Postcard Advent Calendar, a project inspired by Minor Family treasures,  I am happy to share this Christmas greeting from seventeen year old Helen Stephenson Minor to her eight year old brother, Donald Corbly.

Dear Brother, How are you enjoying this fine weather?  I was out for a sled ride to-night.  There were nine girls went just had a dandy time.  I suppose I will be home to-morrow.  Well  I got through one examination all O.K. Got an “A” grade in English History.  Well Bye Bye.  ~Helen

Helen was attending a boarding school in a nearby town.  Judging from the postmark, Helen wrote from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder if she was not attending Waynesburg College or an affiliated high school.  Helen mailed the card December 21, 1910 and would have arrived home in time to celebrate the night before Christmas with young Donald.

This card’s vignette is unusual in its story. A tow- headed young child pauses during his clandestine mission. “Do you see what I see,” he asks us.  The Christmas tree, adorned with beads, crystals, and balls, sheds its candlelight on the Christmas eve scene. Santa Claus is just around the corner and seems to be playing with the white flocked horse! What a racket Santa must be making as he runs the stead’s wheels across the wood floor! How tempting to our young peeper to just grab the drum and join the fun.  But we all know how this night ended–with a scurrying of slippered little feet, back to bed, back to sleep. The publishers information is in some code on the front of the card: a dot in a circle within another circle sits next to an N within a triangle.  Both can be found in the lower right corner of the card.  On the back are the words “Night Before Christmas Series No. 15.”  Any collectors with information?  Please leave a comment!!

 

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 17: A Joyous Christmastide from Ivan Vannoy to Donald Minor

 

Printed in Germany

Dear Cousin, We arrived home safe and it has been winter ever since.  Old Santa is coming to our church Friday eve. and we are anxious to see him. Come out and see us and we will take a sleighride. ~Ivan Vannroy

On this fourth day of the Postcard Advent Calendar I share a Christmas “meow” from 1909.  The lightly embossed kittens send young Donald Minor wishes for a joyous Christmastide.  The publisher’s mark is right below the right kitty and reads “Painting only. Copyrighted by S. Garre, New York 1909.”  Small print on the back indicates that the Series #1064 postcard was printed in Germany.

The note’s salutation has led me on a goosechase to find the connection between Donald and Ivan.  The postmark is stamped Tama, Iowa, December 22, 11am, 1909.  And while some Pennsylvania Minors migrated west to Ohio, Illinois and Iowa in the mid-1800s, I don’t recall seeing the name Vannroy in any other family documents.  In fact,  I can’t find any Vannroy in my Iowa census stumping….My genealogical skills have failed me.  So far.

I love chasing the family geese.

UPDATE:

In researching other Advent cards, I went back to the web-based genealogy for the Thomas Minor family, from whom I am descended.  Within the surname list I found the word I was hunting: VANNOY.  When I plugged this spelling into Ancestry’s search engine I confirmed the Thomas Minor Society’s information.

*drum roll*

Francis Marion Minor had three children older than Donald’s father, Robert.  John P. was the eldest, then Alfred (whose son Carl also wrote to Donald), then there was Sarah Pricilla.  Sarah married Mark Herrington and had Beatrice Jane.  Beatrice Jane married John Vannoy and had little Ivan in 1906.  They are cited as living in Tama, Iowa in the 1910 census.

Story unfolds: Sarah’s daughter Beatrice marries and moves west to Iowa.  She travels home in 1909 with her family, including young Ivan, before winter sets in. The Christmas kittens are then sent in Ivan’s name, to the young cousin with whom he played during his Pennsylvania visit.

 

 

 

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 16: A Merry (European) Christmas!

E. B. C. 1810, Printed in Saxony

Hello, Donald, Come on over and we will sled ride. What is Santa Claus going to bring you. ~Carl

On the third day of the Postcard Advent Calendar I again reveal a Santa, but this toy-bearing gent is more St. Nickolas than Santa Claus.   Influenced by the artist’s Saxon* roots, this illustration depicts a St. Nick clad in heavy black boots and a long, hooded red robe tromping through the snow, his waist-length beard catching the wind.  A mittened left hand clasps the fir tree which is big enough that it must stand on the floor in some fortunate home!  Under its branches St. Nick will leave dolls and drums pulled from his basket and sack.

Carl Corbly Minor extended his sledding invitation to his five year old cousin, Donald Minor, in December of 1907.  The 28 year old son of Alfred (1855-before 1900) and Anna (1860-?) lived down the road from Robert, May, Helen and Donald, running his family’s farm with his mother.  Imagine these rolling hills of southwestern Pennsylvania covered with a good snowfall. I am certain Donald had a fast trip down!

The rolling hills of the Minor Home Farm, Ceylon Road, R.D. 1, Carmichaels, PA

*Saxony is a southeastern state of current day Germany and is home to Dresden, Leipzig and Seiffen. It is also the home of many Christmas customs, like the Christmas tree.

Wordless Wednesday: Postcard Advent Calendar, December 15: A Merry Christmas to All

Santa Postcard, HSV Lithograph Company, New York, New York

Hello, Donald, I received your card. Would like to see you. Hope Santa will bring you what you want. I want a pair of Skates but mama is afraid for me to have them.  ~Ralph*

On this second day of the Postcard Advent Calendar I reveal another Santa in the American style. Outfitted in his fur-trimmed red suit and hat, this sainted man’s rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes are buried in a full snow-white beard.  His posture, finger paused by his nose, seems to suggest Ralph interrupted him to write Donald’s note.  “Remember, Ralph and Donald, I am watching you boys.”  Wreathed in a holly-covered horseshoe, Santa generously offers the promise of dreams fulfilled: “Good luck learning to skate!” “Here’s your drum and trumpet! Play in the town square!” “Scare your sister with this toy mouse and then calm her down with Dolly!”

This silver bordered postcard was sent to Donald Minor on December 18, 1909.   A one cent stamp was all that was required for young Ralph to send this Christmas greeting from South Connellsville to Carmichaels, towns in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania.

Blair and Ralph, Photocard postmarked June 17, 1908


I delight in trolling through family heirlooms, discovering the bits and pieces of my story. This current project is but my second reading of the postcards and I am still discerning the relationships various writers have with my grandfather.  One thing IS clear; a good percentage of these cards are sent by family members.  Therefore, I am willing to wager a pair of skates that Ralph is  Donald’s cousin.

 

 


*To make the note easier to read, I have corrected spelling, grammar, and punctuation.